Larry Starr, president of ResortQuest International’s Southwest Florida division, says that the vacation-rental company is in expansion mode.
According to Starr, within the next 30 to 60 days, the company will move into the space at 6350 Gulf of Mexico Drive, where Engel & Völkers Longboat Key and Sun Resorts International are currently located, to serve its north-Key rentals. The company will add a total of up to four offices in the next year, including locations on Anna Maria Island and Siesta and Lido keys, while remaining in its main office at 4030 Gulf of Mexico Drive.
Ray Alexander, president/broker of Engel & Völkers Longboat Key and Engel & Völkers Anna Maria, was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Starr said that the need for short-term rentals has increased throughout the past decade, not just on Longboat Key and its adjacent islands but throughout the entire tourism industry. Approximately 10 years ago, the average length of stay was approximately 45 days; now, it is just one or two weeks.
“There remain guests who stay on the island for 90 days, but the trend is most certainly toward shorter stays,” Starr said. “People are taking more vacations of a shorter duration.”
Starr said that the need for short-term rentals has been pronounced in recent years, beginning with the closure of the Longboat Key Holiday Inn in 2000. Last fall’s suspension of hotel operations at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, which has since reopened 73 of its 232 units, created more need. According to Starr, ResortQuest has just three rentals out of hundreds of properties in its inventory available for a span of 10 days before to 10 days after Easter.
“When that happens, it breaks the cycle,” Starr said. “A visitor comes here to stay short-term and eventually buys here … it’s not good to be short on vacation rental units.”
ResortQuest will also add vacation properties to its inventory, in part because of the slow real-estate market.
“What we’re finding is that people who bought a condominium and thought they were going to sell it have found that they’re going to hold on for a while and are turning to rentals to generate income until the time comes to move into it or sell it for a price that’s more in line with what they paid for it,” Starr said. “I believe that will be a trend for the next year or two.”
ResortQuest currently operates the Silver Sands, Cabana Beach Club and The Beach resorts, on Longboat Key, and Beach Club and Sunrise Garden resorts, on Anna Maria Island. ResortQuest’s Southwest Florida division serves Lee County through Pinellas County.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].