The Eby Family
On the internet, Big Bend Vacation Rentals, LLC, is just another company. In real life, it is owned and operated by the Eby family of Terlingua Texas. We basically fell into the vacation rental management business by coincidence, and we are so glad that we did. It is our joy and privilege to be able to serve thousands of tourists to the Big Bend region of southwest Texas. It is also our honor to serve a handful of wonderful property owners that allow us to help them share their personal vacation homes with others from all over the world. Your Big Bend vacation and our owner’s homes is our business.
We are fortunate to live and work surrounded by the beauty and majesty of Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and the eclectic communities of Terlingua, Study Butte, Terlingua Ranch, and Lajitas. Serving tourists gives us constant reminders of just how lucky we are. We didn’t plan it, but we would not want it any other way. Thank you for making it possible.
We’re an average family, just trying to make the most of our lives. Janet and I met at college back in the 80’s. We were married within a year. Despite growing up in the great state of Texas, we decided to move to Boston. That was the dumbest idea we ever had.
Three months after our daughter, Lydia, was born, we moved back to Texas. Realizing how hard it is to raise a child, we decided to wait awhile to have more. Josh was born when Lydia was ten. Zack came along three years later. Three months after Zack was born, we moved from Dallas, actually Corinth but few know where that is, to the Bend.
We started a small construction company, basically me swinging hammers and Janet keeping books, and just kept things simple. We were happy to have escaped the stresses and congestion of city life. Over time, we shifted our business focus from construction toward vacation rentals. Now, the whole family is involved. Well, most of us.
Lydia fell in love with a marine named Aaron and decided to get married and move away. They now have a son, our grandson, named Ryan. They live in east Texas and we don’t get to see them nearly enough. Skype has become our favorite internet invention.
Me and the boys are into biking, hiking, computers, and reptiles. Janet is mainly into me and the boys, and running our business. She is the rock that holds us all together and keeps our business on track. Lydia, Aaron, and Ryan have started their own life and are thriving in the Piney Woods of east Texas.
Our Move to the Bend
I fell in love with this region when I first visited here back in the 80s. Since then, I’d wanted to retire here. Janet wasn’t convinced of that plan, but retirement was in the distant future so she didn’t mind letting me dream.
My life took a powerful turn on the tragic day that one of my brothers, Mike, was killed in an auto accident. He was a young man with a wife and two young boys and died suddenly, in the prime of his life. Mike was the man I had always wanted to be. He was fun loving, active and living in the moment. I was way too serious and lived for retirement and week-ends that rarely materialized.
After Mike died, I realized I was living life all wrong. I had been slaving away at a heartless corporate job just to earn money that I never had time to enjoy. My family was suffering and I was losing the rat race. I decided that waiting for retirement was not an option, especially since Mike’s death reminded me that tomorrow may never come.
I decided that I wanted to move to the Bend as soon as possible. I knew it might be hard to make a living, but making a life was more important. Janet was excited to see me more focused on the family but was far from convinced that moving to “the middle of nowhere” was a good idea.
I knew I had to persuade her but did not want to push her. I had visited the Bend several times but Janet had never tagged along. I figured if I could bring her here for a few days the Bend would win her over. It was NOT love at first sight.
I’ll never forget driving down a lonely stretch of scenic desert highway and seeing a troubled look on Janet’s face. I suspected what she was thinking. “Janet”, I asked “what are you thinking?” She replied, “I know you love this desert and want to move here, but I’m looking around and I see nothing but sticks and rocks.” Not to be dissuaded, I commented, “But they’re really interesting sticks and rocks.” It took her another day or two to adjust to the lack of green and fully appreciate the awesome beauty and diversity of the mountains and desert. She agreed to the move.
There was just one more person I had to convince. Our daughter, Lydia, was thirteen at the time. Like any teenage girl, she was not a fan of moving several hours away from the nearest mall or multiplex theatre. I dragged her out on the next trip. I told her she could veto the move if she really wanted but to please think about it. One trip was all it took. I had the approval of both the women in my life. Josh was only three and Zack was still in the womb. They had no objections.
We’ve never looked back. Okay, that’s not fully true. Our daughter, Lydia, looked back and is once again living within minutes of malls and movie theatres. I guess living in the Bend is not for everyone. But, everyone should visit here at least once.
Life takes unexpected and often wonderful turns when you least expect it. I was negotiating with the buyers of the first house I built down here when I first heard the term “vacation rental”. Tom and Vilis, who were then strangers but quickly became good friends, wanted to buy the house for occasional visits and rent it out to tourists the rest of the time. Frankly, I thought they were nuts, but I was trying to convince them to buy a house from me, so I played along.
They bought the house and turned into the “Terlingua Ranch Retreat”. Within a few months, I started to regret not setting it up for vacation rentals myself. They eventually sold the Retreat to Dee and Wayne Blinka (more about them in the “Meet the Owners” section).
Tom and Vilis missed having a vacation home down here and Janet and I really wanted one as well. I stumbled upon an abandoned adobe in need of serious renovation. We partnered with Tom and Vilis to turn it into the “Big Bend Getaway”. Vilis designed the renovations and additions. I provided the construction labor. Tom and Janet set up the business. The four of us eventually sold the Getaway to two other couples that share our love for the Bend. Happily for us, we still manage it on their behalf.
The Getaway was the first vacation rental, and so far only, vacation rental we’ve owned. More significantly, it was the first one Janet and I ever managed. Dee and Wayne soon asked us if we’d be willing to manage the Retreat. Janet took on the challenge and from there built our current business. At first it was a small side business to our construction company and operated as “Mountain Desert Vacation Rentals”. It has since grown into our primary business and has been restructured as “Big Bend Vacation Rentals”.
We now manage twelve vacation rentals for nine different sets of owners. We plan to add more in the near future. It turns out that serving tourists is the next best thing to being a tourist.
I often find myself telling guests, “Keep in mind, this is your vacation but it’s my job. You focus on enjoying your trip and let us take care of everything else.” We really appreciate that the vast majority of our guests try to clean up after themselves and hesitate to call us about minor problems. However, that really is our job. Let us take care of that stuff for you. After all, you are paying us for the service, and you have far better things to do.
Are you trying to decide on the best place to stay on your next trip? Let us help. Ready to reserve a rental and need directions and instructions? We’ve got that covered. Curious about what to see and do while you’re in the Bend? We have lots of suggestions. Having problems while staying at one of our rentals? Please call us. We want to help. Ready to leave and are too tired from your adventures to clean up? Don’t sweat it. That’s our job. Did you leave something behind in one of our rentals? Don’t worry. It happens all the time. We’re happy to ship it back to you. Want to tell your friends all about your trip? That’s why we’re on Facebook. Post all about your adventures there. We’ll chime and help you share your experience. Want to come back? We’ll be here.
Lots of folks own second homes here in the Big Bend. Some of them are willing to share their vacation home with others. We are here to make that possible and profitable.
We are often asked by potential owner clients, “What do you take care of and what will we have to do?” Our standard answer is, “We’ll do everything you need and want. All you have to do is tell when you plan to come down. We love renting out houses but hate telling owners they can’t visit because their home is reserved for someone else.”
Janet runs the business. I just help out and do what she asks. She might dispute that last point, but I try. Operating a vacation rental requires a shocking amount of work and organization. Janet has created efficient processes and has the time management and organizational skills to stay on top of it. As we have added more rentals, we’ve become more and more effective and have increased both our service level and income generation for each of our owners.
We both meet with prospective owner clients to discuss their needs and interests. Together, we develop an individual approach for each property based on the preferences and personalities of each owner. For most owners, we do absolutely everything. Others prefer to be directly involved in some aspects of the rentals. Our goal is to manage your rental according to each owner’s desires.
I handle the website development and marketing. My background as a project manager comes in handy. I built this website, designed the functionality and layout, wrote the text, took and edited most of the photos, designed our logo, established cross links with other sites, wrote most of the text for our VRBO.com listings, built and manage our Facebook page, and much more. I plan to have lots more coming soon.
Janet handles the reservations, booking calendar, customer communications, business management, expense payments, book-keeping, cleaning schedule, inventory, purchasing, receiving, interior design recommendations, recommendations on items household items for use by guests, and much more. She has designed and continues to improve her own spreadsheets and applications for keeping on top of her myriad of time sensitive tasks.
We both do the cleaning between guests. Our boys also help out when they’re not in school. From time to time we hire other to help on the cleanings but prefer to take care of this critical detail ourselves. Nothing is as important as making sure that each rental is clean and ready for each guest.
We both provide consulting to current and prospective clients regarding operating their rental and serving the needs of their guests. After several years and several rentals, we know what it takes to meet and exceed the expectations of guests. Ultimately, doing so is the best way to keep our clients happy and maximize their income.
Do you like this site? I alternate from being proud of it to absolutely despising it. I built it, designed the functionality and layout, wrote the text, took and edited most of the photos, designed our logo, and established cross links with other sites. This is our third primary website for our vacation rental business. I built and eventually retired those, along with a few related websites. I also wrote most of the text for our VRBO.com listings, built and manage our Facebook page, and much more. I plan to have lots more coming soon.
If you like my work, you can hire me, but only for a website for a vacation rental that we manage. That’s a great plan. Buy a vacation rental and hire us.
Janet and I handle most of the cleaning between guests. Our boys also help out when they’re not in school. At first our boys hated cleaning and required extensive supervision. Now they realize how much they can buy with the money they earn. Now, they work with pride and do a really good job. It’s fun working with our kids, even if that work includes scrubbing toilets.
From time to time we hire others to help on the cleanings but prefer to take care of this critical detail ourselves. Nothing is as important as making sure that each rental is clean and ready for each guest.
Occasionally, things break. Sinks get clogged. Toilets run. Screens get torn. Bulbs burn out. Walls need painting. Pipes burst. Air conditioners freeze up. Weeds need to be pulled. Luckily, such things don’t happen often in our vacation rentals. But, when they do, I’ll be the one to show up and take care of it. Please let us know of any maintenance issues that you might notice.
You’ll see my handiwork at several of our vacation rentals. I built the Terlingua Ranch Retreat from the ground up. I completely gutted, restored, and enlarged the once abandoned adobe that is now the Big Bend Getaway. I renovated the guest houses adjacent to Laughing Horse Retreat and Rancho Mula Oso. I built the rental suites at Ten Bits Ranch and helped on the Cantina.
I stopped taking new clients in my construction business so I can focus on our rentals. I’ve built several porches, screened in a couple of them, moved walls, installed water catchment systems, replaced roofing, built roadway embankments, replaced flooring, replaced damaged siding. Designed and installed solar and wind electrical systems. I enjoy working with my hands and building things that will last for many years.