Would you pay over R311K to live in a hotel room for a month? Some guests are
By Shannon McMahon
Beachfront cabanas, a heated pool, an empty fitness centre, room service - escaping to a hotel sounds pretty good on even the most mundane of days. But what about living in one for a month?
As people have more flexibility to work away from the office, longer periods of travel are becoming the norm to optimise potentially risky flights and complicated Covid-19 tests. But nightly-rate hotel stays are usually too pricey to be friendly for long-term visits, often making vacation rentals a better option.
But since the pandemic has slashed hotel business, some hotels and resorts are adjusting by offering month-long stays that could be less expensive than your rent or mortgage payment. Others are demanding some eye-popping prices.
On the deal end of monthly stays, the Waldo Emerson Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine, is renting out some of their rooms monthly for less than 25% of its normal rate. The average rate in the offseason is $250 (R3900) a night, or $7,500 (R116 995) a month. "Currently I'm renting two of my rooms for $1,800 a month" each, says innkeeper Hana Pevny. She notes that the demand for monthly stays at the bed-and-breakfast has been "very high" because of the coronavirus.
But would you pay $20,000 (R311 987) a month to stay in a hotel suite? The luxe Brazilian Court Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., is betting on it with its "Key to Paradise" extended-stay package that starts at $24,000 per month for a one-bedroom suite available December through April. Two-, three-, and four-bedroom suites are available monthly for a rate of $40,000 (R624 638). The hotel does not offer any kitchenettes in its rooms but says it has added countertop smart-ovens to suites and has turned mini bars into fridges.
The Brazilian Court has sold out of their multi-bedroom suites over many dates during the snowbird season from December to April, which is when people travel to warmer areas for the colder months. The property says it has booked more than 25 stays of 30 nights or longer.
And it is not the only property making changes to its rooms as an investment for long-term stays. South Oregon's Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites remodelled its suites in the early days of the pandemic to accommodate kitchens, and it says the response has been "shocking." Kitchen suites are $1,900 (R29 670) per month, and rooms or standard suites are $1,400 to $1,600 (R21 862 to R24 985) per month.
"With all that's happened in 2020, Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites saw the writing on the wall for people needing extended stays," spokesperson Katie Schoen said. The added kitchens, she says, "opened the floodgates." Pre-pandemic, Ashland Hills had six extended-stay reservations on the books. As of November, it had more than 70 scheduled.
Some of the most economical long-term stays are at properties with kitchenette units or stand-alone cabins. Angels Rest on Resurrection Bay, a cabin ground near Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, Alaska, opened up monthly rentals from October through April for as little as $800 (R12 492) per month, or $1,000 (R15 616) for two people. The rate includes free parking, wifi and weekly housekeeping.
More splurge-worthy hotels are focusing on adding amenities to their long-term stays. Beginning Jan. 4, Costa Rican luxury hotel Tierra Magnifica is including in its "Vacation Home Office" package a 30% discount on stays longer than a week, plus morning yoga and included laundry services. High-season rates from December through April start at $365 (R5700) per night for rooms and $795 (R12 415) per night for suites.
Even all-inclusive resorts are getting in on the month-long market. Viva Wyndham, a Wyndham resort line, is taking 15% off its lowest available rates for stays of 30 days or more at locations in the Dominican Republic and Mexico.
For a truly far-off monthly stay, luxury resort the Nautilus Maldives has created an $82,200 (R1 283 632) monthly package for its private "Beach House" overwater bungalows. The 30-night rate includes access to a coronavirus testing facility "via luxury speedboat should [guests] present symptoms or require a negative PCR test certificate prior to departure."
Also included in the rate is a snorkelling tour, a spa treatment, a private sunset dolphin cruise, daily yoga and daily breakfast served to the bungalow. The Nautilus reopened under coronavirus protocols on September 1, and the Maldives are open to Americans with a negative coronavirus test in hand.