Tuesday, December 18, 2018


Chatting with people lately about their holiday plans it amazed me a bit how many people were traveling out of town to spend Christmas at a winter vacation home they or someone else in their family owned. It intrigued me how many of these homes are used as income generators through rentals with the owners setting aside prime dates like holidays for their own personal use of the properties. A fun place to spend time plus a way to make some money … I decided to look some more into this for my own family.

I discovered a new report from the vacation rental pros at Vacasa that wowed this guy who tends to head to warm weather spots when getting away from home … locals where people can enjoy outdoor winter activities is a real estate market that is getting really hot.  According to data compiled by Vacasa, winter month occupancy in winter vacation destinations are up almost 25% year over year since 2016.

Vacasa’s Winter Vacation Report identifies the top 10 winter destinations to buy a vacation home based upon the highest average occupancy increases in the winter months and choose the ones with the best one-year return on investment. While having a house you may visit only once or twice a year may seem like an unattainable luxury, this report from Vacasa put it into perspective but purchasing a vacation home in a winter vacation destination could actually be a wise investment that not only pays for itself through rentals but also adds income for you to put in the bank.

Here is their Top Ten List of Hot Winter Vacation Home Locals:

1. Okemo/Ludlow, VT 

Two hours south of Stowe, Ludlow is a quiet Vermont mountain village known for its vibrant history, friendly community, and natural beauty. Ludlow is home to Okemo Mountain Resort. Legendary among East Coast skiers, it boasts some of the best grooming in the world and was dubbed the nation’s best family resort by Parents Magazine. A small-but-mighty mountain market with affordable cabins and a growing booking season, this is an ideal region to buy a winter vacation home—especially if you’re willing to put in some work. The area saw a lot of construction in the ’70s and ’80s, and renovations help homes here stand out.

2. Mount Hood, OR 

A one-hour drive from Portland, Oregon, the Mount Hood vacation rental region is home to hundreds of miles of backcountry trails and three popular ski resorts: Timberline, Mt. Hood Skibowl, and Mt. Hood Meadows. If Timberline Lodge looks familiar when you visit, that’s because it was featured in the popular 1980 film The Shining, based on the Stephen King novel. But with moderate home prices, a steady stream of year-round guests, and a cap rate of nearly 6%, there’s nothing to be scared of in this market, especially in the town of Government Camp, which saw the area’s largest increase in guest occupancy.

3. Leavenworth, WA 

Nestled in Washington State’s scenic North Central Cascades just two hours from Seattle, Leavenworth features Bavarian architecture and laid-back alpine style. Proximity to town or the Wenatchee River drives up home costs but doesn’t necessarily impact demand, which is steady across the region. In Leavenworth, occupancy and amenities dictate rental revenue. It’s better to have five small bedrooms than three big ones, and adding a hot tub can increase your rental revenue up to 25 percent.

4. Park City, UT 

Home to the legendary Deer Valley and Park City Mountain Resorts, and hosting the star-studded Sundance Film Festival each winter, Park City is in a league of its own. Vacation rentals in Park City are top performers, but buyers who are willing to invest for the future will see better ROI in the up-and-coming areas just outside of town. Consider nearby Deer Valley Resort and new developments near the Jordanelle Reservoir and Heber-Kamas border. There are a lot of great places to buy vacation rental property near Park City if you’re patient—they’ll be ideal rental income drivers in a few years.

5. Steamboat Springs, CO 

Steamboat Springs is world-renowned for being a winter wonderland, thanks to its namesake resort. Steamboat Springs Ski Resort offers over 3,600 ft. of vertical rise and its longest run, coined “Why Not,” is more than three miles long. Non-skiers enjoy the area’s snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobile tours, and numerous geothermal hot springs. Driven by a booming November and January, Steamboat Springs saw a 26 percent increase in winter occupancy from 2016–2017—the second highest winter leap of our top 10 markets.

6. Big Bear Lake, CA 

California’s Big Bear Lake area is a four-season vacation rental destination nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains, 7,000 feet above sea level. This popular haven for outdoor enthusiasts is a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego through some of the state’s most beautiful scenery. Home to the pristine Big Bear Lake and commanding 63 inches of snow and nearly 300 sunny days each year, this area offers Southern Californians easy access to world-class skiing at Snow Summit Mountain and Bear Mountain Resort. Big Bear Lake is a beloved mountain market with even bigger potential as growing demand meets an expanding booking season.

7. Pagosa Springs, CO 

Flying under the radar in a state boasting some of the world’s most famous mountain resorts, and tucked into the upper basin of the San Juan Mountains along the Colorado Sunbelt, Pagosa Springs is one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets. But with nearby Wolf Creek ski resort offering some of the longest runs in Colorado, and surrounded by over three million acres of national forest, wilderness preserve, and tribal lands, this rugged resort town offers boundless adventure for guests—and big opportunity for vacation homeowners. With a 47 percent YOY increase in occupancy, this hidden gem won’t stay secret long.

8. Flagstaff, AZ 

Located about 150 miles north of the sun-soaked Phoenix area, Flagstaff sits at an elevation of roughly 7,000 feet, giving it a four-season, high desert climate unlike most of the state. During winter, vacation rental guests flock to Flagstaff to shred fresh powder at the Arizona Snowbowl. Offering postcard-perfect hiking trails as well as the snowy San Francisco Peaks, and located only 80 miles from Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff offers year-round opportunity for vacation homeowners.

9. Stowe, VT 

Known by many as the "Ski Capital of the East," Stowe is a small town offering big opportunity for vacation home buyers. Stowe is located in north-central Vermont and is more or less equidistant from Albany, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Hartford, Connecticut; and Portland, Maine. Train and bus access to nearby Waterbury, just 10 miles south of Stowe, makes this one of the most easily accessible ski towns for vacation rental guests on the East Coast. Stowe experienced a 51 percent YOY jump in shoulder season occupancy. Like many others on this list, it is becoming increasingly popular as a multi-season destination, which is great news for the town as well as for those looking to own a vacation home there.

10. North Lake Tahoe, CA 

The North Lake Tahoe vacation rental region—which includes towns such as Truckee, Tahoe City, Kings Beach, Olympic Valley, and Norden—boasts some of the Sierra Nevada’s best mountain resorts. Visitors traveling from the crowded cities and bustling suburbs of the Sacramento Valley and beyond come here for the snow—and when they want accommodations a little outside the typical resort communities along the Lake Tahoe shore. North Lake Tahoe boasts 6,000 acres, 270 trails, 43 lifts, eight mountain peaks, and six terrain parks. With lower home prices and lighter regulations than nearby South Lake Tahoe, this area is a winter wonderland for vacation homeowners who want a home that delivers big on mountain experiences and occupancy in a growing market.


Check out the full Vacasa Winter Vacation Report here for tips on what to consider before purchasing a rental property, a listing of properties in these hot winter destination markets, and financial numbers to help make an informed decision on these type of investments. Vacasa has peeked my interest in potentially purchasing a dream home that my family can enjoy that will also generate income to diversify my financial portfolio of investments. Check out their report for yourself.

No comments:

Post a Comment