Archive for April, 2008

5 Things to Do When You Arrive at Your Vacation Rental

When you first arrive at your vacation rental, you may be so eager to chuck your bags in a corner and head out to explore that you may forget to do a few things in the vacation property itself. Now, the home’s owner or management company should have left the house ready for the next guests, and you shouldn’t have to do too much to prepare it for your stay, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to be done. After all, the vacation home stays the same for everyone, and one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.

With that in mind, here are five things you should do when you first arrive at your vacation rental.

  1. Check the fridge. Depending on the rental situation, there may be some foodstuffs in the fridge and the cupboards when you arrive. You’ll want to take note of what’s already in the kitchen before you start making your shopping list. And make sure you know whether you’re supposed to leave the food supplies as you found them – if you are, you’ll need to make sure you know what’s there so you’ll know what to replace before you leave.
  2. Check the kitchen. This is related to #1, but deserves its own mention here (in my opinion) because appliances can vary so much from house to house. You may know much of this in advance – whether the vacation rental has a dishwasher, for instance – but just because it has one doesn’t mean it’s the same one you’re used to at home. Taking a look around the kitchen to determine whether the tiny, antique oven will even accommodate a lasagna dish, whether the coffee machine has seen better days, or whether the freezer has a thick layer of frost are all good things to do when you first arrive in the vacation property. This isn’t to say that you’re going to go out and replace an appliance if it’s not up to the standards of your home appliances, but knowing what you’ve got to work with before you run to the grocery store is a good idea.
  3. Check the heat. When a vacation rental is vacant between visitors, the heat may be turned way down to save energy. If it’s cold outside, you’ll want to turn the heat up in the various rooms you’ll be using. And incidentally, going to the grocery store to pick up supplies is a great thing to do while the house warms up.
  4. Check the equipment. This depends entirely on what “extras” your vacation rental comes with, but the general rule is the same. If there’s a boat, make sure there are life jackets in the sizes you’ll need. If there are bicycles, make sure they’re in good shape and there are helmets available. If there’s a barbecue, make sure you’ve got the necessary fuel. The idea is that the owner may not have a chance to come out and inventory all of this between each guest’s stay, so it’s a good idea to see what’s what. The alternative is to have the burgers and hot dogs all ready to grill and only then realize there’s no charcoal.
  5. Check the checklist. You may have been given a property checklist by the owner or management company before you arrived at the vacation rental, or you may find one when you get there. Either way, you’ll want to go over it so you know if there’s anything that needs to be done upon arrival (besides the usual stuff). Each vacation rental is going to be a little different, and could have some quirks that you wouldn’t know about otherwise.

Of course, on the other side of things, remember there are also certain things you’ll want to do as you’re preparing to leave your vacation rental – you should leave it as you found it, so many of the departure to-do items will be the reverse of the arrival to-do items. If you haven’t been given a departure checklist from the homeowner or management company, just plan to leave the vacation rental as it was when you arrived.

The Postcard Beauty of Wembury, England

vacation homes, england, rental homes, vacation homesIn the beautiful peaceful English countryside spotted with quaint cottages whistling a tune of English symphonies through the hills surround in the holiday villas covered in English roses that so identify the experience of England.  With history and culture floating through the atmosphere of your Wembury England vacation holiday home, from the local English pub to British tea houses that make every step down the streets near your vacation rental home in Wembury, England an exciting experience.

Noted for the magnificent beach views from beach front rentals, the cliffs around the coast of Plymouth, enjoying the sunny coastal slopes of Wembury England, bring relaxation of a beach-like escape to many beach rental visitors each year.  Providing the best setting of a beach vacation mixed with a pint at the local pub to start your trip to your vacation rental in Wembury England.  Whether you are ready shop the historical village streets for souvenir or take a tour of a stately country home, Wembury England vacation holiday homes will give you the perfect base for your exploration of the area.

Attractions near vacation rental homes Wembury, England:

  • The Wembury Marine Centre:  This wonderful Marine Centre, noted for graceful exhibits about the rock pools native to the Wembury area, educations thousands of wanders to the silver coast lines dotted with wildlife experiences for the whole family.vacation homes, england, rental homes, vacation homes
  • Mewstone:  The Mewstone, available for tours from local boat services, is visible from the coastline of Wembury.  The alluring island barely off the coast of Wembury has a notorious history of housing smugglers and prisoners from every decade.
  • Barbican:  This incredible city of ancient English architecture of the 14th century stands proudly among the streets.  A representation of Tudor style waits for each visitor to discover as if it were new.
  • Saltram House:  This wonderful collection of artwork and ceramic pieces in celebration of Reynolds, the notable artist, lends flavor to a architectural accomplish of design of John Parker and structural details Robert Adams.

vacation homes, england, rental homes, vacation homesWhile staying at your Wembury England vacation rental homes, the accommodations of the region vary from the beach homes with spectacular views of the coast to vacation holiday homes in Wembury England, the best part your vacation is the many adventures that await!

Enjoy your quest for rest or play at your vacation holiday home in Wembury, England by booking your vacation today with Vacapedia.

Save Money and Eat Well in Italy – It’s Sagra Season!

I’m full. Absolutely stuffed. I can hardly belly up to the computer. Where’ve I been? To a restaurant? Nah, I’ve been to a sagra.

What’s a sagra? It’s a food festival. Often a small town in Italy will block off a street, set up some booths and a makeshift kitchen, and serve up fresh, local food to people on picnic benches for a price that will astound you. And most of the time the proceeds go for a good cause. Today’s went to a musical group.

We celebrated a small red onion of our region at the sagra this afternoon. Sometimes you’ll find yourself celebrating wild boar, or head cheese, or some kinda intestine-like deal. It’s all good. Trust me.

Today, liberation day in Italy, we had bruschetta, stewed goat and polenta, pork sausage, fava beans, pancetta, cheese and probably something I’m forgetting, like bread. It cost us €23 for two. Yes, I know that’s something like 35 of what Rick Steves calls “the Bush Peso” but you’re unlikely to find a meal of this magnitude in a restaurant for twice the price. What would a glass of local wine cost at the sagra? 50 Eurocents. They charge .85 for a coffee in the cheap bars, so that’s quite a deal.

How can you enjoy sagras on your vacation? You won’t find many you can plan on from your computer. But from now through the summer you will have plenty of sagra celebrations in Italy to choose from. You find out about them on posters, usually posted on roads and on posts in town. In other words, you just gotta be there for a while and pay attention to the signs.

Montecatini vacation rental, Tuscany apartmentsIf you stay somewhere for a week or so, you’ll likely have the opportunity to go to one or two. You can pig out without breaking the bank–and if you go to a sagra at lunch, you won’t need much at dinner.

Anyway, here’s the daily pick for a week’s stay in a Tuscan place that’s darn interesting, close to Florence and beaches, and right near a spa town where they’ll tune up your body and change the plugs. It’s right outside  Montecatini Terme. It’s called Solaria.

Imagine, a half hour train ride will get you into Florence so you can see David naked in marble, then you’ll have beautiful sunsets to look forward to from the table in the front yard in the evening instead of staring at a hotel room ceiling.

More Reasons to Choose a Vacation Rental Over a Hotel

As if you needed another reason to opt for a vacation rental instead of a hotel room for your next trip, travel guru Christopher Elliott gives us a couple more.

First of all, there are some resorts which charge hidden – and mandatory – daily fees for just staying at the resort. As if the rate you’re paying for your room wasn’t enough! Hawaii in particular is apparently known for its high resort fees, including one resort and spa in Maui that charges $25 per day above and beyond everything else you’re already paying. This isn’t to say that you wouldn’t be willing to pay the fees if you knew about them in advance, but often customers have no idea until they’re stuck with the bill at the end of their trip. What’s more, Elliott says the resorts have a little help from the likes of Travelocity in hiding these fees, too.

Obviously, if you’re a resort traveler then you’ll just have to be a smarter traveler and make yourself aware of any fees like this before you book – at least that way you’ll be able to accurately figure out how much your vacation will cost. But there is, as you can imagine, another way to deal with resort fees – don’t pay them! Stay in a vacation rental instead! Especially in Hawaii, where many of the resorts charge fees (not all of them do, mind you), you can save even more money than you ordinarily would with a vacation rental. Check out all the Hawaii vacation rentals you can choose from.

The other issue Elliott brings up is that while we all want to think that we are the only people on vacation in a given resort or hotel, and that the smile on the concierge’s face is all about how happy they are to see us, the fact is that (as Elliott so succinctly puts it) “your resort doesn’t need you.” Hotel room rates are continuing to go up, and demand doesn’t seem to be subsiding much – even in light of the weakened dollar. So it’s certainly not a buyer’s market out there, and hotels and resorts that will bend over backwards to accommodate your needs may be harder and harder to find. Not only that, they may come up with new things to charge you for, and new fees to add to your already-expensive room (like those mandatory resort fees I mentioned above).

Again, the obvious choice is to avoid staying in hotels or resorts altogether, and choose a vacation rental instead. With a vacation rental, you’re your own concierge – but while you don’t have someone to make your restaurant reservations for you or organize a day trip nearby, you also aren’t stuck paying unnecessarily high room rates and unforeseen hidden fees for service that really isn’t anything to write home about. Take control of your vacation (and your vacation spending!) with a vacation rental.

Being Environmentally Friendly in your Vacation Rental

recyclingOn this April 22, the 38th annual Earth Day celebration, it’s a perfect opportunity to step back and look at our own lives and our own habits and see what we can each do to make the world a greener place. And while you may not think about “going green” when you’re on vacation, there’s no reason why your vacation rental shouldn’t be environmentally friendly, too.

Here are some things to think about when you’re choosing a vacation rental that’s good for the environment.

  • Leave the car in the garage. Once you’ve gotten to your destination, one of the best ways you can save both energy and money, as well as the planet, is by driving as little as possible. To do this, choose a vacation home that’s close to things you can walk to (like the beach or downtown), and see if the vacation rental comes with things like bicycles (or rent bikes in town for the duration of your trip). Find a grocery store nearby you can walk to – you’ll make more frequent trips, perhaps, but you’ll enjoy the stroll and get to know the shopkeepers because you’re there more often!
  • Eat your leftovers. Cooking for yourself in your vacation home saves you money, you know that already – but did you know it helps you to be more environmental? Rather than eating out for every meal and throwing out anything you didn’t eat, you’ll be reheating and eating your leftovers. That’s less energy required to cook an elaborate restaurant meal and less waste that’s going into a landfill. If you do eat out, be sure to bring your leftovers home in a doggie bag.
  • Rent just as much house as you need. If you’re just on a romantic getaway for two, don’t rent a vacation home with four bedrooms. Get a vacation property that suits your needs – getting more house just means more space that needs to be heated, cooled and cleaned, all of which wastes energy. And close the doors to whatever rooms you’re not using to conserve heat or cool air.
  • Watch stars instead of TV. You can watch TV at home, so why sit in front of the boob tube every night on vacation? Get out and enjoy some of what the area around your vacation rental has to offer for the evening’s entertainment, whether it’s star-gazing, roasting marshmallows over a campfire, or just a romantic walk along the beach.
  • Recycle! You recycle at home, there’s no reason you can’t do it on vacation. Before you book your vacation rental, find out what the local recycling policies are and what the vacation property’s recycling capabilities are. Is recycling done at curb-side with the garbage? Is there a facility nearby where you can take all your recylables at the end of your vacation? Is everything mixed together, or does it need to be separated? These are all questions you should be able to get answers to when you’re booking your vacation rental.

For more information on how to lead a greener life, check out Climate Crisis.net and the official Earth Day website.

Lisbon, Portugal: Make Your Weak Dollars Last

American visits to Portugal were up almost 20% in 2007. That’s likely to be because Portugal offers more for your war-weakened dollar.

Lisbon remains one of Europe’s most affordable capitals. The EU has poured money into Portugal, and it shows in the clean city streets with excellent public transportation the city offers.

Nightlife is great. Find the tiniest fado bar you can find and hunker down for a night of haunting song and guitar music. A trip to the fado museum is a must, as is a trip to the Belem district and the Monastery of Jeronimos.

Lisbon Vacation RentalHeck, add in a day trip to Sintra by train from Lisbon and you might as well stay for the whole week. I’d rent an apartment like the one over there to the left called “Alfama” in the heart of Lisbon, the thriving-with-life Alfama district and pretend I was one of the locals.

I’d eat well for cheap, then use up the calories walking up to St. George’s castle. When I was tired I’d use one of Lisbon’s funiculars or the historic Santa Justa elevator to get up the hills.

I’d one day head on over to the Monument to the Discoveries, designed to commemorate the Portuguese Age of Discovery during the 15th and 16th centuries. Then I’d go eat some seafood.

After my week in Lisbon, I’d head east to the Alentejo region, an up and coming region that’s rapidly becoming my favorite. But that’s another story.

Viva French Rivera!

vacation homes, french rivera, rental homes, vacation homesFrom the notorious film festival at Cannes nears your French Rivera vacation rental to the warm sunny holiday villas, the shores of the French Rivera are calling to you with sun quenched vacation rentals in French Rivera and nights of dancing in tropical moonlight.  Whether reveling in the spectacular views surrounding your French Rivera vacation holiday home or enjoying the surf close to beach house rentals, get ready for to spice the beach vacation time of your life on the French Rivera!

Attractions near vacation rental homes French Rivera:

  • Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild:  This wonderful dwelling houses the collection of nine gardens and art collections of the Baroness Ephrussi de Rothschild.  Marveled by art lovers and botany appreciators alike, the gardens are covered by breath taking fountains, sculptures, and flowers domestic and exotic in nature.vacation homes, french rivera, rental homes, vacation homes
  • Old Town (Vieille Ville):  Dancing through the old world flavor of cobblestone streets with tile roof buildings, you almost expect to see a woman in 1900 dress skirt by to by vegetables at this open air market.  Whether searching for souvenirs to bring home or the best decorations of the region, Old Town is the best place to visit.
  • Pampelonne Beach:  A luxurious beach of white sands and sun glistening off of sparking water makes Pampelonne Beach a postcard vacation spot.  Noted as one of the top beach vacation destinations, Pampelonne Beach is an incredible location even for seasoned beach goers.
  • Iles de Lerins:  This literally translation of “two islands” comes with a short boat ride across the port from Cannes to this mixture of historical Fort Royal and a garden paradise covered in eucalyptus with pines.  A lovely stroll into a past garden haven set in tropical serenity.

vacation homes, french rivera, rental homes, vacation homesNo matter if you spend long days at beach house rentals getting a wonderful bronze tan or strolling along the marketplace near your French Rivera cottage, you can relax and absorb the one of a kind fiesta atmosphere about your French Rivera vacation home.  The beauty and style of French Rivera vacation holiday homes brings sparkle to your every second in your French Rivera vacation holiday home.

Enjoy your quest for rest or play at your vacation holiday home in French Rivera by booking your vacation today with Vacapedia.


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