One Way to Avoid Other Guests? Book the Entire Hotel

For those who aren’t deterred by a bill in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, buyouts of entire hotels or resorts offer the amenities and services of a hotel and the privacy and control of a vacation rental.

When Jack Samenuk checked into Zabriskie House this week, there was no mystery about whom he would encounter in the inn’s double parlor or wood-paneled dining room.

The only guests in the 11-bedroom property, which opened in January as part of the Inns of Aurora, a resort in New York’s Finger Lakes region, are Mr. Samenuk’s nearest and dearest: his mother, three siblings and their families, including two children, 3 and 4, and two Labrador retrievers. The group also invited some in-laws to join them for a private dinner and backyard s’mores on New Year’s Eve.

“It’s just going to be us — no one else will be there,” said Mr. Samenuk, 21, a model and Fordham University student who lives in New York City. “I feel like it’ll be our little home away from home.”

That arrangement — a “buyout,” where one group pays for free run of an entire hotel or resort — has become increasingly popular for travelers with means in the Covid-19 era. Zabriskie House buyouts start at $4,500 a night, depending on the time of the year, length of stay and other factors. For those who aren’t deterred by a bill in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, buyouts offer the amenities and services of a hotel and the privacy and control of a vacation rental.

“Buyouts were very ‘of the moment’ even before Covid,” said David Prior, the co-founder of PRIOR, a travel company that specializes in luxury trips. “But now even more so, because you can go with friends or an intergenerational group and still feel safe. It’s almost like a reunion.”