An ‘Airbnb for Pools’ Is Making A Splash
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An ‘Airbnb for Pools’ Is Making A Splash

Swimply reports surge in demand amid pandemic, rising pool-chemical costs.

By SAMI SPARBER
Wed, Jul 21, 2021Grey Clock 3 min

Jim Battan’s tree-lined swimming pool at his home outside Portland, Ore., had been sitting untouched since his youngest daughter moved out two years ago. Then in September, he listed it through an online platform for renting private pools.

He booked the pool three times within the first two hours, and says he has hosted 2,700 guests in less than a year. Mr. Battan expects to have earned $111,000 by the end of the summer, which would just cover the $110,000 he and his wife spent on the custom-built pool eight years ago.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s weird,’ ” Mr. Battan said. “It’s nice to feel like we didn’t have to spend all $110,000 for nothing.”

He is one of 13,000 pool owners in 125 markets across the U.S., including cities like Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, who are cashing in on their underused pool by listing with the company Swimply, which some media reports have dubbed the “Airbnb for backyard pools.”

Swimply said its pool owners have made about 122,000 bookings since the start of 2020. Business began picking up before the Covid-19 pandemic, but it boomed during the health crisis as public pools closed and people sought to make extra cash or safely gather after months of lockdown.

“We’ve seen a lot of families [and friends] rekindling with Swimply,” said Bunim Laskin, Swimply co-founder and chief executive.

Hosts on average earn between about $5,000 and $10,000 a month, according to Asher Weinberger, Swimply co-founder and chief operating officer. Most pool owners charge between $35 and $50 an hour, while Swimply collects 15% from the hosts and another 10% from the guests.

Some of the hosts’ earnings help pay for costs related to pool maintenance, which have jumped during the pandemic because lockdowns and business slowdowns disrupted the pool-chemical supply chain. Mr. Weinberger said he now spends $85 a week on chemicals and servicing his pool, up from $45 before the pandemic.

“It’s a hunt for chlorine at the best price,” said Shanon Zoeller, a Swimply host in Oklahoma City, who said he has made $10,000 since he started renting out his pool last June.

Most swimmers are local families, Mr. Weinberger said. Bookings on average run five to seven people. Hosts choose their rental rate, upload photos of their pool and list amenities, such as a barbecue grill or sound system.

It’s not a party for the pool owners. Rather, hosting is “an amazing amount of work,” Mr. Battan said. Most days he wakes up at 5 a.m. to skim the water of leaves. His wife cleans the pool-house bathroom and lays out rows of pool toys before each booking.

Swimply isn’t the only pool in town. Peerspace, a marketplace for booking film-production locations and event venues, offers thousands of spaces with swimming pools at hourly rates.

“With the heat rising, we see lots of demand for outdoor spaces, many of which have pools,” said Matt Bendett, Peerspace co-founder and vice president of operations.

Short-term rental companies like Airbnb Inc. and vacation-home rental firms including Expedia Group’s Vrbo also rent homes with pools by the day.

Like Airbnb and its industry peers, Swimply has to navigate safety and liability concerns. A swimmer could drown or rowdy guests might cause property damage.

To mitigate those risks, about 80% of the company’s hosts opt to stay home while guests are using their pool, Mr. Weinberger said. The company also has in place host liability insurance for as much as $1 million and a property-damage-protection policy.

Mr. Battan said he hasn’t had a serious problem arise while renting his pool, but he still prefers to be home during bookings. “There are too many risks with unattended guests,” he said, referring to “horror stories” of underage drinking and noisy events.

Next month, Mr. Zoeller is hosting a nearly 40-person pool party. He said enforcing rules about street parking and loud music has kept his neighbours happy.

“The worst thing that’s happened is I found two beer cans in the skimmer once,” Mr. Zoeller said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 20, 2021

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By Kanebridge News
Fri, Aug 12, 2022 2 min

In the coastal township of Salamander Bay — nearby to Port Stephens — comes a unique home crafted to take full advantage of unbroken ocean vistas across three levels.

With one-of-a-kind flair, the stunning 5-bedroom, 3-bathroom, 3-car garage home of 52 Randall Drive Salamander Bay is nestled on a private 577sqm plot, optimised through intelligent design to take advantage of the Port Stephens landscape and lifestyle.

Within the home sees the typically coastal textures of natural oak floor and timber feature walls take hold while stone and tiled adornments add layers of luxury.

The open plan living, kitchen and dining areas incorporate a fireplace and near floor-to-ceiling glass that opens to create a seamless indoor-to-outdoor dining and entertaining space on the home’s top floor.

The heart of this area is the kitchen, centred around a marble-topped island, state-of-the-art European appliances and an attached bar area, with built-in refrigeration, accompanied by a butler’s pantry.

Also here comes a grand outdoor spa, central to the balcony, while another outdoor entertaining area with a pizza oven is found on the middle floor.

Downstairs once again comes a second living space replete with the perfect wine cellar — cooled by the natural rock foundation of the home — offering an array of entertaining options

Of the home’s accommodation comes a private and luxurious master retreat with expansive ocean views, a walk-in wardrobe and an ensuite, here, speckled with grey terrazzo tiling and timber joinery vanities.  A further four bedrooms are found throughout the home along with two family bathrooms rounding out the offering.

Less than a five-minute walk from nearby amenities of shops, restaurants, cafes and beaches the home offers the best of the Port Stephens area.

The listing is with PRD Port Stephens’ Dane Queenan (+61 412 351 819) and Erin Sharp (+61 499 912 311) and is heading to auction; prd.com.au