Sunday, January 11, 2015

About VRBO

First off, when it comes to travel, I'm spoiled. I like to fly business class and when that's not a possibility (now, more often than not) I use all my tricks to get an economy plus seat or emergency exit row. As for hotels, a nice room in a five star property makes me very happy. Okay, four star lodgings are good too. 

That said, I took a big chance when my family asked me to find a nice beachfront condo in Puerto Vallarta for our two week Christmas holiday. We didn't want to shell out money for multiple hotel rooms and yes, it would be great to have extra space and a kitchen. I have friends who rent their vacation homes through VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner, and decided that was the best option for us.

The property we chose met all our criteria - beachfront location, three ensuite bedrooms, large veranda overlooking the Pacific Ocean, big kitchen with modern appliances, and the price was right. 
Here's what wasn't explained in the VRBO listing or in the rental contract we signed.

1. The address listed on the contract made absolutely no sense to any taxi driver we tried to hire upon arrival at PVR. Fortunately, I was able to contact the owner by phone so he could give our driver directions. Liz arrived a couple of hours before we did and had the same problem. Her driver drove around town then charged her double and threatened to drop her in the middle go the road if she didn't give him better instructions. She was able to text her sister who googled the address and sent a map to Liz's phone.

2. Wifi? Of course, Mrs. Lahey. The password and connectivity info is in the welcome folder at the unit. Welcome folder? The outdated information in the dusty binder was no help at all. We managed to find the router and entered the password etched on the back of it et voila.... We were connected! But wait, that connection died in a flash as I walked away from the router, about 20feet, and so there was no working Wifi in about 90% of the condo. Yes, we could check our email by standing next to the hookup or by leaning over the kitchen counter.

3.  You never know about your neighbors. Santa brought a big ol' drum set to the children in the condo next door and they played day and night with their dad who was a very accomplished accordion player.

4. The decor. Pay close attention to the photos posted on the listing. Not that it would have been a deal breaker, but some of the art in the unit was very disturbing. We draped towels over a couple of sculptures just so we wouldn't have to look at them.

So, if you decide to go the VRBO route for your next trip, please... Get as much info as possible before you commit. Pay attention to the details in the photos provided and assume they were taken by a professional.  Ask a lot of questions and if something that's important to you isn't clear (wifi?) keep looking.

While we would have enjoyed staying at a nice hotel, we definitely saved some money and were more than comfortable in the condo. And no, we did not pay the neighbor $100 to show us how to work the TV.