Renting an apartment to tourists while they’re visiting a city is no longer a novel idea, but when a hotel starts offering this service the rentals landscape gets interesting.
This week, Room Mate Hotels launched BeMate.com, a site travelers can use to book apartments managed by the hotel in select cities in Europe and North America. There are 2,500 apartments in 10 cities so far, including New York, Miami, Mexico City, Florence, and Amsterdam. By the end of 2015, BeMate plans to expand to 200 cities and will also launch an app for iPhone and Android users.
A BeMate apartment guest has access to most of the same services a Room Mate Hotels guest has, such as housekeeping, airport transfers and breakfast. Each apartment is located near a Room Mate Hotel, and BeMate currently has a staff of 70 who vet all apartments and work with apartment owners.
Enrique Sarasola, president and founder of Room Mate Hotels and BeMate, says that the rentals market is shifting towards BeMate’s business model and more hotels will offer apartment rentals in the future.
“If someone wants to stay at a BeMate.com apartment and add on ten services, the guest can do that,” he said. “If a guest wants to stay at the same apartment and simply tap into the hotel concierge for a restaurant recommendation, he can do that, too.”
To avoid regulation issues Airbnb and other apartment rental sites are facing, Sarasola says that he insists BeMate follows all local housing laws in each city it operates in and helps apartment owners obtain tourist licenses when necessary. That’s a particular challenge in Spain, where governments have cracked down on short-term rentals in Barcelona and Madrid.
It’s also a challenge in New York, where most of BeMate’s listings appear to be in violation of the state’s short-term housing law. The addresses that Skift could confirm from the BeMate site were all in buildings not zoned for transient use and did not conform to the state’s rules on minimum nights in residential buildings.