Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are best known as summer season playgrounds, but a leading vacation rental company specializing in the Massachusetts destinations says spring and fall bookings spiked by double-digits this year.
Shoulder season bookings to the Cape and Islands are up 14.6 percent for the spring and nearly 12 percent for the fall compared to last year, says weneedavacation.com, which markets more than 4,000 properties on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
“Undoubtedly, the growing popularity of both spring and fall vacations indicates that vacationers are becoming increasingly aware of the many benefits of vacationing then: with prices lower and more properties to choose from, they can get more for less, crowds are diminished, and temperatures are still comfortable enough to enjoy all the activities available to them in the summer,” the company’s spring booking report says.
And, due to reduced tenant demand versus the summer season, homeowners usually relax their minimum stay requirements in the shoulder seasons, allowing couples and pre-school age families to get away then for even just a couple of days.
For the full spring/summer/fall season and for the entire Cape and Islands region, bookings to date are 6.4 percent higher than this time last year: the Cape up 5 percent, Martha’s Vineyard up 7.4 percent, and Nantucket up 9 percent, according to weneedavacation.com’s data. Bookings across the region for the high summer season alone, which is late June until Labor Day, are not experiencing the double-digit increases of the shoulder seasons, but are nevertheless remaining positive overall at 1.5 percent higher than this time last year.
A review of weekly rental pricing set by homeowners reveals their continued confidence in being able to fill their vacancies. Prices on the Cape are up nearly 2 percent over last year and those on the Islands are up over 4 percent, the rental company says. Although these increases are fairly normal for the outset of the booking season, this is the first time the company has seen price inflation as the season progresses. Typically, homeowners are forced to drop their rates somewhat in order to fill remaining vacancies, but this year weekly rates have increased slightly (0.3 percent) since early in the year.
Specifically, the rates of smaller homes (one bedroom) and larger homes (5-plus bedrooms) have increased somewhat more than mid-sized homes.
The substantial growth in spring and fall bookings, a trend that has continued for several years now, indicates a significant expansion of the vacation season on the Cape and Islands. Where, traditionally, the season got under way with a bang on the Fourth of July weekend and closed abruptly on Labor Day, vacationers now enjoy spending time in the destinations as early as May and well into October, says weneedavacation.com.
Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are accessible by ferry from Cape Cod, which is home to the Cape Cod National Seashore, the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum, the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill, the Provincetown Monument & Museum and many other nature-based and cultural sites.