Dylan who? Covid shifts focus off celeb-tied short-term rentals

Airbnbs whose properties once housed famous residents like members of The Band or F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are just places to stay in a coronavirus world

New York Weekend Edition /
Aug.August 30, 2020 02:00 PM
Bob Dylan, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, with Big Pink (Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images, Bettmann/Getty Images, and Wikipedia)

Bob Dylan, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, with Big Pink (Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images,
Bettmann/Getty Images, and Wikipedia)

Sure, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald once lived in the Montgomery, Alabama, home now available as a short-term rental. And yes, Bob Dylan and his fellow musicians slept and jammed in a Upstate New York house during their rollicking ride decades ago.

But in a Covid world, those have become just places to stay. The coronavirus has changed the short-term rental market in major ways, but some smaller shifts are also notable.

It was common before the pandemic for the homes of legendary figures to find their way onto short-term listing sites like Airbnb, often marketed as the place where this famous actor or that famous writer lived, usually with a premium attached.

While many still get booked, the pandemic has brought a change to clientele and the calculus of owners, according to the New York Times.

The owner of Big Pink, a modest home in Saugerties, N.Y., where Dylan and the Band wrote and recorded music in the late 1960s, said that his renters aren’t just superfans anymore.

“Most people were flying in from somewhere else to stay at Big Pink,” he told the Times. “But for the first time, we had renters from New York City who just needed a place to stay.”

Before the pandemic, it was common for properties like Big Pink to be reserved months and even years in advance and usually for short stays.

The owners of three cottages in California’s Monterey County, once the childhood retreat of “Grapes of Wrath” author John Steinbeck, said their renters are less attracted to the property’s connection to literary history and more interested in its utility.
They’ve also had to book for a minimum of a month, as required by city ordinance.

“There’s been a steady population of traveling nurses and people coming to stay near family,” said owner Kevin Delaney. “We’re booking months at a time, so comfortably sheltering in place is a big factor for renters.”

For Julian McPhillips, the owner of the Montgomery home where Scott and Zelda spent a couple of years in the 1930s, renters are now not as interested in its history. “We’re seeing a lot of concerned travelers, passing from one place to another who feel the suites are safer than a hotel,” she told the Times. [NYT]Dennis Lynch


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