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More for Your Money: Managed rental models grow in popularity

Peer-to-peer vacation rentals can be a bargain but have downsides. Lodgings handled by professionals can be a good alternative.

April 28, 2012|By Myscha Theriault, McClatchy-Tribune News Service

No doubt about it: Peer-to-peer vacation rentals — that is, short-term rentals done through such sites as Airbnb or Wimdu — usually are a bargain. They enable you to save money by letting you dine in for a meal or two because most come with access to a kitchen.

But some are far away from the attractions that were the impetus for the vacation in the first place, which means getting there can cause the bargain to lose some luster. Further, some owners have found they are at risk: In a case that created plenty of social media buzz, one owner in San Francisco complained that her place had been trashed.

Because of these vagaries, more travelers increasingly are turning to managed rental models, which often afford protection that a place on Craigslist does not.

In Breckenridge, Colo., a private luxury lodge with Wyndham Vacation Rentals (www.wyndhamrentals.com) features six bedrooms and 61/2 baths and sleeps up to 20 people. For the randomly selected week of May 12-19, the tab came to a little more than $5,800. With taxes and fees, that total was $7,350 or, for 20 people, $367.50 a person for the week.

At EagleRidge Lodge in Steamboat Springs, Colo., another Wyndham venue, two adults and a child could stay for that same seven-day period in a studio with a bath for about $147 a night.

Wyndham describes itself as "the world's largest professionally managed vacation rentals business" and offers 95,000 rental properties in 500 places in the world. Plus, it notes, Wyndham works with owners to "ensure all rentals meet its standards for customer service, quality and comfort."

Vacation rentals like these often come with hotel-style housecleaning services, toiletries, Wi-Fi and transportation shuttles. Sometimes they also include things such as complimentary wine, firewood, postcards and warm cookies at the bottom of the ski slopes in the afternoon.

Some also offer resort credits, which may allow you to take advantage of restaurants or spa visits at reduced rates.

Whether you're planning a family reunion, destination wedding, writer retreat or corporate getaway, a vacation rental can play a huge role in reducing stress and controlling costs. Catered meals may be available, enabling you to treat guests to an enjoyable meal while keeping your budget in check.

Condos and cabins aren't the only vacation rental options. Motor homes are popular as well. Similarly, with companies such as Blakes Holiday Boating (www.blakes.co.uk), live-aboard canal boats can be rented while touring Britain.

Because motor homes and live-aboard boats come with kitchen access and transportation built in, you can visit multiple destinations without ever having to pack your cooler and suitcase.

travel@latimes.com

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