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Three Dogs in a Cart

New England is known as one of the prettiest vacations spots in the country for its ocean views, multiple lakes, and vast amount of trees.  Not to mention the historical importance of the area that is a big attraction for visitors.  But when traveling, especially far away from where you call home, there is often something missing: your family dog.  Many vacation rentals aren’t pet-friendly, and having to leave Spot or Fido behind can add extra costs and planning arrangements.  The next time you’re thinking about heading to scenic New England, stay at one of these dog-friendly homes and bring along man’s best friend!

 

10. Relax & Listen to the Loons Sing on Toddy Pond $175-$200/night

This lovely waterfront home is located on Toddy Pond and contains five bedrooms and two baths, sleeping up to 12 people.  Totaling  2,800 square feet, “Relax & Listen” offers guests a sandy beach that is perfect for the family to enjoy.  With Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor just minutes away, you’ll have plenty of activities to keep you and the pup busy.

9. The Best Waterfront Location in Boothbay Harbor, ME $275/night

This four-bedroom, two-bathroom house is 2,040 square feet and sits just where its name suggests: on the coast of Boothbay Harbor.  Sleeping up to eight people, this rental offers fantastic views of your very own private waterway.  The house comes fully-equipped with new appliances and is within walking distance of historic downtown, home to many shops and restaurants.  Your dog will love having their run of this home’s private deck and yard.

8. Lake View Chalet $250-$350/night

This newly-constructed luxury chalet is located in Franconia, NH.  Boasting three bedrooms and two baths, this rental can sleep eight guests.  Enjoy a lakefront view while sitting in the Jacuzzi or relax next to the gas stove.  Cook for yourself and guests in the fully-equipped gourmet kitchen, under the 23′ natural pine cathedral ceilings.  With hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and nature watching all within the area, you and your beloved pet will surely have plenty of activities.

7. Riverside Farm House in the White Mountains $125-$300/night

Take a vacation out to the beautiful White Mountains, in Lancaster, NH with this 3,500 square foot farmhouse.  With four bedrooms and two baths, this rental sleeps eight people.  Relax on the classic farmer’s porch and breakfast nook, or entertain in the formal dining room.  With breathtaking views of gardens, and mountains in both Vermont and New Hampshire, you and your pup will have plenty to look at.

6. Beautiful Windekind Farm-Breidablick Cottage $160-$238/night

Taking its name from the Norwegian “broad view,” this two-bed, two-bath cottage will take you and up to three guests to a fabulous view of the Green Mountains.  Also located on the edge of Spruce Forest, this rental offers up an impressive nature scene.  It comes with all modern appliances as well as a wood-burning stove.  With 1,100 square feet of cottage in a rural setting, your dog will have plenty of running and playing space.

5. Exceptional Townhome $232-$639/night

This townhome is adjacent to the Woods Resort and Spa in Killington, Vermont.  This three-bedroom, 4-bathroom getaway is the perfect destination to enjoy all the amenities of a ski resort in a home-like setting.  Guests have access to the resorts’s indoor pool, fitness center, steam room, and spa treatments.  With all of these possibilities, your family dog will have more to do than they can fit into one vacation.

4. Bear Hollow $800-$1,300/night

Bring up to a whopping 18 guests to stay in this massive, 5-bedroom, 4-bath house.  Located in Vermont, this vacation rental comes with plenty of luxuries, including: a professional kitchen, private deck, hot tub, and a billiards table that can be converted for any ping pong or air hockey lovers.  If you’d rather relax, then  enjoy a movie next to the wood-burning fireplace or on one of the house’s three flat screen TVs.  The old boy will love having his roam over this large contemporary rental.

3. 1559 $2,500-$12,500/week

A stay in Edgartown at this 6-bed, 4-bathroom rental will provide you with a beautiful private pool.  Newly renovated, this house offers many indulgences, including; luxurious linens, a video library, and plenty of outdoor living space. It even comes with a separate bungalow for the kids and the dog to hang out.

2. 3606 Main St. $4,500/week

Treat yourself to some of the best views in Massachusetts from this 4-bed, 4-bath home.  Overlooking Sandy Neck Beach, this luxurious house is just a short and private walk from the beach.  This rental also offers a billiards room, dining area, and luxury master suite complete with Jacuzzi tub you can be sure the pet will enjoy!

1. Ocean View $6,900/week

Located in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts, this 2,600 square foot, 4-bedroom, 3-bath vacation spot provides you with breathtaking views.  The house hosts a deck that offers panoramic views of the Provincetown Harbor and the Pilgrim Lake dunes.  Enjoy this private getaway with a heated pool, hot tub, and sauna.  And with a chef’s kitchen and two outdoor gas grills, you’ll never have to worry about your best friend going hungry.

Costa Rica Treehouse

On your next vacation, do you want to be as close to nature as possible? Have a totally private experience, tucked away where no one can find you? Rekindle your adventurous spirit by living out your childhood dream? Or give your kids the most memorable vacation of their lives? Any of those fantasies could become reality by booking your stay in a treehouse.

Yes, there are real tree houses for rent on FlipKey! Here are a few that, complete with modern comforts, are even cooler than your childhood perches (real or imagined):

In Puerto Jimenez, Costa Rica, Lapa’s Nest Treehouse is a six-level tree house in the middle of the rainforest that boasts a “Modern Swiss Family Robinson” experience. An entire family (up to eight people) can live 55 feet up in the canopy, surrounded by tropical birds and monkeys. Other fun features include an elevated shower with a glass bottom, and a private pool fed by a natural spring.

Entrance to a romantic Hawaii treehouseOn the Big Island in Hawaii, two different tree house rentals await. One is a secret, romantic spot fit for two that was built at mid-canopy level. It offers rustic amenities like an outdoor shower and a composting toilet for the eco-conscious. The other is a slightly more spacious house (sleeps up to four) that was built into five living trees. It includes modern amenities like a DVD player and a full bathroom. Both tree houses are close to the famous Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as well as the artsy hub of Volcano Village.

Some other FlipKey-listed “treehouses” are not literally built around the trunks of trees, but their locations and architectural styles provide a similar sense of adventure. For example, these rental homes in Breckinridge, Colorado and Auckland, New Zealand, are perched among trees, offering complete privacy and panoramic views.

A number of other vacation rentals, while not attempting to balance on branches, do offer backyard treehouses for children to play in. So, if you’re too terrified of heights to sleep in the canopy, you can still give your daredevil kids the ultimate play space while you relax safely at ground level. For ideas, check out these homes in Canada, Italy, and Greece.

Joanna Eng is a New York-based writer and editor who covers travel, green living, food, careers, entrepreneurship, and more. Her travel experiences have ranged from hostel hopping in Mexico to staying with distant relatives in China to renting a beach apartment in New Jersey.

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When it comes to indulging in a last-minute getaway, one of my favorite things to do is hop a red-eye flight to Fiji for a week of fjord hopping and relaxing on white sand beaches. At least I assume that would be one of my favorite things to do, seeing as I’ve never actually done it.

When it comes to a real last-minute getaway, nothing beats the great American road trip. Unlike a trip to Fiji, all it takes is hopping in your car and choosing a direction. At least that’s the theory… One thing I’ve learned in the past decade of road tripping is that it helps to have an awesome destination to look forward to—and the perfect FlipKey rental to relax at. So whether you’re a permanent resident of the Emerald City, like myself, or only visiting for a short while, I think you’ll find that a visit to the following list of destinations Is worth the price of gas.

Click on the destinations and images below to see all available FlipKey rentals in that location. Staying in a rental means extra living space, a full kitchen, and amenities like laundry or outdoor barbecue area.

Rearview shot of a couple reading a map while sitting in a car

Day Trips

Tacoma, WA (35mi, <1hr)

One of the top reasons to make the drive to Tacoma is to admire its world-renowned glass art. The Museum of Glass showcases hand-blown glass pieces from around the world and includes a glassblowing studio. The Museum District is connected by the Bridge of Glass and pays homage to the craft with more art, glass, and history, including installations by the native Dale Chihuly. Other cultural attractions worth stopping for are the Tacoma Art Museum, the Le May-America’s Car Museum and the Washington State History Museum. Although, Tacoma is rooted in the arts, it is ideally situated on the banks of Puget Sound and offers a vibrant, urban pit stop for road trippers. Shop in the historic Proctor and Stadium districts or stroll through the city’s parks and gardens. Explore the shores by kayak or boat to see the abundance of wildlife that inhabit Tacoma. If you’re looking for a nature wonderland where hiking boots aren’t required, then Tacoma is the destination for you.

See all rentals in Tacoma!

Fall City, WA (30mi, <1hr)

Fall City is situated within the scenic Snoqualmie Valley, an area just east of Seattle, criss-crossed with quiet back roads that carve paths through forests, mountains, and a network of streams feeding into the Snoqualmie River. On your drive in to town, you’ll notice totem poles scattered about Fall City, evidence that the town was originally home to the Snoqualmie Indian tribe, as well as the 130-year old Hop Shed where farmers brought hops to be transported to the Puget Sound. The massive Snoqualmie Falls is arguably one of the biggest attractions for visitors to Fall City. The 270-foot falls boasts magnificent views from the top and bottom and is an impressive site to see. Snoqualmie Falls isn’t the only attraction, though. Odds are you’ll find yourself sticking around to tour the wineries, hike the trails, and maybe even do some antique shopping.

See all rentals in Fall City!

The majestic Snoqualmie Falls in Washington plunges into the water below.

The majestic Snoqualmie Falls in Washington plunges into the water below.

Ashford, WA (80mi, <2hrs)

Hidden amongst towering fir and cedar trees at the foothills of Mt. Rainier National Park, Ashford is a popular “base camp” location for those venturing deep into the Cascade Mountain Region of Central Washington. However, this enchanting area has plenty of natural wonders to offer the day tripper as well, including the nearby Alder and Mineral Lakes, over 300 miles of hiking trails, plus snowshoeing and sledding in the winter. Adjacent to Ashford you’ll find the small town of Elbe, where you can board the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad, which is by far one of most relaxed ways to take in the secluded back country of Mt. Rainier National Park.

See all rentals in Ashford!

Leavenworth, WA (120 mi, 2hrs)

Leavenworth is unique in that the town offers visitors an authentic German experience, right in the heart of Washington State. Boasting a Bavarian village main street, replete with Tudor revival architecture, this mountain town plays host to monthly festivals, one of the largest Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States, and an annual month-long Christmas extravaganza that has to be seen to be believed. While you might expect the hiking, biking, and skiing adventures waiting to be had in the surrounding Cascade Mountains, what you might not expect from this Pacific Northwest landmark is the 300 days of sunshine they receive every year!

See all rentals in Leavenworth!

A couple drives down the road on a road trip in their red convertible.

Weekend Trips

Vancouver, BC (140mi, 2.5 hours)

Canada’s third-largest city, and one routinely featured on lists of the world’s greatest places to live, has been thrust into the global spotlight thanks in part to its young metropolis vibe, overall quirky appeal, and role as the host city for the 2010 winter Olympics. A melting pot of cultures nestled between city beaches and lush waterfront forests, this British Commonwealth is still very much forming its identity: something reflected in its eclectic art scene, diverse shopping districts, and laid-back hipster hangouts, all topped off with the myriad of outdoor activities right outside their door. Make Vancouver your destination if you want to experience both bustling city life with attractions like the Vancouver Aquarium and the Orpheum Theatre as well as a quiet, oceanfront setting that is home to a variety of wildlife, including fish, birds, and whales.

See all rentals in Vancouver!

Portland, OR (175mi, 3 hrs)

If you’ve never been there, you might be inclined to assume that Portland and Seattle are interchangeable from a destination standpoint, especially given the similarities in their cultural and natural landscape. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Where Seattle offers more of an urban flavor, Portland has a quaint, almost small town feel relative to its size. Although replete with museums, fine dining, and a vibrant night life, Portland provides a level of hospitality and accessibility to these attractions unparalleled anyplace else in the Northwest. While in the area, popular things to do in Portland include touring the Portland Japanese Garden, exploring the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and browsing at one of the many Portland farmers markets. With so much to do and its laid-back, friendly atmosphere, Portland is a must-visit place along the Pacific Northwest.

See all rentals in Portland!

Sunrise view overlooking the city of Portland, Oregon

Sunrise view overlooking the city of Portland, Oregon

Friday Harbor, WA (100mi, 3hrs including ferry travel)

One of the main hot spots in the San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor has long been recognized as a top travel destination in Washington. Although relatively small, the island offers a dynamic landscape ranging from pebble-lined beaches, to lush valleys and mountain meadows. Since it rests in Seattle’s rain shadow and is often sunny when nowhere else in the Puget Sound region is, it is routinely referred to as “nature’s playground.” One of the top attractions here is orca whale watching in autumn, although many animals such as harbor seals, porpoises, and sea otters are year-round residents. To really get into the casual spirit of island living, enjoy an art tour, or of course, find your own little corner of paradise on one of the many pristine local beaches.

See all rentals in Friday Harbor!

Seaside, OR (195mi, 3.5hrs)

The North Oregon Coast is a place of great history, entertainment, and natural beauty. While scenic vistas and amazing day hikes can be found throughout the region, Seaside has really become the place to go for a wide variety of traditional “coastal” activities, such as bike tours, festivals, and fresh, local cuisine. Wander along the Tillamook Head Traverse Hike for impeccable views of the landscape and dine by the ocean to start your day. When you’re ready to hang on the beach, you’ll be delighted with how wide they are here, leaving plenty of room for sand castle building, cookouts, or even a round of beach volleyball. Make sure you also swing by Funland Arcade, the largest on the Oregon Coast, to take a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl and feel like a kid again! Whether you’re on a romantic road trip or embarking on some family fun, Seaside has something for everyone in your car.

See all rentals in Seaside!

Victoria, BC (185mi, 4.5hrs including ferry travel)

Green and beautiful year-round, Victoria offers an enchanting place for visitors to escape every day life. It is the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest, and here, new world experiences complement old world charm. Snap photos of the spectacular parliament building  and tour the opulent rooms inside. Nearby churches and castles showcase impressive architectural designs and interesting historical significance. Take a walk through the historic James Bay neighborhood or head to the boutiques on Johnson Street and Trounce Alley to purchase wares from local designers. The island has a mild climate throughout the year making it an ideal place for outdoor exploration. Whether you drive through the city, cycle one of the many trails or swim in the ocean, Victoria’s lush landscape can be enjoyed by all. Before getting back on the road, enjoy the time-honored tradition of high tea at the Empress Hotel National Historic Site of Canada.

See all rentals in Victoria!

A young man sits down with coffee to plan his US road trip on a map.

Week Trips

West Glacier, MT (550mi, 9.5 hrs)

West Glacier is really more of a gateway destination, as it anchors the western entrance to Glacier National Park, offering an ideal location for lodging while exploring the surrounding area. A trip to Glacier National Park is without a doubt more rooted in natural beauty than it is commercial obligations. The views as seen from the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road are breathtaking as you cross the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass, and will undoubtedly stay with you forever. The town of West Glacier and the surrounding National Park play host to a huge assortment of activities for the outdoor enthusiast, including whitewater rafting, golfing, hiking, and horseback riding.

See all rentals in West Glacier!

San Francisco, CA (800mi, 13hrs)

If I was going to recommend travel to any major city in California, or the entire West Coast for that matter, it would have to be San Francisco. Most endearing about this city is that even when you partake in one of the more cliched tourist activities like exploring Pier 39 or climbing one of the 40+ hills, you still never know what to expect. Take a drive down the city’s well-known Lombard Street, one of America’s crookedest streets, before ditching your car to cling to the side of a vintage cable car. Explore the neighborhoods like the Upper Haight or the Mission to see the different parts of the city that make it so unique. From the Marina district, enjoy picture-perfect views of the majestic Golden Gate Bridge before people watching at one of the hip bistros nearby. San Francisco is a city teeming with outlandish free thinkers and lovable weirdos, yet it manages to quickly find a place in the heart of your average Joe.

See all rentals in San Francisco!

View of the Golden Gate Bridge giving drivers access to San Francisco

View of the Golden Gate Bridge giving drivers access to San Francisco

Lake Tahoe, CA (750mi, 12hrs)

Lake Tahoe is a haven for outdoor adventures year-round. In the summer, visitors can enjoy swimming, windsurfing, and boating on the picturesque lake, while the surrounding parks and trails beckon to hikers. Mt. Tallac Trail and Emerald Bay State Park offer magnificent views of the lake area while the Gondola at Heavenly provides a peaceful ride with incredible panoramic views. During the winter, strap yours skis or snowboard onto your car and enjoy the epic amounts of snowfall that transform Lake Tahoe into a winter wonderland. Hit the slopes at Northstar or Squaw Valley for a fun day in the snow. Other things to do in Lake Tahoe include making a visit to the Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum or placing some bets at one of the 24-hour casinos in the area. Because Lake Tahoe straddles the border between California and Nevada, the area does also has a flashy nightlife scene and vibrant atmosphere. The area is perfect for a girls’ week away or a family getaway – it’s up to you!

See all rentals in Lake Tahoe!

Las Vegas, NV (1,150mi, 19hrs)

Ah, Las Vegas. Some would say that no matter where you reside in this country, a rubber-meets-road sojourn to Sin City constitutes the ultimate road trip – a statement I’m very much inclined to agree with. Even if you’re not into the well-lit, nonstop party element Vegas is so famous for, you’ll find yourself easily charmed by its rugged beauty and frontier-inspired sightseeing opportunities. One thing is for sure though: going from Seattle to Las Vegas by car is a must-have experience. Cutting through the southern half of Central Washington, skirting the northeast corner of Oregon and the northwest corner of Idaho, then dropping straight down the eastern half of Nevada is an amazing journey that is nearly impossible to match. The ever-changing landscapes and classic roadside attractions encountered along the way make this trip completely worthwhile, even if all you do in Las Vegas is fill up your gas tank and turn right back around.

See all rentals in Las Vegas!

Original post was written by Jay Ferris, a Seattle-based writer, husband, and father of three, whose penchant for outdoors-based travel is rivaled only by his dependence on a steady internet connection and spider-free existence. Follow him on Twitter at @jayferris.

Road Tripping

Steeped in history and filled with impressive attractions that have inspired awe in millions of visitors, Washington, DC is one of America’s most visited major cities. Yet, as someone from the MD/DC area, I had visited every historic site and every museum that you could think of by age 12. Road tripping became my solution to escaping the “same-olds” of the tri-state area. Here is a list of the top 10 road trip destinations that I have taken in the area. Some of these destinations make excellent day trips for visitors to the Capital, while others make great weekend destinations for locals looking to escape the city.

1. Annapolis, MD (40 mi, <1 hr)

Annapolis, the capital of Maryland, is only a short drive away and has a beautiful old town aesthetic. You can enjoy historic sites such as the Maryland State House or get into the thriving community theatre scene by catching a show performed by the Colonial Players. At night, check out the Annapolis Harbor and have dinner on the waterfront by candlelight!

2. Baltimore, MD (47 mi, 1hr)

An architectural masterpiece, Baltimore is filled with everything from 18th century structures to I.M. Pei’s modern masterpieces. My favorite area is the Harbor: home to the incredible Baltimore Aquarium and tons of fun places to grab a meal or a drink by the water. When it’s warm out, you should definitely go for a paddleboat ride for a sea-level experience!

3. Richmond, VA (100 mi, 2 hrs)

Discover history and adventure in nearby Richmond, VA. Here, more than 400 years of American history live on through magnificent architecture, monument-lined cobblestone streets, and world-class museums. Brave the gorgeous yet intense James River: the only urban setting with Class IV rapids. Rafting is just one of many outdoor activities close by. For more urban adventurers, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is constantly expanding its world-class offerings, and more than 900 restaurants make Richmond a foodie paradise.

4. Shenandoah Valley, VA (112 mi, 2.5 hrs)

Blanketed in shades of amber, gold, and green in the fall, Shenandoah is a mandatory road-trip destination for anyone looking for a slice of nature in the tri-state area. The Valley has many areas that are open for camping, as well as plenty of cabins for rent. Plan a visit to one of the pristine limestone caverns for sights that will truly take your breath away. The most famous underground adventures are the Luray Caverns, which also boast a mind-boggling hedge maze right outside the caves!

5. Bethany Beach & Rehoboth Beach, DE (134 mi, 3hrs)

South Bethany Beach is one of the best-kept secrets along the east coast. The friendly inhabitants of this tucked-away city will be happy to show you its picturesque boardwalk, miles of crystal clear waters along the beaches, great shopping and more. Most of the trendy boutiques and restaurants serving up fresh local seafood can be found along South Garfield Parkway, but there’s plenty to do across town as well.

A word to the wise: If you want to enjoy a relaxing beach vacation free of hordes of local teenagers, then steer clear of these destinations, as well as Ocean City, during the first half of June. When school lets out for the summer, High school students from the surrounding areas overrun the typically peaceful spot during “beach week.”

6. Ocean City, MD (153 mi, 3hrs)

Ocean City is a fun, family-oriented beach destination with an incredible boardwalk, fun nightlife, delicious seafood and more mini-golf courses than you can shake a putter at! My family frequented this beach for years, and I still have not managed to try every mini-golf course (not from lack of trying!). Ocean City can be a good choice for frugal travelers who don’t need to spend extra to stay in more posh communities like Bethany.

7. Philadelphia, PA (142 mi, 3 hrs)

Famous as the birthplace of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, Philadelphia offers much more than just cobblestone streets and historical landmarks. Cultural, culinary, artistic and ethnic treasures abound in this city and its surrounding countryside. What makes Philadelphia so memorable are the unique blend of experiences that you have to discover in person. By day, explore four centuries of history and architecture, beautiful neighborhoods, and remarkable museum collections. After the sun sets, the city heats up with acclaimed performing arts, amazing dining and vibrant nightlife. And don’t forget: it’s worth the trip just for the city’s signature cheese steak!

8. Atlantic City, NJ (197 mi, 3.5hrs)

From New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse to deep-sea fishing, and everything in between, you can always find excitement in Atlantic City. Relax at one of the Atlantic City casino spas, go all in on the excitement of 24/7 gaming, experience the thrill of a full house, feel the sand between your toes or visit one of the many attractions in this historic resort town. Atlantic City also offers an extensive boardwalk, pristine golf courses, and a variety of water sports to enjoy on your road tripping adventure.

9. Pittsburgh, PA (255 mi, 5hrs)

Previously known as a blue-collar city responsible for half of the steel production in the states, Pittsburgh has truly transformed itself into a unique and exciting travel destination.  Whether its catching a game of one of the city’s three professional teams or checking out the top notch museums and fine arts centers funded by the legacy of Andrew Carnegie, the city truly exhibits a unique flavor. Pittsburgh has many public green spaces, parks and riverside trails maintained throughout the city’s hilly landscape. From many of these areas, walkers, joggers and bikers are treated to spectacular views of a skyline that’s scene sleek, towering glass and steel architecture is a dramatic departure from the days when the grey cloud of industry loomed over the ‘Burgh.

10. Raleigh, NC (256 mi, 4.5 hrs)

When you’re looking for the excitement and attractions of a great city, combined with the affordability, approachability and appeal of a classic town with authentic southern hospitality, look no further than Raleigh. Best known for its world-class museums, best-of-Broadway shows, Capital area historic sites, professional sporting events and shopping mecca status (nine major retail areas!), Raleigh truly offers a variety of entertainment all in one park-like, scenic setting.

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.

White House

This month’s Off the Beaten Path home is a rarity for sure.  Nicknamed “The White House,” this architectural gem perfectly captures the open spirit of Costa Rica.  I spoke with one of the owners, Ken, a Los Angeles native who has a passion for exquisite architecture and the sunny shores of Santa Teresa…

Who designed the house?

“Michael Poirier, his work has been featured in magazines and journals internationally, including Architectural Record, GA Houses, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times.”

Where did you get the inspiration to build such an exotic home?

“I have always loved modern architecture.  In L.A., I live in a mid-century modern home I called The Strawberry House, which is also a design-centered home.  My partner has always loved my L.A. home as well and so it was obvious that it would be the only way we would build.

Although it is exotic and unique for the area, it was also designed specifically to work for that particular environment in regards to air flow, rain management etc.”

What are some highlights of the property?

It’s steps away from the beach –that’s the biggest highlight. J Other highlights include the overall modern design, the floor to ceiling glass, the infinity pool, the wood ceiling in the master bedroom, the volleyball court, the kitchen that faces the ocean so you can watch the waves as you cook, and the fantastic local art.  In general, we are also trying to make it as sustainable as possible.  My girlfriend owns a small non-profit called Green Wave, through which we have implemented some environmental policies and she is working with our on-site manager on the development of many more.  Also through Green Wave, we are supporting other Costa Rican non-profit groups and schools.

What is your favorite aspect of the home?

I like how the whole house opens to the ocean; it makes me feel I within an arm’s reach away from the waves at all times (and we practically are).

What attracted you to Costa Rica? And why Santa Teresa?

I was attracted to Costa Rica because of the long standing stable government and country with no army as well as the emphasis on education. We fell in love with Santa Teresa for the beaches, the surfing and especially our niche in Playa Hermosa- the overall undeveloped aspect of the area which makes it quiet and private.

What are your favorite things to do in the area?

Surfing! I also love cooking so I like to go to Honey’s organic market on Saturday’s, Product C for fish and the new Natura Mia for healthy food. There are amazing restaurants in the area one of the closest, Tres, has the most amazing coffee and they serve great raw food.  I also like visiting the art gallery, ‘Inspiracion’ and as well as the RainSong Animal Sanctuary.

What is the best season to visit?

There are only two seasons in Costa Rica: wet and dry.  Dry season is the most popular running from about November to the beginning of May. I actually like going down in the rainy season though.  There are less people, its greener and I think the rain storms that only sweep through are fantastic.

From a traveler’s perspective, one of the big questions and concerns about vacation rentals is “how do I pay.”  Asking a guest to send a check in the mail can often cause users to feel uncomfortable about their reservation and/or delay payment.  Waiting for checks to arrive and clear the bank can also cause management challenges.

By securely accepting credit cards and electronic payments, you can process payments immediately and verify that the payments were received within just a few days.

An easy and affordable payment solution – PayPal!

Some vacation rental listing services offer the ability for owners to accept credit cards but charge you an annual subscription fee.  PayPal, an industry-leading payment solution that many sellers on eBay have used to accept credit cards for years, charges no set-up fees.

How it works:

Paypal2–  Create a free Business Account on PayPal.  Your Tax ID number is simply your Social Security number.  You can create an account directly at www.paypal.com.

–   Verify your account.  An easy process that allows you to obtain a small verification code.

–   You can now email invoices to guests through PayPal, which will allow them to pay by credit card.

–    PayPal will process the credit card and credit your account minus a small transaction fee.  It’s that easy.

How much does it cost?

There are no costs to set-up an account and withdraw funds.  PayPal makes money by deducting a transaction fee each time someone uses a credit card to pay.  Transaction fees range between 1.9% to 2.9% (depending on transaction volume) plus $0.30 per transaction for domestic transactions.

Therefore, if your transaction fee is 2.5%, you will be charged $25 for a $1,000 transaction by PayPal if the guest pays by credit card.

If the transaction fee seems unattractive, many renters will offer their guests two options:

Pay Via Check = Rent + $0 transaction fee

Pay Via Credit Card = Rent + 2.5% transaction fee

For many users, the increased peace of mind paying via a credit card is worth a small additional fee.   Even if a guest prefers to save the extra $$ by paying via a check, the fact that you offer a credit card option helps them feel more comfortable with the transaction.

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Typically we pick topics for the FlipKey blog based on things we think are important and relevant to the vacation rental industry. This isn’t necessarily one of those times.

Earlier in the week a friend sent me a photo of the top pictures on National Geographic in ’07. The following pic caught my eye (and luckily not my hand).

alligator-smiles

The bad news: This is a real photo.
The good news: They were able to recover the hand and successfully re-attach it to the original owner (not joking).

Ultimately the photo reminded me of the misconceptions between alligators and crocodiles. Florida represents one of the largest vacation rental markets in the world and is also one of the only geographies were both alligators and crocodiles exist.

Typically, when I return from my Florida travels friends and family often ask me if I had any crocodile run-ins. Before I answer “no”, I take the time to explain that Florida’s population of alligators far out numbers the population of crocs. In addition, Florida is only home to saltwater crocodiles which are significantly less aggressive than freshwater crocs found in Africa and Australia. The above picture is of a “Nile Crocodile” in Africa – you will not find this type of croc in Florida.

Alligators are not particularly aggressive creatures. Between 1948 to 2005 there were only 17 recorded “deaths by alligator”. That’s about 0.3 deaths per year. Comparatively, crocodiles have been responsible for 51 recorded deaths between 1990-1994. That’s nearly 13 deaths per year – nearly all of them occurring outside of the U.S. In fact, I could not find a recorded ‘death by crocodile’ in the United States.

Taken from Yahoo Answers, here is a breakdown of additional differences between alligators and crocs:

  • You can’t see an alligator’s teeth when it’s mouth is closed; its lower teeth fit snugly into pits in the upper jaw. In contrast, a crocodile’s lower teeth are always visible.
  • Alligators have a broad snout, while crocodiles have a thinner snout
  • Alligators tend to be grayish black in color, whereas crocodiles have a light tan appearance.
  • Alligators can only be found in the southeastern United States and in some parts of China. Crocodiles can be found all over the world.
  • In the wild, alligators tend to run away. While not exactly wallflowers, they certainly prefer their own company. Some species of crocodiles, on the other hand, have legendary tempers.