How To Rent A Villa For Less Than a Hotel Room

February 15, 2007 | By | Reply More
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Kona Hawaii Or, how we hit the villa rental jackpot in Hawaii!
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a vacation villa in a faraway paradise, now’s the time to realize your dreams (temporarily at least) by renting a villa instead of staying in a hotel room. The internet has thrown the doors wide open for finding wonderful villa rentals around the world. One winter, Clint and I went island hopping in Hawaii, staying exclusively in rented villas and condos. We found an absolute gem in Kona (on the Big Island) at the Hale O Pu’a Lani (don’t ask me to say it). We spent a glorious week dazzled by the direct ocean views and frolicking in the luxurious pool. Have a peek at their listing in (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Kona VillaDon’t be discouraged by the $10,000 per week listings you see in the major travel publications. We usually pay between $100 – $150 per night for terrific condos all over the world. Here’s the secret of finding the perfect vacation rental wherever you’re headed.

Kona Villa poolThere are two basic types of internet rental sites – by owner and by rental agency. If I’m comfortable with my knowledge of a destination, I head straight for the “by owner” sites. Let’s take a look at the best.

The sites I use most often are: Vacation Rentals by Owner ( – The premier ‘by owner’ website with thousands of listings worldwide, Vacation Rentals.Com with a convenient sort by price and number of bedrooms display, and Rentalo where you can also post your inquiry and compare offers. Sorting through the myriad of choices can be daunting, so you’ll want to get a big cup of coffee, a pad of paper and pencil, then settle down to preview lots of villa descriptions. Focus your search by asking yourself a few quantitative questions:

1. What part of the location do you want to be in? – Pull out the tourist maps and give it some thought.

2. How many bedrooms do you need? – When financially possible, we usually go for a 2 bdrm even though we only need one. The 2bdrm units tend to have much larger overall living areas and we use the extra bedroom to spread out our suitcases.

3. Do you want to be in a high rise or low rise building, a stand alone home, or perhaps a gated golf or marina community? If you want a resort feel for your vacation, head for the larger complexes. If you want to feel like you own a piece of paradise, go for the stand alone homes.

4. Set your target budget. You’ll find listings with per night, per week and per month quotes.

5. On your first pass look only at listings displaying an availability calendar – this will save lots of time sending off email’s to places already rented. As you go through the listings ask yourself: Can I picture myself living here? Is it my taste? Has the unit been recently updated? Does the owner use the unit themselves? – We’ve found units owned exclusively for rental my not be as well kept as units used by owners. Look for lots of pictures – carefully consider what’s being shown and what’s not. If there are no pictures of a bathroom or kitchen, be wary. Look carefully at pictures that show a mirrored wall – be sure you really have a good idea of how large the room is and you’re not being fooled by an illusion. Look for reviews from past renters.

Once you’ve narrowed down the choices, give extra attention to: Are utilities included? – usually they are. Is there air conditioning or heat? How about a telephone? Is there a cleaning fee? If you’re looking at a golf community, would you have golfing privileges? Trust me, if they don’t say they’re included, they’re not and you may not be able to play at the course your staying on.

Congratulations, the villa you desire is available. The questions aren’t quite over yet – here are some to get clarified before you send off a deposit. Is there a security deposit? How is the return of a security deposit handled – who does the inspection and when? TIP – I like to take a series of digital photos of the interior before departing so there won’t be any issues. Is there someone to call locally if there is a problem with the rental? What is the cancellation policy? Will you be able to pay by credit card? Make sure a Rental Agreement is provided before you send any money, read it carefully and resolve any questions or issues.

With a bit of advance research and planning you’ll have a wonderful villa vacation. And the best bonus we’ve had in renting villas is the number of terrific friends we’ve made by staying in homes rather than hotel rooms.

Category: Florida Travel Tips, Hawaii Travel Tips, Hotels, Inns, B&Bs, How To, Trip Planning