• What is a vacation rental?
  • Is it like a timeshare? Is any ownership involved?
  • Why would I stay in a vacation rental versus other lodging options?
  • What is there to do in a vacation home?
  • How do I know if a vacation rental company has reliable services and facilities?
  • How do I make a reservation? Is it secure?
  • Do visitors have to stay for long periods of time?
  • Where are most vacation rentals located? Will there be other vacationers around?
  • What is the difference between renting from a professional vacation rental management company versus renting from a homeowner?
  • If I have questions during my stay, do I have someone I can call for assistance?
  • When renting a vacation home, will I receive the same services that I’d experience from a hotel, like room service, spa treatments, etc.?
  • Is a daily housekeeping service available?
  • How many people can stay in one vacation home?
  • Economically, how does a vacation rental compare to other lodging?
  • What if I need wheelchair accessibility?
  • Can I bring my pets?
  • What if I want to stock my vacation home rental with food and snacks?
  • How do I check-in to my vacation rental once I’ve arrived? Is there a designated check-in and checkout time?
  • Will I have Internet access and cable television?

ANSWER

What is a vacation rental?

Vacation rentals are one of the fastest-growing lodging categories in the world, with groups of friends and families discovering their vast appeal. They provide an alternative to other lodging options, allowing families and friends to stay in a fully furnished home, condo or villa for their getaways. Offering a travel atmosphere unlike any other, vacation rentals provide considerably more space and, in many instances, amenities not found in one’s own home.

Vacation rentals can come in all shapes and types, from homes to villas, condos to cabins, ranging from one to upwards of 20 bedrooms. While there are some vacation rentals that accommodate scores of travelers, there are many options for single travelers, couples and small groups of just two or three guests.

Is it like a timeshare? Is any ownership involved?

Vacation rentals are not like timeshares, as they don’t involve any type of ownership by guests. Travelers can simply check in and out just like they would for a hotel stay. While you are renting a property that is owned by an individual, the vacation rental company manages the entire process on their behalf, maintaining and servicing the property and its guests each day.

Why would I stay in a vacation rental versus other lodging options?

Many guests choose to stay in a vacation rental for a combination of reasons – value, location, privacy, amenities, and overall comfort and convenience. In a vacation rental, travelers are able to reserve a fully furnished home with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms underneath one roof, rather than splitting up and booking multiple hotel rooms. Visitors enjoy their own private amenities, a contrast to a shared resort-style perks, as well as a full kitchen in-home, and often in-home game rooms, billiard tables, home movie theaters and more.

What is there to do in a vacation home?

There are amenities available in-home to fit every travelers’ recreational lifestyle. Vacation rental visitors often boast easy access to nearby activities, parks and attractions, and sometimes, their own private pools, spas, and patios, in-home fireplaces, private televisions, DVD players, and often wireless internet access, stand-up arcade games, billiard and air hockey tables.

How do I know if a vacation rental company has reliable services and facilities?

Look for third-party endorsements on vacation rental websites, including membership in industry associations like the Vacation Rental Managers Association, Better Business Bureau (BBB) and local tourism or property management groups. You can also request and evaluate past guest reviews, comments and references.

How do I make a reservation? Is it secure?

Booking a vacation rental is a convenient and secure process, as many companies offer both accredited phone and Internet reservations systems. Guests can often view photos and amenities of individual homes prior to booking, making it easier for travelers to find a home to fit their specific needs. You should be offered standardized, secure phone and/or Internet reservations systems, with the ability to accept major credit cards. Security deposits can also be expected.

Do visitors have to stay for long periods of time?

Some vacation rental management companies require a minimum stay for reservations. Guests can contact the management company’s customer service team or website for further information and to confirm.

Where are most vacation rentals located? Will there be other vacationers around?

While some vacation rentals offer seclusion, they are sometimes concentrated into various vacation rental or tourism communities, as well, allowing guests with large groups to stay nearby or even next door to one another. Some communities are gated for additional privacy. Travelers can certainly expect to see other vacationers in the same neighborhood, and may even stay nearby to permanent residents.

What is the difference between renting from a professional vacation rental management company versus renting from a homeowner?

There are millions of vacation rental choices to book through companies or individual owners and offering a range of benefits. When choosing a vacation rental from an established property management company, travelers can be assured there’s a reputable hospitality business serving them each day.

Guests of professional vacation rental managers enjoy all the benefits of traditional accommodations, with many additional amenities and added values that remain unmatched:

Professionally cleaned and managed properties.

Emergency contact to call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for any questions, maintenance issues and more.

Familiarities like bath toiletries, fresh linens, concierge services, access to fitness centers and more.

Amenities like private swimming pools/spas, fully equipped kitchens, billiard rooms, in-home movie theaters with DVD rentals, Chefs, etc.

Consistent quality assurance standards.

Standard business and payment procedures.

Immediate online availability and confirmations.

Independent guest reviews and testimonials.

Last-minute availability for short notice bookings.

Readily accessible toll free numbers to connect travelers with vacation rental specialists.

What’s more, because most professional vacation rental companies have relationships with operators of their local activity providers, attractions, shops and restaurants, they can exclusively offer discounts, coupons, ticket upgrades and, in some cases, free admission.

If I have questions during my stay, do I have someone I can call for assistance?

Professional vacation rental management companies often offer an emergency contact that guests can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for questions, maintenance issues, and more. Be sure to inquire about any guest services phone numbers or contacts upon check-in to your home.

When renting a vacation home, will I receive the same services that I’d experience from a hotel, like room service, spa treatments, etc.?

Guests experience all the benefits of other lodging options with additional amenities and an inherent value that can’t be matched, often including a concierge, as well as options for in-home massages, spa treatments, a personal chef to cook meals, pre-arrival grocery delivery services, child care, and more. Most vacation rental management companies also boast partnerships with local vendors to offer guests discounts on tickets to area excursions, attractions, golf courses, as well as special rates on car and equipment rentals, to name a few.

Is a daily housekeeping service available?

While each vacation rental is thoroughly cleaned and prepared before and after guests’ arrivals, management companies often offer mid-stay or daily housekeeping services, upon request, for an additional fee. It is recommended that visitors inquire directly with their vacation home’s reservations team for further information.

How many people can stay in one vacation home?

Occupancy levels may not exceed what is posted for each home according to each state’s law. Some seven-bedroom homes can sleep up to 16 people, with larger homes accommodating even larger groups.

Economically, how does a vacation rental compare to other lodging?

Vacation rentals often provide huge cost savings by allowing guests to make just one reservation, rather than multiple, for a group or family. Rates for some three-bedroom vacation homes start at just $69 per night, but sleep up to 8 travelers versus just one or two. Having a fully equipped kitchen in-home also offers great value to travelers who want to save on the costs associated with dining out for every meal. Rather than spending hard-earned vacation dollars on a full restaurant breakfast every morning, vacation rental guests have the exclusive ability to simply stock up from the supermarket on their favorite cereal, snacks, eggs, or pancake mix.

What if I need wheelchair accessibility?

Many companies offer wheelchair-accessible accommodations. Please contact individual association members for additional information, accessibility details, and specific property amenities.

Can I bring my pets?

Many rental companies are pet-friendly, and some even offer welcome packages for guests’ favorite four-legged friends. Pet deposits and breed restrictions may apply. For more information, please contact individual member companies.

What if I want to stock my vacation home rental with food and snacks?

There are a variety of supermarkets nearby to most vacation rental communities for guests who wish to have their favorite snacks and meals on-hand and in-home. Many companies also offer guests the ability to pre-order groceries online to be delivered prior to their arrival. For the ultimate in culinary convenience, guests may also request a personal chef to prepare their vacation’s meals from breakfast to supper, plate-ready and chilled in the refrigerator upon check-in.

How do I check-in to my vacation rental once I’ve arrived? Is there a designated check-in and checkout time?

Some rental companies offer a central office nearby to their vacation rentals for convenient check in, pickup of guests’ keys, information about the area, and more. Others offer pre-arrival check-in, providing information electronically prior to guests’ arrival, including directions to/from the airport and local highways, maps of the area, a key-code for entry to the home, vacation ideas, and more.

And yes, consistent with most hotels and resorts, vacation rental companies do designate a specific check-in and check-out time. Early or late arrivals and departures may also be requested.

Will I have Internet access and cable television?

Most vacation rentals are furnished with cable television, DVD players, and multiple TV sets, and many are equipped with free high-speed, and sometimes, wireless Internet access. Some companies additionally offer complimentary usage of computers and connection to the World Wide Web at central guest office locations. Be sure to ask about specific requirements when selecting a home.

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