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Hamden couple named Top New Airbnb Hosts of 2021 for Connecticut

Restorative Stay in the Woods in Hamden launched its listing in January and has been checking off the boxes for offering a safe & enjoyable experience.

HAMDEN, Conn. — Connecticut is home to hundreds of Airbnb locations that people flock to for a genuine New England getaway. One local listing is being recognized for going above and beyond during its first year in the business. The company selected Restorative Stay in the Woods in Hamden as its 2021 Top New Airbnb Hosts in the nation for Connecticut. 

Pat Heavren, along with her husband Joe DeRisi, started offering their Airbnb listing in the West Rock Ridge neighborhood earlier this year and have been checking off Airbnb's boxes in terms of offering a safe and enjoyable experience.

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The Hamden home has received over 80 reviews and has maintained a 4.98 (out of 5) rating since starting in January. Heavren even earned Superhost status for maintaining excellent response and review ratings, as well as getting booked for at least 100 nights.

"It was a total surprise," Heavren said.

"It's doing well for us. I didn't really think about quantifying it in any way," DeRisi added. "At the beginning, we weren't sure, especially during the pandemic, that anybody would come. But we've had 3, 4, 5, nights pretty consistently."

At just $59 a night, "Restorative Stay in the Woods" allows up to two guests to stay in a private space with one bedroom and one bathroom and have access to a large backyard that has a deck, a stone path, a fire pit, and various sculptures sprawled among the property.

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A few things happened in order for A Restorative Stay in the Woods to become a reality.

First, the couple had been in the middle of recovering from a tornado that hit Hamden in August 2020, which knocked down four huge trees on the property, yet nearly touched the house. As they cleaned up from the storm, they wanted to bring beauty back to their home, realizing that "redemption comes out of destruction." 

"It really cleared the slate for a whole new way of looking at our home," Heavren said. "Here, we had to create beauty from what was such a disastrous storm. And really it was taking that beauty piece forward into hospitality so that we can share that beauty with others."

It was also a financial decision, a way to make money on the side. The opportunity also presented itself once one of their daughters moved out and left them with an empty bedroom and bathroom. The living space for guests is sectioned off from the rest of the house not only for privacy but also for COVID safety.

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But, it quickly became a more meaningful experience for the couple, engaging in building community and providing personal hospitality.

"It was really about this love of being able to open up a home that we love, that we put a lot of investment and beauty into creating here, to be able to share with other people," Heavren said.

Guests come from all over the country, including travelers that used it as a checkpoint while going to or from Maine over the summer. One even came from as far as Detroit.

"We've met some really wonderful people...we've made some friends that we've kept in touch with and we've had close to or more than 100 people during 2021 up to date," Pat said.

Guests also come to see family and attend local events. For close-by excursions, West Rock Ridge State Park is practically next door, and a golf course and Hamden's downtown area are nearby too.

There have been considerations to expand, but nothing immediate.

"I think that we're just sort of happy with what we've got right now. And we tend to be community-oriented people and really like to share our home."

The couple said that when the time comes, their basement could be an option for another bedroom to rent out, especially since there is already a bathroom on that floor as well as a separate entrance.

Restorative Stay in the Woods is booked for most of the holidays, but there are some spots left this year. Bookings are planned up to six weeks in advance. Check out the listing here.

To see the Top New Airbnb Hosts for each state, click here.

Leah Myers is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at lmyers@fox61.com

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