How to Rent a Pool in the San Antonio Area This Summer Using Swimply, the Airbnb for Backyard Pools

Amy Simpson and her husband, Torin, don’t own a pool. But when the temperatures turn scorching and they’re desperate for a place to cool off, they don’t head to the nearest crowded public pool; they rent a garden pool for their exclusive use.

“We like the idea of ​​having our own private space for two or three hours,” said Amy, an Air Force attorney who estimated that since last March they’ve rented three different pools a total of eight times. . “It’s nice not to have to share.”

The Simpsons book their short stays on the pool sharing app Swimply. Like Airbnb for backyard pools, Swimply connects owners of underutilized liquid assets with those looking for a place to cool off.

Retired graduate nurse Diana Palafox, who has already made nearly $1,000 with her Stone Oak pool since early March, said she sees Swimply as an easy way to earn what she calls “the money mad”. She charges $60 an hour and said most of her guests are families coming to swim to escape the pandemic.

“I have to take care of the swimming pool and my garden anyway, so why not earn some money too?” she said.

Founded in 2019, Swimply will have approximately 30,000 pools registered this summer in the United States, Australia and Canada. This is 3.6 times more than last year. In December, the company announced that it had received $40 million in funding of GGV Capital, one of Airbnb’s largest investors.

There are 37 Swimply pools listed in the San Antonio area, though several don’t accept reservations until later in the spring or early summer. They rent between $15 and $100 per hour, with discounts sometimes available for multiple bookings.

“We’ve seen strong growth as pool owners look for ways to capitalize on what is often an underutilized asset,” said Asher Weinberger, the company’s co-founder and chief operating officer. “At the same time, the pandemic has continued to force families stuck at home to seek out safe outdoor activities.”

A Swimply adviser told Fortuna Vardeman that her pool was fancy enough to command $100 an hour, but recommended that she only charge $60 an hour initially until she racked up enough goodies. criticisms to justify the higher price.

Fortuna Vardeman

He said the company is taking a more hands-on, neighborly approach and is now offering hosts up to $1 million in liability insurance and up to $10,000 in property damage protection (with a minimum deductible of $250) per visit.

New hosts are also guided in determining what to charge, how to keep their pools sparkling clean, and where guests will park so they don’t annoy neighbors. For example, a Swimply advisor told new pool host Fortuna Vardeman that his pool outside Cibolo was fancy enough to command $100 an hour, but recommended he only charge $60 until which it racks up enough good reviews to justify the higher rate.

Pool owners, or hosts, tend to fall into one of three categories, according to Weinberger: Some are trying to start a pool rental business; others want to reduce the financial burden of owning a swimming pool; others are simply motivated by a desire to “give back” and share their pool with others.

While some hosts — especially those who live in warm regions where they can operate their pools year-round — can make as much as $200,000 a year, Weinberger said it’s not unreasonable for a host committed to expect to earn up to $5,000 per month. .

In addition to the pool, most hosts include basic items such as pool toys, umbrellas, lounge chairs, dining tables, and bathroom access with their rentals. Amenities such as towels, fire pits, barbecue grills, and hot tubs are sometimes included and sometimes available for a fee.

Unlike most public and private pools, guests are often allowed to bring their own food, alcohol, and even pets, though this is at the discretion of the host.

Hosts say most tenants, like the Simpsons, just want a place to hang out on a hot summer day. About 10% of bookings are for special occasions, such as birthdays, family reunions and graduation parties. Pools have also been set aside for lifeguards to teach; as baptismal fonts and backgrounds for photo shoots and music videos; and even to test underwater drones.

Katherine Rodriguez recently rented Vardeman’s pool outside Cibolo for a family reunion. It was the first time many had seen each other since before the pandemic.

“The site was easy to use and book,” Rodriguez said. “And I liked being able to communicate with Fortuna to ask her things like what we should bring and where we can park.”

About 20 adults and children splashed around in the pool for about four hours. While they brought most of their own food and some adult drinks, Vardeman prepared two traditional Filipino dishes: chicken pancit, a noodle dish, and pork lumpia, the Filipino version of spring rolls.

“They were $30 each and they were delicious,” Rodriguez said.

Swimply makes money by taking 15% of the host fee and charging renters a 10% booking fee.

However, not all host-guest matches are winners. Simpson said a pool she and her husband had booked was so murky they couldn’t see their hands in the water.

“The owner blamed the chemicals he added,” she said. “We decided to stay and I left a candid review. But it was removed by Swimply or the hosts.

According to Weinberger, Swimply only removes reviews that violate its operating policies, and hosts can only flag a review for Swimply to investigate.

Amy and Torin Simpson, along with a friend's young daughter, relax in the pool they recently rented on the Swimply sharing platform.  Amy estimated that since last March they have rented three different pools in and around San Antonio a total of eight times.

Amy and Torin Simpson, along with a friend’s young daughter, relax in the pool they recently rented on the Swimply sharing platform. Amy estimated that since last March they have rented three different pools in and around San Antonio a total of eight times.

Amy Simpson

Sometimes it’s the guests that get out of control. Mark Salas, a disabled veteran, runs his Oak Hills pool like a business, spending two to three hours preparing it for each new group. While most treat him with respect, he said, he has developed a sixth sense to help him spot troublemakers and quickly close their investigations.

“I still had people who were really messy,” he said. “One time I found a dirty diaper on the lawn and candy wrappers everywhere. And I had people take my pool toys.

Yet he only had to blacklist one group after their brutality destroyed a paddle board and a basketball goal.

Building on its success, Swimply is now testing the rental potential of other home amenity areas, such as basketball and tennis courts, home gyms, music studios, and carpentry shops. Early reports indicate that the experiment is going wonderfully.

[email protected] | Twitter: @RichardMarini

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