by Broderick Perkins
It's a relaxing, homey atmosphere with the same flexibility of your own home. Homes can be warmly decorated with personal touches, unlike the generic, sparse decor in hotel rooms. Vacation rental homes typically have fully-equipped kitchens where families prepare and cook meals together. Other amenities often include wet bars, swimming pools and hot tubs, as well as the ability to move about in different areas of the house.
Even when traveling, there's no place like home -- especially if it belongs to someone else.
San Francisco Bay Area-based EscapeHomes.com recently released the top reasons to rent a home instead of a hotel when traveling and the boom in number of second home investments and helpful websites make finding vacation home accommodations easier than ever.
No cooking, no cleaning and no bed making are compelling enough reasons to move into a hotel on vacation, but rentals are giving them a run for the money.
"The newest genre of vacation rentals that one-up hotel expectations are in private and resort communities," says Elisabeth Miller-Fox, President of PrivateCommunities.com.
"Rental departments in these communities offer homes and condos that meet a high standard of cleanliness, have full household supplies, daily housekeeping and concierge services. Typically, there are dining facilities in the clubhouse, socials and events, plus recreational amenities like golf, tennis and fitness. Now that's a vacation," said Miller-Fox.
Most travelers who rent homes, however, don't want housekeeping knocking at the door at 9:00 a.m. to make the bed or many of the other entrapments that come with hotels.
"Some travelers want to sleep when they want. They just want to be left alone. Often, when vacation rental owners offer a daily maid service, the guests don't want it. They want privacy," said William May, director of the Seattle, WA-based Vacation Rental Owners Association.
For still others, it just comes down what you can and can't fit into a hotel's garage.
"I can park the boat more easily and safely in a home's driveway than in a hotel's parking lot. I may be able to dock it at the home instead of a marina if the home is on the water," said Janet Houde, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors in San Jose, CA.
Amanda Sturges, EscapeHomes.com's marketing director, says there are many more reasons to choose a vacation rental home over a hotel.
"There is more space and more rooms and amenities than in a hotel. Some home have high-speed Internet connections, TVs and stereos in every room. Owners often outfit homes for themselves when they are there," said May.
Kitchen and laundry facilities also facilitate savings for families and large groups especially those on extended vacations. Kitchens also provide a flexibility of allowing vacationers to eat when they choose.
Vacation homes can have more shared spaces. Vacation home typically have family rooms, fire places and hearths, living rooms, dens, dining rooms and yards.
"There's just more room to spread out and relax, and that's what a vacation is all about," said Sturges.
Vacation home renters enjoy a greater level of privacy. Single-family detached vacation rental homes, especially, are more private than a building full of hotel rooms.
There is diversity in the style and location of vacation homes. There are single-family homes and townhomes in urban settings, condos on the beach, cabins in the mountains and more. Vacation homes come in myriad styles, locations and settings.
Homes for vacationers provide options for different budgets. Travel homes are available as small mountain chalets and beach huts to large villas and exclusive resort homes.
Vacation homes can be a proving grounds. A home away from home is a good way to experience a community for a future vacation home purchase. It is also an opportunity to experience a vacation town the way the locals do, in the neighborhood.
May you be cautioned that five percent of vacation home renters don't always get what they expect because for first timers the vacation home rental may not be the accommodations experience to which they are accustomed.
"Ninety-five percent of the people are happy, but you may not get a 24-hour front desk, you have to have a bit of self-reliance. The vacation home rental owner may not disclose everything because you haven't asked everything," said May.
"One family was disappointed because the bedrooms for children were too far from the parents' room, but the vacation home owner may not always think to ask the age of your children. We advise home owners to give a laundry list of everything in the home, but the consumer has to ask a lot of questions," said May.