"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Hidden finds Whether snuggling in close to the river or sleeping above a working brewery, these Niche vacation properties offer unusual ‘Eureka! I found it!’ moments

By on November 29, 2017 in Featured Homes with 0 Comments

Loge co-owner Cale Genenbacher is pleased that each unit has a back deck with a close-up riverfront view. Just a little R&R (renovation and repair) will make the eight cabins even more hospitable.

Story by Susan Lagsdin

Photos by Donna Cassidy

You may well be a savvy traveler, but unless you’ve hunted for holiday-overflow rooms or were hoping for a nearby weekend away from kids, it’s possible you’ve never searched the internet, specifically Airbnb, for local rentals.

These two charming spots we’ve ferreted out are just part of a surprisingly large network of vacation housing that’s available here, and they are distinguished by their charm, their different origins and their low profile — as in, “Eureka! I found it!”

This first spot is easy to miss, yet is hidden in plain sight. When you think of eight cabins and a house on the river, there’s a tendency to over-think the grandeur of the locale, but if you follow the directions (co-owner Cale Genenbacher reiterates, “Believe me — it really is the very last right turn from Wenatchee before the bridge into Leavenworth.”) it’s laughably simple.

A narrow asphalt driveway twists you down through timber to just above the south bank of the Wenatchee River where you can glance way up at, but not necessarily hear, the highway into town.

Cale and his business partner Johannes Ariens, working as Loge (a Dutch word pronounced “lodge”) are in the midst of developing what may become a hotspot in our region’s hospitality industry.

A surfer-friendly hostel the duo built in Westport has been a success for them since it opened this last Memorial Day, and the Leavenworth project will closely follow that model.

Like its predecessor, it will have special appeal to active sporting folks who want their four-season skiing, hiking and biking lives to be both way beyond cookie-cutter and reasonably priced.

A year-round sportsman (with West Point, the army and a year at Microsoft in his past) at 30 Cale has played well and lived simply and says, “I couldn’t have traveled the country and the world without hostels — they were just what I needed. This house will offer that kind of affordable communal living.”

The house is configured for two big bunkrooms, a bathroom, a lounge and shared kitchen. It will also offer amenities he sometimes missed: a privacy curtain, bed lights, enough storage for a duffel and coded electronic locks.

Cale is also the father of toddlers, and knows that for couples or families, the cabins may be more appealing. The partners closed on the property Nov. 1, and the eight stand-alone structures are rentable right now, with reservations filling.

They were recently and tastefully updated by the previous owner, but Cale’s eager to outfit them further. “We’re really going to make these nice for winter visitors: ski racks near a bench with a cupholder, boot driers, glove warmers… maybe an outdoor heater.”

At around 500 square feet, each bedroom/living room/bath cabin is sensibly luxurious, and each has a back porch perched right over the river (where Cale and Johannes will add some safety barriers).

House and cabins are in good shape. That leaves the business partners time to create their dream space, hoping for the March 2018 completion of Loge Leavenworth: a friendly, fully-integrated hostel, cabin and camping destination that offers not just an easy walk to both downtown festivities and to the scenic riverfront, but a sense of community.

That’s what will make this property different, and they’re banking on its uniqueness as a primary draw.

That means judicious leveling and building retaining walls, and retrofitting patio and parking pads.

The two owners of Loge, a little company with a friendly presence, know that young travelers today value community — their tribe — and a sense of belonging to a place.

Cale said, “We’re opening up a few areas above the river for meeting and making friends — picture an outdoor kitchen with people cooking together on the grills and sharing food, the sound of the river, their kids playing on the lawn, sitting around the campfire into the night telling stories….”

And arching high above and far to the left is a bridge where unsuspecting drivers wend their way into town.


The Dog and Pony Loft is a different creature entirely.

It’s not within walking distance of even one touristy amenity, it’s not grandfathered in to an irreplaceably close spot on the water, and it can sleep at best one couple, maybe with a smallish child.

And, unless you know the highroads and byroads of south Cashmere, it’s a little tough to find in a treed family-dogs-and-horses neighborhood with long driveways and an eclectic mix of outbuildings.

Owners Kristen and Joe Nestor innkeepers for about a year, like it that way.

And, oh, do Airbnb patrons love it that way. The company recently sent a film crew to its unspectacular location to make a promotional video.

What gives? Why the repeat visitors (some from South Africa, Australia, Holland) and rave reviews that make it an Airbnb “Superhost” lodging with a consistent 4.5/5 star rating? Could it be because it’s tough to find (the first time) and totally unpretentious, and that it’s gained an anti-establishment following? Possibly, but there are other more winning factors.

First, the living unit is darn cute. Originally renovated as a spare room for family and friends, it’s the upstairs of an old wooden shop building with some surprising decorator touches: an immense tile-surround Roman tub levered into an attic corner, stairs from a fruit orchard, a bed frame fashioned from pallets, walls and counters of recycled barn doors and window frames with ancient hardware intact, jewel-toned fabrics, a board and beam ceiling.

Plus a big window and a covered porch with a view to the bucolic scene of two paint horses in a pasture.

The friendly, ever-welcoming family yard is another draw.

“Sometimes when we’re having a barbecue outside with the neighbors, we’ll just invite whoever’s upstairs. They love it!” Joe said.

Contrary to their first B&B fears, Kristen and Joe are delighted with the almost 100 percent perfect people they’ve attracted. “They clean up, they’re either really quiet or really fun, they leave gifts and nice notes — it’s been no trouble at all.” Their son Kaden, 5, is a good playmate for visitors’ kids, too.

OK — here’s another reason why people might love it there. The beer.

Dog and Pony Brewery beer is delicious and is made downstairs in the same old log building.

The Nestors were involved for years in a few craft breweries in the area, and when they cast about for a new adjunct to their day jobs, their entrepreneurship (plus his engineering and brew science degrees) led them to one more go at the business. “I remember thinking — well, it’s the same old dog and pony show,” said Joe.

But in many ways it isn’t. This brewery is on the couple’s own property, there are no co-investors, it’s tiny, they use excellent Washington state ingredients, and for reasons that pass all understanding, they neither advertise nor distribute to retailers — and business is booming.

They hand-sell a lot of beer, enough that they custom-built a canning machine — the first in the state for an enterprise this small.

Regular customers come by for growlers and cases, their “tap-truck” travels to festivals, and B&B folks taste-test it on site and take it back home with them.

Joe consults for larger breweries, and, “We’re going to put in a tasting room, like the wineries,” Kristen said. But so far, they have no distribution stream or expansion plans.

Their visitors, however, get special treatment when they check in.

Joe explained, “We realized we could put either chocolates or a can of beer on the pillows. The beer worked out fine.”

About the Author

About the Author: .


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *