How to Choose the Right Vacation Rental

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You want your vacation to be great, and you know the place you stay can make all the difference. But how do you know whether the property is in line with what you have in mind?

Clarify your priorities
Do you and the others in your group agree that a pool or spa is a must? Is cooking a pleasure you want to enjoy at the rental home? Will you lounge around outdoors? Is a TV in a separate room for the kids on your must-have list? Spend time visualizing your dream vacation home. Imagine what you want to do, how you’ll spend your time at the house and what the ambience is like.

Study the description
Read the description of the property and its amenities very carefully to be sure all the things that matter to you are included. Does it mention a microwave, dishwasher, cookware? If you imagine a family dinner outside, be sure the listing says there’s an outdoor BBQ. Are there extra linens, pool towels, toilet paper? If the description is detailed and thorough, that’s a pretty good indication that the property owner or manager will be attentive as well.

Scrutinize the photos
Don’t be swayed by first impressions. Zoom in on the details in the photos. Look for clues about cleanliness. Crisp linens, sparkling shower, well-kept landscaping? Also look for the view through the windows in the photos? Do they look onto greenery and rolling hills or the neighbor’s backyard? Create the layout of the property in your mind, following the photos from room to room. If there’s no pic of the second bathroom, you should wonder why. You can always ask the owner/manager for more photos.

Listen to the reviews
Read ALL the reviews, and check for consistent comments. See whether the items on your priority list are mentioned. Take heed of criticisms, too. A disgruntled guest can vent, but watch for the same issue mentioned by multiple reviewers. You can always inquire to clarify whether that particular complaint has been resolved, and that’ll give you a clue about the quality of the vacation experience. Writing a review takes time, and it’s a good sign when guests go out of their way to praise the property, atmosphere, location, its amenities or the owner/manager.

Get a feel for the owner/manager
If it’s green lights so far, then contact the owner or manager. Notice whether they respond promptly to your inquiry. Are they helpful, friendly and happy to answer all of your questions? With a welcoming and professional connection, your chances are good that you’ll have a quality vacation experience.