August 2013

Home Column: Vacation Homes

Author: Meg Park


YOUR HOME AWAY FROM HOME

Going on vacation is an event many of us plan for an entire year. We investigate places to go, research the area we have chosen, and finally make reservations. Every step of the process takes into account the entertainment and comfort of each member of the group. Perhaps the single most important part of any vacation is the accommodations. When traveling, people are searching for the same comforts and amenities available to them at home in their vacation rentals. In fact, worldwide, more travelers are finding that spending time in a small hotel room after a day of fun and adventure is dull, and therefore begins to detract from their overall vacation experience.

On Hilton Head Island, a large number of visitors choose to stay in a vacation rental. By offering amenities not available in hotel rooms, it is easy to see why the visitors continue to choose a privately owned vacation rental property. Some of these extra benefits include: a fully equipped kitchen, laundry facilities on the property, multiple living spaces, private bedrooms and bathrooms, private pools and hot tubs, and multiple televisions. These homes and villas offer the ability for families to have their own space, but to also come together as a family. The extra space and privacy is a comfort most yearn for, but cannot obtain inside a quaint hotel room. Renting a vacation home or condo can also give families the opportunity to experience amenities they may not have in their own home, such as a hot tub or Jacuzzi bath, ping pong table or breathtaking ocean views. With over 2,000 homes, villas, and condos to choose from, the amenity options are endless.

Staying in a vacation rental also allows you to experience your destination as a local. Many of the vacation rentals are located in areas where the locals live, shop and play. Here on Hilton Head Island, vacation rentals can be found in the Sea Pines, Palmetto Dunes, Shelter Cove, Shipyard, Forest Beach and the Folly Field beach areas. Dispersed among residents who live here full-time, vacationers will shop at the same grocery stores, eat at the same restaurants, play golf and tennis at the same locations and share our bike paths. When traveling throughout the United States, Canada and other destinations, a vacation rental will allow you to experience these areas outside of the tourist spots as you become a real part of the culture.

So how can you find a vacation rental for your next excursion? Perhaps more than any other segment of travel, vacation rentals require a little more advance research and planning. There have been many articles and blogs written about this topic. They almost all mention one key point: work with a reputable and professional management company. While renting a home or condo directly through the owner can be slightly more cost effective, it can also have some major drawbacks. Many of the owners do not live in the same town as their rental property. This leads to the question, “If I have an issue while in residence, who do I contact?” A professional management company has people available 24/7. They work with local vendors to ensure all issues are resolved efficiently. Professional companies also manage multiple properties, so if an issue arises which may take longer to fix than expected, they have additional options for your family, to help ensure your vacation time is just that—your vacation time.

The best way to find a reputable company is to contact the town’s local Chamber of Commerce to be assured the company is in good standing within the community. If no Chamber of Commerce is available at your destination, do some searches online. Look for companies whose websites have detailed descriptions and pictures of the properties, while providing you with reviews from previous guests.

When you have found the vacation home, villa or condo matching your family’s needs, be sure to ask the following question:
Is a rental contract required? If not, how will all transactions be handled?
Is a security deposit required? If so, how will it be returned to me?
What is the refund/cancellation policy?
What is required before departing the property?
What is included in the rental—household supplies, hair dryer, towels and sheets?
Are there any fees for additional guests?
Are pets allowed?

No two rental properties or companies are alike, so it is important that you ask the questions before you arrive at the home or condo.

Wherever your travels take you in the future, be sure to check out the vacation rentals available at your desired destination. With so many options to choose from, you will be pleasantly surprised to find the privacy, amenities and cost savings a vacation rental can provide over traditional hotel rooms. Safe travels!

Writer Meg Park is the Marketing Manager for Beach Properties of Hilton Head.

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