Hilton Head’s hordes of families on summer vacation have left, the beaches and the roads are a little less crowded, and the island has calmed from the fevered pace of high summer tourist season.
But with the cooler months comes another kind of vacationer: the snowbird. A snowbird is defined as northerner who moves to a warmer southern state in the winter, and in recent years their numbers have been on the increase on the island.
For island vacation property management companies, they are defined as people who rent for at least a month. Often, they stay for three months, primarily from late December through March.
“Less people aren’t going to come, only more,” said Dru Brown, director of sales and marketing at The Vacation Company. The majority, he said, are baby boomers looking for a better winter climate and activities.
He said that this winter, his company, which manages 305 rental properties around the island, is seeing 35 to 40 percent of its winter occupancy taken by long-term rentals.
Brown attributes the growth in snowbird rentals to an increase in direct flights to northern cities like Toronto, and the fact that there are more and more winter activities for visitors to enjoy.
Kimberly Morris, business development manager with Wyndham Vacation Rentals Hilton Head Island, concurs. “I feel this is on the increase every year,” she said of snowbird numbers. All the properties her company manages that allow winter rentals have been taken for the coming winter, she said.
Most, she said, are couples, though sometimes they are individuals, and they make for good renters because they are neat and well-behaved. “They’re usually your most gentle guests because they’re living here.” she said.
Jay Karr: 843-706-8150