Our success is due to our exclusive partnership with over 70 individual villa owners & their on-island property managers. We respect that separation of responsibilities & strive to provide both performance & value to each of our owners.
RENTAL CONTRACTS ANNUALLY
ANNUAL RENTAL CONTRACTS
75 OCEANFRONT VILLAS
THE PEOPLE BEHIND OUR BRAND
Our dedicated staff of 8 full-time professionals manages the entire booking-to-arrival process as agent for our villa owners. Our principals have been coming to Grand Cayman for over 20 years & have owned property on-island since 1999.
Silver Thatch, our on-island guest services company, enhances both the guest and owner villa experience. The centrally-located welcome center is fully-staffed and provides services and amenities to both our guests & owners 7 days a week.
We exclusively manage the marketing, reservation & accounting process for the largest inventory of stand-alone rental villas on Grand Cayman.
Utilizing a competitive pay-for-performance commission model, our portfolio of oceanfront villas ranges from 1-2 bedroom value cottages to 8+ bedroom luxury estates.
Our business strategy is to offer a complete range of properties in order to appeal to each budget, location and amenity preference. The guest who rents a 2 bedroom cottage or condo this summer may return next year with a larger group and need an 8 bedroom luxury villa.
Our dedicated team brings years of experience in positioning, pricing, marketing and maximizing occupancy given each owner’s unique goals. We are also very proud to have been selected to manage the private vacation villas for 15 local (on-island) residents.
Oceanfront stand-alone villas with swimmable beaches, pools and other amenities always rent the best, but are also the most expensive. Our website offers the complete range of homes in terms of budget, location and luxury level. Every property on our website is either waterfront or owns the beach property across the street. One of our strengths is to know our customers and their requirements. We just don’t do a good job for inland homes or even the luxury homes on the canals across from Seven Mile Beach.
There is a market for any nicely-decorated and well-photographed waterfront home located in a safe neighborhood on Grand Cayman.
Our Business Model Begins With Protecting Our Owners & Their Property
In addition to owner liability insurance cover, our rental contract contains detailed exculpatory and hold-harmless language to protect the owner from liability due to any accidents, injuries or death while on the premises. Pools and spas are patently dangerous and we warn parents to supervise their non-swimming guests of all ages. We require each guest to initial these sections in the rental contract.
2. Trip Interruption Insurance
While the insurance industry prevents us from making trip insurance mandatory, we strongly suggest CSA trip insurance to each of our guests. Not only does the insurance protect the guest from loss due to an unforeseen illness, death, or travel delay, but given our unique cancellation policy within 60 days of arrival includes a 50% credit for funds lost towards another stay at the same property, CSA insurance extinguishes that owner obligation—a cancelled guest cannot exercise that credit and also recover from the insurance company.
3. Accidental Damage Protection (ADP)
Each of the homes we manage includes a Silver Thatch Service Fee that also provides protection for accidental interior damages. The amount of that protection ranges from $1,000 to $2,500 depending on the value of the home and rental fee amount.
4. Cleaning, Maintenance & Damage Deposits
We also suggest to our owners that they have us hold a cash damage deposit that covers excess cleaning upon departure, maintenance due to guest carelessness, negligence, or intentional damage. Damage deposits range from $250 to $5,000 or more.
5. Springing Conditional Protections
If there is evidence of smoking in the property, the manger is to notify us and we will charge the guest card on file for US$500 and have the housekeepers initiate a smoke remediation protocol. No pets are permitted without prior written approval. No events are permitted without prior written approval as well. Hosting an unapproved event with invited guest results in an immediate charge of US$5,000.
Our Mission Statement Puts Owners First
Our company was created in 2002 to fill a market void for a lower-commission, direct-booking option for rental villas in Grand Cayman. Prior to 2002, there was only one professional on-island booking manager who charged higher commissions for bookings and did the majority of their business with travel agencies. That company also held all owner funds until after the guest departed, often a year or more after booking. Our founder just felt that it perhaps could be done in a more owner-friendly way. So, in 2002 our business model began with the simple strategy to:
- Halve the commission cost to owners.
- Develop a robust eCommerce (online direct bookable) website accepting credit cards securely.
- Invest in organic search engine optimization (SEO), paid search (PPC), social media and e-newsletter campaigns.
- Drive more direct-booking (non-travel agency) business.
- Pay owners “on-receipt” of guest funds.
- Provide owners a detailed copy of each rental contract
- Strengthen the owner-protection language in the contracts
- Use trust-accounting with owner funds held in a USA FDIC-Insured Bank.
- Offer transparent monthly statements that detailed all guest transactions & fees charged.
Rental Rate-Setting & Being Prepared for the Unexpected
Using the 75 villas in our inventory, as well as the villas of our competitors, we follow the market closely and develop metrics for comparing Quality v. Rate for each bedroom category.
This type of market research assists Grand Cayman Villas & Condos (GCVC) bring value in setting seasonal rates for each property based on the owner’s unique goals, comparable villas and seasonal demand. Using historical & seasonal occupancy, as well as graphical displays of the competitive landscape, GCVC collaborates with our owners to set rates as a function of desired occupancy and personal use.
A final reason for hiring GCVC is that should there be an unexpected problem with your villa or it be unavailable for any reason (maintenance, prior sale, damage, etc.) with our large inventory of homes we have the ability to seamlessly relocate guests to another of our managed villas at minimum cost to the owner. We also maintain strong relationships with other booking managers on the island. We were in business during hurricane Ivan (’04) and learned from that experience to always be prepared.
Advertising & Optional Signage
We do almost all of our advertising digitally online and use print advertising sparingly. While our competitors may require a larger “real estate” sign in front of your villa, our custom-painted 10″ X 10″ cast aluminum plaque is not obligatory. However, we strongly encourage it as a branding opportunity and to assure the late-arriving guest that they have arrived at the correct destination when their headlights shine on our logo.
Our plaques are painted with automotive-grade paint and clear-coated. Our principals feel that there are too many realtor signs on the island that can have the tendency to make the tourist feel that the entire island is “for sale”.
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|Core Task||Rent by Owner||Professional Bookings Manager (PBM)|
|Advertise and market your property||Pay fees to Google, VRBO, Trip AirBnB, etc. while competing against Professional Managers for online search engine priority||vs.||Established and comprehensive marketing plans already in in place to increase property visibility|
|Set rental rates, fees, discounts, deposits, etc.||Research online to set rates and hope you are not too cheap to cover costs or too expensive and miss business||vs.||PBM relies on years of market research/experience, offers damage & travel insurance, and holds refundable cleaning/damage deposits|
|Establish contract terms and cancellation/damage policies||Experiment/guess & make unknown errors that only reveal themselves when things go bad.||vs.||Attorney-written contract provisions protecting owners and property. Enforces policies on your behalf without hesitation.|
|Manage bookings, guest services, complaints and reviews||Do it all and learn as you go. Lots of phone calls back and forth, special requests, discounts/favors and negotiate price with each rental guest||vs.||Has a team of specialized people who do each task. Responds quickly to guests, copies on-island manager and ensures guest satisfaction|
|Securely process payments and monitor for fraud/phishing||Must use VRBO who charges a booking and processing fee||vs.||Seamless online processing and compliance. Next-day credit for funds in a USA Bank with FDIC insurance|
|Pay Cayman tourism taxes||Fill out Tax & Occupancy forms monthly, file by 26th of month||vs.||Manager files/pays early each month. Prevents 20% late-filing penalties|
|Maintain financial records||Use a spreadsheet; or worse, paper records; risk double-booking||vs.||Provides accurate, transparent monthly statements, Form 1099 and Annual Transaction Summary|
|Dedicate 7 days a week to renting your property||Balance this full-time job with your day-job & family obligations||vs.||Committed full-time to this business 24/7 and can get you started immediately|
Commissions & Fees
Our standard commission for a direct booking is 12.50% of Gross Rental (rent plus taxes). If a proposed property is quite small, or might rent infrequently, our commission will be 15%. Alternatively, if a proposed property rents aggressively and generates over $350,000 in annual rent, we get more competitive. If a travel agent brings us a booking, we drop our commission to 7.5% to accommodate the commission paid to the agent. Travel agents on average make up only 10% of our business.
99% of our guests use credit cards these days and with our competitive business model we cannot absorb that cost. We pass on a fixed 2.5% (of rent only) credit card charge to our owners. While we pay 2% to process MasterCard, Visa, and Discover, American Express costs us over 3%.
For properties that generate over $100,000 in rentals, our company pays the listing fees for HomeAway, VRBO and some other websites. If your property does less than $100,000, the annual cost is $499 for HomeAway/VRBO. If your property expects to generate less than $50,000 in annual rent, it is probably not worthwhile for you to pursue hiring a professional booking manager.
When valuing the worth of a professional booking manager, we often point out to prospective owner-partners that, at 12.5% commission, all we have to do is rent your home for either 12.5% higher rent OR secure an extra rental for every 8 rentals you can do on your own and we have paid for ourselves. Not only would you not have had to answer e-mails, process payments, market the villa or draft contracts, you would not have had to research the marketplace, develop contracts, set up accounting systems, or pay your own taxes to the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. At 30% commission, I was willing to do it myself. At less than half of that cost, I will focus my time and energy on other interests in my life.
Each of our owners must have an on-island property-manager who performs the housekeeping, maintenance, bill-paying, licensing and Department of Tourism inspections. The property manager works directly for the owner and as a result, the separation of duties saves the owner in terms of management fees. We have over 2 dozen independent property managers to suggest.
We can also be directed to pay your on-island manager directly from your owner’s account, so that all of your expenses can be centralized on one monthly statement.
Silver Thatch is our privately-branded, proprietary guest services company on island that offers guest services, a private welcome and fitness center, a wide range of complimentary equipment for guests, and a guest benefit card that offers discounts at many of the preferred vendors in the Eastern (Villa) Districts of Grand Cayman. In addition, villas participating in Silver Thatch are stocked for both owner and guest stays with Gilchrist & Soames branded bathroom soaps, shampoos, conditioner, lotions, etc. Owners and their guests are welcomed to use the facilities at no charge.
Additionally, Silver Thatch will expand in 2018 to provide more owner benefits as well. Hotel-grade linens and towels, high-grade flatware, dinnerware and other villa items will be available at cost for our owners or managers to pickup and charge to their property owner account.
To see our brand-new facility visit: SilverThatchCayman.com
We have had excellent experience with on-island residents renting vacation villas. We do a little more due diligence than with tourist rentals, but our “bad guest” rate for local rentals is actually lower than the average tourist guest. Many of our locals know that if they want to come back, they had better treat the home well. We also use our local network to vet local guests. 15 of our homes are owned by local residents, 23 of our managers are Caymanian, and we rely heavily on all of them to help to protect the interests of our owners.
Weddings—tourist or local—require a higher level of caution with due diligence, supplemental damage deposits, occupancy limits, and occasional supervision. The only difference between a local wedding and a tourist destination wedding is the guest-list. A local wedding can move around during wedding week, whereas the tourist wedding relies on airline arrival. We tend to err on the side of caution and always ask an owner whether they wish to offer weddings with the protections above. We will follow and respect the owner’s directions.
Likewise, if an owner says that under no circumstances will they accept local resident bookings, we honor that as well and advertise their villa with that caveat.
We are looking for villa owner-partners. If you believe your waterfront home might make a desirable rental villa for tourists, please provide us some basic details by filling out the form below so that we can respond privately.