Vacation Rental Home Residential Elevator Operation

Residential elevator with gate open

Residential elevator with gate open

One of the most frequent issues guests have at our vacation home rental is mastering the art of the residential elevator! After countless calls from guests saying the elevator was broken, when in fact the problem was the gate had been left open, I decided to do a short video demonstrating how to use the elevator. Hopefully, this will be helpful to you!
The most important thing to remember is that this is a residential elevator and it runs much more slowly than the commercial elevators in hotels.
This was filmed in the garage area beneath the house since most people initially access the elevator through the garage to take up the luggage and groceries.

Calling the Elevator:

  • Press the call button. Notice the button does NOT turn green. It will turn green once the elevator arrives at the stop.
  • It takes a good 40 seconds for the elevator to come from the top level down to the garage. It seems like a long wait. Be patient!
  • You will see a light shine through the small hole near the top of the door as the elevator approaches.
  • When the elevator arrives the call button turns green and you will hear a tick as the safety latch releases on the door.
  • Next, you must enter your code into keypad. This is the same code you use on the front door and garage stairs entry. If you selected a personal code, that code will only work if you entered it into the elevator door lock, otherwise you will have to use the 10 digit code you were given for your reservation.
  • After you enter your code, press the Schlage button above the keypad. You will hear a little ascending series of notes if your code was entered correctly and the button will flash green. You can now open the door.
  • If your code was not entered correctly, the Schlage button will blink red and you will hear a descending series of notes. Try again, but realize you will only be allowed three trials before the lock will time you out for a few minutes.
    **Please do not push on the door, pull on the door or kick the door in an effort to get it open. It is designed to never open if the elevator is not at that level. If it did open, that would be a huge safety issue.

Be patient! Follow the steps carefully. If the elevator fails to come, go back upstairs, find which level the elevator was left at. Open that door and you will most likely find that the gate is open. 90% of the time, that is the problem.

Residential elevator with gate closed

Residential elevator with gate closed

When all else fails, you can always send someone to ride the elevator down and open it that way rather than using the keypad to unlock it.

Riding the Elevator:

  • Enter the elevator and close the door.
  • Close the gate.
  • Press the button for the desired floor
  • Do not jump in the elevator as it will unbalance the sensors and may cause a malfunction. Again this is much different from a commercial elevator.
  • Be careful that you do not put your hands inside the metal gate to touch the door.
  • Once the elevator comes to a complete stop, you will hear a click and you can open the gate and door and step out.
  • ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATE BEFORE SHUTTING THE DOOR WHEN YOU EXIT THE ELEVATOR. If the gate is not shut, the elevator will not move and you will not be able to call it from another level.

Helpful hints:

I like to send the elevator back down to the garage level so it is ready whenever I need it to bring up groceries or luggage. If you are not using it because of physical limitations, then I would suggest you do that as well. Just push the button 1 before closing the gate and it will go down and stop at the bottom.
If for some reason the elevator stops between levels (This rarely happens if someone was jumps while riding the elevator or if your load is very uneven with excessive weight on one side), do not attempt to fix the elevator yourself. Call Stuart. He knows how to troubleshoot many issue. There is an emergency phone in the elevator in case someone gets stuck inside.
It is a nice feature to have this elevator in our home. With patience, following the correct steps and monitoring children at all times, you can enjoy the use of the elevator for the duration of your stay. Our family mostly uses it for luggage and groceries and it is very helpful!

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Book Our Vacation Rental for Your Labor Day Week at the Beach Today!

vacation rental Isle of Palms

Imagine walking the beach on a sunny fall morning

Can you imagine yourself right here, on the Isle of Palms beach this Labor Day!  I can! This certainly doesn’t look like the beach in the summer with crowds of people. I love the Fall on Isle of Palms.

Why Come in the Fall?

  • Less people!
  • Weather – It is still in the mid 70’s and low 80’s during the day in September and some of October. November days are often in the 70’s.
  • Less bugs!
  • Most attractions stay open year round
  • Plenty of special events to keep everyone busy

What is There to Do Besides Go to the Beach?

Here are just a few of the events coming up this Fall in the Charleston, South Carolina area:

This is only a sample. If you go here Charleston Visitor Site, you can put in your dates and see everything going on in the Charleston area for the time you are visiting.

How Do I Book Your Vacation Rental?

Take a look at our availability calendar. You can either call Kathy at 330-618-4893 or put in a booking request for the dates you want and Kathy will get back to you with a quote.

Don’t wait! Book Now! We currently have only about 5 weeks left September – November. One of those weeks is the week of September 5th, Labor Day week. The water will still be plenty warm and the pool won’t need to be heated.

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Vacation Rental Service Fees – Booking Safely with the Owner Part 3 of 3

Let’s Be Safe!


So we all know the internet can be a scary place and there are scammers just waiting for us to click a wrong link or do something else to grab our identity or steal our money. Today, I would like to discuss how to know you are booking safely with a reputable owner and not a scammer.

  • Be cautious about extremely low rates. Scammers are notorious for luring in travelers by posting deals that are too good to be true. Get an idea of the average cost of rentals for the size, location and amenities you are researching. Deals over 50-60% off are most likely scams.
  • Avoid Craig’s List. As a general rule, it is best to avoid Craig’s List as that site is known to have many scam listings.
  • Beware of suspicious behavior. There are some red flags to watch for in your communication with owners:
    1. Poor grammar
    2. Foreign phone numbers or no phone number at all
    3. No rental agreement
    4. Unable to answer specific questions regarding the house or the area
  • Call the owner.  If a phone number is provided, call the owner. If initial contact is by e-mail, ask for a phone number and call! When speaking with the owner, ask specific questions about the house and the area. A legitimate owner should be very familiar with local events, restaurants and attractions.
  • Ask to see the property website. Most scammers do not go through the expense of setting up a web site.
  • Read reviews carefully. HomeAway/VRBO has recently removed the name of the owner, AirBnB provides a first name making your job of verifying ownership more difficult. Many reviews will include the owner’s first name. If the name of the person you are communicating with is different, it may indicate a scam. (Several years ago, I had a traveler call me and tell me that she had just wanted to verify the cancellation policy since my VRBO page said one thing, but my “assistant” told her something else. I told her that I have no assistant! I soon discovered she had found my property listed on Craig’s List by a scammer and I do not advertise my property there.)
  • Search for the owner/property name on social media. Do a google search for the owner’s name and look for accounts on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In. Many owners have listings on multiple listing sites.
  • NEVER PAY BY WIRE TRANSFER! I cannot emphasize this one enough! The classic scam is to lure travelers in with a low price and then tell them this special deal is only available if payment is sent by direct bank transfer or Western Union. Credit cards offer the best consumer protection. Most scammers deal only in wire transfers or bank checks. They will not accept credit cards or personal checks.
  • Find the home on a listing site that doesn’t charge a service fee. There are sites that do not charge travelers to book through their sites. Here are three:
    1. Vacation Home Rentals
    2. HomeEscape
    3. AVRO

As long as you do your due diligence, it is safe and cost effective to book and pay for your vacation rental privately through the owner.

In case you missed them, here are the first and second parts of this series:

Part One – Service Fees – What They Are

Part Two – How to Avoid Service Fees


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Vacation Rental Service Fees – How to Avoid Them – Part 2 of 3


In the first part of this series, I told you about the service fees being added to bookings made through popular booking site like VRBO and HomeAway.

Now that you know these fees are being added, how can you avoid them? It will take a little detective work on your part, but you can, in many cases, avoid these added fees.

So, let’s say you have found the perfect vacation rental on VRBO. You go to “details” to get a breakdown of the price for the week you want, and you see that there is a “service fee” that is 6-10% of the total rental price. You love the property, but the fee puts it well over your budget. Here are some things you can do:

  1. Book directly through the owner. Many vacation rental properties have their own web sites. Some have Facebook pages. On many VRBO and HomeAway listings the owner’s phone number is visible if you click on “show phone number” in the owner information box. Ask if they accept payments through their web site, booking software, pay pal or another reputable method of secure payments. Some may even give discounts for payment by check.
  2. Look for a property name in the listing. If contact information such as e-mail address, phone number and links to web sites are not provided by the listing site, do some detective work. Read through the listing to see if the house has a name (in our case the Palmetto Beach House). Then do a Google search for that name including the city you are planning to visit (for us “Palmetto Beach House Isle of Palms”). There is another vacation rental with the same name as ours in another city so including the city in your search will help you get more accurate results.
  3. Do a Google Image search. If there is no house name, right click on a picture in the listing (the lead picture works best). Then select, “search Google for image” in the menu that appears. This will often lead you to their web site or Facebook page or perhaps another listing site that may not have a service/booking fee.

A Caution: Do not contact the owner through the listing site by clicking on the “Book It” button on sites that charge service fees. If you do that and enter your credit card information, you will be charged the service fee as you check out to secure your booking. The owner cannot reduce, remove or refund this fee. It goes directly to the booking site. In most cases, it is non-refundable.

Another option, is to pull away from sites that charge traveler’s a service or booking fee. They are out there. Here are a few:


Vacation Home Rentals


If you are certain that you want to pay the fees for the benefits claimed by the booking site, take the time to carefully read the terms and conditions.

If you missed Part 1 Click here

Watch for Part 3 – Booking Safely Through a Private website/owner

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Vacation Rental Service Fees – Part 1 of 3 – What they are.

Screenshot 2016-02-20 14.14.21

You can click the above image to make it larger.

Vacation rental service fees are cropping up on many listing sites. If you follow the vacation rental market news, you may be aware of a trend that is costing both travelers and owners more money. Booking sites like VRBO, HomeAway and Trip Adviser are jumping on the service fee band wagon following the success of AirBnB. They are beginning to tack on a 4-10% additional fee which is paid by the traveler if you book through their booking site. Be aware HomeAway (which is now owned by Expedia) and Trip Adviser, own a variety of different sites and some may have fees, others may not. You need to check the “details” for a breakdown of the cost to see if the “service fee” is listed. For example, FlipKey (owned by Trip Adviser) charges a service fee while Vacation Home Rentals (also owned by Trip Adviser), does not. That may change if consumers seem to accept the fees.

You might be wondering why I said this is affecting owners. It is costing the traveler more to book, not the owner, right? Well, when the price goes up for the traveler, that does impact bookings for the owner. Remember, the owner does not receive this money, it is going to the booking site but it is making our homes more expensive to rent. We, as owners, have no control over the fees, but you as travelers can find ways to book with us without paying those fees.

HomeAway describes the benefits of their service fee as “This helps VRBO provide a safer and more secure booking experience, coupled with premium 24/7 customer support through out your trip.” If this appeals to you, make sure you check the details of the services provided to see if the fee has any value for you.

So, what can you do? How can you avoid booking site service fees? Watch for Part 2  – Avoiding Vacation Rental Service Fees.

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