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7 Fatal Mistakes Made When Booking A Paris Vacation Apartment

Jun 28, 2008
Vacation rentals can be tricky to navigate, but the payoff is huge. Whether you are a budget traveler who cannot afford the double-whammy cost of hotels and restaurants, or a luxury traveler who wants seclusion and over-the-top grandeur, you will get more space and privacy for your money by booking a rental property. And you will have a kitchen as well.

Convenience is probably the biggest advantage of a Paris vacation rental, you can come and go as you please and do what you like, when you like.

When you choose a vacation rental, you can get your favorite snack from the refrigerator when you want it. You can impress family and friends with your culinary talent when restaurants and dining out becomes a bit boring, not to mention less healthy and more expensive!

Paris is the #1 visited destination in the world. It is safe to assume that choice vacation apartments are booked months and sometimes even a year in advance during peak season. A rental is one of the most comfortable lodging options that can be availed for enjoying a vacation. Besides more space and privacy, vacation rentals offer you a wide range of amenities without lightening your wallet The saying, the early bird gets the worm, is especially applicable here.

Because, the more you postpone your booking, the higher will be the risk of losing the vacation rental of your choice. There are a limited of top notch vacation apartments in Paris especially if you seek a larger apartment in a desirable neighborhood.

Nevertheless, finding a vacation home at the last-minute can be difficult and extraordinarily time consuming if you wait till the last minute. Do not anticipate cancellations since owners do not look kindly at refunding deposits or rental monies applied. The only way to insure the vacation rental apartment of your dreams is to book far advance.

A clear cut idea about the type of vacation apartment, amenities, and any special requirement is mandatory. One of the best ways to ensure that you choose the Paris vacation rental that is best for you is by examining your vacation wants and needs.

You will want to closely examine your vacation, namely who you are traveling with or what the purpose of your vacation is. Who you are traveling with will likely play a huge role in choosing a Paris vacation rental. The size of your traveling party will not only determine how big of a rental you need, it may also have an impact on the type of rental apartments you choose.

What you will need to do, while staying at a vacation rental, is also important to examine. For instance, if you are taking an extended vacation, you may need to do laundry or you may wish to eat at your rental, to reduce expenses. Since you are on vacation and should enjoy yourself, you will want to take the simplest approach possible.

While it is most important that you focus on your vacation rental needs, it is also important that you focus on your wants as well. For instance, do you want to have a Paris vacation rental that comes with a pool, sauna, cable television, or internet access? If so, it is important that you examine these features to see if they are included before making any Paris vacation rental reservations.

It is also important that you examine your wants in terms of location. Would you prefer to roll out of bed and be sandwiched with numerous bistros and cafes or would you prefer a quiet residential street, guaranteed to provide you with a peaceful night of sleep.

In keeping with location, it is also important to examine what you want to do, while on your Paris vacation. This can help you choose the Paris vacation rental that is most convenient. For instance, if you are planning on walking everywhere than you want to be in an arrondissement that is close to all the attractions that interest you.

On the other hand, if you know that you will be utilizing the metro, map out the metro stops of intended sites and seek an apartment that has a metro line with easy access to those locations.

Are you willing to trek up stairs or is an elevator essential? It is important to know this beforehand. Have an idea of the type of vacation apartment you need. Do you want the bedrooms in opposite sides of the apartment or next to each other?

Do you need airport transfers? Is a stocked refrigerator essential? How often do you want maid service? When you rent a vacation apartment, you are on your own. Is your French strong enough to secure restaurant reservations and book day trips?

A professional concierge willing to offer his Parisian expertise may come in handy. Not all agencies offer these additional services but it does not hurt to ask prior to booking your apartment. You maybe able to find an all in one agency that will cater to all your needs.

First-time visitors have little idea of the scale of the Paris area and the whole thing can be more than a little daunting. It is made even more confusing by the vast choice of vacation rentals available and the lack of clear details on the location and apartment. We know that this has resulted in some guests turning this into a job instead of an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the city beforehand.

The pictures on the web sites may present the vacation apartment very well but how recent are the photos? Many of the vacation rentals may show heavy wear since they are professional vacation apartments.

Successful vacation apartment hunting has one primary tool, the telephone. When you are investing in a memory experience such as renting a vacation apartment, it is recommended to begin your dialogue with an email but make an attempt to get to know the apartment owner or agency that you are dealing with.

You can email agents and apartment owners, but you cannot easily determine whether you like the person you are dealing with via typed messages. Gauge the responses of the agent or apartment owner, and trust your gut. If you feel like you are being pressured, you are. And if you do not like the person you are talking to, chances are you are not going to like the vacation apartments he/she is representing either Trust your intuition. If you don't get a good feeling, chances are the entire process will be thorny.

If the customer service is poor via phone, do you really think it is going to get exceedingly better when you arrive in Paris? Is it better to have a solid mid-range vacation apartment with an attentive and thorough agent or apartment owner or a fabulous vacation apartment with an apartment owner or agent with an attitude?

Only you can make that decision, but know beforehand, how you are willing to play. It is strongly suggested to build a friendly rapport with your agency or apartment owner. You may need last minute assistance or a special favor and it is always easier to deal with someone that you like and likes you.

The rules and policies of the rental including the fine print should be read carefully! Some agents and apartment owners will nickel and dime you to death. Ask about utilities, phone charges, cleaning fees, and any other expenses that you may be charged.

Make sure these are spelled out in the contract.
Check out the availability of additional amenities like disabled access, smoking policies, pet policies, and maid service. Also take into account, any extra charges the rental may levy like cleaning charges, refundable safety deposit and any tax. These are very important points to be remembered, if you do not want to be caught unaware with any extra charges or fines for any rule-breaking.

Do not quickly peruse your contract. Make sure you ask questions and fully understand the booking policies and terms of the reservation. Do not automatically assume that all agencies and owners operate the same and have the same policies.

Do not eagerly mail a check or wire transfer funds to an agency or apartment owner overseas. If anything goes awry, you have very little if any legal recourse. The safest route is simply securing your vacation rental with your credit card since the credit card companies will eagerly listen and support any claims of dissatisfaction or fraud.

Credit card companies will allow you to dispute and will support you on your quest to seek justice for any misrepresentation. Some agencies will charge administrative fees for utilizing your credit card but it is worth it for the guarantee of peace of mind?

How long have they been in business? How many vacation apartments do they rent? Do they inspect all of the vacation apartments? Have anyone in the agency stayed in the vacation apartment? Always cross-check your findings with the local Better Business Bureau.

It is always a good idea to review testimonials. Do not take testimonials with only initials seriously, legitimate testimonials routinely use the first initial and the full last name to protect the privacy of their guest. Do not forget to ask about the agency list of mandatory details in the apartment.

Be subtle and pleasant in your dealings with the agency and apartment owner that includes negotiating. If you try to lowball an agent or owner, you are sending the wrong signal. Reputable agencies and vacation apartment owners want to avoid demanding guests with unrealistic expectations at all costs. Be advised that savvy agencies and owners are looking for clues about your character just as much as you are about theirs.

This is important. If you exceed the maximum occupancy, you are breaking the terms and rendering your contract void even if you let just one extra five-year-old sleep on the floor. When a vacation apartment is advertised as sleeping six, that means six total persons, big or small. Many Paris apartment owners include infants into the total headcount. Ask and make sure that your 6 month old is not considered another person. This will influence the terms of your contract and the amount that you have to pay the agency or apartment owner.

Be prepared to pay additional for use of the sofa bed. Many vacation apartment owners and agencies charge an additional day rate for use of the sofa bed. The rationale is additional linens and towels, extra clean up for housekeeping. Do not shoot the messenger on this one.
About the Author
Rita Borges is Managing Director of Paris Luxe, http://www.parisluxeapt.com, http://www.parishoneymoonrentals.com
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