It’s not every day you see a 9-year-old’s “dream treehouse” become a profitable North Carolina Airbnb listing.
Three years ago, Eli Sylvester was set on building a treehouse in the backyard of his family’s home in Murphy, North Carolina, about 230 miles west of Charlotte. But his mom, Rachel Sylvester, had a better idea: Use this as a “learning opportunity for Eli,” she told McClatchy News.
Eli invested the $200 his mom gave him in a self-made business selling crafts, including handmade prankster chicken eggs, picture frames and magnets at a local store.
In a year and a half, he saved more than $4,800 and invested $6,000, minus the cost of goods, to build his treehouse. Eli even got creative with his birthday invitations and Christmas wish lists: No toys, just supplies to build his dream treehouse.
“Eli is a little boy with big ideas and just as much commitment,” Rachel said. “Money can buy you a lot, and education is important, but communication can get us ‘anywhere’ in life.”
He paid back his mom the $200 and set his sights on something bigger: A profitable Airbnb listing after seeing how well his mom’s worked. He even suggested that all the profits be split to cover his mother’s out-of-pocket costs for property taxes and other incidentals.
The treehouse is listed for $150 per night, Rachel said. It has one full bed that turns into a couch on the main level and two twin beds in the loft upstairs. The space is about 17x17, includes one bathroom, and is on the family’s five-acre property in the woods.
Eli is responsible for all of the upkeep and management, whether it’s greeting guests or washing the sheets and cleaning all surfaces and windows.
“Eli is 100% versed in communicating with others,” his mom said. “This has always been a priority of mine that my child knows how to communicate, greeting people to have them feel welcomed ― and not just at our Airbnb ― asking how they are and waiting for an answer, and thirdly, expressing what we like or do not like with two things ― why and what he thinks he can do about it.”
“Those are our three standards for what communication looks like in our home firstly, at our business, and out and about,” Rachel added.
Eli is also donating income from the Airbnb to charity. In addition, the mother-and-son duo started their own nonprofit called “Raise the Bar” where they plan on feeding 10 families during Thanksgiving and taking 10 children on an all-day field trip.
They also aspire to give 50 presents to kids for Christmas.