How To Find That Perfect Vacation Cottage

Posted by S.M. Givens on Thursday, March 12, 2008.

How To Find That Perfect Vacation Cottage

Finding the right cottage for your family's vacation can be a challenging task. Of course, with the advent of the Internet, an online search certainly beats scouring the newspaper for phone numbers to call. The numerous photos online and often detailed descriptions of the amenities make the shopping a lot more informed. All the same, with the thousands of cottage rentals to choose from, a person can sometimes feel overwhelmed by that amount of choice.

We spoke to some veterans of the cottage rental game, and here are their suggestions for improving the odds of getting a first-rate vacation cottage.

Start looking early: First and foremost, you need to begin your search as early as feasible. Many people start shopping around in October, with their holiday booked by January or February at the latest. This is more important for people who are constrained by the dates they can book. In the vacation market, the most popular weeks are in the middle part of summer. For example, the last week of July and the first week of August are usually the first weeks to be booked up for all cottages. (Having said that, most last-minute shoppers can still find some cottages to choose from, so don't be deterred if you are inspired at the last minute.)

Decide on your budget: Prices range from about $600 per week for a basic cottage to $7000 per week for a million-or-more mansion, depending on the amenities you require. If you want to keep costs down, consider taking your vacation in any month other than July / August. The weather can be great in May, June and October, and it can be downright summery in September. The price can be as much as 40% cheaper during those months -- and the availability and choice are much wider too.

Decide who is going: A small family group is more likely to fit in an average three-bedroom cottage. Generally 8–10 is about the maximum, unless you are willing to pay considerably more. Remember that septic systems have limitations that demand the number of guests be adhered to when an owner sets a maximum number allowed.

Phone for help with selection: You can avoid those endless hours of web surfing, and cut to the chase by asking Cottages On The Web or Ontario Cottage Rentals for some suggestions. Be prepared to give these trained customer service people your specs, and they will email you with some honed-in suggestions within your price range, size, location, and cottage amenities. You are not obliged to accept their suggestions, but their work will help cut down your time. Also, they have visited many of the properties and can tell you much more than the website can.

"It is important to me that the cottage is clean, with everything in good working order," says Barbara, a veteran cottage vacationer whose family is renting Diamond's Edge cottage. "By using Ontario Cottage Rentals, they would be on top of stuff like that."

With your search completed and your cottage booked, all you have to do is relax and dream about lounging on the dock with a good book, or dipping your fishing pole into the lake.