Back to beach basics, but at a price
IT used to be that if you wanted to snare a great holiday house for Christmas at the beach you started looking about 12 months (if not 12 years) ahead.
The global financial crisis sorted that out. Now you can book a fabulous bolthole just a couple of months out from the festive season — perhaps something with a serious pool, multiple living spaces and designer kitchen. But it depends very much on your choice of location.
At Mission Beach in far north Queensland, the holiday rental outfit headed by Steve Wiltshire is slashing prices on its luxe properties from $1000 a night to $850 a night for the festive season. Almost 80 per cent of its beach houses and waterside apartments are now let for Christmas.
‘‘Worldwide, private holiday house bookings are growing and it appears resorts are waning in popularity, other than those in Bali,’’ Wiltshire says.
Of course, he would say that. But there’s no denying that, from the posh residences of Sydney’s Palm Beach down the east coast to Melbourne’s Portsea, holiday house rentals are suddenly popular again. Some reckon it’s a lot easier to drive to your destination than fly somewhere exotic, particularly if you have kids in tow or you want to make the odd visit to the office during your break. Others like the concept of families and friends renting a house during the Christmas period to save costs and to share the festive fun.
Still, on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Beach House Rentals director Glen Begley reports most of her best Christmas properties are booked out the previous January. She says the holiday rental market, taking in posh suburbs such as Portsea and Sorrento, is doing fabulously. ‘‘Bookings increase every year, but this year it seems more places have been booked out earlier than usual,’’ she says. ‘‘We have listed properties at $12,500 a week and they’ve been taken within a couple of days.’’
Prices are even steeper in Palm Beach, where holiday house renters think nothing of forking out $40,000 a week come Christmas. Palm Beach Holiday Rentals coowner Diana Edwards says: ‘‘Last year the high end was dead. This year I have more [people than ever] who want to pay $15,000 a week. Everyone is exhausted with the stress of the GFC . . . people tell me they do not want to get on a plane with kids and worry about [different] languages, the jet lag . . . This is about lobbing up the road to the beach with the traditional Li-Lo and bucket and spade; it’s about coming back to the basics.’’
But Edwards adds that she is ‘‘freaking out’’, with more staff and cleaners on her books for a season that looks likely to triple last year’s returns.