I had a stray thought the other day that I might look into finding a rental accommodation someplace warm this winter for a week. You know, white sands, cabanas, rum drinks, temps over 60. Someone once mentioned Destin, Florida as a good place, so I went to homeaway.com and checked it out. I looked at the map view and tried to pick a place on the beach. However, it seemed every place said “seven minute walk to the shore” (that’s a quarter mile!) even though the pictures of the property showed a beach view from what looked like a deck. The other choices were high rise condos. Right on the shore but you’re in a bee hive 5 stories up. Then there were the prices. $2-4,000+/week. Ouch! I can’t help but think there’s a SeaCat’s Rest of Florida somewhere I haven’t found. A clean, stylish, private two bedroom apartment on the Atlantic or Gulf coast (and I mean REALLY on the coast) for under $1,000/ week.
Then they have this annoying habit of adding extra charges. Cleaning fees. OK, I understand how each rental requires cleaning between guests (believe me, 5 hours), but why should this be an add-on? Is it optional? Could I rent without the cleaning fee if I were willing to wash the laundry, make the beds and scrub and vacuum all surfaces? This is absurd! Why should you lure me into this property and then start adding things which should be included in the quoted price?
Damage deposit. Many properties don’t even state the deposit amount in the description. You reserve and then they tell you. Ours is zero. As a renter, I have to trust that the property manager won’t invent some reason to keep some of my three or four-figure deposit. Is this really necessary? Am I Keith Richards*? I have never had a guest at SeaCat’s Rest who broke something and then didn’t offer to pay for it or even went out and bought a replacement without even troubling me with it. People who stay here are decent, maybe I’m spoiled. If Keith Richards stayed here I could sell the broken bits on ebay and recoup the damage. I’m not saying I will never be forced to ask for a damage deposit but so far so good.
Then there’s the coin laundry, detergent, parking and the charge for heating the pool. Nickels and dimes. Hey, if you’re on vacation do you really want to be constantly reminded of how much you’re spending? No, we don’t have a pool here, just the ocean. But if we did I would figure out a way to heat it without asking for extra. The laundry is free, detergent too. So is the heat, air conditioning, broadband, firewood and cable TV. That’s what a vacation is all about, relaxing and not having to worry about many quarters are in your pocket.
Lodging Tax. Look out, Florida’s is 11.5% compared to Maine’s 7%. So let’s see how the Florida vacation adds up:
- Lodging tax of 11.5%=$101.20
- Cleaning fee=$150 plus tax of $17.25= $167.25
- shore access– “short walk”
- Hidden fees? Security deposit holdbacks? Unknown
Here’s what a week in high season will cost you at SeaCat’s Rest:
- Lodgings tax of 7%= $61.60
- Cleaning fee= $0
- Shore access=100 feet
- Hidden fees and holdbacks= $0.00
Both rentals are the same list price on homeaway, but ours is $206.85 (+?) cheaper when you do the math, and a lot closer to the listed price. And no waiting for a week or more to find out if you get your deposit back.
Are you being nickeled and dimed by your other vacation rental choices? Do the math and read the reviews, you may be the victim of creative pricing! Now if only we could get 80° in January on the Maine coast.
*See Rolling Stone Keith Richards trash his hotel room in this video.