Home Archives 2010 January

Monthly Archives: January 2010

With cold temperatures and a dearth of sunlight, January and February are the hardest months of the year for those of us who live in northern climes. Working hours and daylight hours tend to coincide, and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) becomes highly contagious. The best cure for the winter doldrums: a change of scene. A weekend getaway can breathe life into the dark side of the year, keep up morale, and leave you with enough sunshine and happiness to ward off SAD for another week.

No matter where you go to escape, searching for last minute availability in vacation rental homes can be a great way to put together an affordable spur of the moment mini-vacation when you know that you just have to get away and relax. With that in mind, Here are some ideas for wicked winter weekends…

1. Ski the East

Within driving or train distance of New York and most states north of the mid-Atlantic, New Hampshire’s White Mountains and Vermont’s Green Mountains are home to the best skiing East of the Rockies. Piles of snow, small town charm, and New England tradition round out the experience and will keep you re-living your mountain retreat for the rest of the week. (Full Disclosure: this getaway makes the top of the list because this blogger skis New Hampshire almost every weekend and still can’t get enough).

2. Get the sled out

January is “Learn a Snowsport” month, and what cooler sport to learn than dogsledding? Imagine speeding across frozen terrain under the power of a team of huskies. You may not be ready to train for the Iditarod quite yet, but many dogsledding outfits, such as Winterdance in Canada and Husky Power Dogsledding in Maryland, offer everything from half-day tours and moonlight rides to multi-day adventures. For a weekend you can head to northern New England, Michigan, Canada, and many other snowy areas to join mushers and their dogs for the thrill of a lifetime.

In the world of travel, a scale of one to five stars is used nearly universally to indicate the type of service travelers can expect from a hotel. Vacation rental homes have no such implicit classification system. Star ratings on FlipKey and TripAdvisor, for example, reflect guests’ overall impression of their stay as opposed to advertising a property’s ability to meet predetermined criteria for each star.

Most of the time, travelers award stars in their reviews based on whether a vacation rental lives up to their expectations. Therefore, even the most basic rental property can earn a five-star review if it consistently delivers as advertised according to its description and price. Similarly, a one-star hotel could earn a five-star review online because it serves up everything expected of a three-star hotel. With that understanding of rankings and reviews, the key to earning great reviews is evaluating where your property falls on a scale of hospitality standards and then offering the appropriate services and amenities to the best of your abilities. To this end, the FlipKey blog presents its own five-star guide to vacation rental classification . . .

One Star

A single star in the hotel world denotes little more than four walls, a roof, and a bed. The budget travelers who search for this type of basic lodging care more about travel activities and destinations than where they sleep. The same traveler who may ordinarily stay in a hostel or inexpensive guest house would also consider renting a simple one-room apartment if the price and location are right. To earn great reviews on a small apartment with minimal amenities, make sure that it is clean, safe, and economical. An urban studio that goes for less than $50/night could win high ratings for its price and convenience. Bonus points are awarded to rentals in this category located near points of interest or with easy access to public transportation.