Bookings increase for Emerald Isle vacation rental companies despite ongoing pandemic


EMERALD ISLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Workers at marinas, hotels, and restaurants report better than expected numbers over the summer, despite the ongoing pandemic. Now, employees at property management companies say people are coastal distancing and using vacation rentals to do it.

Workers at Bluewater Property Management report an increase in vacation rental bookings this summer.

One of the employees at Emerald Isle Realty says it’s been a record-breaking year compared to the rest of the 58 years they’ve been in business.

“As far as the hustle and bustle on the island, it’s pretty much the same, if not a little bit busier,” said Mary Ann Barber, director of homeowners’ services at Emerald Isle Realty.

Vacation rentals are hot during the summer according to the company, usually with a 90 percent occupancy rate, but this year set a record, at a 100 percent occupancy.

“Every weekend was like Fourth of July here on Emerald Isle,” said Barber.

The pandemic may have forced people to look for alternatives, and employees say clients saw vacation rentals as an escape from the coronavirus.

Barber says, “They’re finding out they can take their work with them to the beach, and enjoy a beautiful ocean view.”

Anne Holloway, property manager at Bluewater said, “People are able to come here and stay with us in a vacation rental and still be able to social distance, where maybe you can’t be able to do that at a hotel or something like that.”

Some employees say they were worried at the outset of the pandemic when communities banned short vacation rentals.

“We were nervous, in the spring when everything was shutdown,” said Holloway.

Barber added, “We prepared for the worst, but fortunately it’s turned out to be the best.”

Those restrictions did not continue into the late spring and summer months.

The owner of Emerald Isle Realty Julia Wax however stayed optimistic, especially after experiencing 9/11. She pointed out during 9/11, people were afraid to travel, and the pandemic is a similar situation. Wax says people consider vacation rentals as a safe and comfortable alternative to get away.

Representatives from both property companies are hopeful about the fall season.

Bluewater reports its fall bookings are higher than last year. Their reservations are up for October, November, and December.

Workers with Emerald Isle Realty say they’re getting booked quickly for September and October.

Wax says they’ve been using Zoom to meet with clients instead of holding in-person property tours. Maintenance crews worked non-stop to make sure properties are safe and clean.

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