Renting a house or condo is one of the family-friendliest ways to travel. You get all of the comforts of home (who doesn’t like a separate bedroom and a fully stocked kitchen?) coupled with the advantages of a hotel (swimming pool and maid service, anyone?)
Not surprisingly, vacation rentals is a $25 billion market in the United States. Alex Risser, president of the Vacation Rental Managers Association, however, says there are several misconceptions about renting a house or condo rather than a hotel for a family vacation.
Here, he seeks to dispel eight of those misconceptions:
1. Vacation rentals are for the wealthy.
In fact, vacation rentals often provide a huge cost savings versus the typical hotel stay. Rates for some three-bedroom vacation homes start at just $99 per night, but sleep up to eight travelers versus just one or two.
Also, having a fully equipped kitchen allows families to save money on dining out for every meal. Rather than spending hard-earned vacation dollars on a full restaurant breakfast every morning (which can get costly when you’re feeding a couple of hungry kids as well as two adults), vacation renters can stock up on cereal, snacks, eggs, or pancake mix. Then, you can cook at home in your robe before heading out for the day.
2. The quality of services and facilities are a gamble when you rent a house rather than a hotel room.
The key is to rent from an established property management company that can service the property and its guests each day. This includes all of the proper inspections, housekeeping, landscaping, laundry and reservations. Look for companies with a AAA rating and a membership in the Better Business Bureau and the Vacation Rental Managers Association, which requires member companies to uphold a code of ethics and business practices to ensure guests are provided a quality lodging experience.
3. If I need assistance during my trip, I’ll have to handle it myself.
Professional management companies offer an emergency contact number that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to answer questions, address maintenance issues and more.
4. Vacation rentals are fronts for time share sales operations. If I rent there, someone will pressure me to watch a two–hour presentation, or worse, buy a time share.
Members of the Vacation Rental Managers Association do not sell time shares. The properties rented don’t require any type of ownership, maintenance fees, or commitments of any sort.
5. I’ll have to make my bed, cook and do my own dishes.
If you don’t want to do that, look for a management company that offers mid-stay or daily housekeeping services, but be prepared to pay an additional fee.
6. Only large families and groups can save money on vacation rentals.
While there are some vacation home rentals that accommodate scores of travelers under one roof, smaller, studio-size condo rentals in metro areas or one- or two-bedroom town homes and bungalows are aimed at single travelers, couples or small families.
7. I’ll have to stay for a minimum of seven nights.
As the habits and preferences of travelers change, the vacation rental industry has adapted as well. Guests seeking a two- or three-night getaway can often find established rental companies with little to no minimum stay requirements – especially during off-season time periods, when booking last-minute specials or in specific rental properties.
8. I can’t get the same luxury extras in a vacation rental as I can in a hotel.
Professional vacation rental management companies provide guests with the opportunity to experience all the benefits of a traditional hotel, often including a concierge, as well as options for in-home massages, spa treatments, butlers, a personal chef to cook meals, pre-arrival grocery delivery services, child care and more.
Most vacation rental management companies also have partnerships with local vendors to offer guests discounts on area activities, shopping, restaurants, golf courses, as well as special rates on car and equipment rentals.