Travel

Why Colorado Has the Highest Short-Term Rental Prices in the U.S.

Short-term rental units at the Plunge J complex at 673 West Pacific Avenue in Telluride are booked solid on Saturday, March 27.
Short-term rental units at the Plunge J complex at 673 West Pacific Avenue in Telluride are booked solid on Saturday, March 27. Google Maps
Despite the pandemic, Colorado's short-term rental business is booming. With ski season in full swing and spring break attracting thousands of college students over the next couple of weeks, the state has four of the top twenty most-expensive STR markets. And Telluride occupies the top slot.

These revelations are contained in a new report by Beyond Pricing, a website devoted to pricing, insights and support for vacation rental managers. The analysis examines March prices at popular vacation destinations from Hawaii to Florida and everything in between. And the fees currently being commanded for the short-term rental of two-bedroom apartments are eye-popping.

According to the data, STR prices across Colorado as a whole have increased by 25 percent since March 2020. That's considerably higher than the 17 percent boost in such traditional spring break faves as Florida, Arizona and California, despite a 34 percent increase of listed units in the U.S. as a whole.

The average March rent for a two-bedroom STR nationwide is $242.89 per day, up 11.4 percent from the same month in 2020. But rates in Telluride, Aspen/Vail, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs leave those digits in the dust.


Here are the twenty most expensive short-term rental markets this month:
1. Telluride, Colorado
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $451.69

2. Hamptons Region, New York
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $417.02

3. Catalina Island, California
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $398.93

4. Nantucket Region, Massachusetts
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $389.64

5. Aspen and Vail, Colorado
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $383.65

6. Park City, Utah
Average Price of a Two Bedroom: $379.78

7. Florida Keys, Florida
Average Price of a Two Bedroom: $353.37

8. Breckenridge, Colorado
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $344.59

9. Mammoth Lakes, California
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $343.26

10. Cape May, New Jersey
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $342.45

11. Santa Barbara, California
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $309.32

12. Maui, Hawaii
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $307.16

13. Big Sky, Montana
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $301.99

14. Monterrey Region, California
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $299.37

15. Kauai, Hawaii
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $296.18

16. Joshua Tree, California
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $289.53

17. Napa Region, California
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $282.06

18. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $278.82

19. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $278.69

20. Big Bear Lake, California
Average Price of a Two-Bedroom: $275.46
To understand the factors that have made Colorado so costly these days, we reached out to Julie Brinkman, CEO of Beyond Pricing. Here's what she had to say:

Westword: Why are short-term rentals in Colorado so expensive compared to other states with significant
spring-break appeal?

Julie Brinkman: The data we are looking at in this report is for all of March, which includes the peak combination of ski season and spring break in Colorado. That "double demand" for short-term rentals around
popular ski markets would be the same as July 4th in a summer beach destination, where both events and seasonality happen in a specific popular period of the calendar year, which includes school breaks for children. Colorado and its ski markets also have higher rates as their length of stay is lower than the traditional spring break beach markets. For March 2021 in Colorado, for example, the average stay is 4.2 days, while the Florida Panhandle is 5.3 and Hilton Head is 6.8. Ski markets are more weekend-driven than their beach counterparts and get higher rates because of it.

In addition to demand for ski markets, a subtle but noteworthy trend is people’s appetite to spend longer periods of time in the state to feel what it’s like to live in Colorado. Migration to Colorado is at an all-time high, and the demand to rent a home for a month or two at a time to further explore the community before cementing roots is also contributing to higher prices.

Colorado has four of the most expensive short-term rental markets in the country. Why did those four
rise to the top?


Colorado has some of the most expensive short-term rentals in the country due to its ski markets. In fact, a large percent of the most expensive markets involve ski resorts or those that offer that specific attraction. Park City, Mammoth, Big Sky and Jackson Hole are all on the list ,as well.

What is it about Telluride that justifies such high short-term rental rates?

People like the charm of that town. Additionally, its popularity could be driven by its ski and golf resort that caters to those enthusiasts. More important, what drives up prices significantly is the low inventory that exists there.

Are these rates specific to spring break, or are they expected to stay high even after that period is over — and if so, why?

We looked at rates for all of March in this analysis. Overall rates are expected to stay elevated until dropping on April 4th and then subsequently on the 11th. As of now, spring rates are similar to 2019, but early June is already looking to outpace 2020 with a 15-20 percent increase. This isn’t a surprise, as most Colorado ski markets had an exceptional summer last year with the pent-up demand for freestanding homes near nature.

Are there any parts of Colorado that are spring-break friendly and have better short-term rental rates compared to other parts of the country — or is pretty much anywhere in Colorado that a spring breaker might want to visit going to be expensive?

While the mountains are all expensive at this time, there are some deals in other areas to capitalize on. Areas without a key winter attraction that is COVID-safe remain relatively inexpensive. Colorado Springs has the lowest rates in the state for markets that we cover, followed by Denver, Pagosa Springs and Chaffee County.

Colorado is known for having stricter COVID-19 protocols than many other spring break-friendly states. Do you think that will prove to be an impediment, or will spring breakers come here in large numbers despite such policies?

Colorado will continue to be a top getaway destination despite its strict regulations. People are uncovering a number of specifics before reaching their vacation spot and ensuring they are checking off the list in order to not spoil their travel plans. However, looking at this from a purely generational cohort perspective, places like Colorado may deter some of the younger travelers that might not want to vacation in a place that has so much red tape. We can expect with the seasons changing as well, that group of travelers might be seeking other destinations that offer sand and beach together.

Click to read the full Beyond Pricing report.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts