3 of the best off-piste gourmet haunts in Europe

Let’s be honest, the apres-ski experience can be as alluring as the skiing. And while there is often no shortage of watering holes to throw back a few drinks after a long day on the slopes, the choice of gourmet hotspots is often limited in the small mountain resorts. So when we come across the perfect mix of fabulous food, ambience and that little something extra, we quickly put the reservation number on speed dial and make it our regular. Heading to Gstaad, Villars or Megeve in the coming months? Check out one of these 3 fabulous foodie finds and you will not be disappointed.

Megu, The Alpina, Gstaad, Switzerland

It has been an exciting winter season for Gstaad with the opening of its first newly built 5-star hotel in 100 years. The Aplina Gstaad offers all the luxury expected from Switzerland’s glitziest ski resort: grandeur, elegance and the perfect sprinkling of Alpine charm. With 3 restaurants, a beautiful bar, and a state of the art spa all under one spectacular roof, there really is nowhere else to spend your off-piste time. You could do no wrong dining at any of The Alpina’s restaurants, but we recommend Megu.

Serving world-class contemporary Japanese dishes, Megu’s decor is as tantalizing as the contemporary Japanese fare.

Cookie, Villars, Switzerland

The quiet resort town of Villar-sur-Ollon offers great skiing and a break from the glitz and glamour of the neighbouring Gstaad. And if you’re looking for a family-friendly, laidback lunch and dinner place with an eclectic menu to satisfy all taste buds, Cookie is your go-to. Got a sweet tooth? Cookies may not be on the menu, but their chocolat fondant is to die for.

Domaine de la Sasse, Megeve, France

A little off the beaten track, but once you descend on Domaine de la Sasse, one of Megeve’s more unusual gourmet experiences, you will agree it was well worth the journey. Only accessible by foot (or helicopter), the journey to the farmhouse will take 20 minutes from where you leave the car. What makes the Domaine so unique is that bison, from the chef’s own herd, forms the basis of every dish. Reservations are required, as Chef Meridol does not open his doors unless at least 6 people have booked a table. Domaine de la Sasse is the perfect alternative for when you tire of fondue and raclette and are looking for a bit of a culinary adventure.

Source: www.aluxurytravelblog.com

5 of the best off-season luxury rental destinations

Saying farewell to the holiday season always leaves travelers feeling a little blue. The warmth turns to cold and you long for a vacation after your vacation. But keep your chin up; there are plenty of go-to places for off-season stays that will warm the cockles of your heart and save you a few pennies to boot.


If your heart doesn’t simply yearn for the summer sun and bikini-clad beaches, there are many beautiful regions of the great land down under worth visiting in the cooler months.


This popular city is buzzing year-round but the winter months certainly offer a bit of respite from the summer crowds. If the low-season flight prices aren’t enticing enough, why not book for June and see what Sydney’s Film Festival has to offer. And when you’re ready to put your feet up and enjoy the luxurious life, the city offers a selection of elegant rental apartments with harbor views and just a stone’s throw from all the action.

Kangaroo Island

Although a stunning destination from season to season, the wildlife really comes alive in the winter months from June to August. From koalas and kangaroos to Waders and Ospreys, there will be much to witness for all you animal-lovers. And following an active day of wildlife spotting, a peaceful promenade along the beach of your private villa on the coast could suit your needs perfectly.

Prices range from AU$2765 to AU$19225 per week.


This is the ideal location for any summer bird that loves the beach. With its lovely warm water and extraordinary marine life, Mauritius is a top destination for year-round scuba diving.

Affordable holidays don’t necessarily mean a party of two. The most reasonable villas in Mauritius can be rented for under EUR 1300 per week for 6 guests. It’s certainly not difficult to find a dream villa by the sea with beautiful views. You simply cannot go wrong with a vacation rental on this unspoiled island oasis.

Prices range from €1246 to €25410 per week.


La vita e bella even in the off-season with festivities of all sorts to keep you thoroughly entertained. From chocolate and wine to history and religion, there is always something to celebrate. And for the picture perfect stay choose from an elegant Venetian apartment or cosy Tuscan villa and live like a local.

The best off-season celebrations:

January – New Year’s celebrations, Feast days of San Antonio Abate, Woodcarver’s Fair

February – Italian Carnival, festival on Saint Agatha’s Feast Day (in Sicily)
October – Fall food festivals, wine harvest celebrations, chocolate, chestnut and truffle tastings.

November – Truffle fairs and Rome music festivals. Simple and pretty 2 bedroom apartments are perfect for a lush city getaway.

December – Snuggle up in a warm and traditional Umbrian or Tuscan villa after a long day of Christmas celebrations, the wild boar festival in Tuscany or the gospel music events in Umbria.

Prices range from €541 to €130,000 per week.

South Africa

With a broad selection of high-end rentals in Cape Town, tourists will never have far to travel after hours of intrigue and fun. With the coast on your doorstep and an endless choice of historical attractions to visit (museums, Cape Town Castle, South African National Gallery, etc), this is a go-to destination whether it’s peak season or not. Offering a wide-range of luxurious beach side villas or modern and hip apartments in the city’s center South Africa is a dream getaway for every traveler.

Prices range from 5,250 ZAR to 679,420 ZAR per week.

New York

One of the best cities in America, New York is a bottomless pit of excitement. With shopping on 5th Avenue and theatres in Times Square, the fun does not cease in the Big Apple.

Key attractions include: The Empire State Building, Double-decker bus tours of the city, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), Rockefeller Center and the Cathedral of St John the Divine. If the weather is chilly, keep in mind that there are countless restaurants and cafes to warm your bones after a brisk winter walk down the streets of Manhattan. Or if you prefer to retreat back to a rental for a quick nap, there are many urban-cool apartments ranging in style, size and price.

Prices from $1,134 to $12,233 per week.

Source: www.aluxurytravelblog.com

Agents can offer the protection and quality control missing on C2C listing sites

The Navigator: The vacation rental industry tries to build trust

 An investigation revealed that Lacroix’s host hadn’t really offered sufficient details about the rental online and “didn’t provide enough care and attention to preparing it for Richard’s visit,” Labouisse says. Airbnb issued Lacroix a full refund and a $25 coupon for a future purchase through Airbnb. Like many other guests, Lacroix wasn’t looking for a cookie-cutter, chain-hotel experience, just a reasonably tidy apartment that didn’t smell bad. Hotels can impose standards on their franchisees and owners, but rental owners and managers can’t be controlled in the same way. (For example, Airbnb’s policies say only that a unit must be “properly cleaned,” but they don’t define “clean.”)
And that’s the thing. Although the vacation rental industry wants your trust — wants you to think of it as a kind of hotel — it doesn’t hold itself to the same standards that most hotels do. To some observers, that makes HomeAway’s and Airbnb’s recent changes, as well intentioned as they may be, look like window dressing. “I don’t think a vacation rental can ever be a hotel,” says Christine Karpinski of Austin, author of the book “How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner.” She says that “having standards in the transaction process is a good thing. But you can’t standardize the business.”…Read the full Washington Post article here.

IAVRA soars passed 3200 live properties!

We have over 3,240 properties in 49 countries on IAVRA and plenty more to come… next stop 5,000?

Don’t forget to check out our MAYPROMO at www.iavra.com under our ‘pricing’ section on the homepage. For more information please contact us at info@iavra.com.

The Vacation Rental Space is Hotting Up

New Research from PhoCusWright reveals Europe’s changing vacation rental landscape and the potential for revenue within the space. Argophilia.com summarizes the findings in their recent article – have a read and make sure to check out the video.

Will the Greek economy affect your summer holiday?


With sun, sea, and summer on our minds, many of us are dreaming of a holiday in Greece. But with the economic crisis, is it safe?

Pack your bags and book your flights, because Greece is just as inviting as before the crisis. In fact, you may even have a better trip! With the euro weakening, many families have been blessed with cheaper holidays.  Although the country is perfectly safe, some holiday accommodations have been offering discounts in order to draw people back to this luxurious destination.

In addition to possible savings, the islands have become increasingly quiet. The strikes and protests have been taking place in the larger cities, like Athens and Thessaloniki, leaving visitors basking peacefully in the sun on the islands. If you want a break from sunbathing and boat rides, shopping and local restaurants in the lovely villages of places like Mykonos are perfectly welcoming as well. With smaller crowds, beaches and towns will be more enjoyable and less chaotic – ideal for a summer getaway.

So don’t let the economic downfall fool you – Greece is resilient and has been dealing with strikes for over 35 years while vacationers have been obliviously enjoying the sultry islands. And with a large selection of IAVRA properties located in places like Santorini and Antiparos, there are plenty of beautiful beaches and stunning villas ready to welcome you all.

To book your villa holiday and get in touch with your IAVRA agent or if you’d like a recommendation of an IAVRA agent, please contact us at info@iavra.com.

Great travel tips for your trip to Greece:

  1. Order your taxi in advance, assuring you a stress-free arrival at your villa.
  2. Use a travel agent to book your holiday. They can assist you through any obstacles you may come across.
  3. Visit http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/europe/greece for further information about personal security during your holiday in Greece.



HomeAway slammed with scams


Vacation rentals can be a dream…. or a nightmare. Can you imagine turning up to your luxury Italian villa only to realise that it doesn’t even exist? Scammers can easily steal the details of properties from legitimate websites and then repost them to listings sites like HomeAway without the owner knowing. It’s so important to only book with reputable agencies, who will be able to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

Beware of agencies which don’t have control over their portfolios… Check out this great Washington Post article for more information about how HomeAway shirks responsibility and essentially allows scammers to operate without consequences.

2,502 Villas Live on IAVRA!

48 countries covered

The Traveller’s Guide to Happiness

Full story »

Fall in Love with España

Locks of Love on the Isabel II Bridge in Triana

With the year at a fresh start, the stunning country of Spain is looking more enticing every day. Whether you want to get lost in the romance of art history or run wild with the bulls in the Encierro, España is a perfect destination for any travelling personality.

La Feria in Seville is ideal for those in need of a traditional, yet energetic Spanish experience in the Spring – a place where the Flamenco comes alive and music drifts through the air. For the calmer souls, peaceful tours of the most famous museums in Madrid are an enlightening and popular choice. But with culture oozing out of every city corner, nature lovers will also be pleased to know that bike excursions in Girona are an exhilarating escape from city life into la naturaleza. Full story »