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Hotel general manager said 'people are inquiring about next year' for their Derby stay

In the last full-capacity Derby week in 2019, Airbnb hosts in Louisville collected nearly $2.5 million. This year's total is expected to meet or pass those numbers.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky Derby goers from out of town are flocking to short-term rentals across Louisville.

Many hotel rooms and units through Airbnb are already booked, and by some estimates, three to four times the normal event price.

"The destination is definitely trending at the moment," said Haven Thorn, the North America Communications Manager for Airbnb.

Thorn says in the last full-capacity Derby week in 2019, Airbnb hosts in Louisville collected nearly $2.5 million. This year's total is expected to meet, or even exceed, those numbers. Last year's limited-capacity Derby brought in $650,000 for hosts.

In Louisville, Key Source Properties said the going rate for their 30 short-term rental units during Derby week have gone as high as around $2,000 a night -- three to four times the normal event price.

"It feels like we've recovered from the pandemic," COO Justin Reid said.

Meanwhile in the highlands, 'Bungalou' booked out its entire space for a group of 20 people staying from Thursday to Sunday. The property, coined with the phrase 'Stay & Play,' has six luxury suites with the ability to accommodate more than 30 guests.

"About 3,000 a person for the entire weekend," Co-founder and guest coordinator Sean Williams said. 

Bungalou first opened bookings in March, and is reaping the benefits of a busy season that has brought large crowds back to the Metro.

"We kind of opened right at the tail end of COVID, so it's really been a struggle for us this whole way through, so we really didn't know what that light at the end of the tunnel looked like," Williams said. "But we kind of just got lucky with the timing of everything when we opened up, and everyone is ready to travel."

Then there's The Grady Hotel, the new edition to the downtown hotel scene right at 6th and Main Street. General manager Laurent Geroli said all 51 rooms are completely booked by just one company here for the week's festivities.

The Grady Hotel opened in late May 2021, so this is its first Derby experiencing the rush of tourists.

"Even now, people are inquiring about next year," Geroli said.

Louisville Tourism estimates as of Wednesday, around 90 percent of hotels citywide are full. The organization says that's six percent higher compared to this point in 2019.

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