Naples and West Palm Beach Capture South Florida’s Vacation Renters

Fort Myers lost 3,000 units due to Hurricane Ian, helping fuel Naples’ bump

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South Florida may be a vacation hot spot, but Miami, its biggest market for vacation rentals, has been shown up by smaller rivals. 

Miami’s vacation rental market has largely flatlined. Available listings on sites like Airbnb and VRBO were up 4 percent annually in Miami in July, while nights booked were down 4 percent the same month, the off-season for South Florida, according to data from analytics firm AirDNA. Occupancy and average daily rates were both entirely flat.  

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Miami’s performance can’t be blamed entirely on the season or the 100-degree temps, however, because other South Florida cities, on both coasts, have thrived. West Palm Beach saw plenty of new listings in July, along with an influx of vacation renters to snap them up, posting a 28 percent annual increase in listings and a 35 percent bump in nights stayed, leading to a 3.1 percent increase in occupancy, according to AirDNA data provided to Commercial Observer. 

That far outpaces the U.S. national average, which saw record demand for vacation rentals in July, up 9.4 percent from last July, according to an AirDNA report. Occupancy was down 1.3 percent due to a flood of inventory. 

The real winner in the southern half of Florida was Naples, which saw a 43 percent bump in nights stayed in July — due to its own popularity, certainly, but also likely due to spillover from the Fort Myers area, which has not yet recovered from Hurricane Ian in September 2022. 

“Naples has been seeing steady growth for a while, so as a destination it was well positioned when, secondly, Cape Coral and Fort Myers lost about 3,000 listings from Hurricane Ian,” AirDNA economist Bram Gallagher wrote in an email. “Some demand that might have gone there could be diverted to Naples instead.”

Fort Myers’ lost listings translate to about 20 percent of its inventory, leading to a 31 percent decrease in nights stayed. 

Fort Myers also has different seasonal patterns, which could mean the Naples bump is an anomaly — though it might be one that sticks. 

“Cape Coral/Fort Myers traditionally has a different seasonal pattern, with both March and July as seasonal peaks, so diverted travelers may be arriving in Naples later in the season than usual,” said Gallagher.

West Palm Beach and Naples were also the only two markets south of Orlando to see daily rates increase, with West Palm Beach rates up 6.3 percent to $305.78 per night and Naples up 7.9 percent to $365.56. Nevertheless, Key West remained the priciest market in South Florida, at $506.16 a pop.

Chava Gourarie can be reached at cgourarie@commercialobserver.com.