Many travelers like the idea of feeling at home while on vacation. While hotels can be prefect for those short trips for a night or two, if you want to stay longer, a vacation rental can allow you to do so. Renting a vacation home is not as cut and dry as a hotel when it comes to surveying the bill. A hotel might have one flat rate for the night, which includes breakfast or Wi-Fi. However, figuring out why your vacation rental costs what it does is not as easy. If you are considering renting out a luxurious villa in Mexico or that mountain cabin in Montana for your next vacation, be sure you consider these eight costs when opening up your wallet to pay the bill.
Vacation rentals aren’t terribly different from hotels in terms of their costs depending on the season in which you are renting. Just as a hotel might have a higher price tag in the summer, the same can occur with a vacation home. You might have to pay more for a rental in high season than you would in the dead of winter. Seasonal up-charges are important to be aware of, especially if you want more luxury for less. You can consider renting that vacation home you are eyeing when it isn’t the high season. The property owner or booking site might slash the weekly rate in half compared to the high season price tag.
2. Booking Fees
Depending on the vacation rental, you might see a booking fee attached to your bill. Some properties will charge a booking fee to cover the costs of the reservation process. For example, if you pay by bank transfer or PayPal, the property might be losing a certain percentage to fees. Many vacation rentals will merely add this percentage on to the rate by way of a booking fee. Booking fees can vary depending on the overall cost of the rental. For example, a $18,000 weekly property might have a much larger booking fee than a space that runs at about $2,000 for the week. Booking fees tend to amount to any out of pocket expense the owner has to pay in regards to the reservation process. Some properties separate out this fee so you see it in addition to the rate while others merely include it in the overall cost of the rental.
3. Space and Capacity
Just as a hotel can charge more based on how many people will be staying in the room, a vacation rental tends to work in the same fashion. The more space a property has, the price tend to rise. Obviously if your vacation rental accommodates a large number of people, the cost can be higher. The more space and people you can have will drive up the price. Of course, if you are booking a place to accommodate 20 people for something like a bachelorette party, the cost can be rationalized as it its spit between dozens of people.
If you are shopping for a luxury vacation rental, you might be looking for one that includes a private chef or dining services onsite. If a rental includes any meals, that extra amenity is almost always factored directly into the price. Just like hotels that include breakfast in the room rate, vacation rentals that include dining services will be higher than those that don’t. You might find vacation rentals with a private chef, preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner for your party. The overall cost will be different from a property with more stand-alone services such as an on-site kitchen where you can prepare your own meals. Travelers should weigh the pros and cons of going with a rental that includes meals versus those that don’t. The difference in price might not be as great as you think.
5. Cleaning Fees
Vacation rentals differ greatly from hotels in terms of housekeeping services. If you are renting a private home for a week, one without anyone on site to assist with daily needs, you most likely are picking up and cleaning after yourself. At the end of the rental period, the property owner might charge you a cleaning fee, separate from the cost of the rental. For example, I rented an apartment in Sicily for a few days and was promptly charged a cleaning fee on top of my rental rate. Higher end vacation rentals don’t tend to have a separate cleaning fees but rather that fee is built into the price. If you are paying top dollar, be sure that your property isn’t making you pay a cleaning fee or giving you detailed instructions on how to leave the property when you depart. You shouldn’t have to do the cleaning if you are paying a large price tag.
The more amenities your vacation rental has, the more the price can escalate. If you select a property with Wi-Fi, a pool, butler services, a spa, gym or even a home theater, the price might be reflecting its large selection of amenities. Having an on-site staff to assist you can also produce a more pricey vacation rental. Any sort of high-tech modern comforts will make for a more expensive vacation rental as well. It is important to decide what amenities are important to you and what aren’t in a vacation rental. This will help you weed out the properties with extravagant amenities that you might never use yet you are paying for in the process.
Ideally located vacation rentals tend to be what most travelers are looking for on their travels. Properties with direct beach access perched up on cliffs or right in the thick of world class cities tend to mean more money for the traveler. Also, depending on the country or state you are trying to rent, the price can fluctuate. Location is one of the most important elements to your vacation rental and it can also dictate the price you pay. It is always best to do a price comparison of several vacation rentals in the area to make certain that you are exactly where you want to be and at the right, reasonable price.
When I rented an apartment in Florence, Italy, the vacation rental charged me each month for my utilities. This charge was calculated based on my usage at the property. Some vacation rentals might separate out your utility charge in this fashion, calculating the cost based on how much you use. Others will merely tack this on to the rate. However, it is important to know that a vacation rental has to cover the costs of your stay in terms of electricity, water and gas. Before you count out properties because they are pricey, you have to understand the breakdown of costs, including those charges you left back at your own home such as water and heat.
The costs of a vacation rental can seem high at first glance, especially when perusing luxury options. However, when you breakdown the separate costs that make up that nightly rate total, you might just discover what a great deal you have on your hands.
What costs surprised you on your vacation rental that you hadn’t considered before? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.