Vacation rentals
Families find renting homes can be economical
While standard hotel-style rooms are plentiful  1in Leavenworth and other Northwest vacation areas, visitors are finding that many popular destinations also have a robust offering of vacation homes.

There are several advantages to renting a vacation home and it can be economical for large groups or families. They offer a chance to be away from crowds and staying in a more residential area. They also have elaborate kitchens and all the comforts of home. Most have hot tubs and some even have swimming pools. With a large family, the cost per person can be less than that of renting several smaller hotel-style rooms.

In Leavenworth, the homes come in all shapes and sizes, from small two-bedroom cabins to spacious luxury homes with multiple levels and bedrooms. A lot of them are close-in to town, but there are also more remote locations in rural areas. The most popular homes are riverfront or log-style – or both.

According to Dan Eby of Destination Leavenworth vacation rentals, the three most common questions asked when people are researching a vacation home rental in Leavenworth are 1/ does it have a hot tub, 2/ is it on the river, and 3/ is it close to town? The riverfront houses, in particular, can command a significantly higher nightly rate.

In many ways, the Destination Leavenworth vacation homes are like a hotel – they come completely furnished, including high-quality hotel-style linens, even body wash in the bathrooms and a hospitality basket upon arrival. But unlike a hotel room, these houses come with modern kitchens that include all dishes and silverware, appliances, outdoor barbecue and everything you need to prepare a meal for the largest of families. Often these homes are located on a large piece of property where kids can play outside and parents can picnic or enjoy time outdoors.

The Leavenworth Retreat is an example and a recent addition to the Destination Leavenworth list of properties. The open dining, living room and kitchen areas are part of the Great Room on the second floor while there are two bedrooms on each of the two floors and three total bathrooms. Uniquely, the property also has a swimming pool, and it also boasts mountain views with a close-in location.

Most people who rent vacation homes in Leavenworth come for just a weekend, or long weekend, although there are big per-night savings when a house is rented for longer periods. December is the busiest month and most of the houses are rented for that entire month because of the multiple Christmas festivals offered each year in the “Bavarian Village” as Leavenworth is known to tourists nationally and internationally.

The vacation rental industry has grown quite sophisticated over the years and Destination Leavenworth is a good example. Eby bought the business in 2004 and started out with a calendar on the wall and 80 percent of his bookings were by phone. The business has since been totally computerized so that 70 percent of today’s bookings are done online. He also offers customers the use of a convenient app that helps guests keep all of their rental information in one place, including directions to the property, key codes and information on area attractions.

Lake Chelan also is a popular area for vacation rentals, with the summer season often fully booked well in advance. The locals say winter is less busy at the lake when winter weather hits. There are many other areas that are prime for vacation home rentals including many in Puget Sound and on the Washington and Oregon coasts.

Finally, Eby points out that a great way to go for families who can afford it is to consider buying a vacation home and renting it out for times of the year they don't use it. He cites one example in Leavenworth where the owner bought an upscale vacation home for $800,000 and then turned it over to Eby to rent out when the owner wasn't using it. The property now makes the owner $40,000 a year, which all can be applied to the mortgage payments while the home continues to appreciate in value every year.

If you do consider this option, note that properties have to be in top shape to be approved for the rental pool and that sometimes owners are required to make improvements in order to provide the amenities that renters nowadays expect in a vacation rental. Still, the economics seem to work well if you carefully determine your costs before buying the property.

For more information on vacation rentals in Leavenworth, please visit www.destinationleavenworth.com or phone (509) 548-4230.
PHOTOS: Leavenworth Retreat
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