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Travel Planning During Coronavirus

Updated 5/26/2020 7:58 AM

With all the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, many of you are looking for some clarity regarding Cape and Islands vacation rentals this season. We are hopeful that you can enjoy your summer vacation but assume it will require extra effort by all to maintain your safety and the safety of the Cape & Islands community.

Whether you have already booked a home or are considering doing so, here is some information that might be helpful:

 

Booking a Vacation Rental

Q: What is the current status of short-term vacation rentals in Massachusetts? Are they even allowed now?

A: Gov. Baker's 4-Phase Plan to re-open Mass. Economy was announced on 5/18 starting with Phase 1. Each phase will last at least 3 weeks. As of now, Lodging, including short-term rentals, are included in Phase 2 and may include some restrictions. Pending positive public health data trends, Phase 2 will begin Monday, June 8th at the earliest.

Assuming the ban has been lifted by summer, it's likely that some restrictions and requirements will be mandated for your protection per CDC guidelines.

Further guidance and clarification is expected and will be updated here as we learn more.

Q. What is considered a short-term rental?

Short-term is any vacation rental that is rented for 31 or fewer days.

Q. Are any rentals permitted now?

A: Yes, vacation rentals for 32+ days are allowed to start before June 8. It is urged that anyone visiting from out-of-state to quarantine for 14-days.

Rentals are also permitted for health care workers, first responders, and other workers constituting the COVID-19 Essential Workforce. More details may be found in the Mass.gov guidance

Q. Can I book a vacation rental now?

Yes, even though short-term rentals are not permitted prior to June 8, a rental may be booked after that date. Inquire directly with the host on their payment schedule and cancellation policies.

Q. I am reluctant to pay my final deposit, given the uncertainty about whether they will even be permitted at the time of my vacation. What should I do?

A: Contact the owner of your rental home to discuss your options. Most homeowners are doing everything they can to be flexible and accommodating.

 

House Cleaning

Q: What are your recommendations to minimize our risk of contagion in vacation rental homes?

A: Prior to your arrival, check with the owner/manager about extra cleaning procedures they have adopted for this year.

Ask if they will be providing cleaning and disinfecting agents for your use during your stay.

Even if linens are provided, offer to bring your own.

Consider arriving a day later and/or leaving a day earlier to allow more time for the home to be adequately disinfected between guests. (Note: A buffer of time between guests may even become mandatory.)

Q: What advice are you providing homeowners regarding extra cleaning this year?

A: We have contacted a number of cleaning companies to learn about the extra measures they will be taking this summer.  Many of them are adding additional staff and will need a longer period of time to be sure that the home is safe for the next renters.  We have provided our homeowners with our findings and advised them about best cleaning practices for these extraordinary times. We are also urging them to reach out to their guests to inform them about extra measures they will be taking this year to ensure their guests’ safety.

 

Cancellation Policies

Q: Does WeNeedaVacation.com have a “cancellation policy”?

A: Although cancellation policies are up to the individual homeowner or property manager, we have been communicating with the owners who advertise their homes on our website with information and advice about cancellations. We recognize that these are extraordinary circumstances and are advising homeowners to adjust their policies accordingly.

Q: Do you offer trip insurance?

A: We do not offer trip insurance through our site, but these companies do:

And TravelInsurance.com and SquareMouth are sites that will allow you to compare the rates of various companies. Be sure the coverage you choose protects you adequately. Unless you purchase a “CFAR” (Cancel for Any Reason) policy, it may not cover a situation such as this COVID-19 crisis.

Q: How is your company different from the other multi-national sites?

A: A fundamental difference between us and our Big Box competitors is that we do not process the bookings, hold deposits on behalf of the owner, or charge you a service fee. Rather than a booking platform, we are a marketing one. Thus, the entire legal and financial transactions are controlled by the homeowner or manager.

Having said that, however, we take a very active role in providing our homeowners/managers with as much guidance and support as possible to ensure a high quality of management and professionalism. This is for their sakes as well as for their guests’ experiences. In multiple communications, we have urged them to be as understanding and lenient as possible in terms of their cancellation policies during these difficult times.

Q: Have there been any changes to the Steamship Authority’s reservation policies or schedules?

A: It’s always best to check the SSA’s website for up-to-date information about their policies and schedules: SteamshipAuthority.com

 

Beaches

Q: Are the beaches open?

A: The beaches are open. Massachusetts has published beach safety and re-opening standards for all beach managers and visitors to follow.

Learn more about the Beach Guidelines.

Other Questions

These are unique and unprecedented times, and we ask for your patience and understanding, just as we have asked of our homeowners and managers. We truly believe that, by working together and having realistic expectations for this summer, the Cape & Islands can be a most welcome relief in these difficult times!

We invite you to contact the owner or manager of the home you have booked or are considering booking, or feel free to call or email us with any questions or concerns you may have.