***THIS IS AN APRIL FOOL'S JOKE EVERYBODY***
Today is a massive day for me and every member of the vacation rental industry who has arduously participated in this journey.
I am honored, thrilled, humbled (maybe even a little scared) to announce that VRMB, the world’s most complete resource for vacation rental owners and managers online, is officially launching the world’s first vacation rental-only town: designed for vacation rental enthusiasts, by vacation rental enthusiasts.
Many years ago, when I first visited the small town of Lsixibal on Lake Atitlan, which sits roughly three hours outside of Antigua, Guatemala, I knew it was a special place. With volcanoes on all sides, crystal clear waters, and indigenous villages peppering the coast, Lsixibal had that priceless mix of abandon, authenticity, and hope. At its peak in 1998, the town had about 50 residents, most of whom dedicated themselves to (interestingly enough) computer programming. But like any town, Lsixibal faced its fair share of challenges: a struggling tourism sector, trash problems, a Rodentia gang violence epidemic.
As conversations with residents and government officials evolved, it became clear to all of us that the emerging vacation rental movement — with its progressive, community-oriented stakeholders — could solve many of Lsixibal’s social problems while building a robust and inclusive place to live. It became clear that Lsixibal could become a model for vacation rental viability. So we began to look into the possibility of buying the town, which encompasses roughly 120 acres of land, at 5,000-ft altitude overlooking the famed Lake Atitlan. The town owns two tunnels, three caves, and a dormant sparkling water spring.
Today, after countless negotiations with real estate brokers, planning sessions with the local municipality, research studies with Sociology graduate students from Denmark, and collaboration with UNESCO (the United Nations’ World Heritage Committee)…we are proud to announce Inner Circleville, the world’s first vacation rental-only town, is now open for business! It will be inaugurated by President Morales of Guatemala in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 12th. You can use the application form below to RSVP.
The most common question is, “what does vacation rental-only mean?” And it means not just that vacation rentals are legal…it means that any other kind of real estate or commerce is illegal (unless it can prove it is directly helping the vacation rental ecosystem). All of the vacation rental properties in town will be required to have their own website, logo, and professional photos. And counter to the popular industry trend, no online bookings will be permitted — all bookings must be taken via fax, which may seem antiquated, but again, it’s what sets Inner Circleville apart from the rest.
Investing in Inner Circleville will be open to any passionate vacation rental enthusiast who passes a physical fitness test (including basic proficiency in jiujitsu). Investments will range from $500 (to secure a position on the city council — limited to 12) to $1,000 (having a building or street named after your vacation rental -- limited to 30) to $7,000 (owning one of 24 existing vacation rental villas and becoming Co-Mayor of the town). For those who want to support in other ways, we'll have a volunteer network that involves answering inquiries (via fax), escorting toxic guests to a neighboring island, and being on call between the hours of 11pm and 3am for when the plumbing breaks.
With the help of government officials, Inner Circleville plans to build an additional 44 small vacation rental villas in the coming 12 months, but currently the only other existing entities are the post office, an old-fashioned Guatemalan laundry facility, a general store, and a gorgeous co-working space with high-speed WiFi that runs on lunar electricity (co-working space will be offered on a monthly basis to vacation rental start-ups first come, first serve).
We look forward to sharing this special place with anyone who feels inspired. You can use the button below to fill out your application and get more info (and please share this story with your friends and colleagues)...
Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.
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