Featured Destination: Disney World Orlando Florida

The entertainment complex of the Walt Disney World Resort, more popularly known as Walt Disney World Orlando Florida, opened its magical gates on the first day of October in 1971. Located in Lake Buena Vista, the popularity of Mickey Mouse’s residence grew over the years until it finally became one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world, catering to over 52 million of visitors and guests yearly. Sitting in a 42,000 hectares property, Disney is home to numerous themed resorts, as well as two water parks, a number of theme parks and a bevy of entertainment and recreational centers.

windsor hills rental

Walt Disney World A center piece hung on a bedroom of a disney themed villa in Windsor. See more Windsor vacation rentals.

Originally designed to supplement Disneyland in Anaheim, California, Walt Disney World Resort boasts of many a number of attractions that not only entertain kids but also people from all walks of life, especially the kids at heart. Begin your Disney tour by visiting the Magic Kingdom Park. The first to be built of the 4 Disney theme parks, Magic Kingdom is represented by the iconic Cinderalla Castle, inspired by the 1950 film, Cinderella. Among the attractions to enjoy are numerous musical parades, enthralling fireworks, and the beloved Disney characters.

The second theme parked built, Epcot, features innovations in technology as well as different international cultures. Considered as the third most visited theme park in the United States, it welcomed more than 10 million guests in 2011. The park is represented by the sphere Spaceship Earth, which is but one of the many attractions found in this theme park. Apart from award winning fireworks, culture and cuisine of different countries are also highlighted in this park.

Kissimmee, Runaway Beach Club #210332

A grand Disney entrance at Runaway Beach Club Vacation Rentals. You’ll surely have a magical stay in this 1 bedroom condo which is just a stone’s throw away from Disney.

Known everywhere for its Sorcerer’s Hat icon, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the third of the four parks to be built. Showcasing Hollywood’s heyday of 1930’s and the 1940’s, attractions in this park include Hollywood Boulevard, which features The Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant as well as numerous shops selling Disney Merchandise. Other must see attractions are oval shaped lagoon Echo Park and the Street of America Park which features replicas of the streets of New York and San Francisco and an exciting tram ride. Younger travelers will surely enjoy paying the Animation Courtyard and the Pixar Place a visit.

The last of the four theme parks to be built, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is considered to be the largest single Disney theme park in the world. Opening their doors on Earth Day in 1988, Disney’s Animal Kingdom meets and exceeds standards in conservation and research thereby earning accreditations from the local and international Associations of Zoos and Aquariums. Further subdivided into seven themed areas like Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Oasis and Dinoland, Animal Kingdom is represented by a 50-foot tree, called the Tree of Life.

Davenport, Aviana #205921

Disney Aviana Villa at Davenport Holiday Vacation Rentals. It’s a 4 bedroom villa in a gated community in Aviana, Davenport. A luxurious villa which is surperbly furnished to a high standard.

After exploring the main theme parks, it is now time for any guest to venture into the two water parks in Disney, starting with Blizzard Beach. Deemed as the second most visited water park in the world this attraction opened in April 1995 and boasts of Mouth Gushmore and its three colored slopes. While here, do not forget to let the family experience The Chairlift Ride, Tike’s Peak and the stunning Melt-Away Bay.After exploring the main theme parks, it is now time for any guest to venture into the two water parks in Disney, starting with Blizzard Beach. Deemed as the second most visited water park in the world this attraction opened in April 1995 and boasts of Mouth Gushmore and its three colored slopes. While here, do not forget to let the family experience The Chairlift Ride, Tike’s Peak and the stunning Melt-Away Bay.

disney world vacation rental homes

A perfect Disney themed bedroom for kids with mickey mouse design in one of the Disney World Rental Homes.

Opening its doors to world in June 1989, Typhoon Lagoon boasts of one of the largest outdoor wave pools in the world. Considered as the world’s most visited water park, Typhoon Lagoon is also home to Miss Tilly, a shrimp boat marooned at the Mount Mayday. Some of its top notch attractions include Sandy White Beach, Forgotten Grotto and Gang Plank Falls. Its mascot, Lagoona Gator, also gets its fair share of attention from theme park goers of any age.

Those who are clamoring for more physical activities while visiting Disney World in Orlando can always choose any of its five different golf courses for a game or two. A guest may either opt for any of the 18-hole courses or explore the attractions found at the Fantasia Gardens and Winter Summerland miniature golf courses.

Davenport, Bella Toscana #202541

Orlando, Florida Features Two Pga 18 Hole Championship Golf Courses at Davenport Bella Toscana rental #202541.

Apart from the major attractions, vacationers will also enjoy a visit to the World Disney World Speedway where people can get to experience the Indy Racing experience. While there, guest might as well pay Downtown Disney a visit, an outdoor shopping, entertainment and dining complex found inside the grounds of Walt Disney World Resort.

Most critical: Reviews from your guests!

ReviewsI am stating this as a personal opinion but I really do believe that reviews and testimonials are the most important details you can provide about your vacation rental (besides the basic information on where, what, how big and how much). If you are anything like me, after finding a list of accommodation choices, gear choices or recipe choices, I go through the reviews and find out what others think about this. So whether I am reading about the actual experience of someone using the “luxury kitchen” in a vacation rental, the “sleeping bag that keeps you warm to -10C” or the “easiest-ever apple pie”, I find that the most authentic validation comes from people who have tried it out.

I understand that some skeptics question the truthfulness and true origin of (positive) reviews. However, I believe that website technology has advanced enough to ensure that these reports are from genuine customers.

What is your approach to testimonials and reviews? How important are they in your purchase decisions?

This article gives a great overview on how to consolidate and encourage reviews of your vacation rentals.

5 items to add to your bucket list

Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.

A very famous writer once said that life is either one daring adventure or nothing at all. After all, we only live once and life is too short to waste every minute of it whining, pining, and wondering what it would be like to do it all over again. It is a must that we hold the reigns of our lives and that we seize each day by savoring every moment of it and turning what you would expect to be a boring and run off the mill day into something worthy of a Time Magazine cover.

Creating your own bucket list and doing everything within your power to realize and achieve each of the items on your list will prove to be a very worthwhile ambition for your life. Fill your list with one daring adventure after another, as well as with things and items that you always meant to do but never found the time. Stick to your list and make sure to find the time to tick each of them off one by one.

A bucket list may vary from person to person, but the basic things that normally land on anyone’s list include going on an adventure of a lifetime, traveling around uncharted territories and challenging yourself to new experiences. Depending on a person’s interests, background and priorities in life, other things that may be included in one’s bucket list may also include learning a new skill, doing something charitable, joining a well known sporting event or improving one’s lifestyle.

Here are a few of the things you might want to consider when drafting your very first bucket list:

See as much of the world as you can – There are just so many beautiful things in the world to see, feel and experience so make sure that you travel as much as you can in your life. It might be quite a lofty goal to aim to see every country in the world, but you can probably settle on visiting a country or two in each of the continents. Marvel at the special beauty of Asia and fall in love with Thailand, explore the ancient and timeless pyramids in Egypt, or frolic on the beautiful beaches of the Caribbean.

Cabarete, Dominican Republic #64591

A beautiful waterfront property in Cabarete Dominican Republic, Caribbean, that showcases magnificent view of the Bay of Cabarete from all rooms and terraces.

Learn a second or a third language – Traveling to France or Spain will be all the more pleasurable if you know how to speak French and Spanish, but whether you intend to travel the world or not, learning a foreign language will prove to be very beneficial. It sure is a thrill to learn how to speak in another language and speak to locals with confidence. The skill will also come handy should you plan to switch careers and apply as an interpreter.

South Coast of France, France

Travel to the South Coast of France and immerse in their language and culture.

Live a healthier life – Much has been said about taking care of one’s health and doing so will allow us to enjoy life a little bit longer without the worry of being sick, being indisposed and without the hassle of having to take medications. There are so many things you can do, should you decide to finally lead a healthier lifestyle. You can join a number of healthy activities like running, attending a yoga class or going to the gym to help you with your daily exercise routine. Apart from engaging in physical activities to help you reduce or maintain your ideal weight, you can also learn healthier recipes to cook and prepare at home to jump start you healthy eating. If you can afford it, going on trips to help you enhance your well being and over all wellness, like enjoying the hot springs of Japan, for example, will also be a good idea.

Kyoto Honshu Japan ID 201666

Here’s a perfect lodging if you decide to head to Japan. This is found in Kyoto and it’s a traditional Japanese townhouse which is near temples, restaurants and shrines. Click here to find out more.

Engage in extreme sports – Be daring and be bold in life, remember you only live once. Put your fear aside and be ready to push yourself to the limits. If you did not have the courage to try any exhilarating or adventurous sport in the past, now is probably the right time to do so. The adrenalin rush from skydiving, white water rafting, or skiing in Canada, will be worth every tinge of fear.

Radium Hot Springs, BC #107930

Snowmobiling on some back country trails outside Radium Hot Springs. #107930

Do something new whenever you can – Life will be so much more exciting if you make it a point to do something you have never done before to keep things interesting and fresh. You can try couch surfing so you can afford to travel to different top destinations like Italy or Jamaica with a limited budget, or you can try volunteering and experience how rewarding it is to do service to those who are in need. Keeping a garden, apart from giving you fresh and organic fruits, will also prove to be relaxing and therapeutic.

“Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before”
~ Dalai Lama

Industry Outlook

We have done the research for you!

Vacation Rental Industry Outlook

Interested in reading up on developments in the vacation rental industry? Consider the following sources and reports:

Private Vacation Rentals on the Rise (especially luxury accommodation).

2013 Review and 2014 Industry Outlook (with lots more links to yet more sources!).

Quarter 1 of 2014 VRMA report (including growth and regulation).

And … one of the most useful ones with the best visuals, this infographic from Netamatix. Did you know that 83% of users are likely to inquire about a property with 20 or more pictures? Let’s just say “We told you so!” while referringto our most recent newsletter:

newsletter pic

Travel more!

I was reminded of this video the other day. I know it’s been around for a few years now but it still motivates me to want to get out and travel the world!

I have learned that Rick Mereki and two friends traveled for 44 days to 11 countries to make this awesome movie. They were equipped with two cameras, traveled over 38,000 miles and flew 18 times. After their travels, they brought home almost 1 terabyte of raw video footage and managed to edit it down into an amazing selection.

After watching this countless times, I am yet again inspired. There are so many great places to see in this large world of ours.  Now the only question is, where to next?

“Travel: the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”

More pets, more guests!

Dog FriendlyIt really works: Yes to Fido means Yes to $$$!

The fact that pet owners often encounter obstacles vacationing with their pets while staying in hotels or resorts means that you can gain a huge advantage by accepting pets into your vacation rental.

Consider the numbers: 62% of US households (as an example) include at least one pet. That’s 83.3 million dogs in the US alone. More people than ever travel with pets (about 30 million people per year in the US) and are looking for pet-friendly arrangements. This infographic gives a good overview of the trends.

We do understand that there are some issues to consider and manage. Some people have allergies; however, this apparently only affects less than 10% of the US population and even people with allergies might still consider renting your pet-friendly property after it has been cleaned. Cleaning could take a bit longer and cost a bit more.

Now consider that you can greatly increase your bookings, especially off-season time periods, and attract a lot more guests to your property. It has been estimated that your occupancy will increase by 10 to 50% by accepting dogs, and by charging a bit of extra per night for a pet you instantly collect the money for carpet cleaning should it be necessary.

The benefits and extra income you gain from accepting pets in your property will outweigh those drawbacks. Just one extra booking will probably make up for the additional cleaning expenses, and any wear and tear can be minimized by communicating “pet rules” such as no pets on furniture, no leaving pets alone in the house or strict pick-up rules for outside areas. Pet owners are typically very grateful that they can share their vacation time with all parts of the family, including their pets, and will be considerate and appreciative.

Best motorcycle routes in the West

head-out-on-highwaySummer definitely brings out the motorcycle enthusiasts and they are very passionate about which routes offer the most for their rides. I learned this little fact while at a recent barbeque where I overheard a group of my friends getting louder and louder; their debate was where the best motorcycle routes were and where to stay.

One of my friends described his favorite ride as being along highway 19A on Vancouver Island, Canada. He specifically mentioned the stretch of highway from Nanaimo to Campbell River, located on the North end of the island. He felt it offered some of the most beautiful views and most importantly, there was hardly any traffic. His favorite part of this particular ride? “On my way back to Nanaimo, there’s a wicked ice cream stand in Bowser.”

Nanaimo, BC motorcycle route

The great room faces the Georgia Strait. Unit ID 208342

One of my personal favorite motorcycle routes is along the coastline on Chuckanut Drive, Route 11, in Washington State. It is absolutely stunning, especially if you’re the passenger since the road is extremely twisty and narrow. If you want to be off-the-beaten-path and away-from-the-mundane I-5 freeway, then take this short drive and step back in time. There are plenty of pullouts to stop to enjoy the view overlooking the San Juan Islands. You will pass limestone cliffs, waterfalls and ride over beautiful bridges covered in moss. And you could even continue on down the coastline and make your way to Oregon and down into California.

Washington motorcycle route

Gorgeous sunset from Unit ID 203533′s deck

A couple of my friends who are diehard tour bike lovers said one of their favorite rides is their Hot Springs trip. Having done this trip at various times throughout the year, in their opinion the best time to go is mid-September. School is back on, there is less traffic on the roads, and the temperature has cooled down enough but it is not too cold. They like to follow Hwy 6, from Vernon, BC, passing through Cherryville, taking the 10 minute ride on the inland ferry across the Upper Arrow Lake and stop and camp at the Nakusp Hot Springs. The next leg of their trip is to cross over into Washington, then pass through the top part of Idaho, next over into Montana and then after 9 hours, finally reaching their destination of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Did I mention they were diehards?!

Idaho motorcyle route

Old Schoolhouse – Unit ID 20779

Lava Hot Springs motorcycle route

World famous Lava Hot Springs!

 

 

While these are just a few of the many, many, yes, MANY rides that were shared with me, I could keep going on and on with all the great routes that my ‘two wheeled’ friends rave about.

Ultimately, I think Ernest Hemingway said it best: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

If you have a great motorcycle route to share or plan on taking, we would love to hear about it!

The great (vacation rental) outdoors!

Victoria, BC #204148

Victoria, BC, Canada – ID 204148

Love a sizzling BBQ on the patio? A soak in the sun in comfy lawn chairs in the backyard? So do your guests.

Often overlooked, the outdoor area of your vacation rental is a big selling point and can be the deciding factor for a guest when choosing a rental. Depending on the location of your vacation home, guests might be looking for that private hot tub on the balcony of a ski property or the clean pool outside a summer rental.

Here is what we recommend:

  • Include high resolution pictures of the outdoor area of your rental in your property listing. Guests want to imagine relaxing or playing there!
  • Show the main features, such as a BBQ, pool, lawn area, outdoor furniture, kids play area, maybe even a glass of wine on the table or hiking trails on the property. Offer everything that makes your property unique.
  • Photograph (or describe) the outdoor area at different times of the day, for example when it is used for a big family breakfast, a shaded retreat on a hot day or at night star gazing.

Once you have set up and promoted the outdoor area of your vacation home, consider the tips in this article to keep it clean and welcoming. Details such as candles and lighting can make a big difference!

As always, we invite you to share your experiences and recommendations here!

5 tips to travel light and organized

It sure is quite a hassle to carry those oh-so-big bags and carry-on’s while traveling. You don’t realize it when you pack them, but you will have a better travelling experience without those heavy bags, whether you travel to one destination or multiple. Yes, I know it is rather exciting to pack for your next travel adventure and sometimes, we cannot help but go overboard. The most experienced travelers will tell you that it is so much more convenient, not to mention smart, to bring only the essentials and travel light whenever you go out of town.

Here are a few travel packing do’s and dont’s that I bear in mind every time I have to pack for our family vacation. Mind you, the rules never change whether we are going away for a quick getaway or a week-long trip to a far-off place. Read on to learn something you might find useful for your next trip.

Flipflops pack small and light!

Flipflops pack small and light!

  1. Love ‘em flip flops. These lightweight shoes are such space savers in your luggage and the ideal choice for travelers. In most areas, they are fashionable enough that you can wear them either with casual beach attire or with some nice dresses and slacks. Beautiful accessories will complete the look. These days, slightly more substantial light shoes such as Sanuk or Tom’s are available that are just as thin and easy to pack.
  2. Keep things organized in resealable bags

    Keep things organized in resealable bags

    Re-sealable bags do the trick. If you aim to keep everything organized when you are travelling alone or with your family, then those nifty re-sealable bags will be your best friend. These bags make organizing your clothes, toiletries and other travel essentials easy as pie. If you are a mom with a number of children, you can neatly pack each of your brood’s stuff in separate bags so they can easily retrieve them later. Packing before going home is also easy with these clear and labeled bags. The newest addition to this are compressible clear bags that do not let the air bag in after it is squeezed out, therefore saving a lot of space.

  3. Encouraging bigger children to pack their own bags. It will be of much help if you let in the children on the packing chores. If they are bigger, you can even inspire them to bring their own backpack to travel. They can stuff it with items that might come in handy while you are aboard the plane or train, like a book or a plushy to keep them entertained, or packs of snacks in case they get hungry while on the road.
  4. Do not over-pack. Easier said than done, I know. It might be overwhelming to pack especially for a travel adventure you have been dreaming about for a long while. You might want to bring as many items as you can fit in your duffel bags. But, trust me, you will only end up having a hard time carrying those over-packed bags. So be smart and create a list of the stuff you really need to bring so you can be sure that you are only bringing the essentials. If possible, try to live off this lot for a few days to find out what you use and what you don’t use – Haven’t we all packed extra shirts or pants that we rarely wear at home but thought would be great while on vacation? Chances are if you don’t wear it at home, you won’t wear it on vacation. While you are at it, do not forget to include your camera, your mobile phone charger, vitamins and med for the kids and your wallet on the list.
  5. Make an itinerary. Once you are at your dream travel destination it is easy to get excited and eager to explore as many things as you can. It is best that you do your research in advance and create a list of the places to visit and the things to do when you get there. Being organized even while traveling will allow you to enjoy your vacation to the fullest – minus the stress and the headache.

Touching on the destination and activity trends …

If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to review the travel trends and predictions for 2014, and update your property listings and descriptions to reflect them.

Two of the more comprehensive reports are listed here. First off, Trip Advisor’s travel trends for 2014 give you a good idea about where people are planning on going, what their long term plans are and how much they are going to spend. For example, travelers from Europe and North America stated that they are going to spend less on vacations this year. With vacation homes being more affordable than hotel stays, especially for longer trips, now is a good time to incorporate this into your vacation home promotion.

Travelers also plan to take trips within their own country more, a great marketing approach to advertise your vacation home nationally.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

The results of the Summer 2014 survey, also by Trip Advisor, shows that 22% of US travelers are planning on renting a vacation home for their summer trip. That is great news! Further, respondents listed the following as the top activities:

  • Swimming / watersports – 49%
  • Visiting a historical event or sight – 49%
  • Going to a park or national park – 46%
  • Sightseeing tours – 46%

If your vacation home can cater to those activity needs, make sure your pictures and writeup reflect that. With a reported 66% of US travelers vacationing domestically, and Myrtle Beach topping the list of destinations for the summer, it is time to get those travelers booked into your beautiful vacation home!