Although Hurricane Harvey rocked Texas over two years ago, vacation rental owners might wonder how to manage a vacation rental on the South Texas Coast and whether the iconic beach towns along the Gulf of Mexico are worth investing in anymore. The answer from locals in South Texas Coast communities–such as Corpus Christi, Rockport, Palmilla Beach, North Padre Island, and Port Aransas – is a resounding yes. Life along the coast may be different after Hurricane Harvey, but it’s still a relaxing beach vacation filled with warm waters, soft sand, and natives who live with an “island time” mentality by enjoying life without keeping track of time.
Check out our guide to managing a vacation rental property on the South Texas Coast.
Get to know the multitude of beaches along the South Texas Coast
Along the Coastal Bend, Corpus Christi is one of South Texas’ most popular destinations thanks to its rich cultural options—including the USS Lexington Museum and the Selena Museum—as well as its ever popular North Beach. While visitors will most likely always prefer to stay near the beach, tourists will also stay in northwest Corpus for the birdwatching, the southside for the best floral gardens and easy access to beaches, or downtown for the entertainment.
Port Aransas, Mustang Island, Rockport, and North Padre Island are all located along the Coastal Bend, as well. North Padre Island, Port Aransas, and Mustang Island are wildly popular amongst beachgoers—especially families—who want to enjoy local amenities. Rockport, on the other hand, attracts more fisherman looking to stay on the bayside than folks wanting to stay near the gulf.
Wealthier vacationers tend to stay in Palmilla Beach Resort in Port Aransas. The all-inclusive resort includes a boardwalk to beach, guest services, air conditioned bathrooms on the beach, a community pool, access to golf carts, and a restaurant and bar on site. Right down the road from Palmilla Beach Resort, Sunflower Beach Resort and Residences is currently being developed. Currently, the community has four vacation rentals with more being built. Royal Sands Boulevard is another area full of luxury homes in Port Aransas that also boasts a boardwalk to the beach and community pool. Unlike the Palmilla Beach Resort, it’s not all-inclusive so it doesn’t include guest services, access to rent umbrellas, or golf carts.
Further south, South Padre Island is a resort town with quite the reputation as one of the hottest Spring Break destinations. But South Padre offers more than just live music and entertainment for one week in March; it’s home to the Texas International Fishing Tournament during the summer, major conservation centers such as Sea Turtle Inc. and the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, and host families year-round in popular resorts and condominiums. Folks find fun while staying in both bayside Port Isabel and across the Queen Isabella Causeway on the island.
Recognize the changes on the South Texas Coast after Hurricane Harvey
Beach communities along the South Texas Coast, including Rockport and Port Aransas, were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. It’s been reported that nearly every structure in Port Aransas was damaged, some severely. In Rockport, entire blocks and neighborhoods were destroyed, as well.
Two years later, and there’s a new normal after the hurricane. Things are different and natives see things different after the storm. The communities and their tourism economies are headed in a new direction, but they’re not quite at 100% yet. Many resorts are still shut down, with the hopes to be up and running by 2020 or 2021, and the local golf course hopes to re-open in spring 2019. While visitors will still find empty construction spots around the communities, there are no more trash piles; everything looks cleaned up.
Focus on end-of-year gross revenue instead of nightly rates
Property managers on the South Texas Coast recommend that vacation rental owners avoid discounts for weekly stays. Folks who plan to stay for longer than a weekend on the South Texas Coast don’t typically expect or ask for the discount, so rental owners should instead allow dynamic pricing to do its job and set rates accordingly.
Additionally, know the value of your vacation rental home based on its proximity to a body of water. Vacation rentals tend to be more expensive closer to the ocean, but also bring in more money. The most popular rentals have either an ocean view or are a quick walk to the beach.
Homes on the gulf side of coastal communities are typically more profitable than homes on the bay side. Rentals with at least 3 to 4 bedrooms and a pool on site are also the most popular.
Learn the most popular seasons for the South Texas Coast, as well, and prepare accordingly. July is the most popular time of year for bookings, especially near the Fourth of July holiday. Spring Break in March is another popular season for the South Texas Coast. In April, folks in South Texas celebrate Semana Santa—also known as Holy Week—and many families spend the holiday at the beach.
Know how to protect your vacation rental during Spring Break
Every year in mid-March, thousands of college students flock to South Padre Island to party at Coca Cola Beach, Clayton’s Beach Bar, and the Ultimate Music Experience festival inside Schlitterbahn Waterpark. Corpus Christi and its surrounding beaches are also a hot spot for college students with live music at the Concrete Street Amphitheater.
While Spring Break is a great time for bookings, vacation rental owners may be nervous about potentially inviting party goers into their homes. Owners should ask their property manager how they’ll protect their homes during the holiday. TurnKey Vacation Rentals, for example, assigns off-duty officers to monitor condos in Port Aransas. TurnKey also does not allow travelers under age 25 to book rentals, which disqualifies most college students. Additionally, vacation rental owners should consider adjusting their damages deposit to better protect their homes during high-risk seasons, like Spring Break.
Be prepared for hurricanes, red tide, and other environmental issues
Like most coastal areas, the South Texas Coast is no stranger to environmental issues, including red tide, hurricanes, and tar on the beach.
Red tide is a naturally-occurring, higher-than-normal concentration of the microscopic algae Karenia brevis, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife, and occurs when temperature, salinity, and nutrients reach certain levels. Texas red tides can occur in August through February and mainly come up along Gulf beaches, and less frequently into bays and estuaries. In high enough concentrations, a bloom will release a toxic aerosol that could cause swimmers to display symptoms, including watery eyes that sting, coughing, respiratory difficulties, sore throat and skin irritation. Although beach visitors should always avoid areas affected by red tide, the Texas Parks & Wildlife says families don’t need to cancel vacations out-right—just find stretches of beach away from affected areas.
In addition to red tide, folks should keep an eye out for sticky tar balls along the Coastal Bend. Black tar comes from ships in the Gulf clearing their ballast, natural seepage from underground oil wells, and oil from the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill. Visitors should obviously avoid ingesting the tar, but it’s not a big deal if it gets on your skin; just apply baby oil to remove it quickly.
It shouldn’t surprise any homeowner on the Gulf Coast that they need to have a game plan for hurricane season, which lasts from June 1 until November 30. The most important thing homeowners can do to stay prepared is monitor news from the National Hurricane Center, but folks should also prep their homes far in advance. Board up doors and windows with plywood or install storm shutters. Keep in mind that winds are stronger at higher elevations, such as high-rise apartments or condos. During the season, bring in outdoor objects that could become deadly missiles, such as patio furniture, and move furniture and valuables to a higher level in case of flooding. Move boats to designated safe areas well in advance of hurricanes. Prepare an emergency supplies kit and create an evacuation plan—then leave it in your vacation rental for guests in case of an emergency.
It’s also important to get to know and respect the local creatures who call the South Texas Coast home. Five different kinds of sea turtles nest on beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and should be left alone if spotted. Along the beaches, folks might also run into jellyfish, stingrays, and ink fish. Make sure your guests know that it’s always safer for both the animals and themselves to leave them alone and avoid contact.
By getting familiar with the coastal communities along the Gulf of Mexico and finding the perfect vacation rental with access to the beach and guest amenities, vacation rental owners will easily find prosperity when renting on the South Texas Coast.
Interested in learning more about managing a vacation rental on the South Texas Coast? Curious about property management in other locations? Schedule a consultation with us here.