Beach Vacation Rental Scout Handpicks and Personally Reviews Homes, Boutique Property Managers

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As vacation rentals emerge as a good value for families and small groups, listing sites get bigger and bigger. But is more better? Many listing sites lump stripped-down condos in with luxury homes. Some descriptions are vague or leave out important details--red flags for prospective renters. "When I'm committing several thousand dollars and a week of my family's time to a vacation, I want better quality, not more choices," says Joyce Copeland. As founder of Beach Vacation Rental Scout, she handpicks and personally reviews only the gems.

It's half a block from a secluded beach, with all the amenities of stylish boutique hotel--plus in-home astrology readings by the owner on request.

After logging hours online searching for vacation rental homes for her own family vacations, Joyce Copeland has a good idea what kind of detail prospective renters need. "I've also developed a sixth sense for finding places with lots of character," she says. "Two vacation homes renting for the same price per week can be a world apart in experience."

In January, Copeland launched a renter-to-renter resource called Beach Vacation Rental Scout. The site features detailed personal reviews of a subset of distinctive vacation rentals along with profiles of the best locally owned rental property managers.

Copeland, who also reviews distinctive boutique hotels worldwide, handpicks only the homes she'd enthusiastically recommend to a close friend. Some examples of California vacation rentals reviewed on Beach Vacation Rental Scout include:

  • A Pacific Grove villa with a sublime ocean view. "It's owned by a former professional chef, who welcomes guests with a homemade torta and bottle of local wine, free tickets to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and free passes to a local day spa."
  • An upscale, dog-friendly Santa Cruz home four blocks from a dog-friendly beach. "It literally wraps around a couple of majestic redwoods, so you can have the beach and forest in the same vacation."
  • A jewel box bungalow in Shell Beach. "It's half a block from a secluded beach, with all the amenities of stylish boutique hotel--plus in-home astrology readings by the owner on request."

Each Beach Vacation Rental Scout review involves hours of research. Copeland either stays a night at the home or writes a detailed "Snapshot" review based on an in-depth telephone interview the owner or property manager before she can arrange a visit.

Reviews are full of colorful detail and answer common questions prospective renters have, such as "Who do I call if the toilet back up?" Each review ends with a map and a short list of personal recommendations from the owner (called "Owner's Favorites"). "Many times, owners can give you a heads-up about places only the locals know--recommendations you won't find in the average guidebook," Copeland says.

Side by side with home reviews, Copeland lists detailed profiles of local rental property managers handpicked for their excellent inventories and customer service.

"Local rental property managers are essential to the integrity and growth of Beach Vacation Rental Scout," Copeland says. "If you can't find the perfect beach vacation rental reviewed on my site, I feel completely comfortable referring you to these companies. Best of all they're staffed by people who know the community very well because they're residents themselves." Many of the rental property managers profiled on Beach Vacation Rental Scout offer concierge services similar to those you'd find in a boutique hotel--from free boogie boards to a private chef.

Beginning in her home state of California, Copeland has compiled reviews and profiles encompassing more than 200 owner-direct or professionally managed vacation rentals from San Diego's Mission Bay to The Sea Ranch, a remote community on the north coast renowned for its environmentally sensitive architecture. She expects that number to double very soon--and plans to use the same formula to expand into other prime beach areas such as Hawaii, Florida and North Carolina's Outer Banks.

Meanwhile, none of the owners or property managers listed on Beach Vacation Rental Scout pays a fee. My goal is to become a trusted resource for other people who love really unique vacation rentals as much as I do," Copeland says.

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