I’m happy to report that we had a fantastic experience at our VRBO-rented farmhouse in the Dordogne region of France last month. After a thorough and thoughtful search, we determined that the VRBO rental was our best option (see my post on How and Why to Use VRBO).
The decision to go this route was a bit controversial given that Ciao Bambino features a few outstanding rental agencies as partners on the website. I firmly believe that every vacation has unique requirements and you have to go with the best available option given needs and budget — in this case, VRBO was the right choice.
That said, I do want to reiterate that what made our rental work was the owner. She was amazing from start to finish. From her very first communication with me the owner provided comprehensive information about the property and went out of her way to answer every question (given what I do, I ask many more questions than the average very picky traveler). We understood the exact pros and cons (like no Internet access) of the property and made our decision accordingly.
Insight into our decision
We were working with a limited budget, but we also wanted a high quality rental. I always laughed when my clients over the years have asked me to find the most amenities for the least amount of money — here I was doing the exact same thing! At the end of the day, we had everything we needed to be comfortable including lovely outdoor seating areas (a priority for me), flat grass and a heated swimming pool (a priority for the kids), and a convenient location that was walking distance to an idyllic village.
One of the main advantages of a rental agency is that they can provide extensive local services. What we discovered in our due diligence an owner that would do that for us — she organized babysitters, a chef, additional housekeeping, and was happy to answer all of our “what to do in the area” questions. She was in the region at another property at the time, which made this all possible. I would say that if an owner is going to be in another region or country at the time of your rental, it is essential to understand who will serve as a local resource before confirming the booking.
I just wrote a comprehensive tips article for Peter Greenberg Worldwide on finding kid-friendly villa rentals. Be sure and read the article to understand key things to look for in a rental. One thing I’ll highlight here is that checking references is critical! Don’t be afraid to ask to speak with a family that has stayed at a property. If none are available, that is major red flag in my book.
Here’s a link to the VRBO listing for our fantastic rental. Stay tuned — the property will be part of the Ciao Bambino portfolio very soon!