THE VACATION-RENTAL MARKET is white hot right now. All those delayed weddings, scuttled family reunions and muffled milestone celebrations created a pent-up demand for travel that’s suddenly gushing like a geyser. If Christmas 2022 seems far away, think again: Top travel advisers report that “festive” bookings are already going gangbusters, 10 months in advance—whether it’s multiple-family groups determined to converge in a big ski chalet in Gstaad or three generations planning to alight in a teak and shingle hideout in sunny St. Barts. This is a very rich pie, and luxury hotel brands want a piece of it. And so they’re moving into the market with seaside villas, cosseted bungalows and grand lodges that promise space and privacy, yes, but all the deluxe hospitality trappings, too.
Last year, after a few planned trips fizzled, Jay Ruderman, a Boston-based philanthropist, took his family on vacation to California. They settled into a Tuscan-style four-bedroom house at the Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Coast, which gave him, his wife and their four teenage children the intimacy of home with the seamless efficiency of a hotel. “They took care of everything—how we wanted the house set up, what we wanted stocked in the kitchen, restaurant reservations, activities,” said Mr. Ruderman. “For us, a house makes for a better family experience.”