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DESTINATION: NEW ENGLAND


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You Finally Got that Vacation Getaway,
But Where to Stay? Hotel, B&B or a Rental House?

By James H. Hyde

WHERE TO STAY
Lots of choices, Hotel/Motel, B&B Inns and house rentals.
So, you finally got time to vacation and arrange for an exciting getaway. Better yet, youíve decided on a trip to New England. Youíre not sure whether you should stay in a hotel/motel, a B&B inn or rent a vacation house. How do you go about choosing the best lodging for your needs? Weíve got some insights for you.

Obviously, we donít know your specific circumstances, but weíll plug the traditional variables into the equation, and that should help you narrow your choices.

First, whatís your budget for the trip? You may wish to keep it tight, but you donít want to sleep on a snow bank, so weíll say you can work with between $2,000 to $3,000.

Most people are surprised to learn that Vermont and New Hampshireís ski seasons arenít the biggest tourism times of the year. They usually miss on the second guess, too. Nope, itís not the foliage season. Itís summer. Inasmuch as thatís when people vacation anyway, it makes sense. But as the seasons change, so do the rates and if youíre looking for lower rates in the summer, you may be in for some sticker shock. However, while you may pay higher hotel fees in summer, at least you donít have to pay outrageous fees for lift ticketsóunless your kids bug you to go the mountain and use the Alpine Slide at something like $15 per ride.

Second, how long are you planning to be away? For most folks, five days is about the max. When youíve been away that long, you need to take a vacation from your vacation. Letís say weíll choose five weekdays. The smart thing is to get away at a time when youíre nowhere near a holiday or weekend. There are myriad advantages to weekday getaways, especially for skiing if you decide to come up in the winter. Youíll have much shorter lift lines, more mountain to yourself and maybe lower-priced lift tickets.

Third, how many people will be going with you? Letís say three and a half: your husband, your daughter and son, aged eleven and thirteen respectively. The "half" part is next.

Fourth, are you planning on bringing any pets, a dog, cat, boa constrictor? Mugs, your Chihuahua, will be making the trip. Leaving him behind will cause him to leave his ire all over that new carpet after you pick him up at the kennel.

Fifth, is being close to a single mountain important, or do you want to be in a spot amidst a cluster of them? Would you rather be near a lake? All of the New England states have wonderful ponds, lakes or beaches. If you like to play in the surf, Newport, Rhode Island has three beaches, with a bit rougher surf. Vermont and New Hampshire have wonderful lakes. Lake Champlain in Vermont makes its way to the Hudson. And Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire is a prized vacation spot. Connecticut has wonderful shorelines and lakes and Maine has gorgeous lakes and Rivers, perhaps the most famous being the Kennebec, which played an active role during the revolution. It also has a wonderful and often rocky shoreline. Massachusetts has some of the best surf up on Cape Cod. In fact if Muslims must visit Mecca at least once before the pass away, everyone in this country should be made to visit Cape Cod before they pass on. It's shaped somewhat like a cornucopia and it is one of things to do and see.

Now that thatís done, letís figure out what accommodations are best for you.

Hotels/Motels

Room rates at hotels and motels typically range from $159 a night to $349 a night. So it pays to do your homework, which is best done on the Web. Check our Lodging Section at NewEnglandTimes.Com to see all types of places to stay. If youíve decided to go to Vermont, Stowe in the North is loaded with hotels, resorts and spas, unlike the southern part of the state, where there are some great hotels, large inns and a few motels. In the South the Stratton area offers a great many places to stay and a great deal to see and do.

Many of the lodging entities cut deals with various ski resorts and summer charters to provide you with stay-and-ski or stay-and-play packages that can work well for you budget-wise. But you have Mugs with you, so we need to take that into consideration. He wonít likely be welcome on a day-long fishing boat.

Pets usually arenít welcome at hotels either unless itís a no-tell motel thatíll rent you an 8-by-10-foot cabin for $49 a night per person and you canít get the fold-up bed to stay up, so it becomes your table.

As far as kids and pets are concerned, Mugs could become a very sticky problem. Motels have no problems with kids and some can be more lenient about Mugs than would other hotels or motels. But unless they include pets in their advertising, tell them you want to bring him along when you register. If you don't and show up with him, you may be in trouble.

In fact, Mugs could be a deal breaker at many types of accommodations. There are more "animal-friendly" hotels and inns than there were a few years ago, but check a hotelís Web site carefully to make sure they allow pets. If itís not clear, ask before you make your reservation. Some pet-friendly B&B inns are great.

B&B Inns

These really run the gamut from being breathtakingly romantic and luxurious to being a spare room in someoneís house. Rules. Boy, do some of them have rules. Some B&B innkeepers busy themselves in the morning thinking up new rules. They love them. Some are uber strictóone in Vermont, for instance, demands that guests, "not sit on the bed." Oh, okay so you sleep where, in that wonderful Shaker chair? How exactly does one get into bed without sitting on the edge? Most people I know sit on the edge and swing their legs up. At this place, I guess you have to dive into bed.

While their prices are comparable to hotels and motels, you can find some great deals at B&B inns, and like hotels, many of them offer stay-and-play packages.

ButÖ B&B inns are notorious for not allowing pets to stay unless itís a dog-friendly inn, of which there is a growing number. Second, the thing about B&B getaways is that they are geared more toward the romantically minded guests; those who bring that all-important rock with which to pop the question. Theyíre also geared to those looking to destress in absolute silence.

The rooms are often frilly, but very nice and you want to find an inn with a nice host or hostess. You can tell the difference immediately when they pick up the phone. I donít know of any B&B where the owner doesnít answer the phone. If they scream, "What," head for the next on the list.

The best thing to do is to tell an innkeeper that you will be bringing your son, daughter and Mugs along, and if they donít growl or sputter on the other end of the line, thatís good news. While you get a room and breakfast (thus the name of these inns), some also serve dinner. Some with larger dining rooms rent space to chefs who prepare marvelous delicacies for the discerning palate. BB&Ds are very rare, however, and youíre still on your own for lunch, but you can always get that $25 hamburger and $14 soda at the base lodge when you want a skiing break or to tear the kids away from the Alpine Slide.

In all seriousness, while there are many superb B&B getaway deals out there, they do tend to be geared more toward adults than they are to families however small. They wonít turn you away, but it may not be the ideal place to stay for your son and daughter.

House or Condo Rental

That leaves us with renting a house or condo for the week. This a hybrid mix of a hotel and B&B, but with all kinds of room and total privacy. The owners often have rules posted everywhere, and you must be absolutely certain you obey them or no refrain next year.

You do have a whole house to yourself, you can eat without having to go out or only when the restaurant is open, You can sleep in if you want without some lady with a cart knocking on your door to make your bed, and you donít have to worry if Mugs should have a barking fit or your son or daughter decides to act up.

There are really two kinds of rental housing: a house in the proximity of a ski area, or a condo right on the mountain. If youíre not comfortable driving in snow, then a trailside condo will be your best choice if youíre here to ski. During the spring (after mud seasonóyou donít want to visit Northern New England during mud season), you can drive anywhere and spend the bulk of your time sightseeing. Houses can also offer the best budget deals. In towns with a ski area, houses and condos start at about $150 per night depending on when you

goóagain, avoid holidays and weekendsóand can charge as much as $500 a night depending upon where they are. Usually, the closer to a mountain they are, the more expensive they are if itís a big house, but thatís not always the case with condos.

In the final analysis, doing a house or condo rental with all of your variables could be your best bet. At $150 a night, thatís $750 for five nights. When you first get into town, assuming youíre not exhausted from the drive, visit a local supermarket and get enough food for a week so you donít have to drop a ton of dough at restaurants.

Most houses have not only TVs and cable or satellite, but VCRs and DVD players, as well, so your little guy and gal can bring some favorite tapes or DVDs along.

Itís not all perfect. Many of them insist that you to change the sheets on the beds and leave the house as neat as you found it. But if thatís all you have to do to enjoy some privacy, relaxation and do-what-you-want-when-you-want freedom, this is the way to go. Just make sure Mugs doesnít leave his mark on the carpets.

For more information about where to stay, visit NewEnglandTimes.Com Lodging Section.

If you rent a house and get that itch to own a vacation home, then visit our NewEnglandTimes.Comís Real Estate Section.

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