Florida’s most popular Airbnb is a short drive from downtown Miami. This is what it is
Behind a low-key white textured one-story home in Biscayne Park sits Florida’s most popular Airbnb rental.
Paola Ugolini has lived in the 1920s house with her family for 17 years. Originally, she envisioned her cottage in the backyard as a place to stay for loved ones from Europe when they visited Miami. But family visits were rare and the chalet remained empty for much of the year. So, when Ugolini heard about a website where she could list the chalet and accommodate tourists in 2014, she decided to give it a try.
Now his chalet has become the Most Popular Airbnb Listing in Florida, measured by the number of times browsers added it to their wishlists, according to Airbnb.
“Now, one after another, the list is almost fully booked,” she said.
Biscayne Park is not usually a stopover on the Miami sightseeing tour. It’s a small, triangle-shaped residential neighborhood just north of Miami Shores known for its 1930s log cabin and “Don’t even think about speed!” ” panels. Most one-story houses are on green lawns; small boulevards divide the narrow, shady streets.
Only about 3,184 people live in Biscayne Park, according to the most recent estimate from the 2017 U.S. Census. Median household income is estimated at $ 69,750, well above that of Miami-Dade, and the crime rate is weak.
Ugolini’s cottage in its palm-fringed courtyard has hosted nearly 400 guests from 26 countries since she started renting on Airbnb in 2014.
“I like to host because I like to receive people and listen to their stories, and I think that gives a special energy to me,” she said.
Ugolini rents her cabin for $ 85 to $ 100 a night, depending on the season. The one-room structure – named the “cozy and charming chalet” – has terracotta floors; a queen-size bed sits in the middle of the room next to a desk and chair. The studio has a small TV, mini fridge, coffee maker, microwave and small wardrobe. The walls of the chalet are covered with artwork that Ugolini says reflects Miami’s multicultural nature – a painting by a Haitian artist, a Peruvian table runner.
Rear doors open to a table and chairs onto a shaded patio. You can use the backyard swimming pool. The chalet has a private entrance from the street, which allows guests to come and go without meeting the owners.
So why this # 1 list? It probably has something to do with the service: Ugolini got the coveted “Superhost” designation from the website, which means it responds to all booking requests quickly. She goes the extra mile by providing guests with additional sunscreen, bug spray, beach chairs, bikes, snacks, travel guides, and toothbrushes. Two chocolates are waiting in the mini-fridge along with two cokes, Corona beers and fruit juices.
Personal touches pay off. The chalet has 183 highly praised five-star reviews.
“Our host made our stay 10X better with the lovely surprises and amenities!” Kayla, who visited the chalet last August, said in her online review.
“Everything was very clean and Paola paid attention to detail providing a lot of practical features / accessories in the chalet,” said Charles, who visited last April.
He has fierce competition. The finalist for Florida’s Most Wanted Airbnb Rental is a resort in Seminole County outside of Orlando that offers treehouse accommodation, an airplane hanger, and a yurt. The # 1 top-selling rental in the United States is a treehouse in Atlanta that is almost fully booked until February 2020.
“The common thread when we look at most wishlists around the world is that they all have a unique, non-repeatable quality,” said Ben Breit, senior director of public affairs at Airbnb. “As with the Georgia list, where else can you find a magical treehouse like this?” With Paola’s list, the non-reproducible quality seems to be Paola herself.
Ugolini said she has a lot of newlyweds who want to be left alone. Other guests are more social; they attend neighborhood parties or have a drink with Ugolini and her family on the porch. During Hurricane Irma, two Argentinian guests stranded at Miami International Airport were asked to return to the chalet for free for a week.
“We have become good friends,” she said. “They were so happy to be with us. They didn’t know what a hurricane could be.
Ugolini heard about Airbnb right after she was fired from her job at an Italian fashion company, she said. “It was the perfect timing.” She spends time every day responding to inquiries from interested customers and questions from people who have already booked. She takes care of housekeeping between reservations and replenishes supplies. There are only a handful of days in a given month that the chalet is empty.
Airbnb continues to gain popularity among visitors to Florida. Ugolini is one of the state’s 45,000 Airbnb hosts, a 40% increase since 2016. Florida hosts earned $ 810 million last year while hosting 4.5 million customers, according to Airbnb. Some cities in Florida are better suited to Airbnb than others. Biscayne Park, where Ugolini lives, does not have an ordinance against short-term rentals, but requires owners to have permits. Ugolini said she had a professional license which allowed her to have a home business. Miami Beach, on the other hand, has the highest fines in the country for people listing their properties in non-designated areas.
Ugolini said her neighbors barely noticed her guests and insisted that they are never loud or rowdy. But some in Biscayne Park would like the village to take a stronger stance against short-term rentals. Jared Susi, who has lived in the neighborhood for seven years, said he wanted Biscayne Park to use its landlord permit rules to regulate hosts.
“I have a young family, it’s not a rental community,” he said. “We bought at Biscayne Park to raise our family. With an Airbnb, we don’t know who’s there. The village manager of Biscayne Park did not respond to requests for comment on his policies.
Ugolini plans to continue renting his chalet. It is complete for March.
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