Reservations service finds the perfect 'Place to Stay'
By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer
Natalie Barnard comes from an entrepreneurial family. Her parents, Dave and Sharon Koehler, started the Beverage Barn, Bandera's first drive-through convenience store, coupled with a riverside park for RVs before the term "winter Texans" was coined. The couple also hosted guests at the family ranch.
So it's no surprise that a good business ethic and sense of hospitality comes naturally to Barnard.
The personable and hard working wife and mother of two went into the guesthouse business when husband Chris retired from the military and the family decided to move back to Bandera.
Today, Barnard owns and operates A Place to Stay, a reservations service with guest rooms for visitors to Bandera. "We have Bandera Guest House, several places in town and some out on the ranch for visitors. We also handle reservations for guest ranches and bed and breakfasts around the Hill Country."
Barnard, who majored in business at what is now Texas State University in San Marcos, does everything she can to make sure her guests enjoy their stay. "The goal is to keep people in Bandera for an overnight stay and to have them come back in the future."
The business started with just Bandera Guest House and expanded from there. "We'd have an influx of calls and not have enough accommodations, so we decided we needed to expand," she said.
The Barnard's properties are not bed and breakfasts. "We provide nightly accommodations that are clean and affordable. We have something for every budget," Barnard explained.
"I always try to find the perfect place for a client to stay and we have places that will suit two people or 20 people!"
A Place to Stay is located at 157 Highway 16 South in a building that was long used as a doctor's offices. Under Barnard's direction the building now has five spacious, clean bedrooms with lots of common areas for guests to relax and mingle. The building also plays home to the Bandera County Chamber of Commerce and Bandera Speech Therapy.
"We're just a half-block from Main Street and a block from the river, with plenty of parking and handicap accessibility," Barnard said. "Clients can rent a room or the entire place." Rates start at $39.99 a night.
Added features to delight customers include Barnard's signature Fluff & Stuff, offering cakes, balloons, flowers, aromatherapy and more to make a stay absolutely perfect. Fat-tired Huffy bicycles are available for touring around the Cowboy Capital.
And be sure to check out the Last Minute Deals specials. These deals apply to same day booking as your stay and depend on availability. "Why would we want a room to stay empty?" said Barnard.
The reservations service can also arrange hunts for whitetail, turkey and dove, as well as exotics.
The Barnards love Bandera and support the community in many ways, beyond the economic boost to local taxing entities with their hotel occupancy taxes and property taxes. Natalie is a director on the Chamber of Commerce's board, is active in the Alkek PTO and is in constant contact with the Convention and Visitors Center. Chris enjoys assisting with the Bandera Youth Soccer Organization. Through their business, they support community events with sponsorships and donations.
They've been in the hospitality business for about six years now. "It's not an easy business," Natalie said, "but it's fun and rewarding. We get a chance to meet people from all over the world!"
To make reservations for a special weekend in Bandera, call 830-688-1383, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more information, photos and guest reviews at banderaguesthouse.com.