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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Hawaiian Vacation RentalThe big news this week is that our friends at TripAdvisor have released their list of America’s Vacation Rental Hot Spots for 2011. Kissimmee, FL tops the list, which was determined based on:

TripAdvisor search data and site editors. These outstanding destinations offer a wealth of fun family activities and natural beauty, as well as plentiful vacation rental options for travelers looking to save money on their trips.

The complete list includes vacation destinations across the country: Big Bear, CA; Gatlinburg, TN; Kihei, HI; Destin, FL; Palm Springs, CA; Outer Banks, NC; Lahaina, HI; Hilton Head, SC; and Cape Cod, MA.

Across the pond in Europe, the 2010 Paris Furnished Apartment Market Report was released. The report features valuable information for anyone looking either to rent or  invest in a Paris apartment, including average cost per week, average cost per month, and average length of stay in Paris furnished apartments and vacation rentals.

Vacation property owners in any country who have not yet taken the plunge and begun offering their second home as a rental may want to read Sheryl Nance-Nash’s article in The Faster Times. Ms Nance-Nash points out that the math on vacation rentals is a no-brainer:

If you rent out your property only 17 weeks out of the year, the revenue you collect can pay your annual mortgage costs plus all other association rental bills. Rent it more than that you could even, gasp, make a profit.

For those looking to get away on vacation, I’ve seen several warm-weather destinations that almost have me convinced to part from the snowy Northeast. Destin, FL is gearing up for an exciting spring and summer season, with plenty of beach activities and golf options. More exotically inclined travelers may want to take advice from Jaunted.com and seek out Italian prime minister Berlusconi’s castle outside of Rome – with his upcoming trial looming, he won’t be needing it any time soon.

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Traveler Reviews on FlipKey

I decided to take a look at ALL the guest reviews in our database yesterday to find out what travelers have to say about FlipKey vacation rentals. Not surprisingly, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I couldn’t help but start close to home with reviews of properties in Boston, where highlights include “great apartment,” “everything,” “comfortable,” and “neighborhood” (also “turtle,” which I’m still curious about).

I went on to look at the UK (displayed as the UK), Paris (the FlipKey Key-House), and Mexico (a speech bubble). For those readers who are unfamiliar with tag clouds, the larger a word appears, the more frequently it shows up; in Paris, “apartment” is the most common word used in reviews, whereas in Mexico, it appears to be “beach.”

You can create your own tag clouds by clicking here. All you have to do is enter the URL of your listing page, your twitter ID, or any text you want to turn into a nifty image!

Turning a second home into a vacation rental is almost never as easy as hanging a “for rent” sign in the window and waiting for the guests to arrive. At the very least there are local regulations to abide by, tax laws to consider, and plans to make for managing emergencies. FlipKey CEO TJ Mahony shared some of his own experiences in this blog post from 2007.

This week in vacation rental news, the media has been focused on the behind-the-scenes efforts that homeowners must make to run successful vacation rental operations. The New York Times “Bucks” blog addressed the importance of interacting with guests and being prepared. Writer and homeowner Christine Negroni stressed that doing some research in advance is crucial for both the guest and the property owner: “If they do their homework, both renters and owners can have a good experience.”

In addition to knowing who your guests are, it is also important to understand local rental regulations. Grover Beach, CA is considering an ordinance that would require property owners to apply for a vacation rental permit. If passed, violators would be subject to fines. This type of regulation is already in place in many areas, so you should make sure to investigate local laws if you are considering turning your property into a vacation rental (check out our vacation rental marketing guide for more tips on getting started).

Finally, the Obama’s “Winter White House” vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii is now on Tweet Traveler – an interesting new service that could help vacation home renters interested in doing more with Twitter. As we’ve written before, social networking can be a valuable tool for promoting your vacation rental. Of course, a testimonial from the president can’t hurt either!

When I was growing up, Presidents Day was part of ski week. My parents would pack three kids and two dogs into an overstuffed Ford Explorer and head up to New Hampshire’s White Mountains. If we took two cars, then my folks would argue over who had to drive with my sister because she would sing along to every song on the radio (even when she didn’t know the words).

My Presidents Day vacations have gotten shorter as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve held onto the tradition of piling into a full car and heading for the hills. Looking over FlipKey guest reviews, it appears I’m not alone: the most-reviewed Presidents Day weekends are not grand overseas tours, but road trips to local hideaways. Here are some last minute ideas from locals who know where to go to get away…

If you live in the Northwest… Head for the North Cascades

Becky L, from Bothell, WA took the whole family to Cle Elum last year and had a great time:

The cabin was exactly what we were looking for ! …..witht he exception of no snow (which we know you have no control over 🙂 It was great for the kids, dog & adults. It was well stocked, very clean & well stocked with basics. We instantly felt right at home!

Cle Elum is only an hour and a half from Seattle, right in the middle of the Snoqualmie National Forest.

If you live in California… Head for the Sierras

Hebro M, from Castro, CA can’t stay away from Sierra village:

The one reason why we keep on coming back to this place is because of the private sledding area. There is simply nothing that could come close to it, since it is long, smooth, safe, free, and not very crowded. The house is nice as well. Pretty spacious, kids friendly, and has everything we need.

Sierra village is about 2 hours from Sacramento, 3 hours from San Fransisco, and 6 hours from Los Angeles.

If you live in the Mid Atlantic… Head to Snowshoe, WV

J Stephens, from OH, went to Snowshoe last Presidents day and had a blast:

Our group stayed at Loggers Run 1 over Presidents day weekend. The condo is very comfortable and nicely furnished. It is situated close to the high speed Soaring Eagle lift… It was a wonderful trip with great snow and skiing.

Snowshoe is 4-5 hours from Washington D.C. and Baltimore, 4 hours from Pittsburgh, and about 6 hours from Cincinnati.

President’s Day weekend is just around the corner – February 19-21. It’s the perfect weekend for a winter retreat, and there’s still time to make last minute travel plans! From the Berkshires in Western MA to Taos, NM, there’s a local hideaway waiting for you to find it.

Where are you headed next weekend?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but this year’s biggest celebration of love may very well be April 29. For those of you who haven’t made your travel plans yet, that’s the date of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. According to Huffington Post, London’s hotel rooms are all but booked solid and apartment rentals are going fast. As of writing this post, FlipKey still has over 200 London vacation rentals available the week of the wedding, so royalty buffs still have the chance to bask in the atmosphere of the big event. Beyond the wedding itself, the city expects to play host to street parties and other unofficial celebrations – love will literally be in the air.

In other vacation rental news, the booking season is warming up. It’s time to start thinking about spring and summer vacations. Here are some items to help you prepare:

I’m not going to make it to Paris this weekend, but I have been thinking that a trip to Quebec for winter carnival would make a pretty awesome Valentine’s Day retreat. I could practice my French and possibly even catch a glimpse of royalty!

I was skiing in New Hampshire last weekend, and as the weather got colder, my friends and I began reminiscing about our most recent trips to Hawaii. The turquoise water and warm sand of Waikiki started to sound like a great alternative to arctic winds and rumors of yet another snowstorm. The great part of winter weather in the Northeast is that after a day outside, you can’t beat a warm fire and hearty home-cooked chili in your ski cabin. Still, I went to sleep dreaming of luaus, big waves, and blue skies. Maybe the weather on the mainland has something to do with the fact that Hawaii has been all over the vacation rental news this week…

As long as we’re on the subject of pro athletes and winter weather, check out the Boston Globe’s Shaq-o-meter, which shows this season’s snowfall compared to this season’s newest addition to the Boston Celtics.