Florida Guide > Planning your Trip
Booking A Vacation Home in Florida For The First Time
Many Americans, whilst fully aware of the possibilities of renting a stunning beachfront property or a log cabin in a beautiful mountain setting or national park, still remain unaware that the same luxury can be found in the heart of central Florida, right next to Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World.
Motel and hotel culture is deeply ingrained in most American travellers, but increasingly, more and more US vacationers are becoming aware of the amazing value for money, luxurious surroundings and the provision of “home from home” essentials that private vacation home rentals provide.
Folks who have never stayed in a privately owned Florida vacation home are often apprehensive about taking the first steps in booking this type of accommodation. I know we were when we first booked a vacation home two years ago. We asked ourselves hundreds of questions including:
- is it going to be very expensive?
- can we afford it ?
- how safe is our money when we are dealing with a private owner ?
- what is involved ?
We are pleased to say that the answers to these questions were very much what we wanted to hear !
This article attempts to walk you though the whole process, from beginning to end …
Finding A Vacation Home
Most vacation homes in Orlando / Kissimmee are within 20 minutes drive of Disney World and virtually all have their own private pools that can be optionally heated if required. The standard of accommodation in each vacation home whilst similar, does vary in what they offer, so it pays to have a good look around before settling on the one you'd like to rent.
As with all accommodation, there is a vacation home out there to suit every taste and every pocket, although naturally, you would expect to pay a higher price for a more sumptuous or better equipped home. But whatever you decide to rent, you can be assured of amazing value for money right across the board.
We chose a 3 bed, 2 bath vacation home in Indian Point. The pictures looked beautiful and the location was just perfect, as it was close to everything we needed.
Contact The Owners
Most vacation homes are privately owned and are rented out to guests by the owners to help cover their running costs. (Because they are keen to ensure you receive excellent value for money, they do not usually make a profit out of rentals).
You will find that renting a vacation home direct from the owners is by far the most economical way of doing things - if you've ever looked in travel agents brochures you will find vacation home prices being quoted that are often near double what the private owner will charge you for the same rental. The reason ~ you are cutting out the Middle Man !
Simply contact the owner direct either by email or telephone, and tell them the dates you will be travelling so they can check availability. If you can be flexible in your dates, tell the owner the earliest date you can arrive and the latest date you can depart. The owner will then advise availability of their vacation home and the rates for rental.
Please note that the further in advance you can book, the more chance you have of securing the exact vacation home and dates that are most convenient to you. Remember that guests from all over the world, (especially Europe) who have been aware of vacation home rentals for many years, often book many months, and sometimes even years in advance ! Make no mistake… these vacation homes are extremely popular and sought after !
How Much Does It Cost ?
Rental of a vacation home is normally quoted as a price per week in US $'s. The rate is for the use of the entire vacation home, and is not per person. Usually the owner will also quote you a price for pool heating should you request it. This is an optional extra which should be added to the normal rental rate.
The rental rates are also usually seasonal with Easter / Christmas / New Years and other major public holidays being the most expensive periods.
Have a look at some of the vacation homes on our website and you will soon get a feel for the kind of price you can expect to pay.
Making a Booking
To make a booking, the owner will require a completed Booking Form and Terms & Conditions of rental forms (which they will provide either in the mail, or on line for you to download) and a deposit to secure your chosen dates. This deposit will vary with the size of the vacation home you are interested in.
Upon receipt of this, the owner will send you a formal booking confirmation letter which forms the rental agreement between you and the owner.
One of our concerns was how safe our money was when we were sending it to someone we had never met. Rest assured, vacation home owners are very trustworthy people who are very approachable.
What clinched it for us was when the owner said that the trust was a two-way street ~ as they were letting someone they had never met stay in their extremely expensive Florida dream home !
Payment Of The Balance
The balance of the payment for the rental is usually payable 8-10 weeks before your arrival at the accommodation. At this time the owner will ask for a security bond to cover them for any breakages / damage / or missing items which may occur as a result of your occupancy. This will normally be returned to you within 21 days of you returning from your vacation, following a satisfactory inspection report by the local property manager.
Upon receipt of the balance, the owner will send you full details of how to find the vacation home, how to obtain the keys and any other important information they think you will require.
Enjoy Your Vacation!
That's it really …
The next step is simply to go on your vacation and really enjoy the freedom that staying in a privately owned vacation home affords you. Once you've stayed in one, you will be hooked and never want to return to a cramped hotel room again !
Perhaps the only other thing to add is that owners, whilst wanting you to enjoy a wonderful vacation experience, do insist that you and your party treat their home with care and respect at all times ~ in the same way that you would want the same from a visitor in your own home. After all, it’s just a common courtesy !
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