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How Wealthy European Staycationers Saved The Luxury Vacation Rental Sector

Amid all the doom and gloom, one of the few bright spots for the European travel industry this summer was the luxury vacation rental market.

Photo: Luxury Vacation Rental Near St Tropez

November 6th, 2020 - The global travel industry has been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic with the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimating that global international tourist arrivals might decrease by up to 78% in 2020, leading to a potential loss of over a trillion dollars in international tourism receipts. Experts suggest the travel industry will take months, possibly even years, to recover, and the economic outlook will remain dismal for some time to come.

However, amid all this doom and gloom there are pockets of hope for the travel industry, a few bright spots where businesses not only recovered but, in some cases, actually increased revenues compared to previous years.

One of these fortunate bright spots where business boomed is the European super luxury vacation rental sector. Reports from luxury villa rental agencies suggest that the demand for high price luxury properties was even higher than in more ‘normal’ years, driven by the wealthy in Europe opting for super luxury staycations in their own countries this summer rather risk travel to their usual exotic destinations.

Luxury villa rental website Le Collectionist, for example, reported a surge in bookings for properties in France with a rental price of 30,000 Euros per week and above. Usually, their high-end property listings in France are booked by American or British clients, however, this summer’s guests have been overwhelmingly French, according to Max Aniort, a co-founder Le Collectionist.

Aniort says that booking revenues in June had more than doubled previous records, and that the business was even expanding due to demand.

‘We got so many requests that we had to find 100 extra properties between the beginning of May and June,’ he revealed.

Similar trends have been reported by other luxury rental agencies. Purple Summer, a London based agency offering a small hand-curated selection of properties in the Côte d’Azur and Mallorca, report higher than normal interest from French clients this summer with the local market easily compensating for the loss of guests from other countries.

Properties like Villa La Bastide des Virettes, just outside of the historic village of Tourrettes-sur-Loup in the South of France, with a rental of around 20,000 Euros per week in summer was snapped up by French clients rather than the usual Northern Europeans and Americans.

Photo: Villa La Bastide des Virettes, Tourrettes-sur-Loup

It was not only luxury rental agencies in France that benefitted from a surge in bookings from wealthy local guests, with other high-end European destinations also experiencing similar trends.

One such example is Sitges Hills Villas, who operate a portfolio of luxury properties in the upmarket Spanish resort of Sitges on the Mediterranean coast 35km south of Barcelona. Despite market disruption due to Covid-19, their high end properties were fully booked in July and August thanks mainly to wealthy Spanish families from Barcelona and Madrid, who were desperate to escape the city after months of stringent lockdown and yet didn’t want to risk travelling abroad.

“We never really had a significant ‘staycation’ element to our customer base until this summer, and especially not for our higher end properties,” explained Anya Fenninger, Director of Sitges Hills Villas. “This is a welcome trend that we hope will continue over coming years.”

Fenninger says that while their usual clients from Northern Europe and the USA would book one or two weeks, affluent Spanish families were taking luxury properties with pools for extended periods of a month or more. Homes such as Villa Los Leones, a luxury mansion with private pool close to the beach in Sitges can be rented for 13,000 Euros per week in peak season.

Villa Los Leones, a luxury vacation rental in Sitges

As vacation rental agencies all over Europe start preparing for next summer, many are hoping that this is the start of a fundamental shift in the preferences of wealthy travellers rather than a one-off event driven by an unprecedented health emergency.

The uncertainty surrounding travel and local and national lockdowns are likely to continue well into next year. The imposition of government travel restrictions, flight cancellations and border closures can happen anywhere and with little advanced notice. Experience this summer has shown that staycations offer the least risk of disruption and, unless there are significant breakthroughs in the prevention or treatment of Covid-19, all the signs suggest that luxury vacation rental agencies can look forward to welcoming wealthy locals for one more summer at least.


About The Author

Karl Sigurdsson - Senior Contributor

Karl is a senior contributor at and knows the European travel industry inside out. Karl is a freelance travel writer specialising in the European market. Karl studied at both Stockholm University and Reading University.

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