Tuesday, January 31, 2012

An Italian Vacation-A Trip You'll Never Forget

The beauty, old-world charm, elegance and accessibility of Italy are nearly unmatched. It's a wonderful destination for any tourist, no matter what your interest. There's so much to see and do--just one trip isn't enough. In fact, one blog post isn't enough to talk about all the wonders of Italy, so for today we'll focus on just two--Rome and the Amalfi Coast. As you plan your trip, be sure to keep vacation rentals in mind. Most people who go to Italy want to explore, and Italian vacation rentals are the best way to get to know Italy, up close and personal.

Rome

Luxury apartment at Trevi Fountain. Click to see this
beautiful vacation rental that accomodates
up to four people.
Rome's been called the "eternal city," perhaps because it's weathered more than its share of wars and politics. It's aged well and is one of the most impressive cities in the world. Even though Rome is a major international destination, you'll still be charmed by the local Italian hospitality. However, since Rome is one of the top cities in the world, it's also very expensive. But whether you stay two days or twenty, you're sure to find many things about Rome that you'll love. Just a few places to see in Rome: The Trevi Fountain, Vatican Museum and St. Peter's Square, the Colosseum and Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and much more.


Relax on your secluded terrace at this vacation rental
located in the lively Trastevere District.
A Rome vacation rental is a great way to feel the heartbeat of this magnificent city. You can enjoy the bustle of the city, but also take time to stroll through the Gardens of the Villa Borghese or join in on a Wednesday morning audience with the Pope at the Vatican. Then, enjoy delightful ice cream at San Crispino and photograph the city's beautiful piazzas. If you're looking for something more hip, be sure to check out the bars and restaurants at Il Pigneto. And don't forget to have a slice of authentic pizza (definitely not the Americanized version) along with a glass of wine.



Amalfi Coast

You'll have the sensation of overhanging the
beautiful blue sea on your private terrace. It
overlooks the entire Gulf of Serrento.
The Amalfi Coast offers breathtaking views of cliffs, crystal clear water, centuries-old folklore, and charming towns and villages built on the coastline's slopes. Spring or early autumn is a great time to visit the Amalfi Coast, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its incredible beauty and unique natural landscape. It's a combination of mountains and the sea, farm fields and fishing boats. You'll find hidden coves, deep fjords, natural arches, and small pebble beaches. The area is known as the land of the Sirens from Homer's "Odysseus." As you walk through the towns and travel about the countryside, you'll see dry stone terraces, inhale the scents of lemon groves, see vineyards, and enjoy some of the most scenic roads in the world. An Amalfi Coast vacation rental is the perfect home base for your adventures.

This private terrace overlooks the Gulf of Salerno and
has a panoramic view.
You'll find 13 picturesque towns along the coast. Vietri sul Mare is known for its ceramics. Cetara is a small fishing village that's become world famous for culinary delights. Ravello offers breathtaking views from 350 meters above sea level. Ravello has enchanted writers, actors, and artists for hundreds of years, including Gore Vidal, Boccaccio, Humphrey Bogart, DH Lawrence, Wagner and many more. The city of Amalfi was the first of four Maritime Republics in old Italy and is known for handmade paper. You could spend and endless amount of time exploring and enjoying this beautiful area.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ski Areas Reporting Snow


Photo: Squaw Valley

Quick ski and snowboarding update: The last few days have brought reports of snow at ski areas throughout the West. Lake Tahoe and Squaw Valley, Breckenridge and other Colorado locations all report major storms rolling through and leaving a significant amount of powder. 

Since the bases are building and the temperatures show we're in the middle of winter, now's the time to book vacation rentals and hit the slopes. Be sure to check the ski reports at OntheSnow.com before booking.


Heavenly on the south end of the lake is reporting a 35-inch base and 46 inches of new snow within the last 72 hours. Squaw Valley is reporting 20 inches up top and 12 inches on the lower mountain and have opened up three more runs--Funitel, Gold Coast and Mountain Run. Be sure to check out vacation rentals the other ski areas on the North side of the Lake Tahoe--Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl, Homestead and Northstar.


Breckenridge has a 46-inch base, having recede 23 inches of snow in the past week. Over 75% of their terrain is open, as well as 28 of 31 lifts. Aspen's reporting a 50-inch base in middle elevations and packed powder, while Telluride has a 47-inch base and all 18  lifts open.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Top Family Spring Break Vacation Locations


Say the words "spring break" and you might conjure images of wild college students partying all night. While that may be fine if you're young and eager to spend your money and time drinking and dancing all day and night, it's not exactly the kind of spring break the rest of us are looking for. The vacation spots listed below are quieter and more mature, offering families, couples and singles a place to recharge and relax without tripping over college-age youth. And even if you do encounter some party goers, you'll be staying at a vacation rental, which will give you much more privacy and control over your environment when compared to a hotel or resort.

San Diego

With 70 miles of beaches, the legendary SanDiego Zoo, Sea World, museums, shopping and consistently beautiful weather, SanDiego is without a doubt a perfect place for a vacation. There's something for everyone. Even if you go without kids, you can feel like a kid again. And the area is sophisticated enough that you can find plenty of restaurants and nightlife to keep you entertained. It's large enough to have lots to choose from, yet small enough to take in all the attractions. 

Destin

The Florida Panhandle has gotten something of a bad rap for attracting college students, mostly because Panama City has embraced the wilder side of spring break. Other locations, such as Destin, are much quieter and geared towards families and snowbirds. Generally, property managers in Destin won't rent to people under age 25. While the water temperatures are still a bit cool, they're still great for splashing around and snorkeling. Of course, the beaches are always perfect for sunbathing, building sandcastles and making memories with your loved ones.

Malta

Looking for a truly different spring break destination? Try Malta, an island in the middle of the beautiful Mediterranean. Malta boasts brilliant coasts, delicious food, and fascinating history. You'll find clear blue waters, stunning beaches, soaring cliffs, ancient ruins, and even rural settings. It's a perfect place to visit in April, when rainy weather has stopped but the higher prices of summer haven't yet started.

Colorado Skiing and Snowboarding

The snow's piling up in the Colorado Rockies, which means a spring ski trip might be in your future. Locals know that some of the best skiing and snowboarding is in March through May. There are generally heavier snowfalls and warmer temperatures. Whether it's Telluride, Vail, Aspen, Breckenridge or another Colorado ski area, you'll avoid the spring break crowds, get a break on some of the costs because fewer people are skiing, and have a great time under the clear blue Rocky Mountain skies.




Friday, January 20, 2012

Vacation Rentals Put Expensive Cities Within Reach

Many people avoid traveling to the world's most expensive cities because of the cost of lodging. It seems as if you can always find affordable activities, but affordable hotels are another matter. Especially for families.

Consider vacation rentals the next time you go to a pricey location. You can sometimes save on the per-night rate. And you can almost always expect more value for your money. Keep in mind that most vacation rentals have at least a two night minimum stay. But this shouldn't be a problem, since most of these locations are so much fun you'll want to stay as long as possible.

Toronto

Toronto's the fifth most populous city in North America, with a metro area of over 5 million. Visit the waterfront, which is one of North America's largest and includes Harbourfront, Ontario Place, Rogers Centre and the CN Tower. There's also the St. Lawrence Market, considered by many to be one of the world's best food markets. A stay in a Toronto vacation rental can make your trip even more enjoyable, and affordable. 

Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland, is another pricey location that can be made more affordable by staying in a  as opposed to a hotel. There's the Suomenlinna Forest, built in the 1700s on six islands. You'll find museums, shops, cafes and restaurants. You'll also enjoy the city's historic center and Old Town, Toolanlahti Bay, and much more. Plus, you can use your Helsinki vacation rental as a base to explore more of Finland.


Zurich and Geneva
Switzerland boasts two of the most expensive cities to visit, but they're well worth the price. Especially since you'll be getting the most value for your money, in line with the Swiss tradition. Zurich has a variety of areas to explore, including Augustinergass, a beautiful, old street with charm and character. Augustinergasse connects Bahnofstrasse with St. Peterhofstatt for a robust Zurich experience. Geneva combines old world elegance with many outdoor activities centered around Lake Geneva and the mountains, including Mont Blanc.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Like Perfect Places on Facebook to Enter Our $250 Perfect Vacation VISA® Gift Card Sweepstakes

We're excited to announce our first event for Facebook in 2012--our $250 Perfect Vacation VISA® Gift Card Sweepstakes. To enter, visit our Facebook page and Like us. We're giving away a Gift Card to one lucky winner.

Our goal is to offer more giveaways and contests throughout 2012. The more Likes we get, the more often we'll give away cash prizes and other gifts, so be sure to invite your friends.

Don't delay--check us out on Facebook now and get entered for the $250 Perfect Vacation VISA® Gift Card Sweepstakes!

Historical Vacations for 2012


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo or any other 2012 historical
event in style in luxurious vacation rentals.

As you plan your travel year, you might want to keep in mind a few important historical dates coming up in 2012. The Titanic Centennial, War of 1812 Bicentennial, 150th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo all happen this year. A vacation rental is a great way to explore any area rich in history.

April 15th marks the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Check out the Titanic reproduction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It's a half-scale, three-deck reproduction of the ship. A "Night to Remember" tribute is planned April 14th. Or, venture to Nova Scotia's Maritime Museum of the Atlantic to see an large permanent Titanic exhibit and take in special events planned for a the anniversary. We have dozens of Nova Scotia vacation rentals available.

For the War of 1812 Bicentennial, check out some of the activities planned at heritage sites in Quebec. A significant portion of the war took place in Canada and is important in Canadian, US and British history.

For Cinco de Mayo, a stay in a Mexico vacation rental seems like the perfect way to celebrate. If you can't make it May 5, that's okay. You can bring the spirit of independence and freedom with you whenever, and wherever, you go.

Friday, January 13, 2012

4 Great Places to Visit in 2012

London

The city to with most action this summer will be London. The Summer Olympics run from July 27 through August 12. If you don't have tickets, don't fret. Hyde Park and other large venues around the city will offer live broadcasts on giant outdoor screens. If you're planning on visiting the city before the Olympics (and avoid the crowds), a three-month arts festival starts on June 21. 

Marking 60 years on the throne, QueenElizabeth's Diamond Jubilee will be celebrated from June 2-5.

In addition to the Olympics, London also hosts Wimbledon June 25 through July 8. And the British Open will be held at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in Lancashire July 19-22.

Orlando

If you're thinking about a trip to Orlando, try February 24-26 and the 61st NBA All-Star Weekend (yes, the NBA has been playing since before Queen Elizabeth took the throne). It's a hip sporting event, drawing stars from the music industry and featuring slam-dunk contests, after-hours parties, concerts and the game itself. Since the NBA avoided a cancellation of its season, the mood promises to be even more festive. Plus, there are a variety of Orlando vacation rentals.


Croatia

This quaint country on the Adriatic across from Italy has shown up as an up-and-coming travel destination in several best places to travel surveys. It's easy to see why, with 1,105 miles of coast, pine-fringed beaches, rocky coves and timeless beauty. In Dubrovnik, streets are made of white marble and Renaissance sculpture and architecture can be seen throughout the city. Croation vacation rentals abound, so you'll have no problem finding accommodations.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana is best known for its beaches, which face both the Caribbean and the Atlantic. It's postcard perfect--you'll find 25 miles of gorgeous white sand, coconut trees and endless ocean views. If you're looking for a relaxing time by the sea, try a Punta Cana vacation rental.



Upcoming post: Centennials, Bicentennials and other historical trips for 2012.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another Travel Trends Survey for 2012


Here's some interesting data from another 2012 travel survey, this one from Travel Leaders, a travel agency. 

According to the survey, US travelers are planning trips to Europe, Asia and Australia in increasing numbers, and 91% of travel agents surveyed say that their clients are spending the same amount or more as they did in 2011. The findings are based on actual booking data. 

Hong Kong, Beijing, Amsterdam, Barcelona and Sydney were mentioned specifically as destinations that are getting increased interest. 

Other up and coming destinations mentioned were Croatia, Vietnam and Panama. The Caribbean should see visitors as well, though cruise ships continue to be a big draw.

The international top destinations, based on bookings, include Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Rome, London, Punta Cana and Paris. In the US, top destinations are Las Vegas (we've seen this in previous travel surveys), Orlando, Maui, New York City and Los Angeles.

The good news for vacation rentals is that the travel agents are seeing increases in off-the-beaten-path and international family travel. Staying in a vacation rental can certainly help make a traveler feel like a "native" and get away from the usual touristy areas. And vacation rentals are, of course, perfect for family travel.

Be sure to check out more travel trends in this blog post: Travel Trends for 2012.

Tomorrow: More on top destinations in 2012.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Romantic Valentine's Day Vacations


Now that we're well into 2012, it's time to start thinking about the next big travel Holiday--Valentine's Day. Nothing says romance like a getaway for the most romantic day of the year. And even though Feb. 14 falls on a Tuesday this year, the special person in your life will certainly appreciate a quiet, just-the-two-of-you stay at a vacation rental in one of these romantic locations.


Paris

The City of Light and romance--the two go together better than just about anything else. The evening you arrive, take a stroll in some of the city's most romantic areas. Meander around the Louvre and Tulleries Garden. The narrow streets of the Marais neighborhood are wonderful for a quaint stroll. And, of course, the banks of the Seine and the Latin Quarter are can't miss destinations for romance. Then, take in one of the many cabarets, enjoy the best dining in the world, and relax in your beautiful Paris vacation rental.



San Diego

The weather in San Diego is near perfect year-round, so moonlit walks on the beach should be on your list of romantic things to do. The daytime can be filled with whale watching, a dolphin adventure for two at Sea World, and a trip to the San Diego Zoo. For romantic spots to visit, try La Jolla Cove (try a little kayaking and then have a romantic dinner while you enjoy a spectacular sunset), Mount Soledad for spectacular 360-degree views, and Coronado for a romantic, traditional Venetian gondola ride. Then, finish the day in a romantic San Diego vacation rental, big enough for just two.

Aspen

Groves of spruce trees, cobble-stoned streets and pretty lights set the mood for a winter-wonderland Valentine's Day. Spend the day skiing or snowboarding on the mountains, get rejuvenated together at a luxurious spa, enjoy a romantic dinner at one of Aspen's many fantastic restaurants and then end the day together in front of a cozy fire in your Aspen vacation rental. For couples that want more adventure in their romance, try a hike up Highland Bowl for some backcountry skiing.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2 Great Places to Ski in 2012


We're well into ski season, and whether you've already hit the slopes and are looking for round two are still planning this winter's trip, here are a few options to consider. Keep in mind that snow conditions change quickly. Areas that aren't currently seeing a lot of snow could end up with quite a bit. 


Powder's abundant across Western Canada, thanks to a steady stream of Pacific storms. In fact, some resorts had enough early snow to open at 100%. Most British Columbia resorts are seeing base depths of well over 30 inches. When you ski in British Columbia, you'll have some of the most majestic views of the Rockies anywhere. They'll take your breath away.






New snow greeted holiday skiers in Vermont. Recent storms put an end to worries about a lack of snow, and ski areas are beefing up their new bases with snow making. You'll ski past frozen brooks, glades and snow-laden trees, valleys, ridges, farm fields and woodlots. Skiing in Vermont is a unique experience you'll never forget.