A “small hotel” with seven tiny homes is co-owned and run by Isaac French, a 25-year-old bookkeeper and contractor, in Waco, Texas. He opened it at the beginning of the year.
French formerly owned and operated a cloud-based accounting firm in Waco before moving into short-term rentals. Although Waco is just two hours’ drive from Austin, Fort Worth, and Dallas, he admitted to Insider that he was eager to capitalise on the region’s booming real estate market at the end of 2020.
“I’d had these ideas sort of brewing to create this modern Scandinavian housing concept in Texas,” French said.
Despite having always had an entrepreneurial mentality, French claimed that growing up and working in his father’s construction company gave him the experience he needed to put his plan into action. He acquired the 5-acre parcel that would become Live Oak Lake in March 2021. The seven cabins were constructed in the Scandinavian architectural style and range in size from 550 to 650 square feet.
In Just 9 Months, French Transformed A 5-Acre Vacant Waco Site Into A Premium Boutique Hotel.
French bought the farm with his funds, which totaled $138,000. He estimated that the building of his little hotel would cost roughly $1.6 million at the time. In order for French to obtain a construction credit worth 80% of the estimated cost of the construction, his father, two brothers, and father-in-law joined as minor partners.
Due to their collaboration, French was also able to use a line of credit from his father’s construction company to pay for additional construction expenses. He claimed that when he first started out, he was confident that the property would be appraised at a higher value than the cost, particularly once he could demonstrate that it was a commercial success. He also stated that he intended to do a cash-out refinance, which entails taking out a larger mortgage against the increase in value that a property has experienced since the owner first purchased it, to pay off the cost of labour and materials.
The completion of Live Oak Lake took roughly nine months. For the project, which involved constructing the roads, utilities, and a man-made lake, French served as the general contractor. Construction of the modest hotel, which began in January, ended up costing $2.5 million; according to the builder, this was due to labour shortages, skyrocketing lumber prices, as well as extras like hot tubs and a pool.
French Wants His Guests To Feel Like They Were In An Oasis
Live Oak Lake offers a communal area with a tiny dock, picnic tables, paddleboards, and kayaks in addition to the seven identical cabins.
Each cabin features two floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, two bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, an open-concept kitchen, a washer and dryer, a private entrance, parking, an outdoor hot tub, a hammock, and a fire pit.
According to French, the occupancy rate is 90% to 95%, with 30% of reservations coming via Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com and nearly 70% coming straight from the Live Oak website.
French uses social media to promote the hotel. He stated that in the beginning, working with travel influencers and hosting freebies helped Live Oak’s Instagram account, which has more than 50,000 followers today, acquire popularity.
French stated that he believed Live Oak was well-positioned to withstand the current economic climate. He claimed to have observed a rise in affluent or middle-class travellers from Austin or Dallas who, in the past, had opted for lengthier international vacations but now preferred to spend shorter amounts of time at home.
“We’re already tapping into that,” French said, “but I just think there’s so much more opportunity even just here in Texas.”