Vacation rental is the renting out of a furnished apartment or house on a temporary basis to tourists as an alternative to a hotel. Vacation rental has got a number of nomenclatures which varies with locations. Some of the other names for vacation rental are self-catering rentals, holiday homes, holiday let, villa rental and gites. The property may have been bought specifically for this purpose, or the regular occupants may vacate it during some parts of the year. The guests will have full use of the property, typically with utilities included but without servicing or meals but with a fully equipped kitchen/kitchenette so that renters can make their own food and save on dining out.

They are the fully furnished properties set aside for short-term rents basically on a daily or weekly rate. Vacation rental can range from a budget studio to a luxury villa in some exotic and lavish world’s most desired locations. Truly vacation rental is an alternative to hotel but isn’t always cheaper than hotels.

Vacation rental is mostly economical for families. A family of five can easily book a 2 bedroom apartment which will definitely be cheaper than what it will cost them to stay in a hotel. On the other hand, the luxury apartments/villas come with price tags of many hundreds or even thousands per night. Some luxury apartments/villas are fully staffed, has private beaches, private chefs and even yachts to cater for the renters.

Some vacation rentals like apartments and condominiums offer almost same services as hotels to their renters. Services like: front desk reception, in-house housekeeping, and laundry and concierge services.

Vacation rental is most common in Europe but widely and rapidly spreading across the whole world.

Vacation rental has its advantages and disadvantages over hotels. Some of which are stated below:

  • Families traveling with children get privacy for parents, lower accommodation cost, lower meal cost, added together means stays can now be longer. A few extra days vacation makes a big difference.
  • Almost all vacation rentals offer a private kitchen, which allows for cooking meals at home rather than going out eating each day. This saves time and money on dining expenses.
  • Vacation rental is ideal for tourists who wish to learn as much customs and tradition of the people within the short time they will be around. Living among the locals can make that happen at little or no extra cost.
  • Vacation rentals are often somewhat less to significantly less expensive than a hotel rooms and are great for groups and families who would otherwise have to pay for multiple hotel rooms. In some cases (especially at off-peak times of the year), a one-week rental of a 5-bedroom, 2-story vacation home can cost less than the rate of two or three nights in a regular, high-quality hotel.
  • Amenities of vacation rental home communities often feature far more than what can typically be found in a hotel; namely such perquisites like a clubhouse, arcade, expanded business center facilities, sundry shops, and even a movie theater.


  • While vacation rentals often tout that they are all-inclusive, this usually does not include daily housekeeping and maintenance service, which can be an inconvenience to travelers or families used to returning to a professionally cleaned room at the end of the day. And if something breaks during your visit, it is most likely your responsibility to call or hire someone who can fix it.
  • Some vacation rentals are poorly managed which can make check-in and key handover frustrating.
  • Understand how suitable the vacation rental and community is for you and your travel companions. Some rentals cater more toward adult clientele (think smaller, more upscale accommodations), while others are very child/family-oriented (think colorful décor, lots of amenities, etc.)

Listing Services, Agencies and Management Companies

Vacation rentals are arranged direct with the owners or through an agency, usually via the internet. Many owners have their websites, but most also use the listing services which display property information and photos provided by the owner. As each property owner has his or her own deposit and payment requirements, cancellation policies, check-in and check-in times among others. The listing service providers, in most cases, verify the authenticity of the listed properties in order to avoid the problem of SNAD: “Significantly Not As Described” (picture shows a paradise only to reveal a cracked wall or leaky roof on arrival).

Another important concern is that people may create false accounts, and advertise vacation homes which they do not in fact own. This can lead to unsuspecting customers’ booking and paying for a vacation, only to find on arrival that the rental does not exist. Given that the accommodation has been booked and paid for many months in advance, the culprit may disappear without trace, leaving the customer out of pocket. This is the main reason many listing service providers advise renters to always make their payments securely via the website and should pay cash direct to owners or agents at their own risks. Example of a listing service provider is Likizo Lettings.

Some vacation rental owners also contract a vacation rental management company to manage their vacation rentals. These companies handle housekeeping and property maintenance. Some management companies also act as agencies, marketing the vacation rental property, and handling reservations and billing. Most vacation rental management companies work on a commission basis, meaning they do not make a guarantee to the homeowner in terms of weeks that will be rented or revenue earned.[2] Rather, they collect a commission ranging from 20% to 50% of any revenues generated.

Important notice to travelers:

If a vacation rental is not listed on a listing service website with secured means of receiving payments, DON’T send money in advance. Insist on payment on arrival or after inspection. You are probably being scammed. It may cost a few more bucks to book directly on the listing service websites but it is highly secured. Most listing service providers will never release your money to homeowner until after you have checked in.”

Luxury Furnished Sea Point Villa for Vacation Rentals – Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape