There comes a point in every avid traveler’s life when they need to make an important decision on how they want to travel in the future.
While you can deal with staying at the discount hotel and spending your money on various excursions over the course of your vacation, do you ever feel like you’re missing out on something better?
The answer is probably yes and that’s why you’re interested in taking your vacation to the next level by making the choice to stay at a luxury vacation rental.
You’ve made a good choice, but it’s important to know that there’s more to luxury vacation rentals than checking out a few homes or estates online, signing an agreement and making your payment.
To make sure you’re getting the best rental for the price, many factors can come into play.
We just want you to be prepared.
The Truth About Luxury Vacation Rentals
Within this beginner’s guide, we will cover the following:
1) The differences between a luxury vacation rental and a hotel
2) Where to travel and during what time of year
3) How to get the absolute best price
4) Making the most out of your luxury vacation rental experience
But we really understand how to get the most out of your luxury vacation rental.
This guide includes our expert knowledge on the travel industry, real life examples and more.
It’s important to note that this guide isn’t a step-by-step “how to” guide.
Rather, it’s here to give you guidance so your next vacation can be absolutely amazing.
So pull up a chair — or even better — sprawl out on a chaise lounge outside to get yourself in a vacationing mood.
Get ready to learn everything you’ll need to know about luxury vacation rentals.
The Differences Between Luxury Vacation Rentals and Hotels
Think back to the last three hotels you stayed at while on vacation.
Do you remember what they looked like?
There’s a good chance you don’t.
But there’s a probably a good chance you spent a considerable amount of money on a room that could be described as clean, but fairly bland and forgettable.
If you’re tired of forgettable experiences you’ve come to the right guide.
Luxury vacation rentals are the perfect way to enjoy your hard-earned vacation with the ones you love — including your dog!
Here are some of the biggest differences between hotels and luxury vacation rentals.
Say Goodbye to Small and Cramped
If you were asked to describe a hotel room, you would say one — maybe two — rooms that include one or two beds, a couch, desk, dresser, closet, bathroom and if you’re lucky, a mini-bar.
That doesn’t sound terrible, until you realize just how big a hotel room is.
According to Fixr.com;
“the average hotel room is about 325-square-feet, including the bathroom.”
That’s 7 percent of a full-size basketball court, or about the amount of space inside the 3-point line.
If the couch offers a pullout bed and there’s three people staying in the same room, things are going to get cramped.
And you only have one bathroom (Gentlemen, you know what this means).
With luxury vacation rentals you can finally stretch your legs, walk around and not have to play the waiting game when someone is in the bathroom.
Most vacation rentals are designed for families and larger parties, meaning they have several bedrooms and bathrooms, a large living room and full kitchen and dining room.
The size of the vacation rental can actually save you money in the long run.
If you have a family or group of six or more, you’ll need to pay for at least three hotel rooms over the course of your vacation.
It makes better sense to stay in one place.
It also makes it easier to have everyone in the same place for that morning meeting to go over the day’s activities.
A Gourmet Kitchen Means Less Money Spent at Restaurants
One of the biggest perks about luxury vacation rentals that people don’t even realize is the fact that most of them come with an amazing gourmet kitchen.
Who cooks on vacation, you ask?
Well, if it’s a family vacation, the whole family does!
You’d be surprised at how much fun cooking as a family can be while on vacation.
And the best part is you’re not paying outrageous prices at restaurants plus a tip for the waiter.
Additionally, depending on the layout of a restaurant, it’s difficult to interact with your entire group.
Most luxury vacation rentals offer a large dining room, allowing for the perfect family conversation around the dinner table.
No Need to Fight the Crowds
It doesn’t matter if it’s the Quality Inn or the Ritz Carlton, hotels are filled with people.
That could mean waiting 20 minutes during check-in, a crying baby in the room next door or that annoying guy sparking a conversation with you at the free continental breakfast.
Stay at a luxury vacation rental and focus on your family and the sights — not the sightseers, business travelers or little league hockey teams.
When you go the route of a vacation rental, you’re essentially taking your home with you.
The only people that can annoy you are your children, but that’s what grounding is meant for.
Management is Easy to Reach at a Luxury Vacation Rental
If you have an issue at a hotel on a weekend or after 5 p.m. on weekdays, you’ll be lucky to speak to a manager.
Instead, you’ll have to deal with the night auditor, who can never really help you.
A perk of a luxury vacation rental is that you’re typically renting it from a family or couple who owns the home.
Before signing the rental agreement, you’ll likely have an opportunity to meet them and also help out a small business.
Many people in mountain and beach towns turn a second home into a small business.
You might just feel better helping Main Street out than a corporate hotel chain.
Owners of vacation rentals will stay out of your way, but in case of an emergency, you’ll have their direct phone number.
Where should I travel to and during what time of year?
Now that you’re convinced about making the switch from hotels to luxury vacation rentals, it’s time to decide where you want to travel.
The best places to look are your favorite vacation spots.
Do you make a family trip to Orlando and go to Disney World every year?
Maybe you take a skiing vacation out to Colorado?
Destinations you’re familiar with are a great place to start because when you stay a vacation rental, it will open a new world of opportunities.
It will be like visiting that destination for the first time.
But for those who still want something different, don’t worry.
There are plenty of options.
What are some of the top destinations?
The folks at Family Vacation Critic offered a great top 10 list, which includes destinations like Hawaii, the Florida Panhandle and Hilton Head, S.C.
“Most people think world-class golf courses and full-service tennis courts when they think of Hilton Head, but the more than 100 miles of bike paths, 12 miles of inviting white-sand beaches, parks and nature preserves that capture the island’s beauty and wildlife, along with a quaint harbor town featuring plenty of boutique-style shops and fine restaurants, make Hilton Head a popular destination for family vacationing. From boating excursions and myriads of water sports to up-close encounters with wildlife and hiking and biking, families particularly enjoy the wonder of nature and the outdoors in Hilton Head.”
Over here at Estate Weddings & Events, we also have some great vacation rentals to help you with your search.
Vermont is one of America’s most beautiful states during all times of the year.
The state features beautiful rolling farm hills and exquisite estates.
One of our favorites is the Fox Chair Mountain Farm located in Chester.
Set on 45 private acres, the estate boasts lush expansive grounds including rivers, rolling green pastures and period gardens.
The estate’s stunning hilltop gazebo is the perfect location for that morning cup of coffee as the fog disintegrates into thin air.
If you want to see Vermont at its best, travel during the fall when the bright foliage contrasts exploding reds, oranges and yellows with the crisp blue sky.
We’re not talking about our nation’s capital, rather, the gorgeous state of Washington, located in the Pacific Northeast.
Washington truly offers it all.
A large metropolitan city, magnificent mountains and wine vineyards galore.
It also offers some stunning luxury vacation rentals that guarantee to make your next vacation truly spectacular.
Check out the Lairmont Manor in Bellingham, Washington, located in the most northwestern tip of the state, on Bellingham Bay.
This 100-year-old estate, with award winning gardens, is a true beauty.
And if you want to add a little international flavor to your vacation, you’re actually quite close to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Once you’re in Bellingham, there’s plenty to do; including, visiting the many museums and art galleries, taking countless scenic drives, hiking, visiting the Big Rock Garden, whale watching and shopping.
According to Bellingham’s tourist site;
“If you can’t find it in Bellingham, it probably doesn’t exist.”
Check out everything Bellingham has to offer, here.
Come winter time everyone is dreaming about a Rocky Mountain high.
But no matter the season (although fall and winter show off Colorado at its best) there are countless mountain-getaway destinations that offer beautiful luxury vacation rentals.
This Victorian country manor rests on five stunning acres of lawns, flower gardens, a creek and plenty of trees.
The lovely gazebo and historic 1880s barn completes its luxury.
And of course, there are countless vacation rentals in the mountains in places like Vail, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs.
From the blog Colorado Ski Towns:
“Steamboat Springs is known for its World Class skiing facilities, Steamboat Springs was originally a summer resort. Travelers in the early 1900s visited Steamboat Springs in the summer months for the natural hot springs and vast hunting and fishing opportunities. Today, summer activities span the spectrum, with three championship golf courses, an indoor-outdoor tennis center, biking, hiking, kayaking, fly fishing, and horseback riding right in town.”
If you’re looking for a fantastic ski getaway, there are countless luxury vacation rentals to choose from in beautiful Colorado.
Paying the Absolute Best Price for Your Luxury Vacation Rental
Depending where you’re traveling to and what time of year, the prices on luxury vacation rentals can become a bit steep.
Thankfully, there are some ways to avoid high costs and enjoy luxury at a great price.
Travel during the off-season
There are off-seasons for everything: Weddings, professional sports and of course — travel!
Probably the number one way to save some money on your next vacation rental is to travel during the off-season.
That means traveling to ski towns in the summer and fall.
You won’t be able to ski down the mountains, but you will be able to hike and experience some true mountain beauty.
It means that you won’t travel to Tuscany during the harvest season, but maybe see what Italy has to offer during the winter.
Sure it might be cold, but you won’t have to fight large tourist crowds, and you’ll truly live like a local.
It means that you’ll travel to the Mediterranean in the fall during what is considered the rainy season.
It also means traveling to destinations that you would never expect to be travel to.
Here what actor Tim Allen has to say about the great state of Michigan:
It looks beautiful doesn’t it?
All of these options allow you to experience luxury at a better price.
Flash sales are another option
While luxury vacation rentals aren’t as common as say, a discounted dinner at Chile’s, but they are becoming more popular.
If you hope to take advantage of a flash sale, you must remember to act fast.
There’s a reason they’re called flash sales: They’re typically gone in a blink of an eye…or a flash.
While flash sales are being more utilized for luxury vacation rentals, they’re still dominated by hotels.
Follow sites like American Express’ Vente-Privee for the best flash sales for vacation rentals.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
If you walk into anyone hotel in America today there’s next to no chance of being able to negotiate a cheaper rate.
You might be able to get a promotional rate, but straight up negotiating is never an option.
This is where the beauty of luxury vacation rentals comes into play.
Being that you’re only dealing with the owner of the home you’re staying at, there’s a much higher likelihood of being able to bring that overall price down.
There’s especially a good chance at negotiating during a destination’s off-season.
Here are some things you can say to the home owner to help bring that price down:
- “The final price is just a bit outside of my budget, is there any room to bring it down?”
- “Since we’re traveling in the off-season, there’s a chance that you wouldn’t have any business at all. Could we lower the final price to (whatever you think is fair)?”
- “Our family was really hoping to enjoy a nice vacation together, is there anything we can do to help lower the price?”
It’s important to remember that you don’t want to insult the owner.
They’ve spent a good amount of their own money to make your luxury vacation rental top-of-the-line.
If you’re too pushy with price, they may not want to deal with you at all.
Traveling With Extended Family and Friends Lowers the Price
One of the most obvious ways to lower the price is to split the cost among family members and friends.
Of course, you’re not going to have your 9-year-old daughter chip in her allowance money, but let’s say you’re traveling with aunts, uncles and cousins, you can always ask to help with the final price.
In fact, by staying at a larger vacation rental, you might be more inclined to travel with more family and friends.
If you split everything down the middle, your vacation could actually be significantly cheaper.
Plus, you get to spend time with people that you’re close to.
The bottom line is is that there’s always some wiggle room when it comes to prices on luxury vacation rentals.
Making the most out of your luxury vacation rental
Take a deep breathe.
- You’ve been convinced to finally ditch staying at hotels while on vacation
- After much vetting, you’ve decided on the perfect destination
- And you were even able to get the absolute best price.
Now it’s time for the fun part: Making the most of your vacation!
There are more ways to get the most out of your vacation than filling your itinerary with activities in your destination.
Here are 7 great ways to make the most out of your luxury vacation rental
1) Bring your puppy:
If you’re driving to your vacation rental, there’s a good chance that you can also bring your other best friend with you!
Most vacation rentals allow you to bring a pet, but check with the owner to ensure it’s ok.
Most of the time, the owner will require a little extra on the security deposit.
Save on kennel fees and truly bring the whole family with you.
2) Family game night:
The best part about a vacation is that you’re totally disconnected (or at least you should be) from the real world.
So while you can enjoy a family game night at your own home, doing it on vacation is more enjoyable because you don’t have to worry about staying up late and going to work or accomplishing a long to-do list the next morning.
3) Travel as a local:
Since you’re in a gorgeous house, mansion or estate — your luxury vacation rental — you should act like you live in your destination.
4) Secure a fun rental car:
If you’re flying into the destination, let your vacation start the moment you arrive at the airport.
Rent a fun rental car for the week.
If you’re staying in a destination that has warm weather, secure a convertible or a sports car.
5) Take a class:
I’m not talking about a geometry or history class — something definitely more fun.
If you plan on utilizing the amazing kitchen in your luxury vacation rental, why not take a cooking class?
Some chefs will meet you at a local market to pick out ingredients that help you prepare the meal for the evening right in your home.
An art class on the beach also sounds nice.
6) Family portrait:
If you have the entire family together, there’s no better time to snap an updated family portrait.
Call up a photographer to meet you at your vacation rental or somewhere in the destination you’re traveling in and set up an hour or two for a photography session.
Being that the photography industry is completely digital these days, you can easily purchase prints online from most photographers.
7) Go bike riding:
One of the hot travel trends of 2012 is active vacations.
Many destinations have a place where you can rent bikes for the day.
Biking is the best way to experience a new destination.
Are you an experienced luxury vacation rental traveler?
How do you make the most out of your vacations?
Vacations are supposed to be memorable and relaxing.
By making the leap from the hotel to the luxury vacation rental, your next vacation can be all of that and more.
We would love to hear what you think….please share in the comments below…
About the Author
Andrew is the luxury travel consultant for Estate Weddings and Events, offering readers the latest trends when it comes to high-end travel. When it comes to travel, he credits his expertise to his wife Erin, who has quite the understanding of the finer things in life. Living in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, he enjoys the fresh mountain air, Colorado craft brews and relaxing with his cat Franklin.