Home Archives 2009 September

Monthly Archives: September 2009

Ok, so you’ve done the family vacation to the waterpark and school is in full swing, you’re free to breathe (for a minute at least). So, gather your bros and start planning that testosterone-infused male bonding thing that you’ve been day dreaming about at work. A mancation is a great chance to turn your cell phone off, clear your head and reconnect with ’your boys’…and maybe meet some new people along the way. But where to go? Well, we have a destination suggestion just for you, men.

Jaco, Costa Rica has earned the FlipKey ‘manly’ seal of approval, so round up your best guy friends and proudly declare it a mancation… did we mention the cigars here are divine?

Jaco is a well-balanced blend of rugged and gutsy activities like bungee jumping off the 265 ft bridge over the tops of the forest canopy or white water rafting the class IV rapids of the Naranjo River. Jaco is also home to some dynamite golf courses, like the coastal holes at the Hacienda Pinilla. Deep Sea fishing is also great for rekindling your inner man-flame. After you and the boys catch some tuna, take it back to your vacation rental and grill it up for some freshly won dinner.

But that’s not all…Jaco’s nightlife is almost as adventurous as its day-time activities. With bars open all night attracting crowds of all ages, it’s easy to get lost in the blur of the evening. Of course with the world-class beach out your backdoor, spending your days recovering from the night before is always an enjoyable option.

mancation_jaco

While many hotels are at their peak rates during the winter months, vacation rentals are a great way to kill two birds with one stone. You and your boys can get the chance to rule the roost but not break the bank in the process. Check out FlipKey’s huge database of vacation homes for any sized group of guys looking for a mancation.


While The Fall Season is synonymous with apple picking, changing leaves, and the kids heading back to school, it seems that as the weather changes, so do our taste buds. With the crisp chill of fall comes a need for warmer recipes. Here at FlipKey, we decided to compile a few recipes for our favorite fall feasts, so that whether you’re watching the colors change on the Cape or basking in the heat of Hawaii, you can enjoy a taste of fall.

Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
2 cloves garlic
1 Cinnamon stick
¼ cup carrots
¼ celery
Bacon (optional)
6 cups chicken stock
½ cup half and half
Nutmeg

Dice squash, carrot, celery, garlic, cinnamon stick and bacon. Fry in a large pot with butter for about 8 minutes. Add chicken stock and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Throw away the cinnamon stick.

Let the soup cool down before putting it in a blender. Puree until smooth. Heat soup back up to a simmer, stirring in the half and half.

To serve sprinkle with nutmeg, salt, pepper and cheddar cheese if preferable.

Beef Stew
2 pounds cubed beef
Olive Oil
1 chopped onion
4 sliced carrots
8 cups beef stock
7 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
6 cloves minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Saute beef with olive oil until meat is brown on all sides. Add and sauté garlic. Add beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, onion, carrots, potatoes, thyme and cloves. If using a crock pot cook on low for 10 to 12 hours (5 to 6 on high) or let simmer on stove about 40 minutes to an hour, stirring periodically every 10 minutes or so.

Remove bay leaves before serving.

Hot Apple Cider
2 quarts apple cider
½ cup lemon juice
2 whole cloves
½ cup brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
A Pinch of nutmeg
1 cup rum (optional)

Add apple cider to a pot on medium heat. Add remaining ingredients (except for nutmeg). Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often.

To serve, pour mixture through strainer (to remove herbs). Garnish with nutmeg.

Caramel Apples
6 cold apples
1 cup cream
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup honey
14 ounce package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped

Remove stem from apples, and replace with craft stick. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. Prepare a bowl of cool water to place pan in later.

Heat cream and salt briefly, stir in honey and caramel and bring to a boil. Bring to a simmer, stirring with a spoon for about 15 minutes. Place pan in bowl of cool water to stop caramel from cooking (caution: do not get any water into the mixture!) Dunk apples into caramel mixture and place on parchment paper. Let cool in fridge and enjoy ?

With the qualifiers chugging along, the excitement surrounding 2010’s World Cup to be held throughout South Africa, is steadily escalating.  As fans get exceedingly serious about their teams, South Africa readies itself for the onslaught of madness that is sure to ensue.

Taking place between June 11 and July 11, this 80 year long tradition provides a chance for people to unite and connect on a global level over their love of sport.  That being said, the notoriously passionate soccer (football, if you will) fans are already suiting up in their jerseys and face paint, making arrangements to cheer on their team of choice in person.

Throughout the past four years, hotels have had the opportunity to prepare for the masses of people that will come through the summer.  If rooms aren’t sold out, the prices certainly won’t be cheap.  An affordable lodging alternative to hotels is renting a vacation home with your fellow soccer fanatics. Not only can you have the freedom to cook meals at home, but the living rooms are much more comfortable to watch games from.

The ability to cheer your favorite team on with thousands of other fans, parading in the streets is an experience that is unrivaled (certainly beats your basement!).  But what about after the games have finished?  Visitors to South Africa can experience a beautifully stunning country that caps off the African continent; marked by majestic sunsets, wild animals and a delectable cuisine.  With endless activities like safaris through the vast expanses of wildlife to deep sea fishing to simply experiencing the thrills of a foreign culture, South Africa is an appealing destination for anyone looking for a getaway.

South Africa is sure to be an exquisite backdrop for the World Cup festivities.  With games taking place across the country, from Johannesburg to Cape Town to Durban there will be plenty of opportunity to watch your home team take on the world for the World Cup Champion Title, while enjoying the sublime beauty of South Africa.

Ok lovebirds this post is for you, the following is a list of FlipKey’s most romantic vacation rentals.  If these locations won’t make you swoon then the homes certainly will…Enjoy!

Il Dolce Roma, Rome, Italy

This Roman retreat is a cozy taste of Italian life.  Experience the Coliseum and other Roman treasures or simply open the balcony doors and let in the vibrant city outside.

Chun’s Reef, Oahu, HI

A private deck that overlooks the Hawaiian sunset combined with the views of the ocean from your room make this rental a perfect paradise retreat for the romantics.  Did we mention there’s an outdoor Jacuzzi? You and your honey can enjoy sunset and moonlight while you’re getting all toasty.

Le Grand Hermitage, Languedoc-Rousillon, France

This ‘couples only’ villa oozes romance, from its lavender and rose gardens to fairytale setting. As if the French language wasn’t quixotic enough, one taste of the wine produced from this region and it’s a done deal.  If that’s not enough for you, the bathtub on the balcony will certainly keep you busy clean.

Waldhaus, St. Moritz, Switzerland

For the snuggle bugs, this secluded cabin in the slopes of the Alps is a great getaway.  Skiing, hiking and fishing if you’re adventurous, vin chaud, fireplaces and breathtaking views if you’re not.  The area is renowned for its healing powers, so return home relaxed and refreshed after spending special time with your honey.

Tropic Splendor, Savusavu, Fiji

Nothing says romance like your own private beach on a secluded island in Fiji.  With majestic reefs and lily ponds to explore you will be tucked away from any prying eye.  And yeah, there’s an oversized ‘lovers’ hammock, for the well balanced and daring.

Acacia, Paris, France

Paris is a no brainer for lovebirds.  Widely considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, this apartment lives up to the stereotype.  French doors open up to a balcony overlooking the beautiful giving wall to wall views of the City of Love.

Ca’ Rina, Venice, Italy

With its winding streets and hidden nooks, Venice is one of the most romantic places in the world. This amazing apartment is the cherry on top of this already sweet city. You can watch the gondolas gently sweep below you from the windows or enjoy some vino with your sweet in the private garden.

The Ocean View, San Francisco, CA

With views of the San Francisco Bay this clifftop rental is one hot ticket in more ways than one. With close proximity to San Francisco’s main attractions, you can easily experience what San Francisco has to offer, or make your own attractions via the floor-to-ceiling glass overlook.

Casa Quintino, Tuscany, Italy

Peaceful seclusion, the best wines and pasta unlike any other make for the perfect aphrodisiac in this Tuscan treasure. Ancient architecture reflected throughout the house and the nearby ruins of a Benedictine chapel provide an artistic backdrop for the romantic vacation of your life.

 

So, you’re trying to get a leg up over the competition by labeling your property as ‘pet-friendly.’ Before you commit to the claim, be sure you and your home are ready for the lovable abuse that an animal brings into the mix.  We’ve included a few quick tips on what to do to make your home ready for furry friends…

Pets, especially puppies and dogs are curious.  Whether it’s what’s hiding behind the cupboards or whizzing past on the street- they want to know what is going on.  Puppy gates on the doors to prohibited areas are a must.  Also, consider investing in a few clamps, so that prying noses can’t get into anything dangerous behind cupboards and in toilets.

Chemicals, medicine and garbage, oh my! Any of these things left splashed on the floor or uncovered is not only fair game to our critters but can be lethal. After your cleaning crew comes through and makes your home nice and shiny, it is important to ensure that any cleaners are thoroughly cleaned up.  One lick of bleach and…well you get it.

Finally, put plants and cords out of reach.  Many common household plants (lilies, azaleas, geraniums…) can cause severe sickness and even death. Really.  Check here to see if your plant poses a threat. Puppies and kittens love to nibble (read: mangle) anything in their sight.  Be sure that electrical cords are tied up or covered with tape.
Don’t forget the fun stuff.  Dogs especially love to play.  Have a Frisbee and a couple tennis balls stashed so that the pups get their fun time on vacation in too.

These are just a few, basic suggestions to get your house ready for guests of all types.  It is important that you list what type of pet-proofing you have on your house so that guests with young animals can plan accordingly.

Ahh, Germany… home of the strudel, Ludwig van Beethovan, the Volkswagen, Claudia Schiffer and, of course, beer. In fact, beer is such a signature of German life that it is the basis for the internationally acclaimed Oktoberfest, an annual celebration of the leaves changing color, delicious German food, brotherly love and (you guessed it) beer. This year’s 176th Oktoberfest will happen from September 19th to October 4th in Munich.

But don’t let the fast approaching date fool you. Last minute vacations can sometimes be a great opportunity to spice things up while, surprisingly, offering some of the best deals to be had. While hotels tend to be fully booked or more expensive as minutes tick away, vacation rentals are a great option for travelers. Besides being economical, vacation rentals are a great way to break free from the oh-so typical hotel routine.

Where else can you celebrate your love of German beverages in this vibrant tradition with thousands of fellow beerthusiasts and live in total comfort? Plus, with a vacation rental, your beer storage isn’t limited to the tiny confines of a mini fridge. You’ll have a real fridge in which to store your favorite brews. So grab your best lederhosen and favorite beer stein and check out Oktoberfest.

While preparing for incoming guests can be a challenging facet of being a property manager or owner, it is a most essential aspect in ensuring happy guests.  Since every vacation rental owner or property manager aspires to having consistently satisfied guests, we’ve complied a list of the little things that you can do to make a world of a difference in your guests’ stay.

1. Keep a bookshelf of a few of your favorite books, including a travel guide to the area, your guests will appreciate the selection of books in case they forgot their beach read.

2. Put a bouquet of fresh flowers in the entranceway, not only will it be a colorful surprise when they first enter your home, but it will add a fragrant aroma to your property.

3. Leave them a welcome basket of local foods, wines, slippers, a deck of card.  Your guests will feel welcome and more at home with this cozy selection of treats.

4. Keep a stash of board games. Vacation is synonymous with games, especially for families and big groups.

5. Leave your guests a list of your favorite places in the area – include restaurants, beaches, trails, the local watering hole, anywhere that you particularly love.

6. Putting air fresheners in bathrooms and living areas will keep your place smelling fresh and your guests pleasantly content.

7. Put hangers in closets. The first thing many travelers do is unpack their clothes and ‘move in,’ they will certainly appreciate the hanging space.

8. Make sure each room has a bedside alarm clock. Guests love to seize the day when on vacation, an alarm clock will go far.

9. Include extra blankets in bedrooms and the living room.  Regardless of whether your vacation rental is a snowy cabin retreat or beach side paradise, people love to snuggle up at night with extra blankets.

10. For guests with children, provide a small collection of children’s games, DVDs and coloring books.  For the traveling family, this supply of children’s goodies will help the adults enjoy some peace while keeping the kids entertained.

11. Provide a map of the area.  This will help orient your guests with the neighborhood and give them ideas on what to do during the day.

12. Leave out Mini-toiletries in the bathroom.  With airline restrictions, many guests can’t manage (or simply forget) to bring shampoo and toothpaste.  By leaving a few bathroom supplies, guests will feel welcome (and clean)!

13. Provide a basket of coffee and tea.  Keep a can of coffee in the freezer and a few flavors of tea in the cupboard.  Many guests love to wake up to a cup of Joe and often forget to bring along their favorite roast.

With summer time winding down and school starting up it’s hard to imagine the chilling idea of winter that is just around the corner (sorry to be the bearer of bad news, it’s inevitable). But, worry not, we have the perfect pick-me-up vacation idea for your winter blues: the Olympics!

The 2010 winter Olympics are being held in the frosty paradise of the north: Vancouver, Canada.  Although it is a couple of seasons out, now is the perfect time to snag tickets to your favorite events (couples skating anyone?) and get the crème de la crème of vacation rentals (we’re talking hot tubs).

This February event is the perfect excuse to take a vacation. With loads of Olympic events spanning the month you can experience first hand a tradition that started with the ancient Greeks in the 8th century B.C. With classic events like figure skating and cross country skiing to the extreme sports of modernity like snowboarding and bobsledding, it’s a vacation strategically designed to defeat the winter blues.

When you have down time in between events, you’ll be pleased to find thatVancouver has a nice variety of activities for visitors.  Whistler, the largest ski area in North America, is a skier’s haven, with pristine powder, invigorating trails and crisp mountain air.  For the foodie of your group, don’t miss Canada’s own poutine, a delicious snack of french fries, smothered in gravy and topped with cheese.  Trust us, it’s dynamite.

Start your planning now for the Olympics, and you’ll be thankful when you’re watching areal skiers twist through the air and lugers whizz past you on the icy tracks.  Book now and snag a great deal on a vacation rental!

For our monthly “Off the Beaten Path” series, we highlight homes that are extraordinarily unique, and this month’s feature listing certainly fits the bill. The “Redwood Tree House” is a California home, owned by Linda and Rolly, that has a 150 foot tree growing through the center of it!

Imagine spending some well earned vacation time at this 80 year old home which was designed around a living Redwood tree. The front entrance opens up through a tree trunk (no joke) into the living room where the affectionately named ‘Red’ shoots up through the ceiling and 150 feet into the sky. At night you can enjoy the night light created by the spot lights on the tree, a great way to unwind after a day of hiking the California forests.

Red isn’t the only reason that this Healdsburg, Californian home is so unique. It is located on the banks of a river, in the midst of hundreds of other amazing trees that only grow in this part of the world. It is the perfect place to float away on a raft searching for the tallest tree or immerse yourself in the peacefulness of these quiet giants on a hike.

Since the location is temperate, each season of the year offers something unique. The springtime sees the hatching of birds from the boughs of Red, and is when the forest comes alive. Summertime is great for heat lovers, made even better by the cool river that runs through the backyard. Fall is for wine aficionados, who come for the ‘crush,’ (when all the grapes are harvested) at the local vineyards. During the winter, cozy up to the fire place, disconnected from the hustle and bustle of the city and take in the peacefulness of the trees that surround you.