A Romantic Evening that ended in an Enjoyable Fight.

By Garin Hamburger | Travelog

Very recently I was lucky enough to tie the knot with the most amazing woman!   I don’t want to bore you with all of the details, so I’ll just leave it at, ‘it was a fantastic wedding’.  And like many newlyweds, we knew that we wanted to go on a honeymoon right after.

After some extensive research, we decided to honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  The once small fishing town that was transformed into a tourist spot after Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton filmed their movie, “The Night of the Iguana”.  We didn’t know that until we got there, however every cab driver in town made sure they told us about it.

After a few nights exploring the city, the attractions, and the night life, we decided to have a romantic dinner on the beach.  A few of our friends back home told us about this restaurant, ‘La Palapa’ and once we asked the locals about it, we knew it was the place to go.

We arrived just before sunset and the hostess showed us to our table in the sand.  We were showered with attention and one of the gentlemen that worked there even dug a hole in the sand to place an umbrella to block the setting sun.  The food was amazing, the setting was gorgeous, the whole experience was unforgettable!  They even got to know us so well, that they made us an amazing dessert and wrote us a fun message on the plate… “Have a nice trip!”

After our spectacular meal we weren’t quite ready to retire for the evening so we decided to go into town and find a place where we could catch a little more entertainment.  While walking around the town we noticed a lot of street vendors, locals, and tourists surrounding an establishment.  Thinking this was the place to be we got in line and waited to enter.  Once through the line we walked into a huge room decorated in Mexican and American colors.  Not knowing exactly what we were walking into, we ran into some Americans that we had met earlier in our trip.  They were excited to see us and asked us to sit with them for ‘The Fight’.  Not knowing exactly what they were talking about we decided to stay and find out more.  Come to find out a very popular fight was about to happen to between Floyd Mayweather of the USA and Canelo Alvarez of Mexico.  So, we stayed and watched the fight with our new found friends… and what a great night it turned out to be.  I can honestly say that I’ve never had an evening that enjoyable that ended in a fight!

How to Manage a Vacation Rental Property

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Vacation homeowners can easily become overwhelmed by the task of figuring out how to manage a vacation rental property. So, we suggest taking it one step at a time, getting the foundational elements in place and operationalizing every aspect you can.

Create a Budget

The first step in our list of how to manage a vacation rental property is creation of a budget. It is important that you account for utility bills, property maintenance, housekeeping, household supplies, and the inevitable wear and tear on furniture, electronics, and appliances. Set your rates after analyzing similar houses in the market and project your income taking into account the weeks you will be using your home and the occupancy rate you believe you will achieve.

House Readiness

Running a successful vacation home management business is dependent upon ensuring an exceptional guest experience. So, make sure your home is ready for rental guests. Lock your personal items in a storage closet. Determine how you will stock and stage your home for each rental. Create a checklist to use prior to each guest’s visit. You want to make sure everything is in working order and fully stocked. Create a manual that contains household instructions such as how to operate the remote. Plan for a meet and greet with each guest so they can be walked through your vacation rental property and educated on how to use all the electronics and appliances.

Centralized Calendar

Out of all items in our list of how to manage a vacation rental property, having a centralized calendar is business critical.  Your home will be listed on numerous websites, and your centralized calendar should feed these listings. It should include holds (when you are working to close a reservation), booked stays and your blocked personal and maintenance days.

Reservation Management System

Choose wisely because your reservation management system will be the backbone of your vacation rental business. You’ll want a reliable system that will track: dates on hold, confirmed reservations, special arrangements, signed rental agreements, down payments, final payment and all other guest related information. A system that facilitates the confirmation of this information with your guests is ideal.

Marketing

In order to reach a broad base of potential renters you’ll want to make sure your home is listed on all the top rental listing sites. The game is ever changing with new players entering the arena all the time. Research your competition to ensure you are positioned and priced well. Continually monitor your page rank and plan to regularly optimize your listings. If your vacation rental property is not on the first page of search results, it’s literally not on the map and sites are continually changing the factors that contribute to rank. So, as part of how to manage a vacation rental property, plan to keep a watchful eye on the ever-changing rental marketplace.

Partners

Deciding to turn your vacation home into a rental property is a big commitment, however there are numerous professionals in the vacation rental business who already know how to manage a vacation rental property and can help those that do not have the time or expertise to do it all themselves. Engaging a professional property manager, concierge, housekeeper, and vacation rental agent will ensure you have allocated the necessary time and expertise required for success.

When figuring how to manage a vacation rental property, be as prepared as possible. Operationalize as much as you can and put a system of checks and balances in place to ensure your business runs like clockwork.

Ready to give it a go? We can help. Elite Destination Homes has been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We have helped numerous homeowners launch their vacation homes for rent.  Contact us today. We can answer any further questions you may have about how to manage a vacation rental property.

 

 

Vacation Home Management – Ensuring an Exceptional Guest Experience

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Out of all that goes into running a successful vacation home management business, nothing is more important than providing an exceptional guest experience. While it’s your home that will draw them in, it’s the experience that will bring them back and produce the rave reviews that draw others to you. Ensuring an exceptional experience is all about attention to detail and fostering a personal relationship.

Vetting Guests

It’s important to make sure that your home is right for the guest and that the guest is right for your home. For this reason we recommend talking to each guest on the phone at least once during the process. Are they a family with small children?  If so, is your pool and patio area kid friendly? You’re not just selling them a place to sleep, you’re helping plan for a memorable vacation experience, so ensuring a good match is critical.

Confirm All Details Three Times

There are a lot of details involved in vacation home management. Getting a date wrong or neglecting to follow up on a special request can wreak havoc on a family’s vacation. That’s why we consider it best practice to verify all details once verbally and twice in writing. Getting it right is critical, so ask for a confirmation from your guest. Strong communication skills and follow up are the hallmarks of a successful vacation home management business.

Meet & Greet

Traveling to someplace new and figuring out how everything works once you get there can be both tricky and stressful. So plan for an in person meet and greet when your guests arrive. Greeting them in person with a welcome gift will go a long way in making your guest feel at home. Give them a tour of the property and show them how everything from the TV remote to the dishwasher works. Provide them with an itinerary including scheduled maid service and any reservations. Help them plan their stay with information about the area and recommendations to your favorite restaurants and attractions.

Post Visit Checklist

Your property manager, one of the many professionals that can help you grow a successful vacation rental business, should have a scheduled walk through once the house has been cleaned after the guest’s visit. Have them use a checklist to assess the home for any damages, and ensure all in is working order and well stocked for the next visitor. Keeping everything ship-shape is foundational to vacation home management.

Follow Up

Plan to personally follow up and thank guests after their stay. This shows that you truly care about their experience and provides an opportunity for you to receive some valuable feedback. If they enjoyed their stay, don’t hesitant to ask for a review.

If you are interested in getting into the vacation home management business, we’d love to offer our services.  Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental management company that has successfully been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We’ve written a white paper on how to rent a vacation home by owner and helped many homeowners successfully launch their homes as rentals and we’re dedicated to providing exceptional vacation experiences for our guests. We’d love to hear from you.

 

The 5 Pillars of Successful Vacation Rental Management

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Many vacation homeowners are intrigued by the prospect of entering the world of vacation rental management. The idea of developing a new revenue stream and offsetting mortgage and home maintenance costs is quite attractive. To determine if this is viable for you and your home, we have come up with the five pillars of successful vacation rental management.

1. Location, Location, Location

We’ve all heard this before, but what does it truly mean? Your home may be lovely, but the marketability of it as a vacation rental is completely dependent upon the desirability of its location.  If the area you are in isn’t known as a vacation destination, you are going to have a hard time renting it out. If you’re uncertain, Trip Advisor annually publishes a list of top destinations chosen by their travelers. You can also check for listings in your area on HomeAway and VRBO. Seeing full calendars is a good sign that you too can enter the vacation rental management business.

2. Proximity to Amenities & Attractions

Unfortunately just being in a fantastic resort destination isn’t good enough. If you’re near the ocean, renters will be looking for a beachfront villa. If you’re in the mountains, they want ski-in ski-out. Proximity to the main draw of the area directly correlates to both the rental rate and the number of nights booked.

3. Wow Factor

To secure bookings, your home needs to stand out from other listings. It needs to show well, look well maintained and have a wow factor. Photos are one of the most influential factors in generating leads. They have the power to mesmerize and inspire action so we highly recommend hiring a professional photographer to bring the experience of vacationing in your home to life.

4. Expert Sales & Marketing

This is a highly competitive and complex business that requires vacation rental marketing and sales expertise. A savvy digital marketing team will ensure your vacation home is broadly marketed, well positioned and priced competitively to drive qualified leads. An experienced sales team will be responsive, educated on the latest trends in vacation rentals, and use a consultative sales approach to secure bookings.  The rental landscape is ever shifting and vacation rental management pros know they must optimize their efforts regularly to maximize revenue.

5. Rave Reviews

At the end of the day, it all boils down to the guest’s experience.  Therefore it is crucial that you hire reliable, service-oriented professionals for your vacation rental business. Delivering an exceptional vacation experience every time will earn you the reward of great online reviews and positive word-of-mouth, the most influential form of marketing for those in vacation rental management. However, even if you deliver an exception experience, reviews don’t come automatically, you need a follow up process in place.

Still wondering about the viability of your home as a vacation rental? Give us a call.  Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental management company that has successfully been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We can determine the revenue potential of your home, set you up for success with a custom sales and marketing program and help you secure those coveted reviews.  Contact us today.

Vacation Rental Pros and Cons

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

The vacation rental industry is growing with more travelers choosing vacation rentals over hotels than ever before (49% according to Trip Advisor.) As a result more and more homeowners are choosing to rent out their luxurious vacation homes. If you are considering this option, we have a list of vacation rental pros and cons that will help guide you to the right decision when determining how to best enter the vacation rental market.

Vacation Rental Pros:

There are many upsides to renting out your vacation home.

1. Leverage Unused Time For Income

There are likely many days and weeks that your vacation home is left unoccupied. If you decide to start a vacation rental business you will reap the benefits of watching your home’s previously unused time turn into cold hard cash.  It’s this financial upside that is clearly first on the list of vacation rental pros.

2. Offset Mortgage Expenses

Turning your vacation home into a revenue stream can serve as a great way to offset your mortgage and maintenance expenses. According to HomeAway, 49% of homeowners report that their rental income covers at least three-quarters of their mortgage payments. This additional income can also be used to fund upgrades and new amenities. Have you always wanted to add a pool or a larger patio? Feel your bathroom needs a remodel? Go for it. These dreams can become reality with the extra spending money you will earn.

3. Share Your Passion

The opportunity to provide access to the local culture and share the unique experience of staying in your home is one of the most rewarding aspects of renting to like-minded travelers.

4. Support Local Merchants

By referring your guests to your favorite neighborhood markets, restaurants and shops you not only support their businesses, but you also help your guests have a more authentic local experience.

5. Expand Your Horizons Through Home Exchange

There are select rental agents that offer free vacation home exchange when you list with them. Through these programs you can trade unused time in your home for a stay in another family’s vacation villa. Your vacation options expand exponentially as the agent’s portfolio becomes your portal to the world.

Vacation Rental Cons:

 

There are a few compromises that come with renting out your vacation home however they can be minimized if you plan appropriately.

1. Your Home Is Booked

A rental reservation is indeed a good thing, however there will be times when you’d like to use and you can’t because it’s rented out. To ensure this doesn’t create any conflicts, block out the dates you want before your home is marketed to renters for the calendar year.

2. Additional Wear and Tear

Your home will end up being used more so plan for additional wear and tear on your furniture and other home items. Vetting your guests will help keep this to a minimum, but it should be accounted for as part of your annual budget.

3. It’s a Complex Business

The vacation rental industry is complicated. It’s important to be prepared and educated on how to protect yourself and your business should any issues arise. From late cancellations to injuries that occur on your property, make sure you are buttoned up on the legal side of things. Also, you need to keep a watchful eye on the marketplace. New rental listing sites pop up all the time and consumer preferences change. You want to make sure you are listed on all the right sites and that you are showing up on the top of their pages. Sites are continually tweaking the algorithms that determine rankings so optimizing your listing is a constant.

4. It’s Time Consuming

If you handle the rental of your vacation home all on your own it could end up feeling like a second job. If you’re not looking to make that much of a time commitment, there are many professionals that can help you build a lucrative vacation rental business. Engaging experts not only gives you peace of mind, but will help you continue to enjoy your vacation home for what it was originally intended, a place of rest and relaxation.

As you think through the various pros and cons of the vacation rental business, we’d like to offer our help. Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental management company that has successfully been marketing an international portfolio of multimillion-dollar luxury vacation homes since 2005. We’ve helped many homeowners successfully launch their homes as rentals and with our free international vacation home exchange, the vacation rental pros clearly outnumber the cons.

Ready to dive in? We can help you get up and running by leading you through our tried and true process for setting up a vacation rental business. Contact us today.

Four Partners Essential To Building A Successful Vacation Rental Business

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

The vacation rental business is growing at a rapid pace and can serve as a great way to offset a vacation homeowner’s mortgage and maintenance costs. However, homeowners may shy away because of the hours required to manage bookings and the effort needed to meet the demands of this complex industry.

Good news, there are a number professionals you can partner with that will make diving into the vacation rental business much less daunting.

Property Manager – Ensures Your Home is 100% Guest Ready

Choosing someone to manage the maintenance of your home will be crucial to the success of your vacation rental business. Your property manager will oversee housekeeping and handle all property maintenance. They should be well connected in the area as they will be helping you hire and manage the housekeeper, pool service, exterminator, landscaper, air-conditioning service, etc., They will ensure any repairs are taken care of and that household supplies are in stock. We recommend you build a house inventory that can serve as their shopping list for getting your home set-up. Then, have the property manager use it as checklist after every guest visit to assess for damages and ensure everything is in working order and in stock. Something will eventually go wrong, so you want a person with a sense of urgency who will respond quickly and stay in communication while they are getting the issue resolved. (Read more about the importance of a property manager.)

Concierge – Creates Memorable Experiences

Choose a concierge who is passionate about the area and about creating memorable experiences for guests. You want someone who is creative, fun, energetic, bright and connected with what’s going on in your area. Someone you will look forward to seeing when you visit.

Your concierge’s main role is to make your guests feel at home and well cared for so choose someone who is willing to contact the guests before they travel to discuss pre-arrival arrangements.  Have them greet your guests with a welcome gift and provide a tour of the house and property explaining how the appliances and electronics operate. They should make your guests aware of the cleaning schedule and provide them with an itinerary. You want someone who can help your guests have an authentic local experience by offering recommendations to the best neighborhood merchants and restaurants as well as unique local activities. If an extra bed or towel is needed, they are on call to cater to the vacationer’s every need. In case of emergency your concierge will be your guests’ first point of contact, which will help you rest at ease even if you are halfway across the globe.

Housekeeper – Makes Sure Your Home is Spotless

Hire a reliable and detail oriented housekeeper with strong references. You want someone who will be on time, work hard and be willing to look in the corners for dirt. Choose a person who cleans from the top down, starting with the chandelier and finishing with the floor. We recommend choosing someone with staff so when there is a small window of time between guests they have options for who they can deploy. And we suggest scheduling a test-clean when you are in town so you can ensure standards are understood and met.

Create a checklist to be used each time the home is cleaned and establish a set rate per cleaning. Determine a consistent cleaning schedule, typically mid-week and immediately following the guest’s stay. Keeping a clean home is fundamental to a successful vacation rental business.

Vacation Rental Agent – Secures Qualified Bookings

Marketing your home as a vacation rental is both a complex and competitive business. Hiring a professional vacation rental agent will give you peace of mind that your home is well positioned and broadly distributed. At Elite Destination Homes we’ve been successfully marketing luxury vacation homes since 2005. We can help you set your rates and position your home against competition. We will promote your home across 20+ international online channels and with the top travel agents. We respond quickly and professionally to inquiries and have a growing database of discerning clientele that we continually market to. We review occupancy, revenue and promotions weekly to turn open calendar dates into booked vacations. Our sole focus is on maximizing rental revenue. Learn more about our vacation rental marketing services and see how we compare to other vacation rental agent options.

Successfully renting out your vacation home may seem daunting.  However, with the help of professionals you can build a lucrative vacation rental business and still carve out the time to truly enjoy your vacation home.

Ready to dive in? If you start with us we can help you get the rest of your partners in place. We can also help you get up and running by leading you through our tried and true process for setting up a vacation rental business.

Benefits of a Vacation Home Exchange

By Elite Destination HomesVacation Rental Management

Love your second home in Jackson Hole, but long to spend a week relaxing on the beaches in the Caribbean? A vacation home exchange may be in order. Vacation home exchange is exactly as it sounds. You trade a stay in your lovely home for a stay in another family’s fabulous vacation villa in the Turks and Caicos. Or Paris. Or Tuscany. You pick.

Opening up your home to other like-minded families unlocks a world of possibilities. Your vacation options expand exponentially  without any additional expense for accommodations. In essence, you leverage the investment you’ve already made as a way to travel the world.

As a vacation homeowner you already know that staying in a home is a much more authentic way to travel and experience a foreign destination. When you stay as a guest of a homeowner you’ll get a list of their local recommendations and favorite haunts. You’ll walk the neighborhood, shop at the local market and gather in the kitchen for meals. Instead of being confined to a hotel room, you can unwind and reconnect while barbequing on the patio.

Besides the economical considerations, another tangible benefit to vacation home exchange is that it truly is a planet friendly way to travel. It reduces the demand on the resort industry and fosters support of local merchants.

While there are exchanges you can join for a fee, at Elite Destination Homes we provide free vacation home exchange to all luxury homeowners who have chosen us as their vacation rental agent.  We offer an ever-growing international portfolio of luxury villas. You simply let us know which home you are interested in and Elite handles everything. We contact the owner, arrange the trade and handle all the scheduling. There are no points to accrue, no blackout dates, and no fees.

And with all travel to Elite properties you get access to our free concierge service. Your personal concierge will be on-call and nearby to cater to your every need. Whether it’s pre-stocking the pantry, booking tee times, or making dinner reservations we’ll make sure your vacation experience is exceptional.

Learn more about vacation home exchange through Elite Destination Homes and check out our portfolio of multi-million dollar properties in sought after beach, city, country, and ski destinations. Contact us for more information about our vacation rental management services and get ready to explore the world.

Do I Need a Property Manager for My Vacation Rental?

By Elite Destination Homes | Vacation Rental Management

When deciding to rent out your vacation home your first question may be, “Do I need a property manager for my vacation rental?” If you are looking to generate substantial income and not looking for a second job, the simple answer is yes.

In order to run a successful vacation home rental operation, you need to put your business hat on and start thinking about your second home as a revenue stream. Getting the appropriate support staff in place will be key to your rental success and will also help you protect your home as the vacation getaway you always intended it to be.

Property maintenance is a constant for homeowners and maintaining a second home an airplane trip away can be both time consuming and challenging. Hiring a local property manager to handle the maintenance and upkeep of your vacation home will give you the peace of mind you desire while also ensuring your home is in tip-top shape for renters. It is critical that your home be well maintained to ensure the best possible guest experience. Positive experiences lead to positive reviews, your best form of online marketing.

We recommend hiring a property manager who is well networked with service providers in the area as this person can help hire and oversee your housecleaner, the lawn and pool service companies, window washers, etc. For repairs, they will tap into their network and get multiple bids and check references to ensure the best people are hired for the job.

Your property manager should be put in charge of all household supplies. They can help you create a home inventory and take care of shopping when it comes time to replenish or replace.

During a guest’s stay, your property manager should be on call to handle any repairs or issues that arise. After every stay, they should do a review of your home to check for any damages and ensure everything is in working order and well-stocked for the next visit.

To ensure there are no surprises, your property manager should help you set a budget for the home and be put in charge of a house bank account. They can use this account for receipt of rental revenue and for payment of all recurring bills. These funds can be accessed for replenishing household supplies and for covering miscellaneous repairs.

We cannot stress how important a top-notch local property manager is to your vacation rental business. However, they’re not the only partner needed; a house cleaner, concierge and vacation rental agent should also be part of your rental team. Some property managers’ capabilities may include house cleaning and concierge duties, however most property managers lack the expertise needed to navigate the highly competitive and complex world of online marketing. For this role you need an experienced sales and marketing professional who can drive qualified leads and secure bookings. And that’s where we come in. Elite Destination Homes is a vacation rental company that’s been handling vacation rental marketing for luxury homes since 2005.

Still questioning, “Do I need a property manager for my vacation home?” Maybe you’re now wondering how to find one? In either case we can help. We have local property manager partners in over 20 international destinations and are well connected in the vacation rental business. If you choose us as your vacation rental agent we can help you source a top-notch property manager.

Learn more about Elite’s vacation rental management services or contact us for help in finding a property manager for your rental vacation home today.

From Art Crawls to Whale Watching

By Marie McKay | Los Cabos, Mexico

Marie and her husband Randy are fractional owners in Elite’s Palmilla Retreat

Family is so important to both Randy and I. Like many others, we tend to get so wrapped up in our own lives that we lose track of the people that are dearest to us. That’s why we invite family and friends to join us on vacation in Cabo. I just love waking up in the morning knowing that everyone is there.

Randy likes to get up around 5:30 every morning, and walk up the hill near our house, with a chair and a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise. I like to sip coffee with my sisters a little later in the morning. At some point in the day we hop in our golf cart and make our way to the private Beach Club that we have privileged access to. We’ve made friends with most of the staff like Charlie, who works at the beach. He sets us up with paddle-boarding, sailing, snorkeling, any kind of water sport on the calmest bay in all of Cabo. Another one of our favorite things is to take Yoga classes at the state of the art fitness center and spa complete with an outdoor Yoga Pavilion that overlooks the ocean. One day we had the masseuse come to the Villa – she gave massage, after massage to our entire family. I am glad I got mine first.

Some of the best memories come from our meals together. We first all go shopping together at Mega, the huge grocery store, splitting up the shopping list between all of us. Whatever people come back with is what we have for dinner that night. Sitting around the table, I always ask – “What was the favorite part of your day?” The answers get more colorful after a few glasses of wine.

Elite’s Concierge, Paul, (yes, you have your own personal Concierge to arrange anything you would like), greets us at the home with warm quesadilla’s and cool margaritas. On our last trip he arranged the most amazing whale watching cruise. Take a look at the video below, it’s of Randy almost touching the whale!

We recently discovered the Thursday Night Art Crawl in San Jose del Cabo, and it is quickly becoming one of our favorite things. Everything feels festive, you drink a little wine, look at some art, and enjoy the shabby-chic cafes. The town is adorable.

Having a meeting place for our family and friends has been an amazing thing for us. And having a second home in a vacation destination is an absolute no-brainer. When the temperature drops and the wind is howling, paradise is only a plane-ride away.

Read more about the McKay’s and their experience of working with Elite in the current edition of Artful Living Magazine (pg 196)

A Hunger for Down Under

By Chelsea Swenson | Australia

The lights of Sydney Harbor made my heart beat faster as I knew that an exciting adventure was upon me.  This would be a 3 week excursion spending two weeks in Sydney, Australia and then one week on the North Island of New Zealand. While staying in Sydney with friends, we had the chance to experience the city from the local’s perspective instead of the tourists’ view.  We embraced the charming hole-in-the-wall Thai food restaurant that we couldn’t get enough of and made it a point to try Panang curry everywhere we could.

From the majestic Blue Mountains, to the coastal walkway on Bondi Beach, to the excitement in Sydney while the World Cup played on, everything about Australia was fascinating.  Including their accents, I knew they were speaking English, but it was unlike any English I had heard in awhile.  When I wasn’t in public, I would secretly try to speak as they do, unfortunately it never seemed to be quite right.

Continuing our journey in New Zealand, my husband and I rented a car planned a few choice destinations and let the rest of the trip unfold during the in-betweens.   Once we hopped into the car, adjusted to driving on left side of the road and left the city, everything looked like Lord of the Rings; it now makes sense why they filmed there. There are so many different terrains to experience.  One of our favorite spots was a local swimming hole where two streams connect.  The one stream brings warm water from all the thermal activity in the area and the other is cool.  Where they meet is a perfect natural hot tub.

It’s memories like this that stir me to travel.  There are so many places left to discover and so many new foods to eat.   Who knows maybe our next trip will be to Thailand to continue our saga for the best Panang curry?  Whatever it is, traveling is a love that will always cause my heart to flutter.

The Summer Vacation You and Your Family Should Take!

By Laurie Flum | Steamboat Springs

I thought Steamboat Springs CO was only a ski village so when work called for me to go in October I thought “what am I going to do in October in Steamboat”. You know the old saying “all work and no play…”

So I started by listening to a few people that told me to land at DIA (Denver International Airport) and drive the three hours to Steamboat.  The best drive you will ever take is I70 West and onto US40 – both are gorgeous! This drive takes you through the most unbelievable scenery. Three things you must do:

  1. Take 170 during the day (it has been voted the most scenic route in the US multiple times!)
  2. Paper, Scissor, Rocks – the loser has to drive. (Views, as stated, are WOW. I had a hard time staying on the road while site seeing. My attention was certainly challenged by mountains majesty and winding, sloping roads.)
  3. Rent a car with SYNC and bring your music list (there are no music stations for 80% of the drive). Tip……bring “The Cello Song” by Steven Sharp Nelson and play it after you are 90 or so minutes out of Denver. It will feel as though the mountains are actually playing some of the most beautiful music choreographed to the most majestic scenery you can imagine just for you.

When you get into Steamboat, you can’t help but notice how “Minnesota Nice” the locals are, even if they aren’t from Minnesota.

There are so many things to do in the summer in Steamboat that you will have a hard time choosing which items get put on the vacation list. Hiking, fishing, biking, soaking in the hot springs, listening to a free concert, wandering through the art fairs, dining at the many establishments and shopping are a few of the things you will find to do. There are miles of hiking and biking trails. You’ll want to go with a buddy however because at Cimarron (the beautiful townhome I stayed in) we had fox daily and a bear interested in our trash 2 out of 4 nights.

I had enough time after my morning appointments one day for two fun events. I decided to visit one of Mother Nature’s most remarkable gifts, the hot springs, and go horseback riding.

Strawberry Hot Springs are fabulous. The drive there was beautiful and unlike in the winter, the “required by law” four wheel drive and chains were not in force. The springs are warm (just on the edge of hot actually), clean and friendly. No crowds like in winter, only 7 or 8 others were there. We had the pick of pools to bathe in and it was luxurious. The 65 degree air felt wonderful and I felt rejuvenated and was able to completely relax. A warm sunray, a trickling creek, a cooling breeze and now Steamboat hot springs are some of my favorite gifts from Mother Nature. This water amazed me.

My second choice was to go horseback riding at Del’s Triangle 3 Ranch. Normally in winter there are a dozen horses following each other on this trail ride. That means you are stuck between two horses and at the mercy of others riding abilities. Going in the summer however I was gifted with a one on one horse trail ride in which we saw a family of five mule deer and a herd of 100 or more Elk. The elk were 200 yards away from us when I first noticed him. I say him because I only saw one HUGE buck and Michele (my guide) pointed out that the entire background was moving as well. It was a herd made up of female, male and young elk. They made a call that sounded like a bugle – it was lovely. When they caught wind of us they took off through the forest up the mountain. The thunder of their hooves and the cracking and snapping of all the dead, fallen timber was amazing.

So my advice is to rent an awesome home, bring the entire family to Steamboat in the summer and have the time of your life hiking, biking, horseback riding, swimming, or whatever else your hearts desire.

At least four of the locals I spoke with told me they came on a ski trip and never left. I learned what ended up to be a common phrase in Steamboat;  ”you come for the skiing and stay for the summers”. I love to ski, I do, but I couldn’t imagine missing this place in the summertime. Next time I’ll go mid September as more of the leaves will be on the trees and I’m told the colors and scenery are even more remarkable (I can hardly imagine that).

This is a hidden summer vacation oasis. Go to Steamboat in the summer, you will not be disappointed.

By the way….if you have a wait at the DIA try the Chop House for a meal and atmosphere that will put a very nice end to your trip!

Happy Travels…..

Laurie

 

Mad, Mad, Madeline

By Bill Bisanz | Apostle Islands

She’s beautiful, mysterious, and elusive. And she would drive most mad if you had to live with her year-round.

Madeline Island, the largest and only permanently inhabited of the Apostle islands is a 13-mile island set off the Bayfield peninsula on Lake Superior. My first visit was nearly 10-years ago when I chartered a sailboat just two weeks after receiving my basic certification. It took me two days of what felt-like death defying maneuvers before I was brave enough to take on all three miles of the protected waters of the channel between Bayfield and Madeline. Our sojourn was just one night. We docked at a transient slip in the Madeline Island Yacht Club, walked into town, had dinner at what seemed like only restaurant serving dinner (which is no longer there) and retired to the boat for a night of floating slumber. Even after such a small taste, I had a sense that Madeline could be, if given an appropriate amount of time and attention, a truelove. Little did I know how right I was.

This summer I spent two weeks on the island. Oddly, most of that time was without cell-phone coverage. In today’s uber-connected world it is truly a luxury to unplug from technology and plug into nature. Whether it was sailing in the Around The Islands race, collecting driftwood on the uninhabited Long Island, or swimming in the exhilarating brisk and clear water of later Superior, the natural beauty of Madeline Island and her surroundings rival some of the world’s greatest natural treasures. At times as I looked out from our porch and took in the island dotted vistas I recalled visits to the Adriatic or North seas where tree-adorned archipelagos collide with big, blue water.

La Pointe, Wisconsin is the town on the island. It was founded in 1834 and it boasts a year-round population of 220 souls, although this swells to over 2,000 in the summer. Madeline Island traces its European roots to the mid-1600’s when French explorers and missionaries established a presence and the island become an important outpoint for French and British fur traders. Ojibwae Indians inhabited the island before and during the European newcomers.

The most interesting part of the Madeline experience is the water. Whether you are taking a ‘lake bath’, jumping from cliffs at ‘Eagles Nest’ (Big Bay State Park), kayaking in sea-caves, on the Madeline Island Ferry in your car, or just swimming in the lake, i.e. Lake Superior, one cannot help but feel a sense of excitement and humility. Exciting because the water is cold. Darn cold mostly. In July and August the temperatures reach the high 60s so it’s brisk in a nice way. The water feels incredibly clear and clean and it has excellent visibility with very little visible vegetation or marine life. One is presented with a sense of humility because of the inspiring scale of the lake. Lake Superior is the largest body of fresh water on the planet, 2nd largest after lake Baikal in Russia in terms of volume of water. So when you float over, swim in, regard on a map or simply gaze upon it, Lake Superior makes you feel small and simple – in a nice way.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the 4th of July parade in the town of La Pointe. Other than the Susan B. Komen for the cure float and accompanying bright pink bracelets, it feels like this parade is completely stuck in time. It is a very charming slice of old-school Americana.

Lastly, I have to mention Tom’s burned down bar. The story as to its provenance includes several different names, locations and owners but in the end there was a fire, a large tent was erected over a bar and a creative guy named Tom put his imprimatur on it. Madeline Island has a small, year-round group of residences that are young, granola, hippy-types (with respect). At Toms, which is right in town, this group intersects with the weekly vacation visitors, sailors and those that live on the island full and part time. There is great music, out door fireplaces and a collection of hundreds of pithy sayings that are mostly too crude or politically incorrect to repeat here that are painted on to small pieces of wood or right on to the walls of the bar its self. It’s a great place to catch a drink and one of the more unique watering holes I’ve been to.

If you like nature, remote peace and scenic beauty you will likely very much like Madeline island. If staying for more than a day or two bring a good book, food to cook and let your friends know that your cell phone probably wont work most of the time (even if that’s not always true!).

Talk Fractional with International Architecture & Design Magazine

Culture Club

Fractional ownerships let urban tourists put down roots

Even the most seasoned of tourists have left a city feeling like they missed something. In a foreign metropolis, a week or two leaves barely enough time to scratch the city’s surface. For a new breed of traveller, there’s a desire to move beyond a brief getaway to the beach and into an extended urban escape. With the unique opportunity to take up residence abroad in some of the world’s most enticing cultural hubs, fractional ownerships pick up where time-shares leave off. Visitors drawn to the bustling streets and infectious energy of cities may find that fractionals serve their needs in a way that a remote, private villa never could.

Time-shares can tally upwards of a few dozen buyers who purchase the right to use a property for a week or two a year. Fractionals, on the other hand, offer residents prime ownership over elegant foreign real estate while limiting shares to three to six parties. Fewer buyers mean more time to gain cultural grounding and put down some temporary roots for a fraction of the cost of sole ownership. The properties are rare gems—plush apartments in sought-after downtown neighborhoods. Most put scrupulous effort into interior design and modern renovations while maintaining historic architectural structures within enticing, upscale edifices.

Each share of the property is purchased outright in exchange for a few months a year, while a management company oversees and maintains the home. There are also the monthly carrying costs of the property, which are paid year round. Imagine the ease of arriving to a fully furnished apartment with the convenience of amenities like laundry, maid service and a concierge desk to ensure that repairs, for instance, never have to cross your mind. Though a time-share would have locked you into a single property in the past, some fractionals permit swaps with fellow owners in sister cities or tropical destinations. And so, you would have the flexibility to visit sandy shores when the mood strikes.

European cities like Paris and Madrid become a home away from home when you can settle into a familiar environment. With more time to immerse yourself in a city, a pied-à-terre invites you to discover new sights and sounds every year, with the flexibility to book when your schedule permits. At its core, fractional real estate helps you discover your niche, trading in the traditional pitfalls of tourism for a more refined glimpse of the city’s stature. Whether it’s a music festival, an art show opening or a visit to a sidewalk café, you can embed yourself in the DNA of a foreign urban sprawl by mixing the old with the new. As you adapt to the cultural climate, local tastes become second nature and your comfort level will strike the chord of being in a home sweet home, enticing you to linger longer, explore at leisure and experience the city without urgency.

For information: www.elitedestinationhomes.com —Anna Cipollone

 

Elite’s “Villa La Percha” Featured in Ocean Home Magazine

Provo Paradise

Melissa C Gillespie | Ocean Home Magazine

La Percha is the newest luxury living experience in Turks & Caicos

The allure of the British West Indies has entertained the the fantasies of royalty, aristocrates, and celebrities for centuries. Now, Providenciales (or Provo, as it’s called by locals) in the Turks & Caicos Islands welcomes La Percha, a new luxury villa, to the prestigious Ocean Point Drive.

Villa La Percha, a shared-ownership, resort-style home that sleeps eight guests, boasts four large bedrooms with patio or balcony access and awe-inspiring views, plus indoor and outdoor living space. On-site amenities include access to tennis courts and kayaks, a private dock, and ocean facing hot tub and fire pit, a private pool, a screened porch, an outdoor kitchen with a grill, and a gazebo. Steps from the villa, guests can wade in the shallow waters of Taylor Bay.

La Percha’s concierge is available at any time to arrange for restaurant reservations, in-villa spa treatments, or for activities like boating excursions and horseback riding. For a one-of-a-kind experience, take a trip to the only conch farm in the world, located right on Providenciales.

Though the island has numerous resturants nearby, dining at La Percha is a customized culinary treat. We recommend flagging down the lobster boat from the villa’s private dock, picking out some choice crustations, and utilizing the concierge’s connections to bring a personal chef to the villa. Abundant outdoor dining options range from beachside to cliffside to poolside.

Ownership of La Percha, which is part of the Elite Destination Homes network, includes access to Elite’s global exchange program. Villa La Percha is also available for rent from $8,500 per week.

Mountains and Moose and Bears, Oh My!

By Jeanne Larson | Jackson Hole, WY

It was a long October weekend, and we had decided to head to Jackson Hole. My family and I love to ski, so although it wasn’t the season, we viewed this as a good scouting expedition. The car trip from Minnesota across South Dakota was pretty uneventful, until we crossed the Missouri River. The terrain suddenly became more sculpted and hinted of mountains.

The four of us arrived in Jackson at night, picked up a few goodies for the next day, and made our way through intermittent fog several miles along the Snake River to Teton Village, the slope-side hamlet of Jackson Hole Mountain. The carved wooden bear at the front door welcomed us and confirmed we had made it to Bear Paw Lodge. When morning came, I was anxious to see the surroundings. I looked out of the floor to ceiling great room windows to a gorgeous view of Sleeping Indian Mountain, when some movement in the foreground caught my eye. A lone moose was munching tall grass about 100 feet away on a neighboring rise.

Teton Village was an easy walk from Bear Paw, and the weather was crisp and clear, so after breakfast we took a stroll to the village center, the concert hall, and the base of the Teewinot Tram. I suppose we were all curious about the ski runs so our walk soon turned into a trek, kids leading the way to the top of the tram and summit of Rendezvous Peak. The scenery and quiet were striking.

As spectacular as the views of the valley and the snow-covered mountains were, I think the free flow of wild animals was the highlight. Our concierge, Meredith, tipped us off that the best viewing of animals was at twilight. Following her instructions, we drove into Teton National Park at dusk. It wasn’t long until we spotted an enormous herd of antelope. We watched them graze for a while, and then learned from other onlookers that moose were to be found in the river. So off we went. By the time it got really dark, my daughter and I decided we had had enough fun and walked back to the security of the car. My husband and son nevertheless ventured down the river banks and managed to get pretty close to a mother moose and her calf wallowing in the water.

The south entrance to Yellowstone is about 60 miles from Teton Village. Making our way the next day toward the geysers we skirted Jackson Lake, where the Grand Tetons rise out of the crystal waters. It was a magnificent setting to skip some stones. We felt lucky when Old Faithful treated us well by performing its magic within two minutes of reaching the geyser area.

My most vivid memory of the entire excursion was encountering a herd of buffalo on a narrow two-way road as we left Yellowstone at night. At first it didn’t seem the big animals cared much that we were there. Drivers from both directions lined up since the buffalo didn’t let us pass. But the mood changed dramatically when an impatient driver leaned into her horn. We turned our attention to the buffalo which, two cars in front of us, started to paw at the ground, tilted their massive heads downward, and spewed vapor out of their nostrils. I thought we all might have been the object of a stampede, but fortunately they didn’t charge and very slowly made room for the honker, and then the rest of us. Now we felt really lucky.

We keep a couple of rocks from Jackson Lake in our kitchen. And hope to go back to Jackson with skis.

Paris by Sail

By John Pollack | Paris

John Pollack is an accomplished author and journalist who won the 1995 O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships and was a Presidential Speechwriter for Bill Clinton. Earlier, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Spain, as a field assistant in Antarctica, and as a strolling violinist on Mackinac Island. You can learn more about his adventures in his books The Pun Also Rises and Cork Boat.

For those hoping to see Paris by boat, there is no shortage of willing vessels. Most common are the Seine’s long, glass-enclosed tour boats that – glittering with the flash of a thousand cameras – slip through nighttime waters past the ancient towers of Notre Dame.

For those with a few more sous in their pockets, luxurious private yachts await at the Arsenal Port La Bastille marina, on the Right Bank, not far from the site of the fearsome prison whose storming came to symbolize the French Revolution. And if a more bohemian experience is what you seek, some of the old houseboats that tie up along the Left Bank will even rent you a bunk for a night, though these colorful barges rarely, if ever, leave their stone quais.

But for those with a true spirit of nautical adventure, I recommend setting sail on a more whimsical voyage aboard one of the toy ships that, for at least a century now, have heeled before the winds sweeping the Grand Basin at the Luxembourg Gardens. Yes, these diminutive vessels are too small to accommodate anyone but a Lilliputian, but they are nevertheless grand in their capacity to carry one’s imagination.

For those drawn to the water, the emotional pull of a boat – even a toy boat – is hard to describe. But John Masefield, who as a young, penniless vagabond crossed the Atlantic aboard a windjammer in the last days of sail and eventually went on to become Britain’s Poet Laureate, captured the feeling well in his 1902 poem, Sea-Fever.

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea
and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song,
and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and a grey dawn
breaking.

 

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of
the running tide
Is a wild call and clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds
flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the
sea-gulls crying.”

And so it was that, on a recent June morning as I walked through the Gardens with my friend Olga – clouds scudding overhead and gravel crunching underfoot – we decided to run off to sea.

There was no need to go far, nor even to stow away. For a mere two euros, a young, somewhat indifferent French harbormaster with a dwindling fleet handed us a bamboo pole and command of a red, gaff-rigged Moroccan sloop. The moment I began carrying our little ship to the water, its sails seemed to snap with impatience.

It’s important to note that these little tall ships at the Luxembourg Gardens are not radio controlled. In fact, they’ve probably changed little, if at all, from those that Ernest Hemingway referenced in A Moveable Feast, his classic memoir of 1920’s Paris. The accompanying bamboo pole, which a captain can use to gently shove his or her boat off, offers one only modest control, and then only when the boat is within a few feet of the basin’s edge.

As it happened, our little Moroccan ship needed no such encouragement or direction. Once in the water, sails tightly hauled, it set off smartly on a beam reach in hot pursuit of a Yankee clipper flying the Stars and Stripes. With not a moment to lose, I set off running for the other side, circumnavigating the fountain while trying not to collide with the little children who – each clutching their own bamboo pole – raced in pursuit of their boats, too. I don’t know who among us was more gleeful.

Half an hour later, having survived the ferocious typhoon of a spouting fountain, the placid indifference of Moby Dick, and the depredations of a marauding pirate ship, Olga and I returned our dripping vessel to the harbormaster. Rejuvenated by our unexpected voyage, we continued onward afoot, into the Latin Quarter, with vague intentions of finding a good boulangerie.

And this, in essence, characterized our week in Paris. We wandered as our desires carried us, guided not by a list of museums or monuments or must-see attractions, but by the winds of whimsy and serendipitous discovery.

Admittedly, it takes some determination to break the demands of popular expectation, especially when it comes to visiting a city as famous as Paris. Just look around, and you’ll see more than a few visitors who are so intently focused on commemorating their experiences that they see much of the city only through the digital screen of their camera.

Now, I’m not entirely immune to the lure of popular attractions. Did we see the Eiffel Tower, and snap a picture? Yes, from a distance. But the Arc de Triomphe? In that, we failed even to try, and let the Mona Lisa’s mysterious smile grace others, too. But if our Paris was a little more eclectic, it was still just as enthralling.

From a narrow, cobbled street, we watched an old man in a blue smock sit high atop a scaffold. Oblivious to the world below, he carefully lettered French prose onto an old stone wall, his slender brush dipping – every few strokes – into a small can of paint. Later, we picnicked on a bench in the Jardin des Plantes, listening to the music of a distant carousel and savoring a delicious, runny cheese that stank like the innards of a junkyard tire. Such is the perfection of random moments.

One special pleasure in this city of haute cuisine was, ironically, dining by candlelight in our EDH apartment on Rue du Four, in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. With seared tuna and an arugula salad, a bottle of white wine and old jazz on the radio, it seemed the perfect, relaxing Paris evening after a long day on the cobblestones. It reminded us that staying in a pied a terre – not just a nice hotel room – can change one’s entire perspective on a foreign city. Yes, we had voyaged to Paris from distant ports, but still felt entirely at home.

Too soon, our brief Parisian idyll ran its course and vacation ended. Olga returned to Ibiza, and I – after eight hours jammed into coach next to a fat man with halitosis – emerged into the honking cacophony of a humid Thursday night in New York City. Not surprisingly, the journey, the jetlag and this sudden, jarring juxtaposition with Paris left me feeling a little deflated.

It was almost midnight when I finally made it back into my walkup studio in Greenwich Village. I was grateful to finally be done schlepping my duffel through airports and subways, and happy to drink the cold bottle of beer I found waiting in my fridge. Then I lay down in my own bed, turned out the light and, too exhausted to dream, fell into a sound sleep.

Now, as I write this essay a few days later, the clock tower down my street is tolling the hour, much as the bells must be tolling, an ocean away, across the Île de la Cité. And as I listen to them pealing across the rooftops, the sails of my imagination are once again filling, and a red Moroccan sloop carries me toward distant shores.

Elite’s CEO, Bill Bisanz, Talks With FOXBusiness About Fractional Ownership

Fractional Real Estate Ownership: Getting a Slice of a Vacation Home

By Cindy Venegas | Published May 21, 2012 | FOXBusiness

A new breed of vacation home ownership is gaining steam that allows individuals to share ownership of a property.

Think of it like this: A whole pie may look delicious, but it doesn’t make financial sense to buy the entire dessert if you are just having a few bites.

However, if you split the cost among several buyers and ensure that everyone gets a slice, then the purchase makes sense.

That’s the theory behind fractional real estate ownership, in which second homes are purchased under a multi-owner structure and cost and access to the home is shared.

“It allows you to create a connection between the time you spend in the home and the amount of money you pay for it,” says Andy Sirkin, a fractional homeowner and attorney who specializes in real estate co-ownership at Sirkin & Associates [www.andysirkin.com]. “It causes fewer headaches, costs less money and I still get everything I want.”

The concept of fractional ownership may sound similar to a timeshare, however fractionals have fewer buyers which increases the amount of time available to each buyer and tend to be an option at more upscale destinations.

According to Sirkin, “the meaningful differences between most old-fashioned timeshares and most modern fractional ownership arrangements are the extent to which each participant’s rights and responsibilities are limited to a particular home or group of homes, and the extent of each participant’s ownership and control.

The concept is reserved for expensive homes in vacation destinations, and offered by both multi-unit developers and high-end resorts. Single-family homes make up a small, but up and coming, part of the market.

Elite Destination Homes [www.elitedestinationhomes.com] has been buying resort properties and single-family units and selling them as fractionals for the last seven years. Its offerings range from a three-bedroom in Paris’ St. Germain neighborhood to a five-bedroom chalet in Steamboat Springs, Colo. As the sponsor, the compny handles putting together the buyer partnerships, which can range from four to 12 buyers, as well as the purchase agreements.

Bill Bisanz, founder and CEO of Elite Destination Homes, recommends that buyers research the sponsor’s track record before completing a purchase. “Check to see if the sponsor’s other properties are sold out and be careful of how much the sponsor is marking the deal up,” warns Bisanz, who typically charges at 25% premium. Other considerations include analyzing the sponsor’s resale program, if a buyer wants to sell his or her fraction, and evaluating on-going carrying costs.

Once potential fractional buyers select a property they should verify that the contract includes usage terms, expense sharing, conflict resolution and exit strategies.

“Make sure the contract clearly spells out how usage is going to work among owners,” recommends Sirkin. This is especially important in seasonal properties where multiple owners will be vying for the best times of the year.

He also suggests that contracts include details of how the budget will be created each year. “When bills come in, you don’t want to have to figure out last minute how you are going to pay them.”

Buyers also need to protect themselves against what the industry calls “rule-breakers.”

“Buyers should ask, ‘what happens if someone is in the property when they shouldn’t be or doesn’t pay when they need to? Do we have a system that doesn’t cost a lot of money and take a lot of time?’” advises Sirkin.

For foreign property owners, if a conflict escalates and requires judicial intervention, defining where conflicts will be handled is a must.

The fractional ownership structure is not ideal for every vacation homebuyer. Debra Savage, a real estate agent at Railey Realty [http://realty.railey.com] in Maryland says this type of ownership only makes sense with certain vacation and lifestyle goals.

“The biggest thing is how they plan to use the home. If they are only popping down on weekends once in a while then fractional residence makes sense. If you want to spend a whole summer here, it won’t work,” she says.

When buyers approach Elite Destination Homes, management begins the courting process with a “fit” conversation to see if the concept will meet the buyer’s goals. “We tell people, ‘don’t do this if you are not in it for a seven-year hold,” says Bisanz.

Just like in primary residential real estate, the main roadblock to fractional ownership is mortgage funding. “During the financial meltdown the market experienced a financing freeze,” says Sirkin. “Potential buyers got hesitant about buying anything. Now buyer confidence has returned, but financing is still a problem.”

Gasping at its beauty

I have just had the pleasure of staying at Casa Tanglewood. The house is incredible, and the setting is breathtaking. I have never stayed in such an elegant yet welcoming house. It really is a very special place and makes me smile just thinking about it. The initial plan was to go to the nearby beaches, waterfalls, and national parks, but we found that we were just so relaxed and happy in the house that we stayed there most of the time. Our days started by eating breakfast outside enjoying a dramatic view of the ocean and mountains, joined by a few little friends…humming birds and colourful frogs! Afternoons were spent in the infinity pool enjoying the sun and the tranquility. Evenings were spent preparing dinner in the spacious, fully equipped kitchen, followed by cocktails made with fruit picked from the trees in the garden. All family and friends comfortably enjoyed films in the living room with surround sound. All details of the house have been thoroughly thought through; everything you could want is there. The gardens are beautifully landscaped. Upon arriving at the property we spent a lot of time gasping at its beauty. I can’t do the house justice with words, seeing is believing!

My daughter who is not even one year old knew she was somewhere special, she was ecstatic from the moment we arrived to the moment we left.

I cannot recommend this house enough!

Thank you for an amazing holiday Casa Tanglewood!
– Emer

A Zest for Global Living Experiences

By Jeanne Larson | Madrid, Mexico

I was lucky to spend three weeks traveling throughout central Mexico with my family as a child. That trip was the beginning of a strong attraction to other cultures and a zest for global living experiences that have transcended my life.

I headed to Europe after business school, determined to begin an international career in Spain where I had a rudimentary knowledge of the language and had studied at different points. After a sales career in Madrid, opportunities led me to Buenos Aires, and later Mexico City.

When it was logically time to settle down, my husband, who I met in Mexico and who relishes other cultures as much as I do, and I uprooted again to live in Europe for a few years. Our two children were born there, one in Barcelona, the other in Fontainebleau outside of Paris.

Now back in Minnesota, and living with my family on the farm where I grew up, I look forward to every opportunity to work with owners who wish to share their special home and its local culture with guests.

Yoga On the Road: Barcelona, Paris & NYC

By Bill Bisanz | Paris, New York

On a recent trip to three of my all-time favorite places I practiced yoga…everywhere. Normally my trips, whether for work or pleasure (this was both), are a departure from my normal routine. For sure travel is meant to be a break from the ordinary but why miss out on the extraordinary parts of the ordinary just because we’re on the road.

With this in mind I set out to maintain some of the same practices that help me feel happy and balanced when I’m at home in St. Paul, e.g., yoga, exercise, meditation and food. Yoga was the easiest of these to integrate into the jam-packed days of big-city travel and exploration. Waking up at 6 or 7 and going to bed at mid-night or later and in between meandering around these magnificent urban cathedrals, yoga is a great way to stay balanced while integrating so many new experiences.

In Barcelona, I practiced yoga in two studios – Yoga Studio Barcelona (www.yogastudio.es) and Happy Yoga (www.happyyoga.com) both located adjacent to the Placa Universitat about a five minute walk from Placa Catalunya. I would very much recommend both of these studios. For those of you who like vegetarian food, there is a simple but quite good vegan place called Veggie Garden at 3 Calle Dels Angels, very near both of these studios (try the great smoothies).

In Paris, Elite’s apartments are on the left bank in the St. Germain neighborhood so that is where I tend to spend most of my time. Oddly there seem to be more yoga studios in Barcelona than in Paris and there are more studios on the right bank in Paris, than near our homes on the left. Fortunately, I was introduced to a studio on the left bank Rasa Yoga (www.rasa-yogarivegauche.com), where we enjoyed a couple of different class types. By far my favorite was the Ashtanga class with Malena, a sexy Argentinian who glided as easily between English, Spanish, French and Sanskrit as she did across the floor of the yoga studio.

New York is home to my favorite yoga teacher, Sri Dharma Mittra; true spiritual teacher and gentle man. (www.dharmayogacenter.com). Dharma has been teaching yoga for over 40 years and I find this community to be welcoming warm and inspirational. Can’t say enough about what an amazing experience it is to visit and practice with this group of yogis!

Besides the yoga we enjoyed a rocking good time with our friends in Paris at the timeless Chez Castel, a private club so exclusive it doesn’t even have a website, facebook page or sign at the door. We also crashed the Paris marathon on Sunday morning for a few miles as well as David Lynch’s new club, Silencio. So the trip wasn’t all yoga, meditation and veggies!

Returning from my recent trip to Barcelona, Paris and New York City, I’m again struck by the unique opportunity to be inspired that travel offers us. Exposure to new ideas, people, perspectives, experiences are the reasons that those of us who love to take our journeys on the road just cant stop travelling.