Over the past few years, vacation rentals have become an increasingly popular accommodation choice among savvy travelers, including in the Park City area. Vacation rentals usually offer more space, privacy and flexibility than traditional hotels, not to mention a kitchen and laundry room to boot. In addition, vacation rentals are often less expensive than traditional hotels on a per guest basis.
If you opt to book a vacation rental instead of a hotel on your next vacation, it's important to ask certain questions that you wouldn't ask if you were booking a hotel. By doing a little homework, you'll hopefully find the perfect vacation rental for your getaway. Here is my list of the top ten questions that you should ask before booking a vacation rental:
What is the bed and bath configuration in each room? Lots of vacation rentals advertise that they can sleep a large number of guests, but where those guests are actually going to sleep is another matter. You should always know the following facts about a vacation rental's bedrooms before booking: (a) whether a given bedroom has a king, queen, double or twin bed; (b) whether the bedroom has an en suite bath; (c) where the bedroom is located in relation to the other bedrooms. You may not, for example, feel comfortable sharing a double bed with your spouse with no en suite bathroom while your infant is in a bedroom located several floors away from you. It's also important to get the details for any alternative sleeping accommodations, such as sofas and roll-away beds. For example, you might want to know whether a sofa is an actual sleeper sofa or if you will be expected to just crash on the couch college-style.
What amenities are provided? Vacation rentals increasingly offer amenities to make sure that your stay is comfortable and memorable. You may want to know whether toiletries, dish soap or laundry soap are being provided. If not, you may need to stop by the grocery store before checking in. Knowing whether a hair blow drier, bathrobe, pack-n-play or stroller is provided can also help you pack lighter.
How well is the kitchen equipped? I hate checking into a vacation rental only to discover that I've been provided with only one pot, pan and kitchen knife. Being able to cook delicious meals in your own kitchen is one of the greatest perks of staying in a vacation rental. Make sure that the vacation rental that you book has sufficient place settings and cookware for your stay. You should also ask about the other kitchen appliances, such as whether there is a dishwasher, coffee pot and blender.
Is there central heating and air conditioning? This one may seem obvious, but it's often overlooked. A comfortable house temperature can be the difference between a wonderful and a miserable mountain vacation.
Is there dedicated parking and how close is the vacation rental to Park City's public bus system? Parking in Park City is notoriously difficult. Some vacation rentals have no dedicated parking or a single parking space. You and your guests will spend your vacation searching for a place to park! Other vacation rentals have uncovered parking. You'll spend your vacation scraping ice off your windshield! Make sure that your vacation rental has plenty of dedicated, covered parking available during your stay. Park City also has a terrific free public bus. Before you book, make sure that you know whether the vacation rental is within walking distance of a bus stop.
What are the check-in procedures? You should always ask about the check-in procedure before booking. Do you need keys or is there a keyless entry system? Do you pick up the keys at the property manager's office or at the vacation rental? What about late-night arrivals and accidental lockouts? Although I think that keyless entry systems are awesome and solve most check-in problems, asking these key-related questions can solve a lot of problems.
Who do you contact if there are problems? Make sure you know who you should contact if there are any problems or emergencies. While many owners like to handle the rental bookings and maintenance themselves, we think that an on-call professional management company can be more responsive and offer the best guest experience. That's why we've chosen Kimberley Blocker of Vacation Rentals Park City to manage North Point Lodge. We think she's the best manager in Park City.
What is the cancellation policy? Before booking a vacation rental, make sure that you understand the cancellation policy and see it in writing. Enough said.
Is a security deposit required? If a security deposit is required, you should know how much is required, when it is due and when it will be refunded to you after your stay. Personally, I prefer it when property managers require me to purchase an inexpensive damage insurance policy in lieu of a security deposit. That way, my cash isn't tied up for months before my vacation and I don't have to haggle with the property manager about returning the security deposit.
Are there extra fees or taxes? You may wonder why vacation rentals often charge a separate cleaning fee. I won't go into the details here, but it has to do with what kind of income tax return schedules the owner files. Just make sure you know whether there is a cleaning fee and how much is charged so that you can calculate your total cost. Also, failure to comply with check-out procedures may also result in extra fees. You should also know about those so that you can avoid unnecessary costs. Because licensed vacation rentals are considered to be small hotels, motels and inns, they are often required to collect sales and lodging local taxes. You should factor that into the total price as well when booking a vacation rental.