Florida Guide > Planning your Trip
Booking A Vacation Home For The First Time
Booking a Florida vacation home for the first time may feel quite daunting. Rest assured that the steps are simple and the whole experience is very easy, very personal and will give you the base for the vacation of a lifetime.
If you do feel apprehensive it may be because you are asking yourself a number of questions:
- Which home will we be staying in?
- Can we choose the home we like the most?
- The homes are so luxurious, are they too expensive for me?
- Is it safe to deal direct with the home owner?
- What is involved?
The next few paragraphs will answer these questions by giving you a feel for what to expect and how everything works. Most people are very pleasantly surprised when they find out how easy the process is.
Which Home Will You Stay In
This is the first pleasant surprise. All the vacation homes advertised on this website are unique. They each have their own style of decoration and differ in the type of facilities they offer. Some homes for example will include a Sony PS-2 or other electronic games console; some will have pool tables, foosball or air hockey. Most homes will have a private pool that is screened to keep the bugs out. Most pools can be heated during the cooler months. Some pools have spas or hot-tubs. Some homes include a PC for internet access; others even include high-speed wireless internet access at no extra charge, or how about free long-distance calls so that you can chat with your friends and relatives back home to let them know what a great time you are having.
The choice of home is yours and yours alone. When you book a vacation home; that is the home in which you are staying. The photos you see are up-to-date photos of the home itself. There is no such thing as ‘for illustration purposes only’ or ‘rooms may vary from the one shown’. One thing you don’t’ get with a vacation home is that nervous feeling that hotels bring as you wonder what your allocated room will be like.
So there is the answer to the first two questions. The home you will be staying in is the one you choose yourself as being perfect for your vacation. It isn’t chosen for you by someone in an office who knows nothing about you and your family. It isn’t allocated randomly by a computer. You have the first, only and final say. In short, the home you will be staying in is the one that is perfect for you.
Are the Homes Too Expensive?
The next pleasant surprise you get is realising what excellent value for money a Florida vacation home represents when compared to other alternatives. One of the advantages of the vacation home is that the price you see is the price for the whole home, not per room. Where you may previously have been booking two, three or even more rooms for your family you now have only one vacation home. On top of this many homes already include features and facilities like wireless high-speed internet or long distance phone calls that might otherwise end up costing a small fortune.
How can this be possible? The answer is simpler than you might think. When you rent a vacation home you are dealing directly with the home owner. There are no middle men, no booking agents, no tour operators and no travel companies all looking to add their profit margin onto the costs. It’s just you, and the owner.
To see for yourself, take a look at some of the homes and then divide the weekly rates by the number of bedrooms to get a feel for the excellent value they represent.
As we’ve just mentioned dealing directly with the home owner this brings us neatly to our next question.
Is It Safe To Deal Direct With The Home Owner?
It’s a very valid question to ask. Should you trust a home owner who you have never met and may only have spoken to by email or telephone? How safe is your money?
The first thing to realise is that the trust is a two-way thing. You have to trust the owner with a couple of thousand dollars of your money, but at the same time the owner has to trust you with maybe a half million dollars of their vacation home. It’s a sobering thought!
To add an additional level of security this website employs a ‘Verified Home’ system. Every home listed on the site must be verified every six months to prove that the owner advertising the home really is the owner who owns the home.
If these safeguards still leave you feeling nervous, ask the owner to give you a call. We are all more than happy to talk about our homes (most homes are their owners’ pride and joy), vacations and Florida in general. If you do take the time to talk with the owner you might also be surprised at the amount of local knowledge you can pick-up to help make your vacation that extra bit special; a favourite show or restaurant, a short-cut to the theme parks, where best to view the fireworks, somewhere to visit aside from the mainstream attractions. We once had one of our guests refer to us as being just like a travel host, except we weren’t there; a kind of Ghost Host.
What Is Involved?
Once you have decided which home is right for you the first step is to contact the owner using the inquiry form on the website. The site will route your inquiry directly to the home owner. The owner will send you a personal reply where they confirm if your planned vacation dates are available, the cost of renting the home and any other details.
Most owners will quote separately for pool and spa heating but this will usually be the only extra. The extra cost for the pool and spa heating goes towards the energy costs involved keeping the pool warm.
When you then decide to go ahead and book the home, the owner will send you a booking form. Usually they will need you to complete a few simple details (your name, address and names of people staying in the home) and then mail or fax the form back. Along with the booking form most owners will need a deposit of a few hundred dollars to secure the booking for you. As soon as you have sent in a signed booking form and deposit the home is yours for those dates. It’s as simple as that.
The balance for the rental will usually become due 8-10 weeks before you arrive. Once the balance payment has cleared the owner will send you full details about the home; its full address, contact numbers (including the management company that will provide 24hr emergency cover), driving directions, alarm codes and, not forgetting, instructions for how to collect the keys.
At that point you are all set. All you have to do then is have an enjoyable trip down to Florida, pick-up the home’s keys, and be prepared for the vacation of a lifetime. Once you experience the freedom, space and facilities that these homes have to offer you will be hooked. You will never want to return to a cramped hotel room again.
Have a great vacation.
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