Rents of $20,000 per night? Welcome to F1 week in Austin

The Real Estate Beat


Want a place to stay for the big Formula One race in November? How about paying $69,000 for a one-week stay on a 40-acre Austin estate, complete with a helicopter landing site?

Then there's the luxury hacienda-style home of Clayton Christopher (co-founder and CEO of Deep Eddy Vodka, co-founder of Sweet Leaf Tea). His Lake Austin-area estate is available to rent for F1 week — for $25,000.

Or you can head west to the ranch of Beau Theriot, owner of the Oasis restaurant. His Dripping Springs-area ranch will provide a well-heeled renter with an on-site chef and concierge services, plus a helicopter pad and other amenities, for $35,000 during F1 week.

Got an even bigger budget? Cord Shiflet will rent you his home for $150,000 for the week. And that's a reduced price; Shiflet previously was asking $250,000 for the week.

"We're shooting for the stars," says Shiflet, an Austin-based real estate broker specializing in luxury properties,

While it remains to be seen if renters will bite on those prices, the F1 race set for Nov. 16-18 has created an opportunity for Central Texas homeowners to ask for unprecedented rents during the event, said Jon Gray, North American vice president for Austin-based HomeAway Inc., the world's largest online vacation rental company.

The average rates for homes available during the F1 period are $11,800 per week — about a 530 percent increase over the typical Austin weekly rental average of about $1,875, Gray says. And inquiries for Central Texas home rentals are up 2,574 percent compared with the same dates last year, he says.

The race has created a market for luxury rentals — and some of the properties being offered are eye-popping, both in their pricing and amenities.

Along with Hill Country views, Theriot's 19-acre ranch boasts a fully functional disco; an arcade gallery; outdoor deck and pool; a large chef's kitchen; a small rocky manmade creek, and hiking and biking trails, says Mark Goldman, a real estate consultant to Theriot.

Shiflet is advertising his five-bedroom house in the exclusive Rob Roy subdivision as a find for "the true F1 enthusiast," complete with eight tickets in a large private suite at the start/finish line at the Circuit of the Americas track. Shiflet will also provide your choice of an S-Class Mercedes, a limo or an Escalade ESV with a 24-hour chauffeur for your stay, plus a full time housekeeper. Backyard outdoor entertainment includes a pool, swim-up bar and bocce ball court. A detached five-car garage can double as a private concert/party venue for up to 300 guests.

"Basically, it seems like we're going to have a lot of wealthy people walking around Austin with no hotel to stay in. Several of my clients put their homes up for lease during the race, so we decided to try as well," Shiflet says.

Shiflet says he, his wife and three children, ages 2 to 6, will happily clear out for the week. "My in-laws have a great guest house we can hunker down in for a few days," he says.

Michael Girard, owner of Speakeasy, Imperia and TenOak Bourbon House and Lounge in downtown Austin, says he and his wife's 5-acre spread with a six-bedroom house near Southwest Parkway and Texas 71 will offer luxury and privacy for guests.

The Girards are listing their property for $50,000 for race week — or for $7,000 a night — with a four-day minimum stay.

Girard says he expects to be working around the clock, and would crash at a buddy's place downtown during the race week, while his wife, Kristen Girard, would go "on a luxurious vacation somewhere" with their 2½-year-old daughter.

While homeowners are seeking to capitalize on the affluent race fans who are expected to descend on the region, Girard said he has no doubt it's going to rev up the economy big-time, akin to the impact of a city hosting a Super Bowl. Girard expects sales at his establishments to double on race weekend from what they would normally be, and possibly even triple or quadruple.

"Everybody I talk to is just looking it as a gift," Girard says. "They understand that the town is going to be jam-packed, and November historically with Thanksgiving in there is not one of the stronger months, so we're grateful for the traffic that it's going to bring. There's going to be so many people in town that everybody should benefit."

Taylor Perkins, who co-owns STR Austin, a property management company specializing in short-term rentals, says Austin isn't close to realizing all the avenues it has to profit from Formula One events.

"Austin obviously knows how to be a stellar host to out-of-town visitors having hosted hundreds of thousands of people for festivals such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits," Perkins says.

"What I suspect will be different for businesses during F1 is not only how they'll have to bridge the gap in terms of international customs — from what guests will expect from hotels to how long they'll sit and dine — but also, how the businesses all over Austin will have to market themselves to attendees shuttling in and out of town for the race. The possibilities are really endless."

Shonda Novak writes about real estate and development for the American-Statesman. Contact her at snovak@statesman.com or 445-3856.


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