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Where the Villas Are

The best way to save money on a vacation rental home is to bypass the middleman. You can save 20 to 30 percent by renting directly through the owner. Options include writing the local tourist board or looking through the classified sections of college alumni magazines. Rental agencies, on the other hand, offer the convenience of an experienced pro minding the details. Some resources:

Rental Agencies

If you use a rental agency, it's a good idea to choose one with a local agent based near the town in which you intend to rent. That way, you'll have someone to contact in case anything goes wrong.

At Home Abroad
New York, N.Y.
Caters to an upscale market. Rates range from $3,500 to $50,000 per month, although many of their Caribbean and Mexican villas also are available by the week. Requires a $50 registration fee. At Home Abroad is the agent for Mick Jagger's retreat, Stargrove, on the West Indies island of Mustique. Rent is $9,000 a week during peak winter months. 212-421-9165

Barclay International
New York, N.Y.
Specializes in apartment rentals in most of the major cities around the world. Properties include suites at some luxury hotels. A free catalogue is available. 800-845-6636

British Travel International
Elkton, Va.
Offers properties in France, England, and Italy. A color catalog is available for a small fee. 800-327-6097

Creative Leisure International
Petaluma, Calif.
Properties primarily in Hawai'i, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Will arrange everything from airfare to babysitting. 800-426-6367

Europa Let
Ashland, Ore.
Listings in Europe, Mexico, Hawai'i, the Caribbean, and the Pacific islands. A good choice for sailors seeking seaside homes. There is a $25 booking fee. 800-462-4486

Homes Away
Toronto, Canada
A relatively new branch of Butterfield and Robinson, which is well known for organizing hiking and biking trips, offers houses not usually for rent--an old silk farm, for example. 800-678-1147

Fairfield, N.J.
In its 30th year and with over 20,000 listings, Interhome is one of the oldest and largest home rental agencies in the world. Hot spots include the northern Croatian coast (safely away from the war zone), Poland, and the Czech Republic. 201-882-6864

Rent A Home International
Seattle, Wash.
Offers an estimated 25,000 listings around the world in Europe, Australia, and Asia. Prices range from $600 to $25,000 per week. Does not have as detailed information on its properties as many other agencies. Several catalogs are available for small fees. 206-789-9377

Villas International
San Francisco, Calif.
Listings include a villa on Phuket island in Thailand that costs from $1,200 to $1,600 per week, but they specialize in properties in Europe and the Caribbean. 800-221-2260

Home Exchange

An economical way to take a vacation. Usually there is a listing fee, but other arrangements are left to the homeowners.

San Francisco, Calif.
International and domestic listings. 800-756-4663

Hideaways International
Littleton, Mass.
Listings include owners of resort and vacation properties in Europe, the United States, and the Caribbean. Members also get special discounts. 617-486-8955

Vacation Exchange Club
Key West, Fla.
The club offers a free information package. 800-638-3841

Renting by Country

Renting through an institution abroad can be challenging. But it also can lead to savings by cutting out the middleman.







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Updated on October 8, 1995