ARUBA - The benefits of choosing a rental home over a hotel for your vacation are endless.

From the home away from home atmosphere to additional perks like free bicycles, private pools and childcare options, vacation rentals offer travelers more luxury and space than they ever thought possible. However, vacation rentals and their amenities can vary from property to property and pricing can sometimes be changed on a whim if it is a privately owned property.

Before skipping out on a vacation rental all together, Matthew Smillie, owner of Aruba Villa Vacation Homes, suggests that travelers do their due diligence by contacting the property to ask what is included for the price.

"Reputable property management companies offer travelers more and typically have a satisfaction guarantee, while privately owned properties could leave travelers at their mercy," said Smillie, who specializes in Aruba golf vacation packages.

Smillie, who specializes in renting villas in Aruba, has put together a list of questions first-time vacation home renters should ask property managers or property owners before sending a deposit:

  1. Is there a rental agreement or security deposit required?
  2. Are there additional charges per guest if you have more than the allotted two to four people in your party?
  3. What are the dimensions of the rooms, and how does the house sleep the number of people it claims to sleep?
  4. Is there a cleaning fee? If not, what are we expected to clean before we leave?
  5. Do we pay in advance or at arrival? If in advance, can we get a refund if our plans change?
  6. Whom do I contact if something happens, like if the A/C needs repair or we have plumbing issues?
  7. Linens, towels and kitchenware - are these included?
  8. Get the specifics on location: does beachfront really mean a 10-minute commute? Find out what is nearby, like grocery stores and pharmacies.
  9. What amenities are included? Ask about the pool or spa, cable channels and access to Wi-Fi. Also ask if they offer Aruba Accommodation packages that will book you for restaurants, excursions and spa days.
  10. How many parking spaces are provided and where does overflow parking go?

If you or someone in your party has special needs, it is important to make the property owner or manager aware of this. If you need a wheelchair accessible home or a beach rental on the first floor, you need to ensure the home can accommodate you.

Feel free to ask them anything and everything that comes to your mind about vacation rentals, said the Aruba property manager. You want to be sure the company or person you are renting from is reliable and willing to respond to your inquiries quickly. If something were to go wrong or if you were unsatisfied for any reason, you want them to stand behind you and help you in any and every way they can. It's their job, after all.

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Posted on May 08, 2012