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One of the major advantages of renting a vacation property is the ability to cook during your stay.  Here at FlipKey, we recognize that there is nothing quite like eating out doors on a beautiful day at your vacation getaway.  Whether grilling on the porch, picnicking at the beach, or simply gathering together in the backyard for a meal, there is nothing quite like a summer vacation feast combined with warm summer air to put your mind and stomach at ease.   With summer feasts in mind, we would like to introduce a new series of regular blog posts highlighting the many possibilities to create superb vacation rental dining experiences.

BBQ

For our first post, we’d like to share with you three special recipes to help you achieve the ultimate beach rental barbecue, leaving your guests and yourself wowed and so full that your only option will be to sleep off the meal.  We proudly present the FlipKey summer barbeque Triptych:  Cobb Salad, Beef Ribs, and fruity Sangria.   Happy dining.  Happy travels.

Cobb Salad
Serves 8 appetizer sized portions

  • 3 hardboiled eggs (shells peeled) and chopped
  • 6 Slices of Bacon
  • 1 head of Romaine Lettuce
  • ½ bunch of watercress lettuce (hard stems removed)
  • 4 cups chopped grilled chicken breast (boneless and skinless)
  • 2 avocados, peel and seeds removed, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives
  • ½ cup Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup olive oil

1. Cut the hard-cooked eggs into 1/2-inch dice. Set aside.

2. Fry bacon for about 10 minutes.  Stop frying when bacon is crisp. Move bacon onto paper towels to dab off excess fat. Once bacon cools, crumble it and set it aside in a separate bowl.

3. Rinse lettuce and spin dry.  Chop and break up lettuce into small, bite-size pieces. Toss Romaine and Watercress together in a large bowl.

4. In a large salad platter, lay out tossed lettuce as a bed, filling the bottom of the platter.  Neatly arrange grilled chicken, tomatoes, avocado, Roquefort cheese, eggs, and bacon in a pattern on top of the lettuce bed in rows.

5. In a separate bowl combine mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar,  and oil, stir until all ingredients have blended. Serve dressing separately or over the salad. Your choice.

Barbeque Ribs
Serves 8 portions

  • 4 pounds pork baby back ribs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinade

1. Remove excess fat and clean ribs.

2. Preheat grill for medium heat while mixing the following ingredients in a small bowl: 1 jar of marinade, ketchup, brown sugar, and orange juice.

3. Once grill has reached medium heat, Grill ribs for 1 hour.

4. After I hour of grilling, coat ribs on all sides with sauce.

5. Allow ribs to grill for another 15 to 25 minutes with sauce. Remove ribs from grill and Enjoy!

FlipKey’s Beach Rental Sangria
Serves 8 portions

  • 1 Large Orange (sliced)
  • 1 Large Orange (juiced)
  • 1 Lemon (sliced)
  • 1 peach (sliced)
  • 1 bottle of dry red wine (Merlot or Shiraz)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups club soda
  • 1/3 cup of brandy

1. Slice 1 of the oranges as well as the lemon.  Gently squeeze fruit slices over pitcher to extract juice from fruit. (Note: Be careful to keep fruit slices in tact.) Keep sliced fruit on the side to be added later.

2.Add sugar to the fruit juice in the pitcher.  Juice the second orange in a separate bowl.  Remove seeds from juice and discard remaining orange.  This orange is only meant to be used for juice.  Pour the juice of this orange into pitcher.  Stir together orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar, ensuring sugar completely dissolves.

3. Pour wine and brandy into pitcher.  Slice peach.  Add peach slices, orange slices, and lemon slices.  Stir.

4.Chill mixture for at least 2 and ½ hours, but preferably overnight.  Just before serving, pour in chilled club soda and stir.

“Off the Beaten Path” is a FlipKey blog post series highlighting vacation rentals in enchanting yet lesser-known travel destinations throughout the world.  Today, we are kicking off our monthly series with vacation rentals located in the heart of the Bavarian National Forest in Germany.

For an accurate and in-depth account, we spoke directly with one of our very own vacation rental owners whose properties provide welcoming accommodations in the Bavarian Forest.  Margaret Leach, a Brit by blood speaks German fluently and enjoys renting her Bavarian homes to vacationers and travelers alike…

1) What makes the Bavarian Forest a unique and appealing destination?

Location: Bavaria is located right in the centre of Europe, directly on the border of the Czech Republic. Prague and Munich are each about 2 hours from here – and even Austria can be reached for a day trip. All these things add up to a huge amount of history to be discovered.

Pure, unspoiled natural surroundings: The Bavarian Forest National Park is part of the largest range of forested mountains in Central Europe and starts literally a few yards from our house. Our air is certifiably clean as well as our tap water, which comes from local springs– no need for bottled mineral water here.


2) When is the best time to come?

I guess that would depend on what you are looking to get out of your experience. The quietest times are probably November, March and April, but the peace and quiet is attractive in itself. If you are looking to play in the snow, December through February is a great time to visit. May through September is the time to come if you are looking to catch some sun outdoors.

3) What are the biggest attractions in the area?

The proximity to the border of the Czech Republic is a main attraction. You have access to not only a wealth of history but many pretty towns and villages that you normally wouldn’t get to see staying anywhere else. The Bavarian National Park is also a main focal point of the area, which comes at no surprise considering its overwhelming beauty. We are also close to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Regensburg and Cesky Krumlov, offering glimpses of medieval towns that have been preserved through the centuries.

4) What are your favorite aspects of the area?

A combination of three things: The peace and tranquility of a beautiful rural location, the friendliness of the people and the proximity to so many fascinating places to visit – there is nothing quite like popping up to Prague for a day’s shopping!

5) What are some fun activities for a visiting guest?
There is a wide range of activities for guests of all ages. There are medieval and traditional festivals in the summer with markets, music and food. The outdoor activities are endless: summer tobogganing, hiking and cross-country skiing are just a few. There are romantic boat rides down the Danube River in dusk or gondola rides up the Arber Mountain in the morning.

6) What are the benefits of staying in your vacation rentals in Bavaria?

We aim to offer a very high standard of accommodation, with an emphasis on maximum comfort. Our kitchens are well equipped, our seating is comfortable, our bedding is clean and our décor is pleasant. We provide a sauna, Internet access and a lounge with coffee machines and home made cakes. We are more than willing to aid our non-German speaking guests on where to go, how to get there and even offer guided tours of the village. Finally, we try to minimize the impact of our apartments on the environment with maximum recycling, minimum fossil fuel usage, organic food and drink and non-chemical cleaning materials.

The Obama’s are expected to spend part of August warming their feet in the sands of Martha’s Vineyard, thus adding their name to the legacy of Commander-in-Chief’s who’ve basked in the peaceful refuge of the Vineyard’s shores.

Currently, the Obama’s don’t have any vacation properties to call their own.  Rather, the First Family is speculated to go the rental route once again, opting to rent a home in the Vineyard’s Oak Bluffs. The presidential family frequently enjoys the perks of renting a vacation home; changing locations each time they want to kick their feet up.  While they are choosing to return to the Vineyard this summer, for their winter vacation, they rented a home on Oahu Island in Hawaii, where President Obama grew up.

The Obama’s aren’t the first presidential family to discover the joys of Martha’s Vineyard vacation rentals. President Clinton and his family retreated to the beautiful island 6 times during his 8 years in office.  Each time the family indulged in the luxury of renting a vacation home on the island without worrying about maintaining their privacy. The Vineyard is one of the few places where the locals recognize the importance of relaxation and give the famous their space.  This is particularly appealing to President Obama who claims the best part of vacation is being able to “wander around in shorts and not have to shave in the morning and no one talks about it.  (Doyle).”

Martha’s Vineyard is not only a great destination for privacy, it offers plenty of activities for the kiddos as well.  Sasha (8) and Malia (11) can take a ride on the  Vineyard’s Flying Horses Carousel, a 125 year old hand painted carousel, while the Mr. and Mrs. can stop in to Mocha Mott’s for a taste of the homemade coffee blend, “Mochabama.” And of course the whole family (including Bo, the dog!) can enjoy a walk along the Aquinnah cliffs and experience the breathtaking sunset.

Take a page from Obama’s book and check out a vacation rental for your next trip!

Works Cited
Doyle, Leonard. “Barack Obama to Spend Holidays in Martha’s Vineyard”. Washington: telegraph.co.uk, n.d.

Here at FlipKey, we compiled a list of the top 10 vacation rental destinations in the month of June…enjoy!

#1: Texas Gulf Coast Vacation Rentals

With the warm winds of Mexico sweeping past the beautiful blue waters of the Texas Gulf Coast, it is no wonder why this was our number one vacation rental spot in June. Explore South Padre Island’s extensive opportunities, regardless of what you’re looking for in a vacation. Get a taste of Mexico by taking a bus across the border or spend your afternoons on the beach watching dolphins flip in the distance. Have an invigorating day fishing the sparkling waters or ride horses at sunset. Wherever you choose to vacation on the Texas Coast, you will find sun, sand and even a bit of serenity.

# 2: Outer Banks, North Carolina Vacation Rentals

The Outer Banks, or OBX if you’re a local, was our second most popular vacation rental destination last month. Although the beaches are the biggest draw to this chain of barrier islands there are many other things to experience. Watch the wild horses on Ocracoke Island, descendents of the colonists’ horses. SCUBA dive the “Graveyard of the Atlantic,” a notorious disaster area for ships, and be amazed at what you can find resting so peacefully beneath the surface. But we won’t blame you if you decide to simply kick your feet up on the porch, take a deep breath and watch the sunrise over the vast Atlantic.

#3: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Vacation Rentals

Myrtle Beach is home to an abundance of family friendly activities. The area boasts a large number of water parks, amusement parks, and even music parks to keep your entire crew happy. Spend your days cruising Broadway on the Beach, which is home to an aquarium, entertainment complex and an enormous selection of stores. Whatever you decide to do, Myrtle Beach offers an excess of activities that’ll keep you and your little ones smiling.

#4: Destin, Florida Vacation Rentals

Destin, Florida on the Emerald Coast is a popular spot for people looking to fish. It’s sparkling waters and warm temperate make it an ideal place to enjoy the outdoors. Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” Destin is home to some of the best fishing in the Gulf. If you are an avid fisher, make your way down to the Destin Fishing Rodeo. If fish interest you more from a culinary perspective, be sure to check out the Destin Seafood Festival brimming with fresh local seafood as well as local artists.

#5: Georgia Coast Vacation Rentals

The Georgia coast was our fifth top destination of interest for the month of June. Visit the Mansions on the South shore of Jekyll Island, golf on one of Kiawah’s renowned courses or listen to Greg Russell play under the ancient Liberty Oak Tree on Hilton Head.

#6: Gulf Shores, Alabama Vacation Rentals

Gulf Shores, Alabama has beautiful coastal shorelines that attract a vast array of vacationers.  While many Americans head to Florida when they vacation, the locals know that the Gulf Shores has the perfect balance between tranquility and beautiful surroundings.

#7: Orlando, Florida Vacation Rentals

Home to more amusement and theme parks than anywhere in the United States, it is indeed a magical place to spend some time with your family.  Visit the Cinderella Castle at Disney World or get your thrills on the Incredible Hulk roller coaster at Universal.

#8 Cape Cod, Massachusetts Vacation Rentals

With it’s charming New England towns and scenic harbors, it’s no wonder that this Massachusetts cape draws so much attention.  Spend the day lounging by the beach or take the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.  Sample some of the freshest seafood around and afterwards walk along the dusky dunes and watch the stars.

#9: Lake Tahoe, California Vacation Rentals

This 2 million year old lake is known for its extreme beauty, range of activities and moderate climate.  Breathe in the crisp mountain air on a hike or canoe on the lake and catch some rays.  Take a Gondola Ride up Heavenly Mountain and peek the Sierra Nevada Mountains, surrounding you.

#10: Florida Keys Vacation Rentals

We round out the list with the Keys at #10. With over 1700 islands, there is something for everyone here. Visit Key West, the most southern spot in the U.S. and while you’re there take a tour of Ernest Hemingway’s home.  Or head to Key Largo and sample some of the best Cuban food around.

What a year… Obama for president, the collapse of the financial industry and an unknown future for U.S. automakers.  2008 was chalk full of headlines with the vacation rental industry carving out its own “major news.”    Based on an extremely unscientific poll, FlipKey has amassed the Top 10 Vacation Rental Highlights of 2008.

#10:  FlipKey launches the industry’s first independent guest review serviceamassing the industry’s largest collection of verified vacation home rental guest reviews to promote the advantages of the vacation rental experience.

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#9:  VRMA overhauls board of directors, including the introduction of the industry’s first supplier representation (Kyle Buehner, Navis Technologies) in an effort to improve the market awareness, impact and membership growth.

#8: PhocusWright conducts the first formal, independent, industry study on the $24B vacation rental market highlighting that vacation rentals are emerging as a mainstream lodging category

#7:  Orbitz begins promoting vacation rentalson Orbitz.com and Away.com through partnerships with Zonder and Vast, respectively.

#6: Discover Vacation Homes is launched,introducing the first dedicated public relations effort to promote the advantages of vacation rentals and professional managers.

#5:  Industry addresses consumer confidence in vacation rentals with several companies introducing new vacation rental insurance products, the introduction of manager only search portals (e.g. ClearStay.com and VacationRoost) and additional PR efforts to educate consumers on the safety and advantages of vacation rentals.

#4:  Instant Software announces over $1B in online reservations were executed through its ISILink global distribution system (GDS), highlighting the migration of vacation rental reservations from call centers to the desktop.

#3:  Large RBO website raises $400M, underscoring the growing popularity and growth potential of the vacation rental industry.

#2: Vacation rentals hit mainstream press with the WSJ, New York Times, USAToday and several other national publications featuring articles on the vacation home rental industry.

#1:  TripAdvisor takes a majority stake in FlipKey and announces it will begin promoting vacation rentals to TripAdvisor Media Group’s 24M monthly visitors in 2009.