When the world gives you lemons, you’re supposed to make lemonade.
Premier Vacation Rentals Group, a vacation property management firm that operates in Durango and mountain towns across Colorado, is illustrating the value behind the old adage.
Premier is opening some of the vacation rentals it manages as lodging to people on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, including first responders, elderly members of an extended family who need to self-isolate and medical professionals who are exposed to a large number of people and who want to isolate themselves from their families.
Premier’s CEO Chris Bettin said, “Keith Brant, the company’s co-founder, and I have been trying to find some way to help the communities we work in as we experience historic cancellations and unprecedented impacts on our business at this time, just like our friends and neighbors are experiencing.
“Our large network of now-vacant homes and the generous homeowners we manage property for provide for a unique and viable housing opportunity for people temporarily impacted by this crisis.”
The company is working with participating homeowners for whom it manages properties to open the homes, now available because of canceled vacations, to offer almost-free lodging.
People who will be housed in the units will be asked to pay a cleaning fee and nominal damage waiver, said Bettin, who is also a Durango city councilor.
“You know, we were looking around to see what we could do. We, like a lot of businesses, came crashing to a halt with all this,” he said. “We figured: Hey, we’ve got nothing else to do businesswise, and this is something that can potentially make a big difference for some people.”
The intent of the temporary program is to bolster the resources available within the communities in which Premier operates by providing immediate, virtually free lodging, said Mary Beth Miles, chief operating officer for Premier. The properties available range from condominiums to townhomes to some single-family homes.
Bettin said about 30% of Premier’s homeowners are now participating in the program, but the number of participants is growing daily as word gets out about it. Currently, about 45 units are available in Durango.
“Our homeowners are the key element in all this. They’re impacted just like everyone. I’m sure some of them have a mortgage to make, and we’re coming up on the busy season in Durango – June, July and August – and they’re the ones who are really stepping forward to make this happen,” Bettin said.
The program will end when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and Premier is able to resume normal rental operations.
People who use the program must commit to a minimum seven-day stay, and they can recommit to stay in their lodging a week at a time until the program ends with the eventual fading of the COVID-19 crisis.
Besides Durango, the company operates in Ouray; Ridgway; Vail; Denver; Santa Fe; Moab, Utah; Bend, Oregon; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; and several other towns.
Individuals who qualify for the program include:
Local emergency responders.Medical professionals and military personnel assisting with emergency response efforts.Family members who are the primary caregivers or those who share living space with other family members in the highly sensitive population demographic who are ill or are required to interact with the public on a regular basis because of the nature of their profession.Relatives of patients who live in local markets and must travel to a town to care for a family member or another loved.People who require isolation and who cannot remain in their usual home, for example, people who are highly susceptible to COVID-19, like a grandparent living with their extended family.Teachers – especially those who work multiple jobs and have lost their second job because of COVID-19 and are struggling to find housing.
All applicants to the program will be required to undergo a screening process that includes a background check and financial screening.
Beyond the program offering almost-free temporary housing, Premier has set up another program for its homeowners to donate two-night complimentary stays to be offered to nonprofit organizations in the communities they operate. The stays will be used as auction items for fundraisers for organizations experiencing increased demands on their services at this time.