Vacation rentals usually occur in privately owned vacation properties (holiday homes), so the variety of accommodation is broad and inconsistent. The property is a fully furnished property, such as a holiday villa, apartment, cottage, condominium, townhome or single-family-style home. Farm stay can encompass participation on a working farm, or a more conventional rental that happens to be co-located on a farm. The client/traveler arranges to rent the vacation rental property for a designated period of time. Some rent on nightly basis similar to hotel rooms, although the more prevalent vacation rental industry practice is typically weekly rentals.

Vacation rentals can range from budget studio apartments to lavish, expensive private villas in the world’s most desirable locations, some with pricetags of many thousands per night and all the amenities you would find in any luxury accommodation (fully staffed, private beaches, boats, chefs, cooking lessons, etc.) to cater to the guests.

Some vacation rentals, particularly condominiums or apartments, offer many of the same services hotels offer to their guests, e.g., front desk check-in, 24-hour maintenance, in-house housekeeping, and concierge service. Many “hospitality, timeshare and premier independent resorts…that until now, access to these resort-condominium complexes was available exclusively through purchase options such as whole, fractional, or timeshare ownership,” are now offering daily vacation rentals.

Comparison with other accommodations

Consumers unfamiliar with the concept of a vacation rental may confuse it with the seemingly similar, but distinctly different. Many timeshare resorts offer quarter ownership, which provides 13 weeks of use or rental.

A timeshare can still be made available as a vacation rental should an owner decide to put his owned week(s) on a vacation rental program. Also, a large segment of the 21% of unsold and therefore still resort-controlled inventory is made available as vacation rentals. In 2014, this was a $1.9 billion business.

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