The new wave of vacations and online resources for them is in finding vacation rental units such as homes, apartments, and condos. Many property owners have vacant units they’d like to rent out, but aren’t professionals in the business of advertising like hotels and resorts have become.
Yet for many who want a reality-based vacation in which they meet real locals, eat real local cuisine, and participate in actual local events, renting from (you guessed it) locals fits the bill. Rather than the usual made(up)-to-order, cookie-cutter vacation packages offered by big resorts and cruise lines, many would prefer a more down-to-earth vacation experience. Plus it’s often cheaper.
Since this phenomenon seems to be gaining a lot of attraction with the online vacation community and since resources to serve this community are popping up everywhere, a review of what’s available might be helpful.
We’ve chosen six of the most popular of these sites and are going to look at each of them to show their strengths and weaknesses as well as what those who’ve used them have to say about their service. There will be three in this review and three more in Part II along with a sum-up.
Owned by Homeaway.com (below), Cyberrentals.com offers rental properties using the Homeaway.com database. The site is not as slick or easily-used as Homeaway.com is. See below for more information.
This site is also owned by Homeaway.com (below) and uses their database. It’s not quite as slick or easily-used as the Homeaway.com site is and offers little to differentiate itself. See below for more information.
Of the sites on our list, Homeaway.com is definitely the most well-known in the vacation rental genre. This site is affiliated with the two above sites (Cyberrentals and Greatrentals) and one other (listed in Part II), but of the four is the more user-friendly. Since all four are owned by the same company and use the same database, our review here is the primary review for all four sites.
The Homeaway.com site is easy to use and has nice listing templates that give all the information you’ll need to decide of a place is right for you. Properties listed include all non-hotel/motel accommodations, so there are some resorts and similar places listed. The vast majority of the listings, however, are homes and condominiums. Searches can be made by availability, amenities, and, of course, location.
Overall, Homeaway.com is a nice site that’s easily navigated and straightforward for the user. It is, however, the most popular site online in this genre and because of that, many of the listings are not truly small vacation rentals. A quick run-through of searches in various popular destinations shows that a lot of them are professional resorts or multi-unit facilities. So be sure you know what you’re getting before you rent.
In Part II of this review, we’ll look at three more vacation rental sites and then give a summary along with our favorite of the group.