Kristie Wolfe: How I Launched The Big Idaho Potato Hotel – and More! (Episode 353)

Kristie Wolfe Shares Off-Grid Remote Hosting Tips & Creative Construction Lessons

This week’s expert guest is Kristie Wolfe, creative off-grid builder and short-term rental superstar. With her one-of-a-kind projects, her focus is on creating unforgettable guest experiences, not just accommodations.

Kristie is not only the builder in her business, she is also the designer, and she crafts some of Airbnb’s most sought-after wishlist stays. She has several tree houses, a hobbit hole, a cocoon cottage, a shipwreck, and even a potato hotel – properties which have earned thousands of five-star reviews as the main attraction to niche travelers from all over the world.

Our chat with Kristie is one of the most entertaining and educational we’ve ever had! 

We get all the juicy details about her first treehouse build in the Hawaiian jungle, that time she bought a shipwreck on Craigslist, touring the country to promote Idaho Potatoes, and so many other memorable and meaningful stories from across her accomplished career.

The creative nuggets in this one are uber inspiring – packed with a zest for life and artistic expression that you’ll hear in Kristie’s voice. But she doesn’t stop there! About halfway through this one, she drops the mic with several solid gold operational tidbits that will change how you think about running your short-term rental business.

For years, we’ve had Kristie Wolfe atop our list of dream podcast guests – and, dear listeners, she delivered in a major way. We’re so thankful for her spending her valuable time with us today and look forward to following along with her latest treehouse museum project.

(00:01:27) #STRShareSunday: @ae.premiumrentals

  • Great example of diversifying your business 
  • Good demo photography for various events 

(00:03:35) Introducing: Creative Builder, Kristie Wolfe

  • The $3,000 tiny house that started it all
  • Being inspired to build a treehouse vacation rental 
  • Buying a plot of land in Hawaii for $8,000
  • Kristie’s mom being an impactful hands-on influence

(00:12:35) Building a Short-Term Rental in the Jungle

  • Pivoting from factory work to hosting 
  • Getting started in 2013 – the early days of Airbnb
  • Regional challenges of building in Hawaii 
  • Buying a chainsaw to clear the lot herself
  • Touring the country in a giant Idaho Potato 
  • How long from Craigslist post to Airbnb listing?

(00:19:32) Kristie Wolfe’s Eclectic Portfolio of Rental Properties 

  • 7 unique environments in Hawaii, Idaho (4), Oregon, Washington
  • Revealing insights on guest behavior RE: creative builds 
  • Stories behind her hobbit hole and fire lookout tower properties 
  • The incredible story of Kristie’s famous Potato Hotel 

(00:26:54) Pro Tips on Juggling Hosting While Completing Builds 

  • Setting up Guesty even before her first listing opened 
  • Tapping into better partners using “caretaker” vs. “cleaner”
  • Utilizing Marco Polo to communicate with her team 
  • Seeking positive-minded people for open roles 
  • Balancing kudos with corrections 
  • Utilizing Turno to pay her caretakers 
  • Christmas bonuses and rental gift cards 
  • Kristie’s POV on individual builds vs. small series projects 

(00:41:45) One-of-a-Kind Listings: Cocoon Cottage & Shipwreck House

  • How the Suez Canal blockage affected her business 
  • Opening up the Cocoon Cottage for guests last week!
  • Buying a Shipwreck House on Zillow
  • Amazing water canon and walk-the-plank amenities 
  • Setting expectations for off-grid stays  

(00:50:47) Kristie’s Advice for STR Hosts & Aspiring Builders

  • Her true North Star – having fun!
  • Immerse yourself in the culture and environment of your project 
  • Authenticity in experience is her magic touch 
  • How she manages overwhelm 
  • Filtering influencer/media/charity opportunities

Download a transcript of this episode.




This week’s #STRShareSunday property is so unique! Coming to us from San Antonio, “The Joy” with Aequilibria Premium Rentals is a stunning and modern STR and event space. With an amazing direct booking site and Airbnb listing, guests can rent out space along and/or attend corresponding events. And, the property is so modern and clean! The space is massive, open, and visually stunning – a must-stay in San Antonio. The owner of this amazing business, Dimitri, is a proud Hosting Business Mastery Member!

We would love to feature YOU, so don’t forget to use #STRShareSunday to get your chance!

Together, Annette & Sarah are the dynamic duo behind the wildly popular podcast Thanks For Visiting, co-creators of the Hosting Business Mastery Method, & seasoned short-term-rental hosts.

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