Finding the best property for you


Vacation rentals can offer the best of both worlds – deluxe accommodation with poolside pampering minus the crowds. So how do you find the best property for you? Concierge guru to the stars Anthony Samuels reveals all.

The old adage “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” has more than a hint of truth to it, with perhaps one notable exception – finding the perfect rental property. For visitors eyeing up the copious bounty of accommodation options, finding something to suit both taste and budget is unlikely to be an issue, with everything from super-size-me beachfront villas to concierge serviced apartments to choose from. Location and size may determine the price, but a property's home-spun attributes also figure highly in the pick ‘n mix equation. So how do you find the perfect home-from-home?

Start looking early – a year in advance isn’t too soon, particularly if you’re interested in peak season rentals over Xmas and New Year. Holidaymakers will often book the same house for the following year, so if you have your eye on a particular property, get your pitch in early.

Get online – review top ranking rental websites and get a feel for location choices, price points and property styles. The most helpful listings will not only provide ‘in depth’ details of the property, but additional information on the surrounding area, places of interest, recommended restaurants etc. Take time to view interior and exterior shots and scrutinise property descriptions to see what is provided by way of ‘extras’ – satellite TV, Jacuzzi bath, beach/sports equipment.

Choose your location wisely - consider the full implications of where you plan to stay. Beachfront locations tend to command a higher price and can be considerably hotter peak season than a less expensive hillside retreat with cooling breezes. Draw up a list of what’s important to you and flag up priorities when you talk to the agent or owner.

Consider agents versus owners – going through a reputable agency gives you an assurance of quality that the property has been vetted. Local agencies invariably have ‘hands on’ knowledge of homes on their books, enabling you to compare and contrast a variety of options in one fell swoop.

Make privacy and priority - you’ll need enough space so as not to disturb neighbours with your holiday revelry and enough privacy on the property so you and your guests can sneak off for a little quiet time. A separate lounge area or snug, as well as secluded spaces outdoors allow people to roam and relax away from the group.

Focus on facilities
Keeping your guests entertained, not to mention comfortable, is a given. In warmer climes - a fabulous pool and shady lounge areas will go a long way to making lazy days memorable. Stereo and entertainment systems, hot tubs, fireplaces, indoor and outdoor games for kids (and adults), also all contribute to an enhanced experience. Think daybeds and hammocks overlooking scenic views, glass of chilled rose in hand…

Check service levels – rent direct and you run the risk of not having a responsive owner during your stay. If a problem develops, they may be thousands of miles away and not equipped to help. Agents, by contrast, are primed and ready to handle most rental misdemeanours from faulty plumbing to leaky roofs. Chances are you won’t want to be the one churning out those chilled margaritas all day either. Your private and potentially out of the way rental property should nonetheless include the option for staff including a cleaner, while a private chef is all but necessary. Save the barbeque for another day and set yourself up with a top quality chef (sourced by the rental owners) for that special day.

Think outside the box - casting your net wider for holiday inspiration can pay dividends, especially if you’re considering a ‘dual location’ rental. Stephen Grant, MD of Worldwide Dream Villas based in Barbados (www.worldwidedreamvillas.com) says: “We have clients who who use the island as a stepping stone to explore other Caribbean hotspots such as St Barths, Antigua and Grenada. Rentals can work supremely well in this respect, with shorter stays easy to book and competitive prices into the bargain. Yacht charters can also be arranged for that extra night away five-star oomph.”

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