How to choose vacation rental house

I marked this as WDW but really it’s for any vacation rental house. I’m looking last minute for a beach rental b/c I want to avoid hotels, although I’m quickly seeing that any good beach rentals are already booked for the whole summer. And I’m limited in my dates to the latter part of June mostly.
I’m curious how liners choose rental houses / condos etc. I’ve always gone with hotels b/c I like to know that if there’s a problem I can just be moved to another room, but in this case I want distance, and also to avoid having an indoor pool b/c I don’t want to have to say no. We have 4 vaccinated and 1 unvaccinated persons, which is why I want the beach (I also…just very much miss the beach…). So, do you use VRBO, Airbnb, etc? I am very impressed, at first glance, by what is offered by the new Marriott service villas and homes, but they have very little for my dates. I’m quickly finding that the only things available still are new listings, which therefore have no reviews. I also don’t really know what are the good / bad parts of Ocean City, MD where I am thinking to go, although I’m open also to other places along that coast. We really enjoyed Virginia Beach but it’s a further drive. There is one rental I really like on the face of it but it won’t give me an online quote and they also say they are charging for sheets and towels b/c of the pandemic. Those things together made me wonder if it’s a fake listing, on VRBO. But I’m such a newbie to this that I might be wrong. The main goals are 1) not be in our house 2) get take out from restaurants we already know we love 3) go to beach. We’ve previously stayed at the Francis Scott Key resort and really loved it; I just want to avoid the wonderful indoor pool, b/c it is always packed. (They have houses there at FSK but those are already fully booked until late August.) Thanks for any advice.


My parents use well known rental companies to book condos/houses. We tend to stay in hotels as well, but we also don’t do weeklong beach trips. Charging extra for linen is not uncommon for rentals.

For OC, MD, we stay away from the boardwalk and the area with the super large hotels. We like further north near Northside Park. It seems more family friendly and I haven’t seen any craziness in that area.

The Delaware beaches are also a good option.

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We have used VRBO many times over the years, never really had an issue. I read all the reviews to make sure we are getting what we think we are getting. We have booked in the US as well as internationally. Also have used AirBnB, but only a few times, I am so used to VRBO.
You should always be able to see the quote, including nightly cost, cleaning fee, and also the new VRBO booking fee. I too would be suspicious of them not showing that as it is very standard. We booked with VRBO to go to Hawaii this past January, there was no extra charges due to Covid (in fact we got a great deal as most people were not travelling in January and also didn’t want to deal with the pre-arrival testing Hawaii requires). That has been our only VRBO experience during Covid, so not sure if charging for linens thing is new.
I’m no help on where to go though, I grew up in Virginia but we always went to the Outer Banks for beach vacations (or day trips from home to Va Beach). West coaster now for many years, our beach vacations are now in Hawaii. :smile:

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Cannot answer the question
Just thought I’d share that, perhaps because of current events, I read this as “How to choose a vaccination house”


I have used many different companies as I have been renting vacation properties all over the US since 2002. I have never had a bad experience. Lots of properties are crosslisted on different sites, and can be cheaper with some than others.

Another one is

If you’d like me to look at any listings to see if anything sees weird I am more than happy to help - you can PM me. You need a vacation! :heart:

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Would you consider Topsail Island? Chincoteague?

I really like VRBO and have used them in the past. Every time I’ve looked at rentals on the site, I can see the price and the breakdown so the cleaning fee, service fee, etc. I only use the VRBO app. It sounds strange if you can’t get an online quote.
Also the cancellation policies vary quite a bit. Even now when I search, some owners have a 30 day cancellation policy, for some it’s 60 days, etc. I was lucky last year and cancelled a trip right when Covid was happening and did get a full refund very quickly. If you are trying to book on short notice and your main goal is to be at the beach, you may have to forego some things that you would like. Last year when Covid numbers started to drop, we took a family vacation and rented a house in the Midwest and our main goal was to swim. House had an amazing pool - other areas of the house were not so great but that was a sacrifice we had to make.

Actually going to Assateague Island is part of the trip. But, we didn’t stay there. It was 15 min drive from our hotel. I think Chincoteague is the Virginia side of Assateague…maybe…trying to remember my research from 2 yrs ago when we went.

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One of our favorites! Went last July and are returning this July. :sunglasses:

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Yes, you’re right. It’s south. Chincoteague Island to Assateague Beach is about 15 minute drive if I remember.

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Thanks everyone. I decided to go with a hotel that had the one thing I couldn’t find in any of the vacation rental homes: a free cancellation up to one day before check in. I do worry about the close proximity to others but I realized I worried more about the unknowns of a rental house. The hotel room has a balcony with a view so I know we can open that up if we need to ventilate the room, plus it had a full kitchen and table for us to eat our take out on.


I think if you’d been looking during a normal time, or farther ahead you would have been able to find a nice house that didn’t set off internal alarms. I say this so that you don’t discount a house for your next trip.

The good houses are booked early. The house I reserved for Disney Jan 2022 is booked solid from our trip last two weeks of January into middle of November. That is next year.

Then you add in that everyone that is going stir-crazy and is worried about getting sick are doing socially distanced vacations. So that means buying an RV or renting a house someplace scenic - like on a beach.


Word of caution about Marriott Homes and Villa’s, I am about to turn my matter over to my lawyers. I was charged $6,000 up front for a $12,000 rental and now the rental is not showing up. No answers to my repeated phone calls or emails to both the site directly or to the “management company”. I’ll update if I hear back from them before I call my lawyers.


Interesting! We have our apartment in Paris booked through them and it is not showing up either. Could it be something with the site? How long have you been emailing?

Since yesterday morning. I was just about to find your post about that Paris rental to warn you too.

When I call the number, it goes to a pre recording, has me hold for 45 seconds to a minute, then tells me all reps are busy and to call back during regular business hours.

I also called the actual rental office for the resort itself which is (well?) established in Orlando and I’m still waiting to hear back from them, though I did talk to a live person in their gift shop.

My DH looked at the site, the email address and everything and said it all looks pretty good, and there’s only a 1% chance it’s anything more than a data/tech issue. Did not stop me from having complete sobbing meltdown over it yesterday morning though.

Hmm, definitely hopeful that it is something wrong with their website! But that is absolutely a lot of money! When are you supposed to check in? Marriott Homes & Villa’s is definitely 100% legit.

I have a direct contact at the management company in Paris that I just emailed so we will see what he says. My rental is also still showing as unavailable for my dates on their website too so hopefully that is a good sign.

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I hope so!

My property disappeared from the site all together all together so I can’t even look it up, let alone see if my time is booked. We don’t check in until January.

I hope that it’s just me freaking out, but the fact that the site itself isn’t even answering their phones for 2 days now has me worried.

Good morning! I heard back directly from the French management company that my reservation is still valid and they are looking forward to welcoming me in August. They gave me a phone number for Marriott but I would guess it’s one you already have. Did you have any luck?


I still haven’t gotten a response to any of my emails or calls.

I’m glad your manager got back to you though. That gives me hope.

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