By Jane Bartnett
Despite the dire pandemic warnings, as of late November, the outlook for the Siesta Key rental market during the all-important “season” remains strong, property managers on the Key tell the Siesta Sand. “Our properties are reserved a year in advance,” said Beth Dilley of Ascendia Group, in discussing the challenges posed by the Coronavirus. “We are booked for season right now, but it truly is a day-to-day, nail-biting time. What we’re experiencing now could never have been imagined,” she said, speaking the words that ring true for everyone. With properties that include condominiums as well as single family homes, the majority of Ascendia’s guest are from the US. “We have had some cancellations from overseas customers,” she said, “which we anticipated.”
Looking ahead to the coming winter months ,Michael Holderness of Beachside Management, is also taking a positive view of the near future. “We’re seeing more energy coming here in 2021 than in 2020,” he said, noting that bookings for the season are “stacking and pacing ahead of last season.” Beachside Management’s busiest time of the year, he advised, has always been Valentine’s Day through Easter. “We’re doing a great amount of extra work to keep our rental properties sanitized and clean,” Holderness reported, speaking of his wide range of properties featured on the company’s website.
This year’s market, Holderness and Dilley agreed is heavily dependent on East Coast travelers as well as Floridians. “It’s going to be mostly domestic this year,” said Holderness. “We will benefit from low cost airline prices and low gas prices. Here on Siesta Key,” he stated, “we’re competing for bookings against Clearwater, St. Pete, Miami, and the Florida Keys. But,” he noted, “our great advantage is that we have the best beach in the country.” Earlier this year, Trip Advisor named Siesta Key not only the #1 beach in the country but also ranked it as the # 11 beach worldwide in their annual Travelers Choice Award. “Siesta Beach is truly a gem in our community,” said Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota.
“Siesta Key’s private home and condominium rental advantage is that the Key offers a place where people can drive and maintain a safe distance,” Dilley advised. “They can safely quarantine here and enjoy a peaceful getaway.” In a November 2020, Forbes magazine news article, Siesta Key property managers said that they are seeing great demand for “retreat properties,” as families and individuals look for safe, clean places to escape not only the cold weather but the confines of their homes during Coronavirus lockdowns imposed by many northern states and cities.
There have been random cancellations from concerned domestic travelers, managers say. “Some have requested refunds or we have moved their reservation to another time,” Dilley said.
Prices for Siesta Key rentals range and depend on the size of the unit, as well as the number of luxury accommodations in each unit. A review of the Siesta Key property management firm, Rent Siesta Key’s website, found rental properties that include “stunning ocean view homes, sophisticated townhomes, and beachy bungalows with unique features that may include resort-style heated pools, rooftop decks, huge kitchens, tiki huts, and elevators.” During season, Holderness stated, his firm’s houses and condos may average out at $179 a night, depending on market demand. “They can rise to $1,500 a night for Gulf-front during peak season,” he said. For the traveler to Siesta Key, many price options are available and are dependent on the individual property, its location, size and time of the year. The advantage, property managers say of renting from established Siesta Key firms as opposed to individual property owners, is that these rentals are legal and professionally managed. Houses and condominiums with pools, additional bedrooms and beach access command higher nightly and long term fees.
As the Siesta Sand reported earlier this year, Visit Sarasota County’s professional Consumer Sentiment Study, designed to understand what travelers planned for the upcoming months after the virus struck, found that Siesta Key held great appeal to East Coast and Florida vacationers who could drive here. While the Canadian and European market has been impacted, professionals believe that overseas travelers will return when countries open up for international travel and when the scientific community makes progress with vaccines to fight the virus.
For the near future, Holderness has funneled his short term advertising money online. As we head into the winter months, the Herald Tribune reported that “the visitors bureau continues to focus its advertising on the drive market — residents of Charlotte, North Carolina, or closer, with the exception of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The area is hoping to catch spontaneous travelers looking for a quick getaway.”
As the season begins, “I am hopeful,” said Dilley.
- Tags: short term rentals