From the Start – Commitment to Hospitality

From the Start – Commitment to Hospitality

Where does a career in the hospitality industry begin? When most people look for homes for rent in Florida they probably don’t start by looking at the credentials and background of their host, but it might not be a bad place to start. Like many people who retire to Florida to start a new career in,
my background has little to do with my career as a vacation rental proprietor although it has everything to do with the way I approach making sure that Erehwon Retreat guests have a superlative Florida vacation experience.

As a young man in the 1970s, in the field of Arts Management, I was keen to develop both my skills and my experience – Dr. A Clyde Roller, then the Resident Conductor of the Houston Symphony stated that I was by temperament, background and personality, ideally suited to a career that required me to create an immediate good relationship with people. Some five years later, the Governor of the State of New York, Hugh L Carey, wrote to thank me for the hard work I put into the dedication of the Helen Owen Carey Playhouse named in honor of his late wife. Just four years further on, President Jimmy Carter contacted me to express his appreciation for my efforts in putting together a Performance of American Arts to honor Deng Xiaoping the Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China. I list these accomplishments not to boast, but to make clear that my entire career has been a commitment to ensuring people have first rate experiences whether in the theater, or in my Florida vacation home rentals.

Florida Vacations are all about experiences

What we all seek from a vacation is a wonderful experience – an unforgettable memory for all the right reasons. From seeing “Mickey” to a Snowy White Egret, a commitment to service means that I want my guests to have more than a holiday, I want them to have the kind of experience that
makes their Florida vacation something better than just a break in the sun, turning it into the kind of event that delights on every level. For some guests I suggest going outside when it’s dark and gaze in wonder at the firmament of stars, planets, the moon and make a day trip to Cape
Canaveral. Others want to see the birds during Migration. I am remembering a guest who asked for special birding suggestions while telling me Pakistan has over 786 native species of birds.

Unforgettable moments are built up out of an understanding of the hospitality industry and a recognition of what moves a vacation from ‘a trip to the sun’ to ‘an unforgettable trip’. It’s the difference between setting up a vacation rental to help pay your mortgage and establishing a vacation rental to delight visitors and support the local community. As an example, our most recent review on Home Away explains the philosophy that underpins
everything we do:

Review #20506705 “Erehwon Retreat designer delight – Bandbox Fresh” 5 out of 5 stars

Super clean. Great amenities. Close to everything. Fabulous!

“Our host was exemplary – super knowledgeable about the area, great recommendations for dining and things to do. We were also property hunting and he gave us great insights into the area. Would highly recommend and return in a heartbeat!!”

Florida vacation rentals by owner can be mediocre or magnificent. I spent my entire career in Arts Management ensuring that people were enthralled by the performance or experience they had
invested in. I use every aspect of those skills and training to offer suggestions. From the everglades, coral reefs, clear springs, magnificent forests, special dining and turn of the century history, I take immense pride in succeeding in exceeding every guest’s expectations.

Erehwon Retreat Launches Salute to Nature Artists

Erehwon Retreat Launches Salute to Nature Artists

 

florida nature artists

Millions of visitors every year seek out Florida Vacation Rentals for the sun, the theme parks, and the relaxing lifestyle. But Florida offers a rich palette of experiences that aren’t covered in the usual guidebooks or TripAdvisor. At Erehwon Retreat, we always offer recommendations that move guests to the less well traveled roads and adventures. To advance this even further, we are adding a new tab to ErehwonRetreat.com which will give visitors additional opportunity to see our region through the eyes of exceptional artists and craftsmen who reside in the Central Florida area, and to give guests to Erehwon Retreat the opportunity to discover the glorious secrets of this region.

Poisonous frogs feast on insects that don’t even have names. Tropical lizards disappear into the cracks of trees whose branches spread out as wide as their trunks climb high. This is the real Florida, as it was before people, and probably will be after us, too.Nancy Pickard, author

Few artists capture the beauty and variety of Florida’s environment better than Peter Brannon. Peter lives in Seminole Heights. I discovered his work when reading of him winning the coveted Audubon Photography Award in 2015. His work draws upon the landscape of Florida which combines a varied ecosystem with migrating birds, native wildlife and plants and a year-round fruitfulness to create unmatchable opportunities to observe bird behavior. As he says himself, “…I photograph birds. There is something relaxing to the spirit in photographing them. Their variety can ensure that the love of the pursuit never ebbs, and the connection in the natural world that occurs can calm and center the mind.”

Peter Brannon’s work combines pinpoint sharpness with an understanding of the natural world that allows him to capture bird behavior, not just birds. It is this ability to recognize the relationship between the subject and its surroundings which give his photographs such resonance – they reveal the harmony of nature in a profound fashion.

Homes for rent in Florida allow visitors to discover the natural world that Peter Brannon’s photographs encapsulate so perfectly. The more relaxed pace that comes from staying in a vacation rental allows time to absorb the natural world, to enjoy undisturbed time examining the detail of a stunning landscape or, if we’re lucky, to watch a rare and beautiful animal going about its business right in front of us.

As far back as the 1890s, people were moving to Florida to make their dreams come true. Rock Scott, Florida Governor

Some places seem to have a knack for concentrating migrating birds in larger than normal numbers. These “migrant traps” often become well known as birding hotspots. This is typically the result of local weather conditions, an abundance of food, or the local topography. While Florida may literally be a dream come true for birders, and the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail offers 2,000 miles of opportunity to spot rare species, we can easily make recommendations within a 40-mile radius of Tampa. The stunning diversity and power of the Florida landscape cannot be better captured than in Peter Brannon’s work – a permanent memorial to the glorious secrets of Florida that go unseen by the majority of visitors.

Visit Tampa and discover more about the lives of birds. Many of our guests tell us that the thing they remember best was developing some birding skills and how when they returned home, they now think about making their neck of the woods a better place for wildlife.

Book Direct with No Service Fees. Ever.

Never Pay Florida Vacation Rental Service Fees Again

tampa vacation home no feesNo matter if your Florida vacation is a lifetime’s dream or an annual family ritual, there are many changes to keep in mind this year, first Hurricane IRMA’s impact.  Slightly more than 2 million homes were impacted with heaviest FEMA filings in South Florida. So, resist Instant Book and ask the property owners about their home, homes in the neighborhood etc. 

Since last February there has been massive consolidation in Online Travel websites and vacation rentals have multiplied.  But more than a few permanent residents don’t feel very welcoming to this ever-revolving door of new people week after week in their tight-knit neighborhoods.  Along with that, service fees. Select communities’ and city leaders feel many new listings run afoul of residential zoning rules, and many post properties that may be dodging sales and bed tax, condo rules, or apartment leases, and guests are irritated with Service Fees imposed by the travel websites. 

To help you find the ideal vacation, consider my 2017 top tips for finding the perfect vacation rental at the best price.  As over 60% of American vacationers have yet to try a vacation rental, if this is a new idea also look at my 2015 top tips.

Lowest cost per night may not be cheapest

All properties advertised prices are pre-tax and usually without consideration of cleaning charge and often come with a whole host of ‘optional extras’ that you can’t avoid paying out for. When planning your trip, it’s good to remember that High and Peak Seasons are the time you’ll can expect a Florida vacation home rental will be 45-55% less compared with area hotel rates.  With a vacation rental you’ll often be living in 2 to 5 times the space of the average 450 sq. foot hotel room. In the Off Season, hotels with rooms to fill are much keener to match vacation rental rates. Remember also that a hotel isn’t the same as a vacation rental home. Vacation rental properties are increasingly seeking to offer a unique experience, where every detail is designed to complement their locale and the kind of break their guests are seeking, whereas hotels focus on giving a standard experience wherever you are in the world.

Use trusted travel sites

When looking for a longer stay, HomeAway or Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) may have the ideal place for longer stays – for example if you search on ‘Tampa FL’ you’ll find Erehwon Retreat listed.  If your trip is a last-minute getaway AirBnB often offers excellent options particularly home shares in which the owner is present.

Trust your instincts, and your host’s instincts

Travel portals can be great, but remember algorithms rob us of the opportunity to be exposed to things we haven’t already endorsed. They place us within a prison of our own predetermined desires. We only get what we have wanted previously and nothing else.  This is a limiting way to travel. Further, they increasingly are making changes that remove your email and phone number and don’t provide guests the property owners phone number or give the property owner any information about you. Many proprietors have set up their own websites to let you book direct and avoid the 9-16.4% service fees now being charged and in many sites offer a discount.

Read reviews

Whichever Online Travel Agency your potential vacation rental is listed on, reach deep into the review process and see what people have to say. Many properties are also reviewed on YELP, FOURSQUARE, TRUST PILOT, Google.  It’s a disaster to discover your property changed hands and the new owners didn’t earn the rave reviews you read online. It’s also good to look at photographs taken by guests and ask the owner for more photos than are shown online to get a real sense not just of the property but of its location and the neighborhood. Google Street View can help give you a sense of what you’re renting.  Keep in mind, Street Views are updated every three to five years. While OTAs make it easy to set up as a vacation rental owner, it takes a real commitment to become part of the Hospitality business. For example, I look five years ahead when planning for Erehwon Retreat and call upon eight years of successful vacation hosting to ensure that guests have a unique experience. That’s why at Erehwon Retreat our refresh program ensures every tiny detail makes your vacation special, as our Eight or Great post makes clear.