Saturday, 28 January 2017

Vacation rental

In the past few years, when I planned for family vacations, I’ve booked vacation rentals, as opposed to hotels. So far, we’ve stayed in a villa in Playa Grande, Costa Rica, an apartment in Albufeira, Portugal, a condo on the Gulf Coast of Florida, and a house in the Panhandle area of Florida. All four vacation rentals have met or exceeded our expectations.
A vacation rental in Florida
What I like most about vacation rentals:
  • Big savings on both accommodation and food, especially when travel in a group. In the four places that I listed above, I travelled in group ranging from 7 to 20 people. When we split the total rental and grocery expenses, the cost per person was very reasonable, which allowed me to save money for another trip.
  • We have room to stretch out and enjoy the amenities. Our vacation rentals were spacious enough for private space as well as family meal gatherings. They all had TVs, WiFi, DVD players, balconies and three of them had their own pools.
  • We can cook what we like to eat, and control the portions, or eat out. We can also eat on our own time. Our vacation rentals all had fully equipped kitchen and separate dining space. The owners stock the pantry with spices, some condiments, and kitchen supplies. Some supplies are leftovers from previous renters (e.g. detergent, cooking oil, aluminum foil, etc).
  • We can travel light. In our cases, we didn’t need to pack a lot as our vacation rentals had laundry appliances and the owners had plenty of linen, recreation or entertainment items that we could use.
  • We can get local information from the owners or their property managers who are local residents. Our vacation rental owners had brochures, instruction sheets, maps, and suggestions for sightseeing and activities on site, usually on the kitchen counter or living room table.
  • We can arrange for some services ahead of our arrival.  This is great, especially when you know you’ll be tired, or your children will be hungry and impatient when you arrive. I arranged for airport transfer, grocery shopping and delivery for our stay in Costa Rica. I also arranged for grocery shopping and delivery in Albufeira, Portugal. I’ll definitely do this again if the services are available.
  • We can relax, enjoy great family time, and create fun memories!
So...What’s the catch?
  • It takes time to research the properties. I reviewed the property descriptions, pictures, maps, reviews, cost details, and owner’s information before I shortlist a few potential vacation rentals to contact the owners.
  • Deposits and payments are non-refundable before arrival. Unlike some hotels that have 24-hour cancellation policy, vacation rentals typically require deposits and final payment weeks in advance.
  • Add-on fees add up. Some vacation rentals require damage deposit, reservation fee, cleaning fee, service fee, etc. I’d look for properties with minimal add-on fees. I also always check the cost details and make sure the total cost is what I’m prepared to pay.
  • Booking a vacation rental is taking risk and booking in good faith. Even though I do thorough research and speak to the owner before booking, I’m still taking some risks that the property may not be satisfactory.
  • Some independence required on the part of the renters to plan their own itinerary and activities.
Here's what I've done to ensure a successful vacation rental:
  1. Research thoroughly, read the fine print, and short list three to four properties. Use Google Earth to view the property and get a sense of how close or how far it is from places such as local beach, shopping centre, market, public transit, airport.
  2. Contact the property owner for details, see how responsive they are to my inquiries, and then decide on which property to book.
  3. Once booked, get confirmation of my booking in writing, as well as other pertinent information such as contact information, instructions to access the property and its WiFi network.
  4. Re-confirm arrival closer to my arrival date.
  5. Arrange for any immediate arrival needs to make my vacation more enjoyable (e.g. airport pick up, grocery delivery).
  6. Once I check in at the property, take a tour, note anything that is not working as expected, and notify the property owner to request repair as needed.
  7. During my stay, if something is broken, notify the owner.
  8. On my departure date, settle any outstanding bills and get a receipt.
  9. Send the owner a thank-you note. This is my way of giving feedback to the owner since I had a good stay.
  10. Refer or recommend the place to my family and friends. Some vacationers post reviews and feedback online. I think “words of mouth” are powerful, too.
Based on our positive experience with the four different vacation rentals, I’d consider booking another vacation rental again when I plan our next family vacation.

Have you rented a vacation property before? How was your experience? Would you consider to rent a vacation property?

No comments:

Post a Comment