Gone are the days of celebrities trashing five-star hotel rooms and throwing TVs out of windows, at least if Justin Bieber’s recent tour of Britain’s mansions and arenas is anything to go by.
The Canadian popstar was rumored to have snagged a £108,000-a-month (US$135,000) long-term rental on so-called Billionaire’s Row in North London and was spotted at a number of short-term luxury rental homes across the U.K., including a 14-bedroom castle (Kinross House Estate in Perthshire), when he was on tour in October.
And the “Sorry” singer is not the only celebrity that has been choosing luxury rentals over five-star hotels in the past few years, as an increasing number of stars opt for additional levels of privacy in the social media age as well as more space for their ever-growing entourages —whether they’re on tour, shooting a movie or simply on vacation, while the number of companies managing the rental arrangements continue to grow.
When Leonardo DiCaprio filmed “The Revenant” in Calgary, for example, he reportedly stayed in a luxury rental property. Canadian rental firm UNIQUE Accommodations, meanwhile, was tasked with finding a home large enough for Tim Burton’s furniture when he was directing “Big Eyes” in Vancouver (he likes to travel with his own furniture apparently).
James Harris, a broker and star of “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles” also uses short-term vacation rental company Onefinestay, which has a portfolio of homes in London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles, Miami and Rome, for his clients who may be in town for a month because they’re shooting a movie or need temporary accommodation as they’ve sold their home, but their new property isn’t ready.
“They want five-star hotel amenities, but luxury home comforts, and privacy at the same time,” he told Mansion Global. “Many clients also have kids, so having the extra space a home provides is really important to them”.
Luxury rental companies becoming more prevalent
Part of this trend has been fueled by the growing number of luxury rental companies around the world that have sprung up over the past few years, specializing in providing amenities to match five-star hotels.
One of these is Luxico, which was started by husband-and-wife team Tom and Alex Ormerod about three years ago in their native Australia to fill a gap in the market.
“Celebrities travel with entourages so we’re often scouting for multiple properties to accommodate the principal artist and their support staff,” said Ms. Ormerod, who works closely with location managers, tour managers and celebrity agents.
“Privacy, security and discretion is key and they struggle to get that from hotels,” she said. “We use internal people who check out the potential risks so when we’re putting forward the properties we can give recommendations and develop contingency plans.”
“We don’t tell anyone who is staying at the properties—even our staff are kept in the dark if there are celebrities in residence to minimize the possibility of their location becoming known,” Mrs. Ormerod added.
Luxico mainly works on word of mouth and now has 200 properties across Australia. The properties are priced anywhere between A$500 (US$369) and A$10,000 (US$47,382) per night depending on the season, the property and the length of stay.
For Mrs. Ormerod, the owners whose home she’s renting out are just as important as the celebrity or wealthy renters. Many of them are very well known in their respective industries, so they too value their privacy and want their properties to be to be well cared for. She wouldn’t rent a property to anyone she suspected wouldn’t take care of it, she says.
Not just for bold-face names
Another company that has capitalized on this trend is InvitedHome, a U.S.-based luxury vacation home rental business, which manages a number of privately owned properties worth as much as $20 million in the likes of Maui, Telluride and Santa Barbara. Prices vary from a few hundred dollars a night to $20,000 a night for a six-bedroom Colorado estate.
In addition to the privacy factor, celebrities and wealthy individuals also appreciate “the ability to have friends and family vacation with them,” said Wendy Purvey, the chief marketing officer of InvitedHome. “It’s only recently that companies like InvitedHome are filling the unique vacation needs of this distinct demographic.”
“Whether it’s a celebrity or someone with great wealth, discretion is paramount, yet not always guaranteed with many online booking websites,” added Henry Parry-Okeden, InvitedHome’s co-founder. “We provide peace of mind by managing their entire private vacation retreat.”
While they filmed in Telluride, InvitedHome hosted many of the cast and crew members of Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight,” which starred Samuel L. Jackson and Channing Tatum, Mr. Parry-Okeden said.
Like most of the other companies in this arena, including Luxico and Onefinestay, the company strives to match all the services a five-star hotel front desk can provide—including private chefs, stocking fridges, babysitting and even ski butlers. This level of service is what they believe sets them apart from the likes of Airbnb.
What’s in it for the wealthy homeowners?
For their part, many owners of these short-term luxury rental properties are savvy investors to whom hassle free income is interesting—especially since many of these properties are second homes and not primary ones, according to Evan Frank, the chief executive of OneFineStay.
“When it comes to the cost of buying these properties and other expenses many of these homeowners will have—like private school fees—generating meaningful income from a property when you’re not using it is attractive,” said Mr. Frank, who rents out properties from around $5,000 a week to as much as $100,000 for a month or two.
“We have to articulate that this will not be a lot of work, as it will be fully insured and we will do all the hard work like guest vetting and cleaning,” Mr. Frank added.
And if that pitch fails, they have also started offering New York townhouse owners basic caretaker services all year round (even when they are at home) in exchange for listing their property for part of the year.
“We offer a real New York of London experience through helping our clients stay in a carriage house or a townhouse,” he said.
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