Have you decided to bypass the traditional hotel stay in favor of a vacation rental? This article will tell you all the ways to find your dream vacation place, whether a bedroom in a city apartment or an entire villa on the beach.
• See the pros and cons of vacations in a luxury villa versus a luxury hotel
• And then check out the several ways to find choose your private vacation digs...coming right up!
Most Popular Route to a Villa Vacation: Web-Surf
The Internet may be ruled by cats, but the Web is also a great place to find vacation properties. Today, you'll find many vacation-home services online. Bigger is better for you: the more numerous the offerings. These are some of the major players.
• Airbnb, the big name, is approaching two million property choices around the world. The offerings are mostly rooms in private homes and apartments, but complete houses are available, too
• HomeAway and its upscale division, Luxury Rentals from Home Away (see 13 great houses)
• Other companies, such as Rental Escapes (see 12 good-value homes)
• View Retreats offers the top vacation properties in Australia and in New Zealand
• Avoid surcharges and surprises by knowing the villa-rental rules.
Get into House Swaps and Home Exchanges
Another Huge Internet-Driven Vacation Trend: Home Exchanges and House Swaps
If you have a nice home or apartment of your own, you can trade it with someone else. The deal is: You trade places! You stay in each other's house at the same time and have a comfortable, "live like a local" vacation.
• See the reasons why home exchanges are a global trend
• And check out 10 beautiful international homes from LoveHomeSwap.com
Join a Travel Club
Some luxury travelers want to delegate their villa-vacation planning. For them, the ideal solution is to join a high-end vacation club. Some clubs are expensive: you pay membership fees and, often, an initiation fee in addition to your villa rental.
• The top such villa vacation club is Inspirato with American Express, with a portfolio of vacation homes and luxury hotel suites in hundreds of locations
• Another style of vacation club is 3rd Home, which arranges luxury homestays in other members' homes
• Yet another style of vacation club: G2G, or Getaway to Give, a club in which much of the fee goes to causes of your choice (think: charitable donation
Use a Villa Agent
Or maybe you don't want to work with a massive DIY website or even an elite club. And you know where you want to vacation and you want to hire an agent or agency.
• The villa owner (not you, the renter) pays the agent's commission
• Agents live and die by their reputations, and it is in their interest to do right by the renter.
• Using an agent is more secure. You'll probably be able to pay in dollars and have some recourse if the property has been significantly misrepresented
The Best Reason to Use a Villa Agent
They have inspected every property first-hand and know the owners
On Airbnb and other villa websites, you've got user reviews to go by. But if you want a guarantee of what the villa is really like, villa agents will personally know the properties they represent -- that's their client and source of income.
How to Find a Qualified, Reliable Luxury Villa Agent
• If you have a travel agent or are connected to the Virtuoso luxury travel network, ask this pro to recommend a reputable villa rental agency or association.
• Network! Ask people you know who vacation frequently, perhaps in the region you're looking at
• Look for villa agents' advertisements in high-end travel magazines and their websites, and in college alumni magazines
Beware of Websites that Seem to Feature Luxury Villa Agents
If a website posting as a villa agent is simply a villa aggregator that are no more than virtual bulletin boards for unassociated individual properties. With these, you'll deal with the owner directly