A million-dollar stay: How Davos locals gouge the global elite

Must read

Property owners are taking full advantage of a supply and demand mismatch to drive prices up to unimaginable levels

Rental prices in Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum (WEF) have become a spectacle of the absurd. However, for local landlords this is not something outrageous but merely business as usual — a prime opportunity to capitalize on the presence of the global elite to generate substantial income.

With only around 50 fully booked hotels and a limited number of vacation homes providing about 25,000 beds for visitors, Davos is pushing its capacity limits. This falls far short of what’s needed for a globally significant event such as the WEF. Even participants staying in nearby Klosters, Bad Ragaz, or even Zurich contribute to a veritable revenue boom typically only seen in the summer. Some shop owners rent out their establishments for exorbitant prices of $200,000 or $300,000 per week.

Accommodations are typically fully booked months in advance, with even the most affordable available room on Airbnb coming at a hefty price of $1,614 per night – and this is for a shared bathroom in a residential apartment.

For those looking to book an entire place for the week of January 15th, the cost is at least $2,386 per night. While hoteliers still exercise restraint, individual property owners are going all out this year. Rentals of up to $18,387 per week are not uncommon. Some listings even surpass this. One private landlord is asking an unbelievable $86,197 for a 4.5-room apartment during the WEF week – equivalent to $14,366 per day! Shamelessly leveraging the economic summit as a selling point, this provider advertises on popular booking websites under the name “WEF 2024 Davos.”

Numerous houses are exclusively offered for the duration of the WEF. For instance, this year, the Tivoli Lodge was rented for $456,265, whereas normally it costs between $54,958 and $73,277 per week.

But it doesn’t stop there: the Bortji Estate, featuring three chalets accommodating up to 42 people, was leased for $1,460,000. This stands out as the pinnacle during the WEF and makes this year’s event the most expensive ever in terms of rental prices.

What it all adds up to is skyrocketing prices during WEF week. However, this is hardly a passing trend. Prices have been steadily climbing for years as more and more providers seek to capitalize on the annual event.

Luxury property prices in Davos are witnessing a substantial surge, driven by the basic principles of supply and demand. The prevailing formula is straightforward: as demand for accommodation in Davos rises and supply remains constant, prices soar. This surge is accompanied by a hefty price tag.

While attendance at the Davos event is complementary for WEF members – although a membership reportedly costs approximately $65,000 – the associated expenses can add up. Tickets for non-members, meanwhile, come with a price tag of approximately $25,000, and attendance is strictly by invitation-only.

Total expenses for the week can easily surpass $350,000. Additionally, attendees face steep prices for food, drinks, and events, exemplified by 2015 reports of a hot dog costing a staggering $43. 

The situation has reached absurd dimensions: some individuals attending the event rent houses in Davos for an entire year because it’s more cost-effective than booking for just the WEF week. The same applies to retail spaces.

The WEF generates tremendous demand with limited supply. Accordingly, Davos homeowners benefit from this substantial demand during this period. On platforms such as Airbnb, two-bedroom apartments are listed for over $10,126 per night. For the week of WEF, this can add up to well over $54,650 even for an apartment with just one bedroom, a living room, and a bathroom.

Russian Market is a project by a financial blogger, Swiss journalist and political commentator based in Zurich. Follow him on X @runews

More articles

Latest article