It is usually older travelers who head south in the winter months. But in the age of the pandemic, more and more younger travelers are riding out the cold weather in places warmer and trendier than at home.
A new kind of “snow bird”
“Snowbirds” is the term used to describe seasonal travelers who move to warmer climates for the winter. They are typically older and retired, healthier and more educated than their peers.
However, they keep the same properties at home for the last few months. In their place, a new herd of travelers – unencumbered by office hours and Covid-aggravating diseases – dares to set out.
Florida’s Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa launched a One Month Life Swap program in November is aimed at those who work or study from home.
A one-month stay at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, which starts at $ 90 a night, includes breakfast, afternoon cocktails, beach rentals, and laundry services.
Courtesy of the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa
“Each year we typically offer a ‘Snowbird’ program to retirees,” said the resort’s general manager, Gary Brielmayer. “This year we saw the opportunity to expand this program.”
Brielmayer said interest in the program came from residents of Chicago, New York City and Indianapolis, but also from Atlanta and Dallas, “proving to us that weather is only part of the equation”.
“The idea of living in a resort used to be just a dream,” he told CNBC’s Global Traveler. “But now with so much work and schooling going online, this is a realistic lifestyle for many.”
The Atlantic Hotel & Spa in Fort Lauderdale, Florida also has an influx of guests staying for over a month this winter.
“I see this trend well into the summer months and well beyond the pandemic,” said Samuel Atwood, general manager of the hotel.
Longer flights, longer stays
Andrew Collins, president and CEO of private jet company Sentient Jet, said the length of customer travel has increased by 50% since the pandemic began. One-way flights are on the rise.
“We are flying the same number of legs as in 2019, but fewer of them are return flights and more of them are one-way,” he said.
Top destinations for Sentient Jet flyers include West Palm Beach and Key Largo, Florida, and Teterboro, New Jersey; White Plains, New York and Aspen, Colorado.
An exclusive resort home on Sea Island, Georgia.
Courtesy of Exclusive Resorts
Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against vacation travel last year, the membership-only vacation club, Exclusive Resorts, said it had five times as many reservations in the last month for trips lasting two weeks or longer than in December 2019.
The company, which gives members access to nearly 400 luxury homes in more than 75 destinations around the world, said the demand for longer trips is accelerating.
“Reservations from 14 [or more] The days in 2021 have more than doubled compared to 2020 – and are still to come, “said James Henderson, CEO of Exclusive Resorts. “We now have 72 such stays for the next 12 weeks, compared to 26 such stays in 2019.”
The company said month-long home rentals are popular in Scottsdale, Arizona and Sea Island, Georgia, as well as Hawaii, Costa Rica and Mexico.
House-like hotels thrive
As the hotel industry struggles through the first full winter of the pandemic, long-stay luxury hotel AKA reported that nearly 80% of its apartments were booked for the first quarter of this year.
This month the hotel reports that 78% of bookings are for a month or more, compared to 47% in January 2020.
AKA has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington and London.
With the kind permission of the AKA
AKA President Larry Korman said extended stay options are resonating with consumers who want a “home away from home” with kitchens, office facilities, living rooms and laundry services.
Apartment-style hotel company Mint House reported 91% occupancy in December 2020 and has booked 85% so far this month. There are five reservations in downtown Miami from New Yorkers staying from mid-December through March.
Mint House guests who stay 30 nights or more receive a discount of more than 50% on room rates. That discount is likely to change once business travel recovers, the company told CNBC.
Wanted: sun and safety
Some travelers are looking for sun and protection from rising Covid-19 infection rates on selected islands in the Caribbean.
One such place is Anguilla, which has recorded 15 cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began. Travelers to the UK overseas territory must obtain pre-authorization to pass three Covid-19 tests and quarantine 10 days after arrival.
Diego Angarita, the general manager of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla, said the average length of stay at the hotel more than doubled for bookings in 2021.
Guests who book 30 days or more at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla receive discounts.
Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla
Some guests “opt for a month or the entire winter season,” he told Global Traveler. “Many of our guests came for the festive holidays … and actually decided to extend through January and February.”
Hotel guests who stay 30 days or more receive free parking, in-person training, and other perks. Lovers of luxury can upgrade to a 6,050-square-foot penthouse and private air transportation from Puerto Rico via the hotel’s new “Ultimate Caribbean Escape” package.
New York City resident Stephen Paluszek, who owns a residence at the hotel, said he and his family had spent the past two weeks on the island, although he said they usually don’t visit during the holiday season.
“Knowing there would be fewer visitors this year, we were thrilled to come back and enjoy this great island,” he said. “We found the conditions for a visit very reasonable and totally enjoyed our return during our stay here.”
Winter places are hot too
Domestic guests at Yu Kiroro, a luxury ski-in / ski-out hotel at the foot of the Hokkaido resort Kiroro in Japan, are staying longer than in previous years.
“This reflects the global trend towards not just working from home but being where you really want to be,” said Alix Fachin, the hotel’s residence manager.
Yu Kiroro weekly prices start at 245,000 Japanese yen ($ 2,368 USD) per week.
Courtesy Yu Kiroro
According to Fachin, guests who stay seven nights or more pay at least 55% less than the average daily peak time.
For stays longer than two weeks, he said, “We can tailor even better night-rate packages than this.”