Tag: Vacation RentalsView All Tags
About a year ago, we took a look at the booming business that is AirBnB and wondered if hotels were threatened by the growing tendency for people to prefer private residences to hotel rooms. Well, if there's any question about whether the hotel industry is taking the new market segment seriously, look no further than Four Seasons recent launch of a vacation rental website.
Now, it is not exactly like renting some random apartment in New York City. The properties are all vetted by Four Seasons, and more significantly, they are essentially extensions of the brand in that you can still get many of the amenities that you would at a hotel, including housekeeping, in-room (house) spa treatments, stocked fridge, etc.
We've always preferred staying in a hotel rather than crashing on someone's couch. There have been several occasions when we've rented a house rather than hitting up a hotel (typically for family vacations) but thanks to Thanks to Thrillist.com we've found a house rental that just might be cooler than some design-oriented boutique hotel.
This here is the Brew Mountain Eco-Inn, listed on HomeAway.com (nice logo, btw!), located in Pennsylvania, between DC and NYC aka the middle of nowhere. The owner/host is a collector of antique and vintage brewery advertising for the past 35 years and that includes beer cans. The entire place, which sleeps 10 across five guest rooms, is plastered with "vintage beer cans from around the world, antique bottles, lithos, neons, porcelain signs and every imaginable type of breweriana from days gone by."
While the beds don't look so comfy, we have to admit the beer cans lining the walls are pretty awesome. It's the perfect place for your next man-cation. Best of all, it's available for Super Bowl weekend for $758 for two nights for the whole joint. You've got to make/bring your own food though. And your own beer too. But hey, free recycling!
Art Frommer, Editor of Frommers, recently put out a post discussing the idea that hotels might be a "dying breed." We've talked about this very same issue on this site as well, specifically the growing popularity of Airbnb and whether or not hotels should be afraid of this new preference many travelers seem to have for vacation and apartment rentals.
We know that hotels are obviously concerned -- and Frommer points out that they might be heading up the legislation against short-term apartment rentals -- but we don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon. Our thoughts are that while the surge in vacation and apartment rentals has the chance to change the hotel industry, these changes are going to occur very gradually. The biggest aspects have to do with logistics. Even if everyone wanted to rent a private home or apartment, there just aren't enough to accommodate the sheer volume of travelers. Then there's the fact of location. Many tourists want to stay in the areas where the hotels are located -- not off in some random neighborhood.
That all said, let's look at how things could play out. In the short term, hotels may experience a rough patch where they will cater more towards luxury and business travelers than the other segment as they try to figure out how to remain at their previous profit levels. We've already seen this with the regular presence of resort fees and increasing rates.
Over the weekend we headed to Santa Ynez, Calif. in Santa Barbara County where instead of booking a hotel room, we actually rented a house with two other couples (along with four children and one spoiled French bulldog.) Yet despite the idyllic location across from a small vineyard and the spaciousness of the house, we actually found ourselves missing a few of our beloved hotel creature comforts.
This surprised us since we were looking forward to pretending we were wealthy enough to own a giant piece of land and a picturesque home for the weekend. But while a house gave us the space we craved, not all the little amenities we are accustomed to at hotels are included.
Here's our Pros/Cons breakdown of renting a house versus booking a hotel room.
Super Bowl ads: There were some last night. Leading the bunch, at least for us, was the HomeAway shot across the bows of hotels everywhere which asked, bluntly, "Why hotel when you can HomeAway?" Fighting words, those are!
Featuring a rather loud and rather serious "minister of detourism" as a pitchman, HomeAway insists that "Families are getting swindled. Why? Because hotels hate your guts!" Thereupon, a baby is flung into a wall as if slapstick is the way to make an airtight argument in favor of this anti-hotel thesis. It is not.
Logical fallacies aside, HomeAway's premise is that families get more space and convenience when booking a vacation rental in lieu of a hotel. The former can be true but needn't always be the case. Rentals can be small, too, and families wanting more space than a typical room offers can always upgrade to a hotel suite. As for convenience, we're very skeptical that a stand-alone rental has higher service standards than a hotel with, you know, a full-time staff.
The original condo-tel in SoBe?
When hotel hunting for our next vaca, we often forget to troll Craigslist--for vacation rentals that is, not missed connections. Perhaps the reason we don't often think of it is because it's such a crapshoot. For instance, we have friends who scored an awesome place in Chelsea for a weekend in New York off the site, but our own attempts to find a vacation rental in Spain netted nothing but scams.
Similarly, The New York Times' Budget Traveler Matt Gross, tasked with finding cheap lodging in Miami for a weekend, took to Craigslist, netting similar mixed results. The listing, which touted "HoT SOBE condo for rent inside a NICE hotel!!" showed a bright studio and sundeck with a Jacuzzi in the Royal Hotel. Gross bargained with the owner to "nix the cleaning fee, throw in a parking permit and let the place go for a tax-free $125 a night." Amazing for Miami Beach in-season. However:
"When we arrived on a late Friday afternoon....I wished I'd bargained harder. The Royal was three stories of fading Deco wrapped in scaffolding, and the lobby smelled like street-vendor incense. The studio was better, sunny and decorated with paintings in vibrant blues and oranges, but had its own quirks: the floor lamps could only be turned off by unplugging them, and the hot water in the shower was, well, not."
Given the mixed results of Gross' and our own experiences, we have to wonder if The List of Craig is even worth logging onto for anything else other than the comic missed connections. So tell us hotel mavens: Have you ever had luck with a finding a great vacation rental off the site? Put your stories in comments below.