Best of Washington: Bargains on Vacation Rentals

By: Ann Cochran


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Bethany Bet

Rental bargains at the beach are usually located off the water. At new Bayside at Bethany Lakes (lfvacations.com), a Delaware community a mile from the ocean, a three- or four-bedroom house rents for half the price ($2,500 versus $5,000) of one within walking distance of the surf. On weekends, there’s a beach shuttle.

Free Nights on the Eastern Shore

Here’s a terrific deal on upscale digs in and around St. Michaels, Maryland: Eastern Shore Vacation Rentals (easternshorevacations.com) is adding three free nights when you book a four-night stay at selected homes. Free tickets for a sail are included with some bookings. Properties include the oldest brick house in Talbot County, with horses on 100 acres, and the cottage where James Michener wrote Chesapeake.

Last-Minute Outer Banks Bargains

With lots of houses for rent on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, great last-minute specials can be had this season.

HomeAway.com lists vacation homes around the world, including more than 3,000 in the Outer Banks. After you enter a town, a drop-down box lets you sort by special offers.

Kitty Hawk Rentals (beachrealtync.com/special/special.html) has date-specific specials: For example, rent a certain house the week of July 25 for $300 off. Considering quiet Corolla? Specials of the week are promoted at visitcurrituck.com/specials.cfm. Click on Twiddy Realty’s link to see its deal of the day. One house recently offered a Nintendo Wii as a gift with certain bookings; other deals have included $500 cash and helicopter rides.

At Deep Creek Lake, waterfront homes are renting at reduced rates through July.

Lake Options

At Deep Creek Lake in Maryland, three-bedroom lakefront homes usually start at $1,500 a week, but “summer blowout” deals are available through July at rentals.deepcreek.com. Another site with date-specific specials is deepcreekresort.com.

Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia is Deep Creek’s closest competition, and pricing is lower. At sml-vacation.com, you can rent a luxe three-bedroom home for $1,200 a week or a basic three-bedroom on the lake for as little as $780. Even better: Smith Mountain Lake isn’t as deep as Deep Creek, so the water isn’t as cold.

Mountain Special

Pay for two nights and get a third free on selected properties through allstarlodging.com, which lists more than 100 house and cabin rentals in the Shenandoah Valley. A typical three-bedroom riverfront home with a hot tub, canoe, and bicycles is $275 a night for up to four adults.

Quiet Beach Deals

Sandbridge is a serene community at the southern end of Virginia Beach, just 15 minutes away from the boardwalk action. Good values in rentals got even better this year: Discounts of 20 percent or more are being advertised on some of the 300 rentals on sandbridge.com. One three-bedroom condo on the beach was reduced from $3,040 a week to $2,430.