Learn Secret Vacation Rental Lingo to Avoid Letdowns

beach rentals

Whether you’re looking for a beach house in St. Barths, a condo in Hawaii or a cabin in Aspen, vacation rentals is a great way to get more bang for your buck. With an assortment of sites, such as Air BnB, Home Away and Flip Key, offering unique accommodations, vacation rentals has become one of the most popular ways to travel. Like with any rental, be sure you pay attention to fine prints and watch out for buzzwords to avoid getting tricked when planning your next luxe trip.

Brian Corbett, founder and chief experience officer of Inspirato with American Express, the largest destination club, has over a decade of industry experience and has seen it all. Corbett dished to Haute Living the best ways to travel smart and questions travelers should ask before committing to a vacation rental.

Let’s say your skimming a vacation rental site, where you plan on enjoying some R&R time, and you come across a posh property in Hawaii. The headline reads, “Oceanfront townhome.” According to Corbett, the term “oceanfront” may actually mean accommodations featuring direct ocean access from the unit, but not necessarily on a beach. During this same search, you stumble upon an even plusher rental, but this headline reads, “Partial ocean views.” Corbett warns a partial ocean view is a setback from direct ocean access and the ocean visibility can range anywhere from one room or more.

If you’re a thrill seeker, who plans on skiing, bicycling or hiking down a city’s spectacular mountains, be aware the term “Mountain View” may actually mean mountain accommodations, which feature a mountain view that is far off in the distance or directly in front of the unit. Even worse, the mountain may actually block views.

Regardless of where your final destination may be, Corbett suggests prospective renters ask a number of questions prior to committing to a rental. The questions are as follows:


  • Is the pool heated?
  • Are there any hidden costs to be wary of (heating, cleaning)?
  • Are there safety precautions in place if traveling with kids and does the pool comply with local safety standards?
  • Is there adequate outdoor seating for your group, are pool toys/floats, etc. provided or could someone arrange for what you need?


  • Is there a BBQ grill?
  • Will the grill be clean, or will the previous guests’ meals be caked onto the grates?
  • Is the BBQ propane or charcoal?
  • Is propane/charcoal provided?


  • Who do you call if there’s a maintenance issue, especially on weekends, holidays or the middle of the night when things always seem to break?
  • Is any maintenance scheduled during your visit (pool cleaners, housekeepers, painters, etc.)? Make sure this does not interfere with you plans/you’re not caught off guard.
  • Are there any hidden fees renters should inquire about (for example, extra charges if you run the AC constantly)?

Neighborhood Restrictions

  • Are there any noise restrictions?
  • Is alcohol permitted on the local beaches? Bonfires?

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