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Friday, February 23rd
Looking for the perfect vacation rental in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Belize, or Costa Rica? With over 44,000 homes spread across 35 U.S. states and several stunning destinations in Central America, Vacasa has you covered. However, if you're dreaming of a European getaway or a Caribbean paradise, you'll have to set your sights elsewhere. But hey, specialization can be a good thing, right? In theory, Vacasa focuses on what it knows best: delivering memorable vacations in the U.S.
Homeowner-focused property management
Vacasa's story began in 2009 after its founder struggled to find a trustworthy property manager for his vacation home. Determined to create a solution, Vacasa was born. Their local teams take care of the homes, aiming to "maximize revenue for homeowners." While this might not sound ideal for thrifty travelers, it does mean that Vacasa should have a laser focus on delivering excellent experiences for homeowners and guests alike.
Standard search and filter functions plus virtual tours
Vacasa's search functions are pretty standard. Simply type your desired location and travel dates into the search bar, and you're immediately presented with an overview of available properties, including average prices per night and essential information like occupancy. The filters allow you to customize your search based on preferences such as views, washer and dryer availability, and even whether the property is "snowbird friendly," or, in other words, available for long-term stays during the winter months. One standout feature of Vacasa is the ability to take virtual, 360-degree tours of their properties. This lets you get a feel for the space before committing to it.
Fees will make your heart sink
Vacasa's fees may raise an eyebrow or two. Vacasa charges property owners between 20% and 50% per booking, and those costs are inevitably passed on to you, the guest. The breakdown of fees isn't crystal clear, but brace yourself for a potentially hefty bill. For example, a 3-night booking in Maine costing $540 saw additional charges of $348.35, encompassing cleaning fees, a limited damage waiver, state taxes, and a booking fee. For a grand total of nearly $1,000, it's worth shopping around to see if other vacation rental services offer a more affordable option for your desired property.
Standardized cleaning guidelines in wake of COVID-19
What do you get for that hefty cleaning fee? Vacasa's Premium Clean program, launched after the outbreak of COVID-19, implements standardized cleaning guidelines based on CDC recommendations. According to their website, housekeepers are required to dedicate extra time to thorough cleaning, ensuring high-touch surfaces are disinfected. Employees who come into contact with someone with COVID-19 are barred from working. The pre-pandemic cleaning guidelines outlined on Vacasa's website were already pretty rigorous, too. We liked that the process is standardized so you should never have to wonder if your bedding was washed or if the hot tub was cleaned when staying in a Vacasa rental - it should be the same everywhere.
More lip service than customer service
Now, let's address the elephant in the room: whether Vacasa actually delivers on their promises. While Vacasa has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited since 2014, many customers have voiced their discontent with Vacasa's management - and we find many of the issues in these complaints unacceptable in the first place, whether or not Vacasa followed up with the customer afterwards.
Shockingly descriptive complaints
Such complaints range from slow responses to maintenance requests, to dirty properties, and, shockingly, heating issues due to unpaid propane bills. This review says it all: "For a $12k mansion rental for my daughter's wedding, it was very disappointing. The house was not maintained properly with broken screen doors and porch lights that didn't work. Dead animal smell upstairs and mold in the tile grout. There was an inch of dust on the fan blades and theater room tv didn't work. We paid over $1,600 in fees for cleaning and we didn't receive a clean house ourselves!"
Property management companies: less of a personal touch?
There have also been grumbles about unexpected fees and charges for other services without corresponding value: one disgruntled customer lost his wedding band at a property and was charged an extra fee for Vacasa to search for it, but was made to feel like he was low-priority and no empathy was expressed for his situation. It could be that property management companies may not be the best choice for vacation home rentals. When you communicate directly with the owners, they may feel a greater sense of ownership and accountability for your experience. We have the impression that Vacasa is run by individuals who dislike their jobs and are only in it for the paycheck. After all, what's one more unhappy customer among thousands when you're clocking out at 5pm anyway?
Flexibility for me, not for thee
Vacasa's return policy does not inspire faith, either. If you accidentally book or have a change of heart, you have a 24-hour window to cancel and receive a full refund. (However, this exemption doesn't apply to last-minute bookings made the day before your trip.) After those initial 24 hours, canceling within 30 days of check-in will only grant you a partial refund, leaving behind your booking fee and tax money. And in some states, you'll need to cancel a whopping 60 days in advance. It seems Vacasa expects flexibility from its guests but may not extend the same courtesy in return, given some customers reported their bookings were canceled last-minute with no explanation offered. Vacasa also did not offer to cover the difference for a replacement rental.
In summary, Vacasa offers a "just okay" selection of vacation rentals across most of the United States and Central America, but their customer reviews raise concerns about maintenance, cleanliness, and higher-than-appropriate fees for the quality of the service delivered. Their cancellation policies are more rigid than other services we have reviewed, earning Vacasa a lower-than-average ranking among vacation rental sites.
Are you tired of the same old hotel experience when you go on vacation? Do you crave something more unique and personalized, where you can truly feel at home even when you're away? If so, then vacation rentals might just be the perfect solution for you.
If you've ever stayed in a vacation rental property, you already know their charm and allure. Unlike traditional hotels, vacation rentals offer a level of comfort, privacy, and flexibility that is hard to match. These properties are often privately-owned homes or apartments that are rented out to travelers on a short-term basis.
Vacation home rentals come fully furnished and equipped with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, from kitchen cupboards full of cookware, to cozy living areas and comfortable bedrooms. It's like having a home away from home, complete with personal touches that reflect the unique style and taste of the owner.
One of the best things about vacation rentals is the sheer variety of options available. Whether you're planning a family reunion, a romantic getaway, or a solo adventure, you can find a vacation rental that fits your needs perfectly. Want to relax by the beach? There are countless beachfront properties waiting for you. Prefer a secluded cabin in the woods? You'll find plenty of those too. From urban lofts to countryside villas, there's something for everyone.
Unlike traditional hotels that are typically owned by large hotel chains or corporations, vacation rentals are often owned by individuals who use them as second homes or investment properties. These owners may be local residents or people from different parts of the world. Some vacation rentals are also owned by small property management companies or vacation rental agencies that handle the day-to-day operations on behalf of the owners. These agencies may handle tasks such as marketing, guest communication, and property maintenance.
How do you go about choosing the right vacation rental? That's where vacation rental websites come in. These platforms connect travelers with property owners, making it easy to browse and book the perfect vacation rental for your needs. Not all vacation rental websites are created equal, though. It doesn't matter how many properties they have if they don't offer good customer service or aren't responsive when you need assistance.
Here are some things to keep in mind when making your choice:
Ready for a vacay? To make it a breeze to find the perfect stay, Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated and ranked the best vacation rental websites currently on the market. We hope this information helps you find the perfect home-away-from home accommodations for your next trip, no matter where you want to go.
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