Monday, May 18, 2009
Paris vacation rentals can be tricky to navigate, but the payoff is huge. Whether you are on a budget traveler who cannot afford the double-whammy cost of hotels and restaurants, or a luxury traveler who wants seclusion and over-the-top grandeur, you'll get more space and privacy for your money by booking a rental property.
Convenience is probably the biggest advantage of a Paris vacation rental, you can come and go as you please and do what you like, when you like. An apartment rental is one of the most comfortable lodging options that can be availed for enjoying your vacation.
Besides more space and privacy, vacation rentals offer you a wide range of amenities without attacking your wallet. It's you and your family enjoying a Paris pied-a-terre, your favorite snack from the refrigerator when you want it. You can impress family and friends with your culinary talent when restaurants and dining out becomes mundane, not to mention less nutritious and way more costly!
Fatal Mistake #1 Reserving last minute
Paris is the #1 visited destination in the world. It is safe to assume that premium vacation apartments are booked months and sometimes even a year in advance during peak season. The saying, "The early bird gets the worm" is especially applicable here.
The longer you postpone your vacation rental booking, the tighter the selection and higher the risk of losing prime vacation rental apartments since there are a limited number of top notch vacation apartments in select Paris neighborhoods.
The highly coveted 2 bed/2 bath or 3 bedroom/ 2 bath in St.Germain des Pres or Le Marais are booked way in advance especially during peak season June, Easter, September, October, Christmas and New Ys week. It not unusual to book, a year or six months in advance to secure these favorable dates. Actually it is strongly recommended to book as far in ahead as possible.
Those who begin their quest two to three months prior to their arrival are considered last minute bookings which are traditionally difficult and it is extraordinarily time consuming to find a suitable vacation apartment. Do not depend on cancellations and postponements which are rare since owners do not look kindly at refunding deposits or rental monies applied. The only way to insure the vacation rental apartment of your dreams is to book far advance.
Fatal Mistake #2 Know your deal breakers
One of the best ways to ensure that you choose the Paris vacation rental that is best for you is by examining and vocalizing your vacation apartment wants and needs. A clear cut idea about the type of vacation apartment, amenities, and any special requirement is crucial to securing the correct vacation apartment for your lifestyle.
You will want to closely examine your vacation style, namely who you are traveling with or what the purpose of your vacation is. Who you are traveling with will most likely play a huge role in choosing a Paris vacation rental. The size of your traveling party will not only determine how big of a rental you need, it may also have an impact on the type of rental apartment you choose.
For instance, families on vacations together may be better suited in a townhouse or a private house, instead of a vacation apartment. What you want to get out of your vacation is another one of the many factors that you will want to take into consideration.
For instance, if you are booking a romantic getaway or a honeymoon, you may want to choose a vacation apartment with a romantic ambiance. Appearances have been known to create romance. You can easily tell if a Paris vacation rental is elegant and luxurious in nature by closely examining pictures.
What you will need to do, while staying in a vacation rental, is also important to consider. For instance, if you are taking an extended vacation, you may need to do laundry or you may wish to eat in your Paris vacation apartment, to reduce expenses. Since you are on vacation and should enjoy yourself, you will want to take the simplest approach possible.
For example, if you need to do laundry, make sure that your vacation rental comes equipped with a washer and dryer. To reduce the amount of time spent cleaning up, consider vacation rentals featuring a dishwasher.
While it is important that you focus on your vacation rental needs, it is also key that you spotlight items on your wish list. For instance, do you want to have a Paris vacation rental that features a swimming pool in the apartment (yes, they do exist), a sauna, cable television, or internet access?
If so, it is important that you request these desires and refrain from securing your reservation until you have weighed your deal breakers.
It is also important that you examine your wants in terms of location. Would you prefer to roll out of bed and be sandwiched by numerous bistros and cafes or would you prefer a quiet residential street,
In keeping with location, it is also important to examine what you want to do, while on your Paris vacation. This can help you choose the Paris vacation rental that is most convenient. For instance, if you are planning on walking everywhere than you want to be in an arrondissement that is close to all the attractions that interest you.
On the other hand, if you know that you will be utilizing the metro, map out the metro stops of the places that you want a visit and reserve an apartment that has a metro line with easy access to those locations.
If you are sensitive to noise, ask about the surrounding buildings. Is the vacation apartment next door or on top of bustling bar or restaurant? Is there a lot of street traffic on your block? This is the ideal
Unfortunately vacation apartment features that you deem essential might be irrelevant to the apartment, do not assume anything. Paris has a different standard of luxury, a different attitude towards life and most importantly a totally different culture.
Parisians do not even think about air conditioning. Most Americans cannot live without air conditioning.
Do you have allergies? If so, think twice about booking an apartment centuries old. Are you willing and able to trek up stairs or is an elevator essential? Are you claustrophobic than maybe a typical Parisian elevator is not for you.
The traditional elevators take a bit of getting use it is important to know this beforehand. Do not expect your booking agent or apartment owner to share these minute apartment details. It is your obligation to be an educated consumer and make sure that the vacation rental will suit your lifestyle.
Should the bedrooms be located on opposite sides of the apartment or next to each other? Do you need airport transfers? Is a stocked refrigerator essential? How often do you want maid service?
When you rent a vacation apartment, you are on your own. Is your French strong enough to secure restaurant reservations and book day trips? Do you want to spend a couple of hours figuring out where the nearest market and metro is or would you like a bit of hand holding?
A professional concierge willing to offer his Parisian expertise may be ideal for you. It does not hurt to inquire with your agency or apartment owners. Not all agencies offer these additional services but it does not hurt to ask prior to booking your apartment. You maybe able to find an all in one agency that will cater to all your needs.
Fatal Mistake #3 Email is good but speaking to a human is better
First-time visitors have little idea of the scale of the Paris area and the quest for a vacation apartment can be more than a little daunting. It is made even more confusing by the vast choice of vacation rentals available and the lack of clear details on the location and apartment.
We know that this has resulted in some guests turning this into a job instead of an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the city and pick the brains of the agencies and owners. Look for agents and owners that will gladly answer all of your questions. Let them know that you have visited Paris since 1982 and pick their brains or what to expect in the different neighborhoods.
The pictures on the web sites usually present the vacation apartment very well but how recent are the photos? Many of the vacation rentals will have heavy wear since they are professional vacation apartments welcoming guests on a non-stop basis. While speaking with the owner or agency does not guarantee quality, yet it does give you the opportunity to ask if the photos on the site truly represent the condition of the vacation rental today.
I know there are many guests who never speak to anyone and solely rely on email correspondence when booking their vacation rental. Successful vacation apartment hunting has one primary tool, the telephone. When you are investing in an experience such as renting a vacation apartment, it is recommended to begin your dialogue with an email but make an attempt to get to know the apartment owner or agency that you are dealing with.
You can email agents and apartment owners, but you can not easily determine whether you like the person you aredealing with via typed messages. Gauge the responses of the agent or apartment owner, and trust your gut. If you feel like you are being pressured, you are. And if you don't like the person you're talking to, chances are you're not going to like the vacation apartments he/she represent. Trust your intuition.
If you don't get a good feeling, chances are the entire process will be thorny. If the customer service via phone and email is lacking, do you really think it is going to get exceedingly better when you arrive in Paris? Is it better to have a solid mid-range vacation apartment with an attentive and thorough agent or apartment owner or a fabulous vacation apartment with an apartment owner or agent with an attitude? Only you can make that call, but know beforehand, how you are willing to play.
It's strongly suggested to build a friendly rapport with your agency or apartment owner. You may need last minute assistance or a special favor and it's always easier to deal with someone that you like and likes you.