Thursday, May 31, 2012

Renting a Paris Apartment? Try these Dining Tips

Paris vacation rentals: Whether you eat in
or dine out, a great meal awaits you.

Food is the language of love in Paris. Paris vacation rentals offer visitors the chance to delve into one of the world's premiere cities in an intimate way and discover imaginative cuisine found nowhere else. While restaurants get 5-star billing (and deservedly so), you may be surprised by the sophistication of market vendors, who serve award-winning foods on the streets of Paris. So whether you eat in your Paris apartment or treat yourself to a night out at a restaurant, you're sure to enjoy a meal you'll never forget.

Finding Food in the rue Cler

The rue Cler is an open-air marketplace that captures the essence of Paris. With fruit and vegetable stalls, flower stalls, indoor cafes and a lot of sightseeing opportunities, it's no wonder this is one of the trendiest places in the city. Locals visit to collect everything needed to prepare meals from week to week and enjoy healthy eating with fresh, organic produce; La Maison du Jambon is considered one of the best delicatessens in Paris. A wide variety of meats, pastries, and even household items are available in rue Cler, making it a true one-stop shop.

Famous Restaurants in Paris

Le Meurice, L'Astrance, Huitrerie Regis, MacĂ©o, and ZeKitchen Galerie are considered some of the most popular and renowned restaurants in both Paris and the world at large. Each is located within walking distance from many Paris apartments for rent. Most evening meals range from 50–100 Euro per person, but may be as much as 200 Euro, which is highly competitive given the return. Most Parisian meals are a decadent affair, with sumptuous cuisine and several rounds of plates presented. Lunch menus offer an excellent opportunity to sample the delights at discounted rates, and most restaurants will provide a menu on their website or outside the dining room to help you stay within budget.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vacation Rentals and Healthy Eating--Dieting Tips for Your Next Trip

You'll look good in your swimsuit lying
at waters edge at your beachfront vacation rental.

If you're like a lot of people, a vacation can mean you come backed weighted down with more than just souvenirs. A week's worth of eating out, eating on the run, and snacking in the car or in the airport because you're bored is dangerous even for people who don't have a weight problem. And it's darn near deadly for someone trying to watch what they eat.

Staying in a vacation rental is a great way to win the battle of the travel bulge. You can stay in complete control of what you eat because you'll have a kitchen with everything you need to prepare meals and store your food. You can eat every dinner in, pack a lunch for when you're on the go, and start your day right with a breakfast of your choice (and not just what's on   the hotel or resort menu).

But you still have to travel to your destination, and the journey will be filled with temptations. The first thing to remember is to pack healthy, tasty snacks you can enjoy on the way. Whether you're driving or flying, you'll have countless opportunities to eat the wrong food. Bring low sugar and low fat cereal bars, diet drinks, water, fruit, small bags of pretzels, and beef jerky (though you should also watch your sodium intake with the last two). Another thing to keep in mind is that while you're driving or flying, you won't be expending many calories, so there's really no need to eat all that much. You'll be sitting in a car or airplane. If you eat a meal along the way, try to eat less than you normally do. You might feel a little hungry, but you'll feel better about it in the long run.

Another way to stay on top of what you eat is to track your caloric intake. Be sure to read food labels of everything you eat. If you have a smartphone, get an app such as MyFitnessPal. It can help you keep track of everything you eat. It acts as a food diary so you can avoid the pitfall of "unconscious eating."

When you get to your destination, leave time for shopping before you arrive. Most vacation rentals won't have spices, so go ahead and pick up the ones you'll need, along with any staples. If you're pressed for time, you might check with the property manager to see if there are any grocery delivery services in the area. If you start off with food to cook (as well as healthy snacks), you're more likely to eat healthy at the start of your vacation.

While you want to watch what you eat while on vacation, don't deny yourself completely. Allow yourself to indulge in a steak, chocolate cake, a favorite drink or two and other treats from time to time. You're on vacation, after all! Just be sure to stay on track to prevent a dangerous slide into unhealthy eating patterns.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Travel Like a Citizen of Ancient Rome (if you have the time)

If you're traveling to Europe, North Africa or the Middle East and really want to get a feel for the history of the region, check out a new tool from the geniuses at Stanford University. It's called Orbis [], and it lets you find routes, costs and travel time between destinations popular during the Roman Empire. That's right -- the Roman Empire. Between this fascinating new tool and vacation rentals along the way, you’ll have the historical trip of a lifetime.

Not only will you find locations important to the ancient Romans, you'll understand the travel difficulties they encountered. For example, a trip from Rome to Verona, Italy, takes a little over 4 hours today. A citizen of Rome traveling by horse relay would need nearly 3 days to make the same trip. Rome to London (Londinium) would take just over 9 days by horse relay. If you used a fast carriage, you'd need 22.5 days. Today, the trip takes about 19 hours by car. Both were calculated for travel in July, the best month for travel in the ancient world. In January, add a couple days for the trip to London. The trip to Verona stays about the same. (The weather in Italy is nicer in January, after all.)

The tool provides travel costs in denarii, the currency used in ancient Rome, and gives you various alternate routes that would have been used, such as sailing ship and river routes.

Formally called “The Stanford Geospastial Network Model of the Roman World,” it’s based on historical knowledge of the network of cities, roads, river routes and sea lanes used by the Romans. It reflects conditions that existed at about 200 CE. Orbis encompasses 751 sites and covers 4 million square miles and takes into account 14 different types of transportation (ox cart, horse relay, fully loaded mule, etc.).

A true history buff could plan an entire vacation around this remarkable and fascinating tool. It shows the location of long-forgotten Roman centers of commerce and industry. Or, you could use it for just part of your trip. Vacation rentals would be the perfect places to stay since you'd get a real feel for local customs and could immerse yourself in the history of the region.

With Orbis, you'll find hidden gems, new and interesting locations, and have a greater appreciation for both our modern world and the achievements of the ancient Romans.

Monday, May 21, 2012

3 Tips for Green Travel

From recycling and reducing, to biking and walking, people everywhere are taking steps to take responsibility for making the planet greener. Travel is no exception, and vacation rentals are one way people are traveling green.

1. Stay in a Vacation Rental. This is really one of the greenest ways you can travel. Vacation rentals are usually 2nd homes or vacation homes that don't get a lot of use by the owners. They most often in highly desirable vacation locations. By using a vacation rental, your making good use of an existing property , rather than adding capacity to a hotel or resort.

2. Take a Train. Rail travel is still an alternative in the United States. Most people who've taken a train cross country have enjoyed the experience. The tracks go through areas you'd never see on the road, and the slower pace is leisurely enough to make the journey enjoyable, yet fast enough to get you where you're going in a timely manner.

3. Stay Closer to Home. While a trip to a faraway island is certainly a necessity from time to time, you might try visiting areas within a one or two day drive of your home. With GPS and smartphones, it's easier than ever to travel by car. Yes, you'll be using gas, but in all likelihood you'll be using less energy overall.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Overseas Travel Up 13% in Early 2012

Overseas travel was up 13 percent during the first two months of 2012, when compared with the same time last year, accordion to the US Commerce Department's Office of Travel and Tourism.

Topping the list was Europe, up 9 percent with 1.1 million travelers. The Caribbean was a close second, with 1 million Americans slipping on a pair of flip flops for fun in the sun. That's a 14 percent increase from last year, a good indication that people are back to spending money on leisure travel.

Asia saw an 11 percent incrust, while Central America saw the biggest increase at 25 percent. 

Overall, US overseas travel outside of North America accounted for 47 percent of all trips. Travel to Mexico had a 41 percent share, while travel north to Canada accounted for 12 percent of all trips.

In another positive sign, the UN World Tourism Organization reports that occupancy in the hospitality sector in 2011 rose 2% in both Europe and the Americas, and overall showed improvement from the decreases of 2008-2009.  And international tourism worldwide saw 4.4% growth in 2011 over 2010.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

4 Tips for Budget Travel this Summer

Lake vacation rentals like this one in Maine
are affordable, fun and a great place to make
family memories.

Stay Off the Beach. When taking a seaside vacation, stay in a vacation rental a few blocks away from the beach rather than right on the beach. You'll still be close enough to walk and catch the ambiance of a beachside community without the higher prices. If being just steps from the ocean is a must, but don't want to pay high season prices, then travel after Labor Day, if possible. The weather will be just about the same as the last week of August, but you'll save as much as 50%, maybe even more, compared to August or July.

Drive Smart. If you're driving to your vacation rental, go the speed limit and save as much as 25% on your fuel costs. Avoid fast starts and accelerate gradually. Driving defensively not only keeps you from an accident, it will save gas over the course of your trip. Be sure to pack light as well. The more weight in the car, the more gas you'll burn. And if you're luggage spills up onto the roof, you might notice a 5% decrease in your fuel efficiency. Vacation rentals have washers and dryers, so keep extra clothes and gear to a minimum. If you don't already have it, get roadside assistance from a motor club, especially if you're traveling alone or with small children.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, lake rental
Theme Parks. Research the theme parks you'll be visiting and find out what kind of discounts you can take advantage of. Some offer seasonal specials on year-round passes that are sometimes discounted to as low as a single day rate. Avoid staying in the theme park lodgings. You're certain to pay more for less space and fewer options. With vacation rentals, you can often be quite close to the theme part, yet have your own kitchen, plenty of space, and lots of private amenities such as game rooms, pools and hot tubs. Plus, they're almost always cheaper than hotels when traveling with a group of more than two.

Buy Your Plane Tickets as Soon as Possible. Airfare gets more expensive the closer you get to your travel dates. Book as far in advance as possible. Air travel on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays usually costs less, and connecting flights are cheaper than non-stop flights. Packing light for air travel is also recommended, what with most airlines charging for extra luggage now.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Enter the $250 Perfect Places Photo Contest!

Announcing our newest contest--you can win a $250 VISA® Gift Card in the Perfect Places Vacation Photo Contest. Get all the details on our Facebook page. Enter as often as you like. The winner will be chose shortly after June 6. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Travelers and Owners Alike Can Benefit from Pinterest

Click to read aboutthis incredible photo.

Pinterest is now the third largest social media website, behind Facebook and Twitter. That's pretty good company. Pinterest is based on images. If there's a vacation rental, a wonderful view, an article of clothing, a craft project, piece of furniture or other image you want to share, you "pin it" on your Pinterest board and share it. You can also repin images pinned by other users. Think of Pinterest as a big blank refrigerator, where everyone pins images they want others to see (though it's much more organized than many refrigerators!). You organize your pins on "boards" based on anything you want. Most people create boards on specific subject areas, like "Fantastic Views," and then add images that fit the subject to the board.

Vacation rentals are perfect for Pinterest, whether you're a property manager or owner, or a traveler. Owners can feature their properties on their boards, as well as images from their surrounding area. You can build links into the images (it's easy), so that users can click and go right to a property page or to that cool new restaurant you want to tell them about.
Travelers can share images of places they'd like to stay, and even ask opinions of their fellow pinners. Many pinners are doing so to try to decide which rental to stay in.

Pinterest has a predominantly female user base. This may be because it got its start in fashion and crafts. Many women also make the "where to vacation" decisions for their families, so Pinterest is an easy way for them to gather, share and discover information.

Pinterest is one of the easiest social media sites to use. It takes just a few seconds to pin a photo and add a comment and link. You'll then be notified about who repins or likes your pins. Check out the Perfect Places Pinterest page for ideas.

Friday, May 4, 2012

5 New Arrivals, 5 Great Reasons to Travel


Today we're featuring five our newest properties located around the world and in the United States. The first is somewhat unusual, but beautiful and exciting. It's a 10 bedroom, 10 bath suite in Patan, Nepal. It's located in the Hotel Goodwill, just a few minutes walk from temples and stupas (mound-like structures containing Buddhist relics), as well as other cultural attractions. You'll also find a an outdoor swimming pool, large water slide, steam bath, sauna and a first class restaurant. It's fitting this property is on, since you'll quickly forget the cares and stress of your day-to-day life once you enter this wonderful suite.


In AndalucĂ­a, Spain, along with Costa del Sol, near Gibraltar, you'll find this brand new, luxury villa between Sotogrande and La Duquesa. It's elegantly furnished, including marble flooring throughout, a fully equipped, modern kitchen, leather sofas, a Jacuzzi and power showers. Three terraces offer a stunning view of Gibraltar and the African mountains across the Mediterranean that will stay with you long after you arrive home.  Of course, you'll have extensive beaches, swimming pools and plenty of entertainment close by.


 Halfway between Bologna and Ferrara, sits L'Orlandina in Galliera. It's one of the most beautiful and charming country villas in the region. Built in the 1800s, it's surrounded by its; own park and has been recently refurbished to provide guests with first-class comfort. There are two different units, Pastello (which can accommodate 12) and Mansarda (which can accommodate 4). The entire villa can accommodate 22 guests total, if you so desire. In addition to being located conveniently near the Bologna Fiera District, L'Orlandina has large, comfortable rooms, is fully air conditioned, has modern appliances, and a variety of antique furniture to make your stay authentic.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is a family-friendly and couples place or visit. This beachfront cottage sleeps 7 and offers lots of privacy (the beach is private!), lovely views, a hot tub, large open deck and other amenities to make your stay comfortable and memorable. Enjoy golf, kayaking, swimming and rafting in the Northumberland Strait.


On the peaceful shores of Lake Chatuge and enveloped by the scenic North Georgia mountains is Serenity Cove. In addition to all the peace and quite you want, you'll have a boat dock and ramp, hot tub, a fireplace, full kitchen and covered deck. Bring your own boat, or rent one when you get here. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book More Weeks with Great Photos

Light at dawn or sunset provides interesting
and memorable effects.

It's simple: great photos will get you more bookings and poor photos will cost you bookings. Photos are what draw travelers in. They can picture themselves by your pool or in your hot tub. They can clearly see a vacation rental that offers views and amenities that they don't have at home. Great photos enhance the value of your property, so you can charge more for rent, or at the very least stay a step ahead of the competition.

To get great photos, some property owners and managers believe they need a professional photographer. Others believe investing in a nice camera will do the trick. Both can be right, but both can be wrong. Not all professional photographers are created equal, and you can still take poor photos with even the most expensive camera.

Here are three tips on how to get great photos of your vacation rentals.

Don't trust the LCD. These displays, located on the back of digital cameras, show a small image. The photo will look much different on a computer screen. If you've hired a professional photographer, ask if he or she bring along a laptop to review the images as they're taken. That way, you can check their work as the photos are taken. This might cost more in terms of the photographer’s time, but the relatively small expense will be worth it in the long run. If you're taking your own photos, hold yourself to the same standard. Either have a laptop handy or view the photos on your computer as soon as possible.

This photo makes use of the Rule of Thirds.
Notice how the left pillow on the couch is close to
the intersection of straight lines drawn from top to bottom
and left to right. 
Use good composition. The most important composition technique you can use is called the Rule of Thirds. It's pretty much the first thing any aspiring professional photographer learns about, and is the basis for balanced and interesting photos. Basically, the Rule of Thirds says that for a visually appealing photo, you need to break the image down into thirds, horizontally and vertically. Imagine equidistant straight lines drawn across and up and down the image area of the photo. You can use your LCD screen to gauge how well you're following the Rule of Thirds. Just imagine the lines drawn across the screen. As you're framing the shot in your viewfinder, place important points of interest in the intersections or along the lines. Your photo will have more visual balance. Contrary to what your instincts may tell you, a viewer's eye does not go directly to the center of a photo when viewing. The eye naturally goes to one of the intersection points of the horizontal and vertical lines.

Another example of a setting with a lot to
look at, yet good composition balances the image
It's easy to put the Rule of Thirds into action. Before taking a photo, simply ask yourself two questions: What are the points of interest in this photo, and where am I placing them? If you're taking a photo of a whole room with a lot of items, try to decide what the most important feature is, or at least the most important group of features. For example, in a photo of a living room with a lovely fireplace, the fireplace may be the best point of interest.

Dawn or sunset provides the most unique lightEarly morning light, just after the sun has come up, is filled with soothing blue hues. Evening light, near sunset, is filled with vibrant reds. Either way, those times of day give you the most distinctive lighting. While afternoon light is great and should be used, you can get a unique effect by taking photos at dawn or dusk.

Take a look at the sunset photo at the top of this page. The infinity pool is beautiful any time of the day, but it takes on an otherworldly beauty at sunset, which the photographer captured. Now, the property manager or owner could have simply used a photo of the infinity pool, and that would have been good. But by watching for the right lighting and having a camera ready, a truly stunning and memorable image was captured.

Since photos are so vitally important to booking as many weeks as possible, it's worth spending time not just taking them, but improving them over time. While you may have hired a pro five years ago to take photos of your property, they may be outdated, or you may be able to get a better shot in different lighting.

One of the best investments you can make is in great photography of your property. However, spending a lot of money won't guarantee a great photo. Put these tips to work for you for the best results.