5 bargain summer rental spots
Vacationers looking for summer-rental deals have many choices this year.
With summer fast approaching, many travelers are looking to lock in a summer vacation rental -- and prices could be on their side.
According to a recent survey by review site TripAdvisor.com, 28% of travelers have already booked a vacation rental stay for 2010 as a money-saving strategy. Another 40% are considering it. That’s the same as last year at this time, but with the added wrinkle of 138,250 more homes on the rental market this summer over last, according to the National Association of Realtors' recently released 2010 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey.
With so many new homes available to rent -- and demand stable -- property owners must offer competitive rates to ensure booking, says Alexis del Belloy, a vice president and managing director of HomeAway’s U.S. group, whose sites also include VacationRentals.com and VRBO.com. More than half of the sites’ property owners have said they plan to be more flexible in pricing this year compared with previous years, with lower offered rates, extra discounts and an open mind to haggling, he says.
Vacation rentals in popular destinations fill up fast as the summer approaches. Consider these five locations where the listings are plentiful and the prices are a bargain compared with hotel room rates:
Orlando, Fla. If you don’t mind the sweltering summer weather, there are lots of options in Orlando and the surrounding areas, says Ian Ford, founder and chief executive of Undercover Tourist. “These types of rentals provide more space than most hotel rooms or suites, so for large families or multifamilies this would be the way to go,” he says. In fact, Orlando landed the No. 1 spot on hot destinations lists from rental sites TripAdvisor.com, AlwaysOnVacation.com and HomeAway.com. (Cut vacation costs further by looking for deals on amusement park tickets.)
- Sample deal: On AlwaysOnVacation.com, owners of a one-bedroom timeshare in Lake Buena Vista are offering a 20% discount off the usual $800 weekly rental rate through the rest of the year.
Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe has destination appeal year round, but it’s especially packed in winter with an influx of skiers and other winter sport enthusiasts who flock there, del Belloy says. The summer rental markets along the California and Nevada shores, though robust, just can’t keep up. “Property owners there have become more savvy with the marketing, and more aggressive,” he says.
- Sample deal: On HomeAway.com, owners of a four-bedroom home have slashed the usual summer rates of $500 a night or $2,500 a week by up to 33% through Sept. 15.
Maui, Hawaii. Hawaii is a particularly good value as a vacation rental market because the cost savings compared with hotel rates can run into the thousands of dollars, says Bryan Saltzburg, general manager of new initiatives at TripAdvisor.com. By the site’s calculations, a family of four could save up to $2,030 on a weeklong trip to Maui, or up to $1,370 visiting Honolulu. Of course, you have to factor in the cost of getting there -- a round-trip ticket from Los Angeles ranges from roughly $500 to $900.
- Sample deal: On TripAdvisor.com, owners of a two-bedroom condo have dropped prices from $195 per night to $100, a discount of nearly 50%.
Provincetown, Mass. For a small Cape Cod beach town, there’s a big rental market of 500 properties, says del Belloy. It also ranks second in the site’s listing of summer destinations with the highest number of deals.
- Sample deal: On HomeAway.com, owners of a three-bedroom house are offering a $200 discount on the usual summer weekly rental rates of $1,775 to $2,075. The deal is good through Sept. 4.
Myrtle Beach, S.C. This popular beach town still has plenty of rentals, but as the summer nears, it could be overrun by vacationers displaced by the Gulf Coast oil spill. “Last year, you could pretty much call the day before and get a rental,” says Hope Robbins, marketing director for Booe Realty, which manages 215 rental properties in Myrtle Beach. The management company is offering similar discounts this year, including deals to stay seven nights for the price of five, and flat 20%-off promotions.
- Sample deal: On TripAdvisor.com, owners of a one-bedroom condo offer discounts of 15% to 25% lower than booking through the property’s management company. Summer rates start at $115 a night and $840 a week, depending on time of visit.
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Even those who don't like to shop are probably hitting the stores this month. Here's what to be on the lookout for and here's what to avoid.