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Friday, June 13, 2008

Living like locals versus luxury and the lifestyle upgrade

Living like locals or lolling about in luxury seem to be the two main factors for consideration for travellers choosing accommodation, according to the readers of this blog and Life in a Venti Cup. Those who want to live like locals want to immerse themselves in a place, absorb the culture and learn the language so opt to rent apartments, villas or farmhouses. And for families, the added value is space for the kids and savings to be made from renting, say, an apartment in Paris for a week as opposed to hotels for the same period. Then there's the convenience, not only for families, but for those who want to be able to eat when they want to eat and not rush down to breakfast, to shop at the local market and dine in and not eat all meals out, to be able to do laundry instead of paying exorbitant prices at a hotel or have the hassle of heading to a laundromat. On the other hand, those preferring hotels over vacation rentals are essentially looking for a lifestyle upgrade. They want to be pampered. They want The Treatment: a valet to park the car, a porter to take care of their luggage, and a concierge to show them a good time. They want breakfast in bed and room service, a daily paper delivered, access to a swimming pool, fitness centre, spa and so on. These days, however, there are vacation rentals that offer the best of both worlds, as Franki at Life in a Venti Cup also pointed out. A couple of years ago we rented a chic, spacious, penthouse apartment in Brussels through It had a cool, contemporary look, was super comfortable and fully equipped with fantastic features from a flat screen TV with DVD and stereo to a full kitchen with espresso maker and dishwasher. The owner met us for a drink, shared his insider secrets, and was on hand when we needed him, along with a cleaner who lived downstairs. A couple of months ago we stayed at Villa Aphrodite in Kas, Turkey that was easily as well-equipped, came with a folder of fabulous information that could have been compiled by a concierge, including restaurants, cafes, bars and shops hand-picked by the owner (a friend actually), and had the added bonus of a caretaker whose duties ranged from delivering fresh bread daily to cooking up a Turkish-style barbecue. At both places we were able to live like locals as well as enjoy a bit of luxury.

The image? Some snacks Terry and I whipped up one afternoon using local produce, to savour as we took in the sunset overlooking the infinity pool at Kas Villa. How many hotels could you do that at?

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