(NECN: Peter Howe, Sharon, Mass.) - It’s peaceful and green at Roberta Saphire’s lakefront summer place, a haven for fishing an exercise with its own little private beach on Lake Massapoag.
“I think there’s 16 kinds of trout” in the lake, Saphire said. “There's a place that rents a kayak. There's bicycles in the garage … Riding along the lake before you get here, it's calming, it's soothing.’’
And with a rental price of typically $1,750 a week for four bedrooms with a big open living and dining space and beautiful lake views and a fireplace and giant television sets, you’re payinf a third or a quarter as much as you would pay for a week at a home this big and this well situated on Cape Cod or in Maine.
That’s because the Saphire Cottage is in a suburb of Boston 26 minutes south of the city by train – and yet it can feel surprisingly far away, many guests have raved in online reviews they’ve posted. “You always make sure you get out there 20 minutes before sunset, because that's when the sun starts to go down, and you see this big red ball and it's just beautiful,’’ said Saphire, who owns and offers the home and a nearby wedding and function estate with her husband Jerry.
What this surprisingly affordable summer rental – in a surprising place – epitomizes: If you want to save money renting a summer getaway in New England, it pays to widen your horizons, big time.
“There are so many other places in New England, outside Cape Cod, that people should be checking out, and that frequently can be much more affordable,’’ said Jen Gold, a vacation rental expert with TripAdvisor’s FlipKey.com in Boston, which lists and reviews thousands of properties across New England. “There's the Cape, but there are also beaches in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. There are beautiful parts of New England that will always have some availability at some point during the summer.’’
Rental sites like FlipKey.com and HomeAway.com are good places to hunt in mid-week for last-minute deals, like vacation homes that have gone unrented or seen last-minute cancellations, and you can narrow your search according to all kinds of criteria including location, amenities, price, bedrooms, and the like. “It makes it really easy to find a last minute deal, especially if you're flexible about the destination.’’
Something Gold says she’s found: More rental property owners than you think may be willing to negotiate a discount on a home going empty -- if you're nice.
“Politeness, fairness -- there's nothing wrong with negotiating, but do understand that people have to cover their costs,’’ Gold said. It helps, she finds, to make a persuasive case to a home owner how much you love their property and are just trying to find out if there’s a way to afford it on your budget, or make it a place you can visit for five days or a week instead of three or four.
“Keep in mind that these are people,’’ Gold said. “They're not big organizations. You're not negotiating with Hilton or Marriott.’’
But if you’re willing to hunt around, and stay flexible about where you go and when, and be open to finding a vacation experience in a place you may have never expected it, you just may find – or be able to negotiate -- some interesting deals.
With video editor Lauren Kleciak and videographer Abbas Sadek