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Top Vacation Rental Companies For US And Foreign Villas And Condos
Vacation rentals, whether you are searching for a condo, beachfront villa, family home or timeshare available by the night, can be a great money-saving option for families. Typically multi-room units, they feature cooking facilities, extra room for the clan, pet-welcoming policies, and access to the resort facilities you'd be paying much more for in a nearby hotel.
So if this is your year to skip the all-inclusive resorts and chain hotels and think about vacationing in a home-away-from-home, we hope you'll find the following tips and resources helpful.
Picking your Vacation Rental Destination
Your vacation destination depends on many factors, but wherever you go, picking the right family vacation rental is very important. You want to make sure of the following items:
- There are enough bedrooms for everyone to sleep (for brief stays, a one-bedroom with a sofabed can sleep 4)
- The living and dining area -- most important rooms -- are nice and spacious
- Unit has all the amenities you need (full kitchen, washer, dryer, etc.)
- The destination or surrounding region has things for your family to do while you're there.
Other additional features you might want to see offered by the chosen rental company are cleaning services, childcare, and pet care, if pets are allowed.
Switching Continents: Top Value Vacation Homes Overseas
If you decide to go international, check out Hideaways International for their great international travel deals. They feature a lot of off the beaten path places, and list weekly deals at various exotic locations in Thailand, South Africa, and France. Their site is positively inspiring.
If you want to get a sense of the budget and moderate-price market, get out your foreign language dictionary and check out some of Homeaway Inc's foreign vacation rental websites. The Holiday-Rentals.co.uk offers a variety of homes and apartments, and the more budget-oriented Ownersdirect.co.uk features self-catered units, in the United Kingdom and abroad. At FeWo-direkt.de where German families like to shop, they claim to have had more than 435,000 bookings since starting in 1997, just as Abritel.fr offers a world full of vacation rental choices to those from France.
Or, if you know what you're looking for, search the internet for a specific type of rental. For example, you can rent a cottage in the British Countryside with the Royal Oak Foundation, the American affiliate of the National Trust of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Become a member at their site and get to stay at an authentic British cottage, many of which, according to their spokesperson, "had previous lives as former sporting grandstands, water towers, and lighthouse cottages." The price can begin anywhere from $350 and up for one week during their low season.
Many of the international sites mentioned above will list beach vacation rentals on beautiful islands, and tree-shrouded cabins in dense tropical jungles. You don't only have to choose a ski chalet or a highrise rental in a major city. One of the great perks of foreign travel is that international trips can also be very educational for you and your children, as you experience the culture around you.
Renting Budget Condos in the United States
If you want to stay local, states that have many attractions for kids, like Florida or California, are a good choice. With Florida-based 4rentbythebeach.com, you can search for affordable condos that are close to the beach and lots of other attractions. Or if you want something close to Disney World (there are Disney Vacation Club units within the themepark), stay at Disney's Boardwalk Villas where each villa has air conditioning, a kitchen, and access to a child's pool, hot tub, game room, and child care service.
These Disney villas are available at Wyndham Vacation Rentals, the world’s largest professionally managed vacation rental business, as well as being part of the Wyndham Worldwide family of hotel brands. In addition to many resorts with rental units, the company has ResortQuest and other vacation rentals businesses in the US and around the world under their banner.
When we first rented from ResortQuest, now a Wyndham Vacation Rentals brand, there were more than 50,000 rentals units -- all managed by professional real estate companies that provide assistance to renters -- in over 100 resort locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe. Through Wyndham, these companies offer many seasonal specials and perks such as "weather guarantees" that allow families to switch our their mountain resort rental -- if there's no snow for skiing -- to a tropical rental the same week, for no extra charge. (Of course, this doesn't take into account your investment in airfare.)
Homeaway Inc. also operates a large number of websites that feature more than 720,000 paid vacation rental home listings throughout 168 countries in the U.S. and around the world, including some of the largest U.S. sites: Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) and VacationRentals.com. VRBO is another favorite because it's easy to use and compare prices, and the management has rated and organized the properties in a very helpful way.
Vacation Home Rentals: Tips, Resources & Warnings
Among the many other companies taking advantage of the Internet to market vacation home, condo and villa rentals is the Family Travel Forum booking engine, where a girl in the office recently found a one-bedroom waterfront apartment in Antibes, France for US$129 per night when neighboring hotels were 250€ per room.
A site that works with both individual home owners and real estate managers is Zonder, called "the Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia of vacation rentals" by CNBC. Zonder has tools to help you sort the available properties by number of beds, distance from town, price etc. Their Zonder Guarantee that "the property exists and the calendar is accurate; the property is accurately represented with respect to the sleeping capacity, the location, and the general quality of the property; and the price you see is the final price you pay – no hidden charges!" takes some of the worry out of web bookings. Remember that pool heat, phone and similar charges are generally separately billed. If you don't get what was promised, go back to their live agents for assistance.
Save with Last Minute Rentals and More Resources
For more rental deals on both local and international villas, visit Endless Vacation Rentals. Check out "Last Minute Vacations," where they post deals for people looking for a quick getaway. Endless Vacation Rentals the direct-to-consumer vacation rental business of RCI, the world's largest vacation exchange network.
Last but not least by any means, Discover Vacation Homes was launched many years ago by the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA), a non-profit that offers advice to promote vacation rentals as a traveler's alternative. You can search their site by destination and find recommended vacation rental companies all over the United States and major resort areas.
Keep in mind, no matter how long you search, there are always other options available. And remember, when it comes to the right vacation rental at the right price, research is your best friend.
Photos courtesy of Wyndham Vacation Rentals site.
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