The world's largest hotel operator is now firmly in the home-sharing business, and its new slate of short-term rentals features South Carolina properties.
Marriott International's new platform, Marriott Homes and Villas, was announced in late April and recently went live. It's offering vacation home rentals in more than 100 markets worldwide, including the Charleston area and Hilton Head Island.
A search for local properties on the site generated about 20 results showing homes in Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, Kiawah Island and Summerville. None of the Charleston homes appear to be on the peninsula, where the region's strictest rules for operating short-term rentals are enforced.
The new service isn't adding new short-term rentals into these markets. Instead, existing listings, which will continue to be managed by independent property management companies, were selected for inclusion in the Marriott brand and platform.
For example, one of Marriott's new partner companies is TurnKey Vacation Rentals, an Austin, Texas-based company that manages rentals across the U.S., including in Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach.
TurnKey advertises that its home rentals have qualities of a "hotel-type experience," like keyless entry and provided toiletries.
Marriott lays out similar expectations for all of its listings. The company says its rentals are "curated" and represent "higher standards" of hospitality and service. Stays in Marriott-branded rentals are also eligible for the company's loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy.
The new venture "fits very well" with what TurnKey was already doing, said CEO T.J. Clark: provide the perks of a rental home with the same quality assurance and service that come with a well-known hotel brand.
"It's one more sign that short-term rentals are going more and more mainstream," Clark said of the Homes and Villas launch.
In comparison to its top competitor in the short-term rental market, Homes and Villas will represent a small fraction of home-sharing options. The platform debuted with about 2,000 listings. Airbnb says its site has more than 6 million.
But Marriott, like Airbnb, went with a global focus, offering nights at an 18th century castle in Galway, Ireland and an oceanfront villa in Anguilla. About 40 of the destinations will be new for Marriott loyalty members, the company said.
At the same time, Airbnb has ventured farther into the lodging sector with its upcoming acquisition of HotelTonight, a platform focused on making last-minute hotel bookings. And with Airbnb Plus, the home-sharing giant has also designated higher-end rentals with more hotel-like amenities, further blurring the divide between traditional lodging and home-sharing.
Task force time
Charleston's hotel task force will hold its second meeting Monday afternoon, and this time, members are expected to bring their own suggestions for changes to the city's accommodations rules.
At the first gathering on May 3, city planning director Jacob Lindsey gave an overview of the city's process for approving hotels. Leonard Krawcheck, the chair of the zoning panel that grants special exceptions for lodgings, explained his board's role — and some of his recent frustrations — with the process.
Both took questions, and task force members discussed some initial ideas. All agreed to take copies of the city's accommodations ordinance with them and bring notes or suggested changes to the next session.
The task force has 11 voting members, including representatives from the Preservation Society, the Historic Charleston Foundation, Explore Charleston, City Council, the hospitality industry and neighborhood groups. Lindsey and Krawcheck are acting in an advisory capacity.
When he assembled the group earlier this month, Mayor John Tecklenburg set a goal of bringing a proposal to City Council by May 28.
Lindsey is scheduled to give another presentation at this week's meeting, according to the agenda. Charleston attorney Frances Cantwell will also give an overview of the city's ordinance. The meeting will be held at 12:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 80 Broad St. It's open to the public.