Don't forget to read our tips for a successful multi-generational vacation here!
Renting a home or villa is so obviously the way to go when traveling or vacationing with your family, whether it's just you and kids or you and the kids + grandparents + aunts and uncles + family friends.
But not all home rentals are alike, as the results on Airbnb and VRBO will show you. (My favorite Airbnb search experience was looking for a family-friendly place in San Diego and a boat docked in a marina came up as a result. Hmmm....)
So how to go about finding the best family-friendly spot for you? Especially one that you're looking at for the holidays?
Cathy Ross, the CEO of Exclusive Resorts, a luxury rental company with stunning vacation homes in 70 destinations around the world, tells us her tips on choosing the best rental home for a vacation. No matter your vacation budget, these are good tips to keep in mind.
WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT RENTING A VILLA OR HOUSE FOR THE HOLIDAYS
1. Carefully Consider the Layout: Are there plenty of gathering spaces such as a living room, kitchen, dining room, patio? Does the home come decorated for the holidays? Is there space for a Christmas tree? Is there a fireplace to hang stockings?
2. What's in the Kitchen?: Is the kitchen stocked with tools and appliances to cook your traditional holiday dinner/brunch or bake cookies for Santa? Or can you order a private chef? Can you stock the home with groceries, including ingredients to cook holiday meals and make gingerbread houses? Also, make sure your rental home has the same appliances as your own home (i.e. coffee maker, toaster, blow dryers, washer/dryer etc.)
3. How is the Location?: Are the homes accessible to the activities you want to do (i.e. ski in/ski out access, or beachside)? Are there restaurants nearby that offer holiday dinners? Are there toy stores or malls nearby for last-minute holiday gifts or a hot tub after a long day on the slopes? Is there a TV with holiday movies and music? Do you have full access to all the amenities on site as a rental guest (kids club, spa, etc.)?
4. What Kind of Extra Services Are Available?: What is included in the nightly rate? Is there a ski concierge on hand? Or someone to receive presents that are shipped ahead of time? All Exclusive Resorts’ homes come with daily housekeeping in addition to on-site concierge and pre-trip planning services, but some other rental companies provide these at an additional fee or not at all.
5. Are There Good Views?: What do you see when you look out the window? Are you peering out into a winter wonderland or enjoying the relaxing scene of waves to escape the cold? Often, we are focused on the interior of a home and forget the exterior space which is equally important. Make sure there are plenty of photos that properly reflect the entire home (just not one room), including the view. (What you see is not always what you get on some sites).
6. Getting There: Is the home easily accessed by direct flights or flights with less than two connections?
7. Flexible Bedding Options: If you are traveling with multiple generations, are there enough bedrooms, or rooms with bunk beds to hold the entire family for the holidays? Be cognizant of how many people can be accommodated, but still provide privacy. Many homes will advertise high occupancy numbers through use of sofa sleepers when in fact the living room or kitchen is not large enough to accommodate that many guests comfortably.
8. Review the Security Deposit and Other Fees: Are you working through a secure site? Research in advance and check for hidden add-ons like reservation fees, pool heating, administrative fees, insurance fees, housekeeping fees, linen cleaning services etc. before putting money down.
9. Beware of Scams: Are you working through a reputable vendor? Read reviews and make sure that the home you are renting is the actual home you will be arriving at.
10. Do a Safety Check: Is your home safe and well-maintained? Confirm that there are safes in the home, that all hot tubs have been properly cleaned on a regular maintenance schedule and that fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are present in every home.
11. Cancellation Policies: What happens in case of emergency? Research insurance options in case you must cancel.
12. Check-In Procedure. Where/how do you check in? Make sure there is a secure location for you to pick up the keys. Do not have them left at the home unattended. Lastly, don't forget to inquire about who you call if you are locked out or if something goes wrong with the home during your stay.
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