We traveled to Clearwater, Florida this past weekend from South Carolina for a family visit. We even toted our husbands along for this short trip. When we travel to see our grandparents we usually stay at the same hotel. It’s conveniently located near where our grandparents live. Now that we’re short-term rental hosts, we decided to check out local VRBO properties to give us a perspective on what areas we could improve on at Lakeside Pink, and maybe just to have a change of scenery. Regardless, we had a plan. That plan was to stay at the nicest short-term rental property we could find in Clearwater that accommodated four.
Not all areas have 5-star properties.
What we fast learned was we couldn’t find a 5-star short-term rental property on VRBO in Clearwater. This was concerning. It was even more concerning that we found 1-star properties. Wow! Take it from us, Clearwater has one of the most beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast so we expected to find some 5-star rated vacation rental properties. And, why does VRBO allow 1-star properties to maintain a place on their platform? Confused? We were too.
After sifting through pages of properties, we ended up booking one in a residential neighborhood listed as “newly renovated”. The photos of the property were professional and the home was professionally staged (h/t to Home Staging Resource for providing Holli with an eye for a staged home). The property was $206 a night for a 3bed/2 bath house and had one of the highest ratings, Good! 3.9/5-star rating, so we decided to give this property a whirl and book it.
Professional photos can be deceiving
After a yummy meal, a bottle of bubbly and power-shopping in downtown Tampa, we arrived at the vacation rental a bit after 8pm. The host knew we would be arriving late. Unfortunately, we arrived to a totally dark home. We passed it a time or two because the house numbers were not clearly visible. Short-term rental property tip #1: make sure your guests can find the home they rented.
Getting into the front door was maddening. After triggering the alarm numerous times because the keyless entry was not easy to operate, we finally made it into our “newly renovated” home. After traveling for most of the day, we headed to the bedrooms and turned in for the night. At this point in our travel, no one had the energy to check out the property or its amenities other than to look for and head for the bedrooms.
It wasn’t until the next morning that we were able to actually see the home we rented. We found the home that we just slept in was not the home we had seen in the professional photos on-line. There was no greenery in the corner of the kitchen or living area, the white fluffy area rug in front of the TV was nowhere to be found, and the crisp bed linens featured in the photos weren’t crisp and were a shade of dingy. The listing read, “Experience Gulf Coast luxury…” and “… the elegant décor and beautiful plants…”. Yep, not what we found.
What we found.
We believe that how the short-term rental property is described and how the property looks in photographs in a VRBO listing is what you will see upon arrival. This is not the case for this Clearwater property. While the host was responsive to our issues, we struggled with:
- No mattress protector on one of the beds and very few of the pillows had pillow protectors on them.
- One of the futons in this “luxury” property was badly soiled. There were only two futons in the listing photos, so we are not sure where the dirty third one came from or why it was there.
- Bathroom towels and washcloths appeared worn out and many were discolored.
- The TV remote was missing from one of the bedrooms and another one didn’t have batteries at all.
- The outdoor trashcan was full, hence the presence of maggots.
- The presence of the last guests was visible in one of the bathrooms and shower with hair still lingering on the floor and sink.
- The kitchen utensil drawer was dirty and really needed a good cleaning.
- We found an overflowing “junk drawer” in the kitchen while searching for batteries. We shoved the mounding mass of whatever back into the drawer and shut it quickly.
- The white comforter was now a blue coverlet and dirty; however, it was great cover for the glaring streetlight that came through the bedroom window.
We are not your ideal guests but we’re honest.
We’re not your ideal guests because we have a 5-star short-term rental property and we actually know what luxury means in our personal lives. We also believe what you see in the photos on any listing is exactly what we should receive. What you see online at VRBO is what you get at Lakeside Pink, if not a little bit more. We don’t skimp on amenities, ever. It’s not in our DNA not to give and do our best because “that’s how we roll”, as our husbands say.
What this trip reinforced in us is all short-term vacation rentals are not equal. Hard work pays off for 5-star reviews and repeat guests. You cannot post deceiving or inaccurate photos of the property, can’t promise details that just are not true, amenities are key to return guests and a 5-star rating, and you must give guests a clean, comfy home that you would love to stay in yourself. At Lakeside Pink, we work very hard to make sure our guests have all the comforts of home. Not having the comforts of home, or even close to those of home, was why we were disappointed with our stay in Clearwater. We had the best time with our family but this short-term rental is a never rental again for us. #luxurylivinginleesville #lakeside_pink.