Dear St Barts villa owner,
The new season is upon us, with our first villa rental guests starting to arrive in mid October. Our concierge team is ready to take great care of these clients, and will ensure that they have a memorable time away from home in your villa.
We are writing today to share some interesting reporting from the Collectivite on the 5% tax de se jour that we collect from each client. For the first time the government has made public the amount of tax collected, which provides insight into the size of the villa rental market, and our share of that market.
In calendar year 2022, the 5% tax collected from clients renting villas totaled 6.8 million euros, which accounted for 45% of the total tax collected by the government. From this we can deduce that the euro value of the villa rental market was 136.4 million euros in 2022.
We are happy to report that with this data, along with our collection of data on all villa reservations made from all sources, we are able to confirm that WIMCO St Barth Properties is the leading villa rental company for St Barts! That might have been obvious to some of you, however we don’t take anything for granted. We are setting our sights even higher in the upcoming season.
We are pleased to share additional reporting on St Barts tourism, and specifically the villa rental market. At the end of this newsletter, we will also share our thoughts about what all of this means for you, the villa owner.
The St Barts Villa Rental Market in 2023
The government requires any villa offering short term rentals to register with the government, to report all rental activity and revenues, and to collect a 5% tax on all rentals. Through this activity they are reporting that there are 628 active villas represented by villa rental agencies, and another 133 that are only available to rent outside of agencies (on listing platforms). The 761 villas have a total of 3,173 bedrooms.
The St Barts Hotel Market in 2023
There are now 14 hotels designed for tourism, with a total of 477 double occupancy rooms. Calendar year 2022 was the first year hotels surpassed villas in terms of tax collected, assisted by the reopening of the Rosewood Guanahani and the Barierre Carl Gustaf, and the extra 87 rooms they brought into the market.
Hotel Occupancy Rates by Month
There is no publicly available information on villa rental occupancy month by month, however the data provided by the hotel sector is instructive. There is one data point collected by hotels which is valuable for all of us in the villa sector to be aware of. The leisure traveler is booking shorter stays. In 2022, the median stay in hotels was 5.5 nights.
Nationality of Tourists Booking Hotels in St Barts
No surprise here, with the US accounting for 63% of travelers, and Europe adding another 26%. Within the US, the metro NY region (New York, Connecticut and New Jersey) accounts for almost 50% of travelers.
Where US tourists call home
Why is this Information Important?
A look at the supply side. At a high level, there are more rooms available for tourism than ever before. As we approach the new season, travelers can now choose from 761 private villas and 14 hotels. Across these two sectors there are now 3,650 bedrooms available for short term stays! That’s a tremendous amount of inventory to fill.
A look at the demand side. There are several factors in play that are impacting demand for vacations in St Barts. The one that is most frequently reported on publicly is the soaring cost of dining out. You have all experienced the mark-ups for wine, and the exceptional pricing for simple fare like burgers. It is increasingly expensive to vacation to St Barts.
The other factor to consider is what’s going on with the airlines. The cost to fly into St Martin and San Juan has increased significantly vs pre-pandemic pricing. This can be attributed to rising costs for fuel and labor, and a reduction in planes. Those higher prices can put a drag on demand.
The other issue is airline capacity into St Barts from San Juan and St Martin. While Tradewind has brought in much needed extra capacity, Win-Air and St Barth Commuter have about the same capacity they’ve had for years. Anyone who has tried to visit St Barts over Thanksgiving or New Years is likely to have experienced some level of stress trying to find inter-island flights into St Barts, especially if you booked at the last minute.
In short, the increase in the available seats per day on planes flying into St Barts has not kept pace with the increase in available rooms per night. That fact, coupled with increased airline ticket prices, is working to decrease demand for travel to St Barts.
At WIMCO St Barth Properties we have chosen to represent only what we see as the best villas on the island, within each bedroom count grouping. While we are confident that we have the best portfolio of villas, and the strongest marketing programs, even in the most popular weeks during peak season there are not going to be enough travelers to fill all of the villas we represent.
Those villa owners who are flexible on length of stay and price per night will no doubt see better results than those who are less flexible. We encourage you to make an appointment with Cathy Menard in our homeowner relations team to discuss options for maximizing your revenues for this upcoming season.
What we are Doing to Generate Demand for St Barts, and Your Villa
The marketing and sales teams at WIMCO St Barth Properties have always been known to take a very proactive approach to villa rentals. This year is no different. In addition to our successful client email newsletter program, we worked hard to reach out to new clients through a variety of channels. An excerpt of recent activity:
While all of us face some headwinds, we remain optimistic about the prospects for the upcoming season. Together we will achieve great things! To celebrate the start of the new season, we invite you to join us at GypSea at 6pm on Monday November 6 for some cocktails, good company, and additional market insights.
Thanks for reading this (if you’ve made it this far!). We welcome any and all feedback you have about the data we shared, our outlook, and about your villa.
All the best,
President WIMCO St Barth Properties