Welcome to Home Rental Country: The Refuge of the Un-Hotel

Take the brand-name anonymity out of your next foray into the vacation world by getting the scoop on finding the best homes away from home.
Meads Bay, Anguilla
YOUR OWN PRIVATE PARADISE: Meads Bay, Anguilla (Digital Visions)

If you're the type of traveler who focuses more on where to go than where you'll stay once you get there, hotel selection becomes less a pleasure and more a necessary evil. And when you're traveling with larger groups—say, meeting up for a family reunion—the typical approach of blocking out a group of rooms in some anonymous hotel chain may save you $10 per head, but it usually culminates in the entire family piled onto one hotel bed, talking over each other and testing the patience of hotel security. Add to that the typical family trappings (picky eaters, travel chefs who insist on cooking, divergent schedules, loads of vacation gear, cadres of kids) and your trip may end lacking the one thing you most desperately need: relaxation.

Instead of accepting that stark reality, consider the saner—and much more rewarding—alternative of vacation rentals. With a little diligence, you'll find a home-away-from-home with what you're looking for (a nice kitchen, wilderness-fused isolation, bedrooms in the double digits, balconies facing the setting sun, easy access to the links, slopes, or beach), without the bells and whistles to drive up the price. But then again, who wouldn't spend a few more bucks for a porch hot tub?

For many years, vacation rentals appeared to be the preserve of Europeans. By the early 1990s, while some Americans had caught on, "it certainly wasn't something that everyone knew about," says Pauline Kenny, creator of the Slow Travel website (www.slowtrav.com), which offers traveler reviews and classified ads.

Now, thanks to the Internet, travelers can easily track down a cabin at a nearby resort or a beachfront pad halfway around the world.

A boom in second homes has further increased rental availability, says Michael Sarka, executive director of the Vacation Rental Managers Association (www.vrma.com).

You can likely find a vacation rental—be it a winter home in Florida or an apartment for the week in Paris—for any travel destination. And whether you long a single-room tepee, a slope-side lodge, or an expansive villa, there can be room for as many (or as few) traveling companions as you'd like. "You can really rent anything just about anywhere," says Brian Sharples, CEO of HomeAway.com, a Web site with more than 85,000 rental property listings.

Published: 13 Apr 2007 | Last Updated: 7 Nov 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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