In the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes, there are a mixture of colorful properties available for short-term rentals. Whether staying for a week in the summer or desire a quiet getaway in the fall, Stay-Cation properties offer a wonderful opportunity to be close to the action.
Many of these rentals were once places locals enjoyed a nice meal out, attended church or found some new jewelry. Closely located along a stretch of Hwy 71 in Arnolds Park, Stay-Cation rentals are perfect for family gatherings, weddings or a summer vacation.
History of Stay-Cation Properties
Back in 2015, Stay Properties purchased the former Calvary United Methodist Church, along with the neighboring parsonage. At the time, their focus was to simply find a long-term renter for the parsonage, convert the church into office spaces and rent out the lower level to groups for gatherings.
“We knew the church project would be a challenge, as everything needed to be updated. Our biggest challenge would be to build a new floor system since the existing floor was sloped towards the altar,” Aaron Jones shared. “Financially, it would have been a much wiser decision to tear both buildings down, but there was just too much history on the property.”
Calvary United Methodist Church was built from 1927-1932 by its pastor and members.
“Our Great Grandparents, Fred and Lola Wilson, were members of the church, my brother and I grew up attending Calvary United and so did our friends,” he said. “It just made sense for us to leave the existing buildings.”
Stay-Properties initial plan to turn the church into a commercial office space didn’t work out.
“We switched gears and converted the offices into bedrooms.” Jones said.
They transformed the basement by adding a huge family room, more bedrooms, bathrooms and kept the existing kitchen. What was once a church, now hosts 14 bedrooms and four bathrooms, and the Central Stay-Cation can accommodate up to 32 guests. The parsonage, Stay Blu, has been remodeled and can sleep up to 16 throughout five bedrooms.
Several years later, Stay-Properties was looking for more investment properties and they purchased the two dwellings just to the north of Stay-Cation. One home had once housed the retail store Artsy-Tartsy. They debated whether to demolish and start fresh but Jones said they decided to continue the vibe of restoration versus rebuild and added Stay-Cabin and Stay-Cottage.
“This is where the Stay Properties was born. All four properties have a certain quaintness and Okoboji charm about them that our guests seem to love,” he added.
Table 316 Purchase
In 2019, Stay-Properties took on another mega project by purchasing Table 316.
The initial vision was to lease out the restaurant and then build rentals on the second and third floor. However, after months of unsuccessfully being able to procure a lessee, the group bit the bullet and decided to sell the restaurant equipment.
Driving by, cars watched the colorful transformation from restaurant to a Stay-Cation property. In the Spring of 2022, Stay Suites was created.
“We started by adding another floor system to the back half of the building,” Jones explained. “The entire second and third floors were completed with brand new bedroom suites for a total of nine Suites.”
Stay-Properties is now involved in a multi-year renovation. Currently, they are about halfway finished with the street level construction, where three more units are being built, as well as a laundry facility, office and storage space. Once the project is complete, Stay Suites will be home to 12 beautiful suites in the heart of Arnolds Park.
“Our guests absolutely love the third floor outdoor deck,” he added. “It’s a nice area to have a drink or coffee, enjoy the views of the lake and people watch.”
Newest Stay-Cation Addition
The newest addition is a home at 59 Allen Avenue, which is just down the street from Captain’s Getaway. Hence the name, the Stay-Getaway. This property also underwent an extensive remodel but has also been left with some of the original charm and is available for rent.
“Many people have commented on our ‘colorful’ choices for the exterior of some of the Stay-Properties. The colors range from baby blue, mint, yellow, and tangerine, but I bet you know what someone is talking about when you mention ‘that tangerine building,’” Jones said. “I think the concept came from a visit to Key West. The Key West vibe really reminds me of Okoboji; so we thought it would be kind of cool to bring a taste of Key West back to Boji. I think having the ability to make meals, walk to your destination and spend time with each other is just so much easier at our properties.”
Jones said it’s been quite the family affair working on these projects over the years. His Uncle Alex and his father Tim have been helping with the construction.
“These projects just keep pulling them back out of retirement!” he said.
Aaron’s brother Chad is the General Contractor and his son Keaton has joined the family business. Their family’s good friend Bryan Munsen has been helping with each project, and his mother Karla helps manage the West properties. In 2022, he hired his sister-in-law Sherri to be the property manager for the Stay-Cation properties.
“As I look back, it’s been a crazy amount of work accomplished by this team, as well as a number of other contractors and subcontractors,” Jones exclaimed. “We are very proud of the fact that we have reinvested into the Arnolds Park community and likely will continue to do that for many more years.”
Stay-Properties has a dedicated booking website for their properties, located at stayboji.com. Like them on Facebook at Stay Properties at Lake Okoboji or contact them direct at 712-330-5195, if you would like a tour or for more information.