First off, short-term rentals and tourist accommodations are categorized as visits that are less than 30 days. In practice most short-term bookings average to about 4 nights. For an owner to provide nightly accommodation their property must be appropriately zoned for nightly rentals and must carry a Tourist Accommodation business licence from the Resort Municipality of Whistler. If a property has a residential zoning it can only be offered for long term rentals (30 days or longer).
Tourist accommodation in Whistler is most often categorized into two types of zoning covenants: Phase 1 and Phase 2. While the basics between Phase 1 and Phase 2 properties are fairly straight forward, various buildings, townhouses or homes have different restrictions on short-term rentals.
Phase 1 Properties:
Phase 1 rental properties provide owners with the most flexibility. Not only can owners use their property as much as they want year-round, but they can also self-manage the rental of their property or choose any management company to do this for them.
Phase 2 Properties:
Phase 2 rental properties operate more like a hotel with a single management group providing integrated reservations, reception, cleaning, laundry and various other hotel-like services. Owners are restricted to 28 days of use in the winter and 28 days in the summer and every owner is locked in with the single management company that runs the building for short-term rentals. In some cases, this is a property management company that bids on the contract with the strata, in others the management company is the hotel operator, like in the Four Seasons or Pan Pacific Whistler.
Phase 1 properties have a much higher investor demand and are often much more expensive to buy than Phase 2 properties. Nonetheless, the revenues and returns are generally substantially higher in Phase 1 properties and they also have the added benefit of offering unlimited owner use! That being said, the strata in Phase 1 buildings may have implemented unique rules and regulations or simply be governed by previous covenants, which may impact ownership. It is important to always inquire with the realtor(s) or the strata to determine the exact restrictions, if any, in any given complex.
Here are a couple examples of different rules that impact ownership:
· Ex. 1: In The Aspens, owners have the benefit of full flexibility with a Phase 1 designation to choose whatever management option they prefer, meanwhile the strata negotiated and accepted Resort Quest’s bid to operate the front desk which runs 24/7 and benefits all visitors.
· Ex. 2: In Lost Lake Lodge there is a covenant that restricts owners to working with the company that manages the front desk if they want to do short-term rentals, even though the building has a Phase 1 designation.
Understanding the differences between Phase 1 & Phase 2 helps form a basic and useful understanding of these terms, but it is always necessary to inquire further to determine if there are any other building restrictions, strata rules or contracts for the front desk.