Hotel rooms not the only option for those attending Greenbrier Classic
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While the 2013 Greenbrier Classic is still 17 days away, workers and golf officials are already setting up camp in Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs to prepare for the fourth edition of the PGA tournament.
However, instead of setting up camp in the outdoors, they're setting up in local homes.
Since the tournament launched in 2010, residents of the Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs areas have literally opened their homes to visitors, or at least those willing to pay rent.
Kara Dense, executive director at the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said over the years people have learned there are only so many hotel rooms available in the immediate area.
To help accommodate more visitors — and make some extra income — some homeowners offer up rooms or whole houses for the week.
Dense said most of the renters plan to bring their families and want to avoid the close quarters of a hotel room for the week.
She said the home rentals have helped boost the local economy by bringing these families into downtown areas of Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs during the tournament.
"It has a great impact," she said. "It's definitely a good thing any time we can get more people in renting homes and out visiting the area."
Jill Allman manages the Greenbrier Classic rentals for Greenbrier Real Estate. Properties range from a six-bedroom, two-story house with a pool — available for a weekly rate of $14,500 — down to guest bedroom accommodations for $150 a night.
She has seen steady demand for the 20 properties she has rented each of the last four years.
"A lot of the same have been coming every year and renting the same house every year," Allman said.
While people are familiar with the properties, the homeowners and renters don't necessarily have much contact. Homeowners typically leave days before the tenants arrive and don't return until well after they're gone.
Allman said her firm takes care of the contracts between homeowners and tenants and handles the financial transactions and security deposits.
She said the rental market now covers more than just the week of the tournament.
"I already have people here," she said. "I'll have some here for four weeks."
She said event organizers plus sound and stage personnel working with the Greenbrier Classic concert series are already in the area making preparations at the concert site. Tournament officials and PGA Tour staff working on the golf course also have arrived.
In addition to negotiating the rental agreements for the homes, Allman said she's also helping visitors figure out what to do in their free time.
"We're kind of their concierge while they're here," she said. "We put a whole packet in their rental home about the area and restaurants, so we encourage people who visit to not just go to the golf course but visit the entire area."
Dense said her organization also actively markets to people renting homes in the weeks around the tournament.
She said they want people to know not only what attractions and amenities might be available for families, but also where to go for basics like lunch and dinner.
"We really try to reach those folks who are staying in the homes who don't want to cook. Because it's a vacation — who wants to cook?" she said. "We want them to get out and enjoy themselves, because we've got so many great things here in Lewisburg and White Sulphur."
While officials believe this year's Greenbrier Classic will be another success for the area, they are keeping their fingers crossed to avoid the circumstances that followed last year's derecho, which knocked out power to much of the surrounding area during the tournament.
Some home renters had to go the entire week without power. Some opted to stay home and were given refunds for the rentals.
While the situation put a damper on last year's event, Allman said it did not seem to have any lingering effects on the rentals leading up to this year's tournament.
"It was an act of God," she said. "So I don't really think it had that much effect on this year."
Contact writer Jared Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4836.
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