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Monthly Archives: January 2014

The Florida Legislature is discussing changes concerning short term rentals you may want to be aware of. The proposed legislation, HB307 and SB356, could potentially have a significant impact on your rental operation and it is important you understand the implications of these changes being discussed:

To read the proposed legislation, please click these links:
http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=51421
http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2014/0356

An online resource for owners and managers in the short term rental industry has been formed to provide best practices and helpful information. To start a local chapter visit:
http://www.stradvocacy.org/

FlipKey does not have independent knowledge of these regulations or any proposed or actual changes to existing regulations. FlipKey encourages all managers and owners to understand and comply with the regulations governing short term rentals in their individual municipalities.

Thank you,
The FlipKey Team

Many travelers out there have a bucket list of destinations and are on a mission to get to as many as they can. While this is definitely one fool-proof way to see the world, other travelers prefer to visit the same places again and again, discovering new things about each destination with every visit. For those travelers, we’ve hand-picked a few cities and their specific points in the calendar year that deserve a second glance thanks to drastically different seasons or not-to-miss events. A visit to one of these cities at each time of interest will present you with what seems like an entirely new journey, but with the added comfort of some basic familiarity. Consider making double the travel plans for these incredible destinations!

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Though not as populous as Montreal, Quebec City is a destination that offers variety to travelers in more ways than one. The city is literally walled off into two sections, that of Old Quebec and the rest of city-proper, by the original ramparts that were constructed in 1759. The divide in the city is distinct and both parts offer a completely different vibe to your vacation. What’s more, visiting Québec City in the winter months provides a very different experience from a summertime visit, but both are equally valuable to discover. In early February,  normally the coldest point of the season, the Quebec Winter Carnival takes over with celebrations and amazing snow structures. Visits to the Ice Palace, elaborate snow sculpture contests, dog-sledding, and ice skating performances are just some of the memorable activities to take part in during the carnival. Be prepared for a visit like this with lots of layers for every exposed part of the body…you’ll need them!

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The 2014 Olympic Winter Games are around the corner. Recently we had the exciting opportunity to catch up with Head Coach Mike Jankowski at the VISA U.S. Freeskiing Grand Prix Event at Park City Mountain Resort, which was also the final Olympic qualifier for Freeskiing. We chatted with Mike about all things skiing and snowboarding including the much anticipated Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

373_lookingupStarting off the conversation, we asked Coach Mike where his favorite spot in the world is for snowboarding and he said without a doubt, it’s definitely Wanaka, New Zealand. On the hill there, skiers and snowboarders can check out the half pipe, the park and if they’re feeling really crazy, even give heli-skiing a shot. Off the hill, there’s tons of adventure activities offered year-round, from hiking to sky diving and to even bungee jumping.

Now as with any outdoor sport, everyone is at the mercy of Mother Nature, so we asked Coach Mike where he experienced the worst weather conditions for a competition. He replied saying the craziest weather he had experienced was in Saas Fee, Switzerland. The athletes and coaches had to battle zero visibility, avoid getting swallowed up by giant crevaces and ride in the front of the ski cat basket just to get up the hill. Not to mention the freezing temperatures.

Some of you reading right now might not have ever tried skiing or snowboarding, so here’s your opportunity to try something new with recommendations straight from the expert. We asked Coach Mike what mountain resort he would recommend for newcomers to the sport and he touts Mammoth Mountain in California. The terrain is visible and the resort offers easy access to beginner trails so it’s not intimidating when you get on the hill. There is also a nice progression of trails as you start to get the hang of the sport.

32783_FLS_W01We couldn’t miss out on the opportunity to ask Coach Mike about the long road to Sochi over the past four years and what all of us at home in the states can expect for this year’s Olympic Winter Games. To start, as Head Coach for 32 athletes competing this year we asked Coach Mike what key items are packed in his suitcase for the Games. Without a doubt he said his phone/computer chargers, aux batteries and Mophi in order to ensure seamless communication with everyone on his team which is extremely important. Plus he never gets on the hill without his Oakley goggles for maximum visibility. After all, the Head Coach has to be able to see his athletes perfectly when their mid trick, sky-high in the air.

1980: Lake Placid, New York

US Medal Count: (6) Gold + (4) Silver + (2) Bronze = (12) **3rd Place Overall

Why You’d Remember It: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!!!” A group of college-aged US hockey players beat the best team in the world, the Soviets, and eventually won the Gold medal. During the heart of the Cold War and hosted by a US city, this was one of the biggest Olympic moments ever. This was also the first Olympics to use artificial snow for some events. There was much controversy surrounding the comfort of Olympic Village (it later turned into a prison) and unsold tickets.

130125144742-mike-eruzione-single-image-cutWhy You Should Visit: Lake Placid has done an admirable job with Olympic arena upkeep and related tourism. The still-operational Herb Brooks Arena (site of the “Miracle on Ice”) still hosts many youth and international ice events each year. On Whiteface Mountain, you can ski and snowboard the same trails the Olympians did, and also practice your jumps by landing on a massive air bag. Visit the Olympic Sports Complex to take a real bobsled ride! For non-Olympic related attractions, Lake Placid has much to offer. The Whiteface Golf Club is one of the most gorgeous courses in the area, and its partner in name, Whiteface Mountain offers skiing and snowboarding. If you can, hike up Mount Jo which has high peaks where you can see for miles. Explore the frozen waterfalls at High Falls Gorge, or take in a family-friendly show at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. With many fresh water rivers for fishing and lakes for canoeing, Lake Placid is an outdoorsman’s dream. Click here to see vacation rentals in the Lake Placid area.

Every year, competition gets more fierce to secure travelers in your area. More listings are available, prices are fluctuating, and most importantly, more amenities are being offered. You need to keep pace. This is Amenities 101, not a master class. Hopefully you are already ahead of the pack, but for those who aren’t, here are the top five amenities travelers are looking for in 2014:

1. Free Wifi

Easy one. This is a staple of the vacation rental world. Smart phones are everywhere, and not everyone has the luxury of unlimited data plans, so having free wifi in a vacation rental can save your attendees hundreds of dollars while they are visiting. Wifi is typically much faster than 3G or 4G cell phone connections, and this will allow your guests to research the local area with speed. For the especially tech savvy guests, they may have even brought a computer with them, and being able to connect their laptop to your wifi system will enable them to browse more quickly, download larger files (like a movie), or upload some of their hi-res images from vacation.  Average wifi on its own would cost approximately $50, but bundle it with the cable package you have at the home for more savings.

2. Hot Tub

Easier to add on than an entire pool, a hot tub offers relaxation and fun to both warm and cold weather vacation rentals. Enjoying time in a hot tub can be a family activity, a romantic one for a couple, and a safe one for young children. Nothing beats a dip in the water on a mild Florida night or even a freezing Boston afternoon. Pro tip: keep your hot tub sanitary with proper chemicals and regular cleanings.

3. Bikes

Vacationers are becoming more active as the years go by, and it should be reflected in the amenities you offer. Most visitors do not want to sit on the couch catching up on Breaking Bad, they appreciate athletic offerings that get them out into the area. For most owners, a home gym is a difficult and expensive item to offer, but bicycles (both for adults and children) are a sweet perk that could put you over the edge. Include training wheels for the little ones, and an easy-to-understand map of the area to help travelers navigate.

4. Video Games

Making a vacation rental child-friendly is key for owners. If you have children yourself, you don’t even need this advice. Not only will this make the stay more enjoyable for the children, but it will also allow the parents to relax and know that some of the luxuries of home are with them on the road. Having a video game console (XBOX, PS4, even an old-school version like N64) is enough to keep the children occupied while parents can cook or pack or plan the next day’s activities. Video games can be used as a reward for good behavior, and the absence of video games can be used for the opposite. A few on-site games would be nice, but let the visitors know in advance you have this functionality so they could possibly bring a few of their own games or controllers.

5. Pet-Friendly

Pets are a member of the family, who are we kidding? Leaving a pet home while you go on vacation can be both devastating and expensive. If a traveler is lucky enough to have a family member or friend who can watch Meow Mix or Fido while they are away, they still won’t feel completely confident everything will go smoothly. Even worse, putting a cat or dog in a vacation boarding home can be an extreme strain on a wallet. Having your vacation rental listed as pet-friendly will not only increase bookings, but it will increase satisfaction of the stay as well. Adding little pet extras like treats, beds, or hair rollers will be appreciated fully.

Stats on some of the top bachelor party destinations.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The PG-Rated Positives: mild heat at night conducive to all night parties, gorgeous hotels for touring, an M&Ms store, sports books for laid back betting, relaxing pools for floating, delicious steak dinners (best steak rumored to be found at Prime in the Bellagio hotel), unforgettable shows (Cirque du Soleil is sure to please, but my ultimate recommendation is Jersey Boys)

Why It Might Ruin Your Wedding: Boy that description above sure sounded PEACHY didn’t it? Come on, the Las Vegas bachelor party isn’t as crazy as what was depicted in The Hangover, but it’s damn close. Yes, you should absolutely grab a cabana at a pool, but instead of the quiet Casesar’s Palace-type pool, go to the massive party happening every afternoon at Wet Republic in the MGM Grand. Instead of a lazy day at the sports book, hit up the casino floor and bet all the honeymoon money on double zero. No matter what happens at the blackjack table, tell your spouse you “broke even” and leave it at that. Hide your bank statements for a few months. Speaking of bank statements, do NOT (I can’t recommend this enough) use your credit card at the Spearmint Rhino, the #1 strip club in America. Cash only. A limo service will pick you and your group up at your hotel and bring you straight to the front door. What happens inside, stays inside. After hours, venture over to the Palms hotel, where there are many different night clubs (Ghost Bar, Moon Nightclub, and The Mint, to name a few) all of which are standing room only every night of the week. For those with lighter pockets, go visit Fremont Street which is where the strip was during the Rat Pack era. There the drinks and gambling are cheaper, but so are the women. Still, I’m dead serious, see Jersey Boys if you can. It’s amazing.

Serious Tip: save cash by getting bottle service for your group

Keep your head on a swivel for: strangers offering “party favors”, a 68-year-old waitress with emphysema named Dotty on Fremont Street

See all rentals in Las Vegas!

Now that the calendar has turned into 2014, you should really be thinking about your summer vacation plans. Everyone else is. There’s no reason to wait until some “later” in the future to book your vacation. Vacation rentals are filling up now. Don’t miss out! Your ideal place might not be available if you continue to put off the booking process. We pulled some data from our site to look into the actual volume of bookings for June, July, and August to date. Here’s what we found…

Updated 1/29/14

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January is National Book Month, and to celebrate, we’re rounding up some of our favorite destinations for book lovers. Whether you’re the type to swoon while standing in the spot of your favorite climactic scene, or thrill in retracing the steps of your most-beloved author, you’ll find a spot that you won’t want to miss on your next trip.

San Francisco, California
Beat Poets
The city by the bay has long been a draw for poets and artists, especially the Beats during the 1950s. Visit City Lights, the legendary book store that published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and made North Beach synonymous with Beat culture. Throw back a few beers at nearby Vesuvio, where Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac were known to tipple. If you can tear yourself away, take a walking tour of the area, organized by the Beat Museum.

A sandwich is one of the simplest productions of the food world, with only two slices of bread and one filling needed. There are an endless number of ingredients and combinations that can be used to create this culinary staple. It is impossible to determine a complete list of the world’s best sandwiches with so many different restaurants, delis, and cafés competing with their own special ingredients – not to mention the varying taste buds of the sandwich eaters. Curious about sandwich celebrities, we did some research and have compiled a travel list with some prominent locations where legendary sandwiches are being served. Be sure to check these out next time you’re touring some of America’s greatest cities!

Perfect Pastrami

It doesn’t take much asking around to learn that Katz’s Delicatessen located at 205 East Houston Street in New York City is the place to go to find best pastrami sandwich for miles around. Loved by tourists and locals alike, this sandwich shop offers up huge servings of what CBS Radio has called “Pound for pound, the best pastrami on earth”. Make this spot a stop on your tour of the Lower East Side between visiting one of the nearby museums and the Essex Street Market.

Choosing who you go on vacation with should not be taken lightly. Whether it is your spouse, another couple, a group of friends, or with another family, who you decide to travel with can determine the entire tenor of your trip. Don’t screw this up. When you’re roaming with a bad travel partner, it is pretty easy to spot. For those who may need more help, avoid travel buddies who say things like…

 

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Ugh, this person always has to be in charge. They don’t want you to suggest or dictate anything they do on vacation. Whether they put in 20 hours of research, or just like to fly by the seat of their pants, it is going to be THEIR pants you fly by. Not yours. Got it?