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Thank you to everyone who submitted a review on TrustPilot.com and participated in our promotion. We love hearing your comments and advice, and it’s great to receive feedback from vacation rental owners, property managers, and travelers. It is clear to us that our community has a lot of travel experience and know-how, and we are hard at work incorporating all of that feedback into FlipKey and building the best vacation rental website around.

We are pleased to announce that the winner has been selected through a random drawing. Congratulations to Barrie White, of Adelaide, Australia. Barrie is a property owner and manager of several holiday homes in Adelaide. We love the creativity of Barrie’s review, so we wanted to reprint it here:

Easy to manage and great reward to those who list their property

It’s a great website that allows you to reach people all over the world who might want to stay in your place in the world.
When they are searching for a place they can see what others have experienced at your place and what they can truly expect when they get there.
The website is exceptionally secure and delivers on my expectations time and time again.
Keep up the great work Flipkey!

F antastic
L eading edge
I deal for me
P erfect for others
K ool
E asy to manage
Y our best way to manage your rental (original review on TrustPilot)

We work hard to help people find those special places in the world where they can have the time of their lives. We’re glad to hear it’s working! It’s also clear from your reviews and suggestions that there’s room for improvement; we will continue to take your advice, improve the service, and fix the bugs that do come up from time to time.

The promotion has ended, but we still encourage you to leave reviews and share your thoughts on TrustPilot, Facebook and Twitter. We’re happy to answer any questions about FlipKey service and the TrustPilot Review Promotion. Please feel free to contact us anytime at memberservices@flipkey.com.

Thanks again to everyone who wrote a review, and congratulations to Barrie!

Wandercast.TV is a new travel video website that lets you to “watch where you’re going” before leaving home. We invited founder Alyson Flynn to introduce the site to FlipKey travelers who are planning trips!

Wandercast Screen Shot

For the past five years, I’ve planned a fantasy Parisian trip in my head. First, I’ll rent a flat with a friendly chat and old world architecture. The apartment will be on the top floor and feature views of the city and a neighborhood vibe. It will be located on a street where I can pop over to a fresh market in the morning, sit in the café at noon, and stroll through vintage boutiques in the afternoon. I will sign up for cooking classes with a small specialty hotel around the corner and have a short fling with the chef. Within weeks, I see my waist shrink from an American size 10 to a French size four. Sigh—life is good.

The gap between what I visualize in my mind and how the vacation actually plays out could range wildly. A Paris trip experience could end up feeling like Carrie Bradshaw’s Sex and the City, Chevy Chase’s European Vacation, or Amelie. . . a lot closer to my dream. When it comes to travel planning, how can I get reality close to my fantasy?

Wandercast.TV aims to bridge the chasm between imagining a dream vacation and making it a reality. Wandercast.TV members share travel videos, experience and knowledge. Episodes are both amateur and professionally produced and range from 30 seconds to several minutes. All videos are geo-tagged on the world map and the content is carefully identified with keywords.

I first developed the concept behind Wandercast.TV in 2006 when browsing YouTube and podcasts on iTunes. Although those sites certainly have high volumes of travel videos, finding a video based on location was (and still is) difficult, and tags are often misleading. Searching for “Paris parks” on YouTube might garner one or two appropriate video results, with the remainder showing Paris Hilton parking her car in Bel Air. Wandercast.TV helps answer the question, “How can I find a video that gives me the experience of being in Paris?” Geo-tagging videos allows site users to visually move around the globe and zoom into a specific area, but also see the proximity of one video location to another.

To help keep travel planning and inspiration organized, Wandercast.TV members create suitcases. Currently, I have three suitcases I’ve named: Paris, Surfing Queensland, and Maine Christmas. When watching an inspirational travel video, I can save it to the appropriate suitcase. As the trip planning moves forward, the suitcase side column begins to fill with information about current special events, airfare, rentals and hotel rates, and coupons for that region. When it’s time to book my flight, or rent the flat in Paris, the best rates are already advertised within my Paris suitcase. Eventually, Wandercast.TV will allow micro-advertising for small businesses to feature this week’s events and specials.

Wandercast.TV helps customers and local businesses connect where their mutual interest lies, bridging the gap between the fantasy and reality. Few travelers start planning a trip by saying, “I want to stay at a Hyatt. Where are their locations?” On Wandercast.TV, Hyatt and small B&B’s alike advertise only at the location of their establishment. Likewise, services like FlipKey are able to tag rental properties to a specific location—increasing the likelihood of booking while the viewer is “experiencing” the video.

Watching and uploading travel videos to Wandercast.TV is free. To save favorites in a suitcase does requires signing up. For exploration or planning a trip, Wandercast.TV is a great place to start your journey.

Wandercast.TV was founded in 2007 by Alyson Flynn, whose experience lies in graphic design, marketing, world travel and dreaming big. Although she experienced a few side trips along the way, Flynn followed Wandercast.TV until its launch in 2011. “Wandercast.TV lets you watch where you’re going before leaving home—so dream trips become a reality,” says Flynn. Check out her own vacation video about a day in Ocean City, New Jersey, which inspired the creation of Wandercast.TV.

Geronimo!Is it possible to fill your booking calendar and contribute to your favorite charity at the same time? Have you ever asked yourself how you could take a vacation and make a difference in society?

These are the questions that Mike Last and Michael McFadden have started to answer with Geronimo.com, a website that asks vacation rental owners and property managers to contribute “one spare week” to charity. I caught up with Michael the other day and had the chance to discuss Geronimo, how the service works, and where it’s going.

FlipKey: Let’s start with the basics – what is Geronimo and how does it work?

Michael McFadden: Geronimo is a service that allows vacation rental owners and property managers to donate a portion of a rental income to the non-profit of their choice without dealing with the hassle of non-profit bureaucracy. Essentially, you list a property at a discounted rate (we recommend a 20% discount) for a set period of time on Geronimo.com. The owners can get half of the rental income, and the other half is for the net donation.

There are few spots in the world where an outdoor enthusiast can ski down a snowy glen, bike through forested singletrack, and play nine holes on a prime golf course, all in one day. Sunriver, Oregon is one of those spots.

Mount Bachelor offers skiing through May!

With the high desert stretching off to the east and the Cascade mountain peaks rising to the west, the Oregon landscape offers a plethora of adventure opportunities throughout the year. During the early spring months Mother Nature tends to go a little bi-polar – sixty and sunny one day, twenty and blowing snow the next – but those crazy weather swings allow winter sports to overlap with summer sports, setting the perfect stage for a Sunriver Spring Triathlon. Here’s how to plan your day, manage your gear, and make the most of your experience:

Stage 1: Ski

You’ll need an early start to accomplish the Sunriver Spring Triathlon. Pack up your ski gear and head out from your Sunriver vacation rental up to Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, just twenty minutes up the Cascade Lakes Highway. The mountain features glacial fields that keep the chairlifts spinning until late May. Catch the first chair as it opens at nine o’clock and ride spring corn snow all morning. By the time the sunshine softens the snow into afternoon slush, no worries, because you are off to your next event!

Stage 2: Bike

It’s back to your cabin to grab a sandwich and swap skis and boots for bikes and sneakers. Over thirty miles of trails start right out of Sunriver, ranging from easy cruiser trails along the Deschutes River, to down-n-dirty technical singletrack mountain biking that winds through rolling Ponderosa forests and lava fields. It’s a very good idea to check in at the local bike shop to find rentals, and pick up a trail map. Don’t forget to ask the staff for recommendations on trails that fit your group’s skill level. Bring water, a warm extra layer, and of course a few snacks!

Stage 3: Golf

Got energy left after conquering the trails? Cruise back to your home base for a quick shower and change of clothing, and then wrap up the triathlon day with nine holes of golf. Central Oregon’s golf courses are just shaping up for the season right now and many offer early-season deals, especially in the late afternoon and twilight hours. For great golf value right down the road, check out Quail Run in Sunriver; serious golfers may want to make the twenty-minute drive to Tetherow, a semi-private golf destination designed by David McKay Kidd.

Putt out at the ninth hole, and mission accomplished! Your Sunriver Spring Triathlon is complete. Time to relax back at your home in Sunriver , swap stories from the day, and enjoy a good night’s sleep. You’ve earned it!

Suzanne Johnson lives, writes and plays in the Cascade mountains of Oregon with her family of adventure-prone boys. More of her writing can be found a SuzanneMyhreJohnson.com.

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.

Whether you’re vacationing in July or December, shopping never goes out of season! Over the next few months join me as we journey around the world to discover unique and unexpected shopping destinations that you and your entire family are sure to enjoy. So fasten your seat belts, get your wallets ready, and make sure to leave extra room in your suitcases for new purchases! First stop: the Western United States…

From Hawaii to California, the West Coast is full of unique shopping experiences for any traveler. So gather up your belongings and head out to enjoy some fun in the sun shopping at one of these seven unexpected and unbelievable shopping destinations in the Western U.S.

1. Big Island, Hawaii

Big Island Shopping

While relaxing on this beautiful island in Hawaii, visit Ali’i Drive for some of the best shopping around. Whether you need sandals and a big straw hat or jewelry and a sarong, this drive will let you bring the island flavor back home with you. The Kona Inn Shopping Village, originally a wealthy hotel from the 20’s, has now been transformed into a gorgeous low-rise mall with dozens of clothing boutiques, art galleries, gift shops, and island-style eateries. For an even more authentic shopping experience, visit the Ali’i Gardens Marketplace to stroll, shop, and enjoy the Hawaiian aura in a beautiful garden setting. Not only will you enjoy a friendly atmosphere and be able to take advantage of great deals offered by merchants and farmers, but you will also be able to enjoy daily events ranging from Na Kapuna Hula dancing and ukulele lessons to lei making and ukulele jam sessions.

2. Carmel, California

Carmel Shopping

Carmel shopping is a unique metropolitan style, all-day experience and then some! The most discriminating shopper is sure to find something of great appeal in one of the town’s stone-paved alleyways or curlicue-roofed shops. Visit The Crossroads Shopping Village for an even more quaint and fashionable shopping experience. Along a flower-filled boulevard, friendly shopkeepers present the finest in anything and everything – fashion, jewelry, gifts, specialty food and more. And if you’re tired and hungry from all the shopping, The Crossroads also offers the best one-stop selection of award winning dining on the Californian Monterey Peninsula, so take a break and re-energize for more!  From outdoor malls to family-owned boutiques, Carmel offers a shopping environment of infinite exploration.

3. Laguna Beach, California

Laguna Beach Shopping

Laguna Beach is a walkable quaint village located in the heart of Southern California, making shopping in this fun and funky town an experience like none other. Take home part of Laguna Beach’s unique style with a beautiful piece of art you won’t find anywhere else. Over 100 art galleries and artists’ studios showcase all types of mediums, from paintings and sculptures to glass blowing and modern art. From the galleries in North Gallery Row to the showcases of the downtown village of South Laguna, you’ll find it easy to spend the day gallery-hopping as you explore all the incredible talents of these world-renowned artists. You’ll also discover an elaborate and unique collection of home furnishings to make your home a space to notice. And for those hard-to-find items, Laguna Beach boasts plenty of specialty stores that are sure to make your shopping experience a success.

4. Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu Shopping

The tropical setting of open air markets, luxury resort shops and an abundance of Hawaiian retail stores makes shopping a popular activity on a Hawaii vacation. For the casual shopper or the sophisticated consumer, Oahu is a virtual shopping paradise. Find a delightful variety of independent, locally owned markets and stores, national retail chains, and upscale boutiques that sell everything from handcrafted, Hawaiian products to imported items from around the world. If you’re looking to please both the beach bum and shopaholic, visit the infamous Waikiki Beach – the shopping capital on the beautiful island of Oahu! The Waikiki Beach Walk has all one needs, from art to jewelry to handcrafted trinkets. Just stroll along the amazing white sand beaches to discover the best shopping the island has to offer… and when you get tired of shopping (if that’s even possible), just head straight to the beach!

5. Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale Shopping

Although Scottsdale has primarily been known for its lavish resorts and manicured golf courses, Scottsdale is now becoming a hot shopping locale. Scottsdale has become the place for veteran shoppers, attracting more and more high-end boutiques everyday. At places like the Scottsdale Waterfront, the Borgata, and Kierland Commons, you will find original designers and showcases of the latest Hollywood trends in everything from clothing and accessories to chic alternative clothing and sophisticated nighttime wear. With more than 5,500 retail stores, malls, boutiques, and outlets, Scottsdale is home to serious shoppers who need some of the country’s finest retail therapy. What better way to spend your summer vacation than with a little retail therapy in the heart of Arizona?

6. South Lake Tahoe, California
South Lake Tahoe Shopping

The clear, blue lake and heavenly mountains are not the only reasons to visit Lake Tahoe. Along with the beauty of the natural wilderness, South Lake Tahoe is also home of unrestrained, multi-venue shopping. Visitors find numerous boutique shops, galleries, and restaurants with an open invitation to enter, browse, buy, and consume. While enjoying the view, head over to Tahoe Factory Store outlets for discount prices or over to Heavenly Village for some heavenly shopping. This beautiful village is a European-styled commercial shopping center surrounding the bottom of the Heavenly Gondola. With cobblestone walkways and slopped alpine roofs, the village shops sell everything from clothing and books to summer and winter sporting equipment and wine.

7. Taos, New Mexico

Taos, NM   Shopping

Taos is in a state of constant evolution, but the culture and core authenticity keeps Taos timeless. Don Fernando de Taos Plaza was settled by the Spanish colonists more than 300 years ago and still retains its original shape through plazas, paintings, artifacts, and more. Head over to the heart of Taos to find one-of-a-kind gifts and conversation pieces at local boutiques, museum shops, craft fairs, and artisan’s workshops. From the Alpacacs store with luxurious alpaca yarn, clothing, accessories, and toys, to the El Rincon Trading Post with pawn and contemporary jewelry, pottery, books, and Indian artifacts, Taos is home to unique items that are perfect for authentic gifts and conversation pieces back home.

This blog post comes to us from England by way of Paul Johnson, who owns a riverside vacation rental apartment in Kendal. Paul is a tourism professional and a regular contributor to aluxurytravelblog.com, aardvarktravel.net, and dedicate.co.uk.
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If you’re looking for the most popular tourist destination in England outside of London, look no further than the Lake District National Park.  Tucked away in the north-west of the country, just short of the border with Scotland, this is one of the most scenic parts of Britain and home to England’s highest mountain (Scafell Pike) and longest lake (Windermere).  A few miles from Windermere, you will find the old market town of Kendal, sitting on the edge the Lake District National Park boundary.  Using Kendal as a base, you get the best of both worlds because you are in fact sandwiched between two National Parks – the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

Strickland Gate Boar Kendal itself is traditional market town full of history and interest, with plenty of restaurants, bars and other forms of entertainment.  It is home to Kendal Castle where Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, lived before moving to London.  It is also home to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Kendal Museum, the Quaker Tapestry Museum, and the Brewery Arts Centre, which has its own cinema and a full programme of events.  Events in the town are varied, ranging from the International Kendal Mountain Film Festival to the Kendal Torchlight Procession, both of which are regular annual events.

Next time you’re visiting England, understand that there’s much more to it than just London.  There are some very beautiful areas such as the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales that too many visitors overlook, and basing yourself in Kendal would put you perfectly positioned to enjoy them both.

If you are interested in contributing to the FlipKey blog, then we’d love to hear from you! Please contact the blog editors by emailing memberservices (at) flipkey.com with the subject line “I’m interested in the FlipKey Blog!”

From: Susan Lusk

To: FlipKey

Subject: Success!

I want to tell you how very pleased I’ve been with almost everything about Flipkey. The success rate of bookings to inquiries has far exceeded my expectations and my experiences with all other vacation rental sites. I am very impressed with Flipkey’s ease of use both for the vacation seeker and the property owner. For the shopper, all the info about a property is clearly shown and organized, each page is attractive and uncluttered, easy to navigate to whatever the client needs to make a decision.

For me, the owner, entering info was less painful than most other sites– very straightforward, well thought out, no glitches in uploading pics or other frustrating bugs. It’s been a pleasure to be subscribed to Flipkey– I’m SOLD! And I have been strenuously recommending your site to other homeowner friends looking for better success with their rentals.

I’ve had some trouble accessing my site recently while traveling and have to say customer service has been terrifically responsive in trying to help. In the end I think it was issues with the computer I was using, but I commend your customer service. Congratulations on getting it right, Flipkey!

Kind regards,
Susan Lusk

 

You rented a vacation home to take a break and relax, and you don’t want to spend a second of downtime doing the chores, like grocery shopping, that take up too much of your time when not on vacation. Still, your rental home has a great kitchen, and you don’t want to eat in restaurants every night anyway. How can you take advantage of your vacation home without stressing about shopping or breaking the bank? Try a concierge shopping service.

Concierge grocery services send real shoppers to hand pick the products that you want. Some rental properties are part of associations that share concierge services like shopping, but you can find experienced shopping services for almost any destination on the Internet. Online grocery services such as Peapod.com, Amazon Fresh, and the Grocery Girls work with local markets to provide customers fresh, high-quality ingredients. No matter what service you choose, the process is more or less the same: sign in, create an online grocery list, and then relax—a professional shopper will do the rest. Now you can cross shopping off your to-do list and get back to the important business of enjoying your vacation.