Beach Vacation Rental Lingo

Posted by Paul Parr on May 17th, 2009

There is no debate that the new wave in beach vacations is to rent a condo, home or beach cabin and to avoid the motel, hotel or rental room. The new sourcing of vacation rentals over the Internet without using a rental agent leaves the neophyte vacationer in a bit of a landmine area when it comes to rental terms that the travel agent of the past would have quickly cut to the quick and plucked from the jungle of options the perfect accommodation for your rental destination of choice. Understanding that you are in unfamiliar territory is your first salvation. Caveat Emptor is undoubtedly the best awareness that you should venture forth with in making your choice of the best accommodation for your piece of sand in paradise to rent for your beach vacation. It is very important that you approach this with no preconceived ideas of where you “have” to be. This will help to remove the landmines.

Now with a clear mind and strong desire to find the absolute best accommodation for your holiday, let’s agree that we need to separate the physical accommodation requirements from the physical location requirements. Trust me on this, it will all come together and make sense when we get to the end of this tutorial. Starting with the physical location of the accommodation let’s take a hard look at the terms that you will need to become familiar with when finding your ideal spot in paradise. Let’s also agree that your preconceived idea, before we agreed to enter this with a clear mind, was to open the door of your accommodation and walk onto the powder white soft sand of the beach and to walk in the surf of the shore line within a few minutes. Ahhh Paradise! Surely you would have felt this property would then need to be called beachfront. Let’s examine this.


The word itself fully describes what this property will give you, but few would agree on the expectation versus the reality or more importantly, how important this term is to your special place in Paradise. Beachfront very simply defined means that the front of the property gives you a beachfront location, period. The dictionary defines this word as a noun meaning, “A strip of land facing or running along a beach.” The dictionary will also define this word as an adjective meaning, “Situated along or having direct access to a beach: beachfront hotels; beachfront property.” What you are not reading in the above information, but what goes without saying is that beachfront does not mean on the beach nor beach view. Your accommodation could be at the rear of a beachfront property. I am sure you are finding the reality of this interesting, but let’s continue.

Beach side

In this case you are staying in a property that is on the same side of any road or thoroughfare as the beach. Hopefully you have also picked up on the fact that just because you are on the beach side there is no guarantee that you have a beach view or that you will not have to walk a bit to get to the beach. I know all of this is making you skeptical of even considering a beach vacation, but let’s continue and relish in the reality that we are learning good information that will benefit you on future decisions. I think we all came into this with the concept that we wanted a beach view, so let’s explore that.

Beach view

This means exactly what it says. You will be staying in an accommodation that will have a beach view. Notice that it does not infer how much of a beach view nor does the term tell you from all rooms or one particular room. A classic line in the accommodation industry is, “Yes this is our unit with the beach view. If you just stand over here and look at an angle through this window, you will clearly see the beach, you might have to stoop down a little, but it is there.” Another scenario is that your unit is on the 7th floor of a very nice high rise and when you look out the window you clearly see the beach, which is about 4 blocks from your building. When renting your vacation property on the Internet, you really do want to ask the right questions and to leave no stone unturned. In all three of the above descriptions a mandatory question that you must ask is, “Tell me about the beach view, what room and areas in your accommodation will I be able to see the beach from, is it unobstructed and panoramic and exactly how far is the beach from our accommodation in feet, yards or meters? A second very good question to ask for any property is, “How far is the beach access that I will need to get to in order to get onto the beach?” There are situations for each of the descriptions above where the person will need to tell you that there is no beach access. While in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, Nann and I stayed at a beautiful water side resort with incredible views and very close proximity to the beach shore line. Unfortunately armed security people were stationed along the beach. Armed to prevent anyone from entering from the water and also there to prevent anyone from the resort from going into the water that was extremely dangerous with strong undertows and whirlpools that would make it very hard for anyone to survive once in the water. The swimming pools were for swimming, not the Pacific Ocean.

Steps from the beach

This term itself begs for the question, “How many steps?” The answer might be great. Don’t be surprised if you hear about 50 or 100 feet. You can pretty much guarantee that you will not have a view of the beach, but at least you know you are very close to your nirvana. Is a view of the water and beach that important? Your call and only you can answer that question. I can tell you that three items on a vacation trump whatever your expectation may have been when it comes to your view. Water view, scenic view and fireplaces are all very restful and pleasing to the eye if the weather is bad and not what you expected when you planned this trip. Even though mother nature let you down, the first two vistas along with the possibility of gazing into the snapping embers of the fireplace all have a tranquilizing affect over the reality of what is going on outside.

Close to the Beach

The perfect question here is, “How Close?” This is a description of beach proximity that is relative to a perception of the meaning of close. Could be a block away, 10 blocks, a mile or even further. The question that needs to be answered is “exactly how close.” If you have a vehicle and don’t mind driving or taking a long walk to get to the beach, a location with this description might just satisfy your requirements and your budget.

Hopefully you now see some different possibilities for some of the descriptions that are commonly used in vacation rental advertising. You have so many tools with email, the phone, Google satellite maps, website information and photos to help you better understand the beach proximity and geographic location of the vacation rental that has caught your eye. Another very good method of learning about a property is to read or request previous guests testimonials or comments on guests stays at the property.

The most familiar examples of these descriptions would be the vacation properties on Siesta Key where we live and own a vacation rental. The world famous Crescent Beach has a number of condominium buildings that are located along Midnight Pass and Beach Road, which are the two roads that run parallel to the beach. Additionally Siesta Key Public Beach is located on Beach Road. Our beachfront property is located directly across from Siesta Key Public Beach and therefore you obviously need to cross Beach Road to access the beach from our beachfront location.

Along Midnight Pass are a number of high rise condominiums that w