Jet-setting around on vacation and living out of a suitcase may seem glamorous, but it gets old fast. There’s something special about crossing the threshold of a house — the kind of house you don’t usually live in — and making it “home” for a few days. Robert Milne, president of Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America — a company specializing in luxury house rentals — gave us some tips about making yourself at home while you’re on vacation.
What kind of folks usually go for rental houses?
Typically, our demographic, as you can probably imagine, is a family. But usually it’s more than just two adults. It’s the mom and dad and maybe the uncle or a friend, because renting gives people an opportunity to invite other friends or family that they might not otherwise.
What makes renting a house different from staying in a hotel?
I’m a perfect example of it, actually. [My family] rents vacation houses when we travel, and it’s funny how over the years different members of the family invited friends who we never would have thought of inviting if we were going to stay in a hotel. It’s like, even though we’re good friends, I’m not going to invite you to stay in a hotel with me — but it’s different when it is a house. Plus, if you invite your friend along, the cost splits amongst a lot of people and makes it a good value.
Sites like VRBO, Airbnb and HomeAway make it easy to rent houses. What makes your company different?
One of the bigger differences between the professionally managed properties versus houses managed by owners is that a lot of the owners don’t have the sophistication of software to make sure that double-bookings and other problems don’t happen. We came up with a “renter’s bill of rights” that we could stand behind as a company. It is a service pledge that promises high standards of customer service, real-time booking, accurate property portrayals and diverse properties with clean, regularly inspected units.
• DO: Ask questions beforehand.
“We had one guest who showed up at a vacation rental and brought all of their sheets and towels, and they were floored to learn that the house already had linens. I think a lot of it is doing your research and making sure that you find out what amenities there are, too.”
• DON’T: Obsess about work.
“I always remind guests that there is so much to do and see that they should avoid bringing too much work with them. In my experience, staying at a rental means it becomes your home away from home — many of our guests feel the same way.
Try Hilton Head, S.C.
Sure, there’s a lot of putting and “fore”-ing among Hilton Head’s numerous golf courses, but the island isn’t just for pastel polo shirts. Visitors can savor locally-sourced delicacies at the trendy Italian bistro, Vine, and get an extra treat when the chef breaks out his acoustic guitar. Lovers of the outdoors can test their balance skills on the gentle waters of Hilton Head with stand-up paddleboarding, or soar high over the low-country trees at ZipLine Hilton Head.