Championships spur entries into rental pool
EAGLE COUNTY — Think you’re going to make a killing renting your place for the 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships? Here’s a number to keep in mind: 65 percent. That was the lodging occupancy rate at Whistler during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Given that almost all the alpine events at Vancouver were at Whistler/Blackcomb, you’d think the lodging would have been packed, but that’s not the case. Still, there are people in the valley looking to rent out their homes for the first half of February, and at least some of whom expect top dollar for their units.
Dale Bugby, owner of Vail Resort Rentals, said he’s fielded a number of calls from people interested in getting out of town in February. He politely declines the offer — doing the work needed for just weeks isn’t worth it, he said.
The Vail Valley Partnership’s Vail on Sale program also probably isn’t the best place to list a condo for rent in February. Partnership director Chris Romer said that program is open only to organization members.
“We’d welcome anyone, but it probably wouldn’t work just for that,” Romer said.
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While rooms have been booked well in advance for virtually all of the national teams, international press and others in the cadre of professionals who follow World Cup skiing around the globe, people who just want to come out for the racing or the scene may not have made their reservations yet.
No Big Numbers Yet
Jon Eskin manages the home rental program at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties (former Prudential Colorado Properties). Eskin said while his company has booked a number of units to the professionals coming to the championships, general travelers aren’t yet booking in big numbers.
The question, Eskin said, is whether travelers will book in large numbers.
“We’re hopeful they’ll come out,” Eskin said.
The Partnership tracks lodging occupancy. Romer said the people there will take out the reservation numbers from the professionals coming for the championships to determine what the event’s ultimate effect on local lodging.
With the countdown to the championships now measured in weeks, Romer said the challenge will be to find the right balance between availability and rates.
“I hope we’re not driving (business) away with rates or increased length of stay requirements,” he said.
While some owners may want to hop on the rental bandwagon just for this coming February, there are usually plenty of private homes available for rent just about every winter.
Those units aren’t regulated in Vail, something Bugby believes need to change. Earlier this year, Bugby and a group of town lodging managers asked the Vail Town Council to start work on an ordinance that would impose regulations on units rented through private channels or via online services including Vacation Rentals by Owner. Bugby and others believe, among other things, that the town is losing a significant amount of lodging tax revenue without tighter regulations on private owners.
The proposal to regulate private rentals didn’t get far, something that has left Bugby curious.
“I’ve had a few conversations with locals and ask them, ‘What are you afraid of? People paying taxes they owe? Having carbon monoxide detectors?’”
Avon does regulate short-term rentals, and bans them entirely in the Wildridge neighborhood north of Interstate 70. Some residents have asked town officials to re-visit that ban, with no success so far.
Brian Garner, a member of the town’s planning staff, said his office has received several calls from property owners asking about the regulations, and what they need to do to comply with the town’s requirements. Those requirements are fairly simple — assuming your unit is in an area zoned for short-term rentals, and your condo association allows the practice. People must hold a town sales tax license, and pay lodging taxes on revenue earned. Units rented must also have working carbon monoxide detectors.
With those fairly simple requirements, Garner said his office has fielded a number of calls from people interested in jumping into the short-term rental pool.
If there is increased supply, then it’s hard to tell what that’s going to do to demand, and prices.
“Everybody thinks they’re going to get rich,” Bugby said. “The perception is there’s this huge demand for rooms, and there isn’t.”