Archive for the Category »Vacation Rentals «

  Hotel of the Week: Ever Dream of Renting a Villa in Italy? Here Are Some Highly Regarded Companies

I’ve had a half dozen friends and acquaintances ask me about renting a villa in Italy recently. Many were confused about where to even begin the task of finding a reputable rental company, or a high quality villa that would fit many people.

So, I called upon my friends at the Italian Tourism Board in New York! They enthusiastically recommended a few companies, and the properties look  UH-MA-ZING.

The first company is the Parker Company. The Parker Company rents certified villas all over Italy – From seaside properties on the Amalfi Coast and the Italian Riviera to villas and farmhouses in Tuscany and Umbria to lakeside accommodations on Lake Como & Lake Garda to apartments in Rome, Florence and Venice.  There are enough properties for every size group and different budgets.

Here is an example of a property -



Villa Montecristo in Chiusi, Tuscany. This home sleeps 12…. there is a nice review written about each property from former guests so you can gather more details.



During high peak season, (Mid-June-July) it rents for $8575… but in shoulder season May – beginning of June, you can get it for $5850!


Not only do they have some stylin’ villas, they can arrange tours where you  wine taste, see ceramic making, go truffle hunting or simply toss a pizza in mama’s kitchen.

Another recommended company with high-end villas is Papaverorentals. This company says it has a wide range of castles, farmhouses, cottages and apartments too. Some properties come with maid service, which is a very nice touch. The company is run by a third generation Italian-American, who knows some of the owners of the featured villas. Both companies offer help in trip planning.

Here is an example of a villa available through Papaverorentals -



Il Colegio in Siena…walking distance into town.


Mama Mia this looks incredible – it isn’t often you find something so contemporary in Italy – most of the time you will find old school design.


Il Colegio sleeps 12, and all the rooms are on one floor. This house comes with a maid, and a chef is available!!

It is pricey – high season May 31- Aug 29is $17,000 a week… Mid season/shoulder season the price drops to $12,900 a week.

I have rented villas in Italy before, and in other countries, and here are things you should remember:

1) There may be tourist tax added to the price – based on per person per night  – ask if children are exempt.

2) Try and be flexible with dates – not traveling in high season can save you thousands of dollars in a week.

3) Ask if there is a cleaning service who will clean before you arrive, and not the owners. I have walked into not-so-clean rental homes before.

4) If you have small children and are renting a property with a pool, ask if there is a pool cover. Also ask if there is a pool heater!

5) Be prepared to encounter new critters – We were once the first of the season to rent a villa in Tuscany, and the place was infested with scorpions, which are common out in the country! Make sure you are in touch with the rental company if something like that happens, although the locals we mentioned it to just laughed as if it were part of the la dolce vita ;)

And remember – the benefits are fantastic – the opportunity to live like a local, more space than a hotel, the opportunity to eat at home after shopping in a local market, and the ability to stay with a larger group in one place, for sometimes a cheaper stay than a nice hotel.

Have a great weekend.





  Living High End on the Down Low… Renting a Luxury Home

I admit. I was always a fan of staying in a hotel over renting a house. You moms can relate – no cooking or cleaning – can you say maid service and coffee in the lobby?

BUT I am now a convert. There are many advantages to renting a house for a family vacation.  More people in the high end market are doing so these days and the trend is catching on. You get a high end place.. but are potentially saving money.

For example, I stay at a friend’s home in Hawaii -and have seen more of Oahu than if I were staying in a cushy hotel right in Waikiki. Staying in a home encourages you to explore – get out of the commercial area, and uproot yourself from the pool. It is so easy to just never leave a resort.

Here is what I found to be the pros:

1) You generally get a lot more for your money – Sometimes the cost of a large house for one week matches the cost of one night at a five star hotel.

Check out these amazing Hawaiian rentals below – in the upscale Kahala neighborhood …unfortunately, you have to go to the sites to see the properties – but they are spectacular!

You can get a house that sleeps 10 for $1300 a week – just 2 1/2 blocks from the beach, and 10 minutes form Waikiki.  If you have multiple children, and get a suite or two rooms, your nice hotel total could be $1300 a NIGHT. If you share a large house with relatives or another family, your bill comes down even farther.

2) The experience is much more immersing. Living like  a local… and like I said, getting out beyond the commercial and touristy areas with souvenir shops and fast food.

In the Kahala neighborhood of Oahu, there are gorgeous homes, and the beach right there.

Most likely you will have a car or will rent one so you can get around.

3) You can spread out at the house more… with more privacy.

4) Sometimes the houses come with luxurious perks: pool,


surfboard, boogie boards, snorkeling gear,

a yard to yourself…

washing machines, and other things that you can’t get at a hotel.

5) It is cheaper on your food budget. Breakfast at home is easy with the kids… and way cheaper than eating in a hotel. Lunch too.

And it gives you more time to relax – you can sit and read a book during the time you would have spent waiting for your server to bring you your meal.

6) Finally, the last time I spoke with my house rental sources, they told me that the rental market is soft – lots of inventory even in places that typically rent out long before summer due to the economy. That means there are more opportunities for last minute rentals…. and finding a house in an area that is hard to usually find an availability. (Still waiting to confirm that is true and will update this.)

Here are some house rental sites:

In a place like Oahu, I would highly recommend it = there is so much to do on this island..having a home base is a nice thing to return to. Go for it. The world is your oyster.

Kahala Sunset