A Sooke bed-and-breakfast owner was surprised to learn he was awarded top prize for the most hospitable hosts in B.C. by Airbnb.
Former Saanich Peninsula resident Gerry Esselink moved to Sooke five years ago and has run Sooke Cedar House on Sooke Road since 2018.
“Being named B.C.’s most hospitable host by Airbnb was both an honour and, quite frankly, a big surprise, as this was not something we tracked,” Esselink said.
The criteria for the award were cleanliness, check-in, and communications. Guests also rated hosts on accuracy, location and value. The award was based on online reviews and was handed out in each province.
In addition to being No. 1 in B.C., Esselink achieved the 100 per cent standard with 198 reviews – the most customer reviews of any host in Canada. A total of 147 hosts in Canada achieved the 100 per cent standard.
“Once I confirmed with the promotions person at Airbnb they had the right person, I felt a little pride, but also a little sadness as I lost my wife to cancer just as COVID showed up in early 2020,” Esselink said. “Debbie was a huge part of the Sooke Cedar House.”
Sooke Cedar House guests stay in either the Aletheia or Everett suites, named after two of Esselink’s grandchildren.
The property, known by locals for years as Hartmann House, is tucked away off Sooke Road and overlooks English gardens complete with fountains, arbours, and ponds.
Esselink said Sooke Cedar House’s success could be broken down into four steps: find a beautiful setting, provide a relaxing and comfortable place to stay, anticipate and meet guests’ needs and find a reputable vacation rental provider.
“It simply comes down to caring for your guests,” said Esselink, a retired pastor.