September 28, 2022 at 5:17 p.m.
Local hospitality managers weigh in on vacation rentals, regulations
Editor’s note: The following story is part of an ongoing series about Sauk Centre and short-term vacation rentals, considering the rental legislation due from the county and city.
Pam Durbin has lived in Sauk Centre for her entire life and considers herself fortunate for having landed a career in her hometown, working for the last 23 years as the manager of the AmericInn by Wyndham. She previously went to college for hotel and restaurant management; she started professionally by managing two Taco Bell stores before moving on to management of the Palmer House for a few years.
Durbin is familiar with short-term vacation rentals, especially after their rise in popularity in Sauk Centre and on other area lakes, and she has used them in the past as well.
“I think it is a great idea and another option for travelers depending on their wants, needs, et cetera,” Durbin said. “I feel that having both options – hotel and vacation rental – are nice to offer in our community; I think it benefits the community to have both. The hotel and vacation rentals have some similarities and some differences, so it depends on the traveler and reason for travel.”
For Durbin, AmericInn is a great place to stay with plenty of amenities, including 57 rooms, a lobby conversation area, complimentary hot breakfasts and a pool recreation area. The property has brand standards along with policies and procedures to ensure guests can get a quiet night’s rest; Durbin knows hotels have more restrictions for quiet time, unlike vacation rentals where groups of people do not necessarily have those types of guidelines.
On the other hand, Durbin feels a stay at a short-term vacation rental can have advantages for a larger family or group, including more space, kitchens and outside areas, as well as more flexibility and privacy. With the wide range of travelers going through Sauk Centre, she believes both hotels and vacation rentals provide a helpfully broad range of options.
“I feel a hotel stay is ideal for minimum number of nights travel, and for a destination vacation for a longer period, the short-term vacation rental is ideal,” Durbin said. “Staying at a short-term rental may be more cost-effective for the guests as they may offer lower price accommodations; the short-term rentals are not paying for 24-hour staff and not regulated like hotels, which increases costs. This allows short term rentals to offer a lower rate.”
Additionally, both lodging options provide the city with additional income through tax revenues, and those funds go back into the Sauk Centre community. More options for tourists also means more opportunities for visitor-related amenities such as restaurants, bars, museums, stores, recreation and more.
Durbin can understand why people would be concerned about having a vacation rental next door, bearing in mind the possibility of noise, parking, traffic and more, and she does feel there should be specific policies established for renters, similar to the way hotels must run.
“I feel the vacation rental owners and operators would regulate, run a good operation and follow any county or city regulations to prevent any issues and be a good neighbor,” Durbin said. “Our community can accommodate and offer both options for travelers that stay and visit Sauk Centre.”