If you are planning on renting a cottage for your vacation in the summer, it's time to book now! This is particularly true if you have a large family and want a property sleeping more than eight people as the larger cottages book up early. But with thousands of cottage listings and so much to choose from, how can you make sure you are getting it right? These tips will help you find just the right one for your family.
Choose your location – start out by deciding where you want to go. This may sound obvious but is quite important if say, your dream is to go sea kayaking, and you find a great cottage on an inland lake, miles from any big body of water; or if you want to be within easy driving distance of stores and restaurants, and the cottage of your dreams is two hours from any semblance of civilization.
List your criteria – get the family together and brainstorm your 'must have', 'nice to have' and 'in your dreams' criteria. If you must have a dishwasher, satellite TV or internet connection, this may narrow your choice accordingly so consider what luxuries you would sacrifice if you find the perfect location. Establish what matters the most to your family and aim for that.
Set a budget – cottages come in all shapes and sizes and prices. From around $ 500 a week for a small cabin in a resort to upwards of $ 4000 per week in a luxury country home on one of the larger and more popular lakes. An average is around $ 1200 per week for which you should get up to 3 bedrooms and a bathroom. Expect to pay more for additional facilities in newer or renovated assets.
Save your favorites – there are so many cottage rental sites that if you do not keep a list of where you've seen the ones you like, you may never find them again. Create an Excel spreadsheet or Word table. Create columns for your criteria and a row for each cottage. Paste in the links to the cottages you are interested in and then you can add your comments in the criteria columns.
Write out a list of questions – before you call the owner or agency, write a list of questions you want to ask. If you are renting from an agency, ask to speak to the person who inspected the property.
Send your deposit promptly – once you have chosen your cottage, make sure you send your completed paperwork and deposit within the time allowed. You'll risk losing your reservation if your payment does not arrive on time. Expect to pay up to 50% of the total rate as a deposit so make sure you know what their cancellation policy is.
Take out insurance – a deposit may not be refundable unless the owner or agency is able to relet the period rented, so if you think you may change your mind, take out insurance. Some travel policies have a change-of-mind clause although expect to pay the total amount of rental upfront in order to qualify for a refund under this clause.
Private rental or rental agency? – A cottage rented from an agency should not cost you any more than one rented privately, and you have the benefit of knowing it has been inspected by an unbiased third party.
Booking early gives you a lot more choice and a greater chance of finding just the right cottage for your vacation. Happy Hunting!