3 of our favourite markets in which to mingle with the locals

London market

Who doesn’t like a spot of shopping when on holiday? And what better way to feel the pulse of a city and get under the skin of a destination than to mingle in the markets with the locals. A visit to a Parisian antiques fair or a wander through a colourful handicrafts market in India can provide the unique sensory experience that makes your trip extra special. The world is our oyster and there are plenty of gems to be found around the globe. So check out some of our favourite market finds:

London, UK

No one can argue that we are short of fabulous markets in London. There is the tasty Borough Market in Southwark with its cheeses, locally farmed veg and the best lamb burgers in town. Insider’s tip: It’s great for discreet celebrity spotting. Then there’s New Covent Garden’s historic flower market, named after its original location in central London. And we certainly can’t leave out Camden and Portobello for scouting those stellar vintage duds and quality antiques or Spitalfields for the city’s up and coming designs.

Mexico City, Mexico

Head southwest to visit Mexico City’s Mercado de la Merced. La Merced will tantalise your taste buds for four whole blocks as it introduces you to food from all over the country. The market is dazzlingly colourful thanks to dozens of wacky pinatas dangling above the stalls. It offers an exciting journey jostling past mountains of chillis, nopales (cactus paddles), blocks of queso blanco (white cheese), rainbow-coloured blankets, sweet-smelling guavas and fragrant Mexican vanilla.

Tuscany, Italy

For discerning shoppers and those in need of some proper indulgence, head to Tuscany’s designer outlets – our luxury version of the archetypal market. A short drive from Florence and scattered across the Tuscan countryside, three outlets house the creme-de-la-creme of Italian and international couture. At bargain prices (as much as 75% off – and even more during the sales) you can find fabulous pieces from YSL, Valentino, Sergio Rossi, Alexander McQueen, Fendi, Marni, Stella McCartney, and La Perla. Gucci is also on site and offers the largest collection. Down the road is the dedicated Prada storehouse offering a wide assortment of clothing, shoes, accessories, and, most importantly, handbags… a small selection of Miu Miu, Helmuth Lang and Church shoes are also available – if you’re lucky!

Not a bad mix. And a little something for everyone. Better start saving those pennies though because we promise you won’t be able to resist.

Source: www.aluxurytravelblog.com

8 ingredients for the coolest vacation home

Everyone has their own recipe for the dream holiday rental. For some it is a sun-quenched, beach side villa, or a chalet nestled between snow covered mountains and a picturesque village, and for others a secluded cottage in the beautiful countryside ticks all the boxes. Yet it is often the little (or big) extras that make a holiday home really extra-ordinary. So we’ve scoured the globe for some out-of-this-world amenities that really put the cherry on top your dream villa vacation.

1. A helipad for the flyer

What is more “celeb status” than arriving at your destination in a private helicopter? Gorgeous views, high-end luxury and maybe a few butterflies in your stomach make this amenity a top choice among vacationers.

2. A home cinema for the film fanatic

When lost in complete relaxation, who wants to leave their holiday home for a late night at the movies? With home-cinemas becoming a popular feature in villas around the world, there is no need to move an inch. From confectionary counters, beverage bars, surround sound systems and lush seating, your at-home film experience will top the charts.

3. Private tennis courts, basketball courts and golf courses for the sports junkie

For all the sports junkies out there, an ideal rental may consist of games and competition right in your backyard (or even in the next room over). You’ll be pleased to know there are many properties with professional athletic courts awaiting your use.

4. A private pier for the sailor

Fancy a boat ride without the chaos of a public marina? A seaside holiday rental with a private pier can be your little secret. Boat lovers or not, you’ll find yourself loving this special feature.

5. A spa for the pamper princess

Without a doubt, this is a favourite for those who are trying to escape their busy lives. From massages, to hammams and saunas, jacuzzis and indoor/outdoor pools, and even fully equipped gyms, a spa located within your rental exceeds most expectations.

6. Caves for the nature lover

Nothing beats nature’s architecture. Some vacation rentals, particularly cliff-side ones, boast beautiful outdoor coves perfect for a night-time, al fresco feast and romantic setting for you and your special someone – you cannot deny the ambience.

7. Music studios and dance floors for the rock star

If you prefer jamming out to a killer album rather than receive a peaceful massage, a property with a music studio or dance floor will sing to your soul and create a harmonic balance of energetic fun and rock roll bliss during your stay.

8. Star observatory towers for the astronomer 

What’s more romantic than staying in a remote location and gazing up at the stars? With top-notch equipment and unbelievable views, a villa with an observatory tower is a wish come true.

Source: www.aluxurytravelblog.com

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.

Australia

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.

Sydney

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.

Mauritius

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.

Italy

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.
 

And now 4003!

Our Product Team have been on fire approving some amazing properties across the globe. In the last two weeks alone new vacation rentals from Switzerland, Italy, Jamaica, British Virgin Islands, St Bart’s, New York and London have gone live. Get inspired…

IAVRA’s founding partner John-Christian Moquette chosen as one of Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders

 

We are just a little bit proud at IAVRA HQ! Last week, TTG and partners C&M Recruitment, Guonman Hotels and the ITT announced their top 30 highest fliers in travel under 30. And one of our very own founding partners was given the nod. John-Christian had the pleasure of meeting with the other young fliers at the TTG offices in London. Bring together a group of young, dynamic and like-minded travel leaders and there is no doubt that exciting things are on the horizon. Watch this space for news from the events due to take place over the next few months.

Make that over 3500!

And here are 3 jaw-dropping properties we think are worth shouting about:

Cambodia – magnificent 11 bedroom villa designed by a protege of Vann Molyvann, the renown Khmer pupil of Le Corbusier (Villa Knai Bang Chatt)

St Tropez – abandoned village discovered by a famous English film director and transformed into a magical compound of properties with a painted pool by David Hockney (Hamlet South of France)

London – formerly home to Madonna and Guy Ritchie, this 2 bedroom mews house is full of character and a-list charm (Queen’s Gate Mews)

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.