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Owners: When to Stay in Your Vacation Rental

Mark Waldman10 May 2016Homeowner KnowledgePost a Comment

At Summit Mountain Rentals, we believe that 99 percent of vacation property owners buy a vacation property for their own use. They want a place to stay in a beautiful area (in our case, Summit County, Colorado) close to activities they, their family and friends enjoy (in our case, skiing, hiking, biking and a host of other mountain activities). They look at renting their properties as a way to help subsidize their vacation property, but it’s still theirs to enjoy. 

And, we encourage our owners to come up to the mountains, stay in their properties and enjoy them. At the same time, since our owners have elected to rent their properties, we encourage them to look at their mountain homes as businesses. There are certain times of the year when rental demand for their properties are high and we are able to charge premium rental rates for them. These periods produce the most revenue for our owners and us.

So: How do owners balance getting the most enjoyment from their beloved mountain properties and maximizing the rental revenue that helps them pay for these properties? The first step is for owners to ask this question: 

When does staying in my vacation rental cost me the most?

In Summit County, the biggest rental season is the winter. But not all periods of winter are created equal! Specifically, winter holidays generate the most rental revenue of the year — and, if owners choose to stay in their properties over those holidays, it costs them the most in potential revenue.

Here are some specifics:

  • Christmas: Rental rates over Christmas are, as a rule, two times more than normal winter rates. In other words, it costs owners twice as much in rental revenue to stay in their unit over Christmas than it would to stay, say, the week before Christmas.
  • New Year: It costs owners three times more to stay over this premium holiday period.
  • Presidents Day: 2.5 times more.
  • March/Spring Break: 1.5 times more.

The next question owners should ask themselves is: 

When are the nicest times to stay in my mountain vacation home?

During winter in Summit County, the answer is: Between the holidays! Let’s face it: Christmas and New Year up here are crazy. The towns and the slopes are packed. (It’s also very cold, and the best snow generally is yet to come later in the winter.) The same holds true for President’s Day and spring break. 

Smart owners look for periods during winter when bookings are slower and they’re not “blocking” their units during prime revenue periods. Early and late January are good choices, avoiding the Martin Luther King Day weekend in the middle of the month. Late February is another; the period between President’s Day and the beginning of March/spring break is a good option.

Another period smart owners take advantage of is early April. Over the last few years, we’ve had some of our best snow at the end of the winter season. And when it isn’t snowing, it’s Colorado “bluebird” skies, warmer temperatures and no lift lines!

The same holds true for the summer months: Think about what the stay is going to cost you in potential revenue and when’s the nicest time to be here. Generally, our biggest month for summer bookings is July. July is also typically the rainiest summer month in the high county, with afternoon monsoon rains swooping in regularly and putting a damper on hiking, biking and other outdoor fun.

Consider June, when the weather is a little cooler but less likely to include precipitation. And after the May snowmelt, the wildflowers on the high trails are spectacular. Or, consider the month that most locals consider to be the most beautiful in Summit County: September! Temperatures are still warm, and the sky takes on a special glow — the sunsets are unbelievable. And, time your trip right and you’ll catch the aspen trees starting to turn glorious shades of orange and red.

Plan Ahead
Look, we certainly understand why our owners want to spend Christmas or other holidays enjoying the high country with their families. We only ask that you be aware of the impact on your vacation rental’s “bottom line” for the year. 

And, since holidays are in such high demand with renters, let us know as early as possible so we can block your owner dates for you. It’s early May and we’re already getting bookings for next Christmas and New Year. So if you want to spend the holidays in your place in the mountains, you should be letting your property management company know now!

If you have any tips on the best times for property owners to enjoy their vacation homes, please post them in the comments section below.