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Archive for March, 2012

A Summer in the Hamptons

Summer is fast approaching and for many New Yorkers that typically means taking off to the Hamptons! For those who are new to ‘New York summers’, like myself, many of us have only seen the Hampton’s holidays on various television shows and movies. So what is there to do for those who are heading to the Hamptons for the first time?

First you have to decide what part of the Hamptons you plan to visit. There are several villages in the towns of Southampton and East Hampton on Long Island, New York. These areas are the most populated parts of the Hamptons in the summer time and are the location of some of the most expensive properties in the United States of America.  

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Rent a Vacation House

One of the best ways to enjoy the Hamptons is to rent a vacation property. Rentini.com has a number of stunning houses situated in both Southampton and Hampton Bays. The properties sleep up to eighteen or twenty occupants, has stunning views and each has a large, inviting swimming pool.

Renting a vacation house can give your trip away that extra special touch. You’re not confined to a small hotel room, you have all the comforts of home and in the case of Rentini’s properties can fit a number of people under one roof.

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Make the most of your time

A trip to the Hamptons pretty much defines a luxurious beach vacation.

The beaches in the Hamptons are known for their pristine beauty. With long stretches of white sand, sparkling blue water and the perfect summer climate, it’s no surprise they’ve been rated among the best in the world.  Each beach has something different to offer. The water at the bay beaches are always much warmer than that of the Atlantic. They’re also perfect for windsurfing and with the kid without the rough ocean. However if you prefer slightly more of a surf there is plenty of that on the main beaches, for surfers, body boarders or general swimming amongst the waves!

If you’re into a spot of sport, there is plenty of that to go around in the Hamptons. Whether you’re looking for a round of golf or a game of tennis, the Hamptons has it! The Shinnecock Hills golf course has been touted the best public course in America yet if you want to drive a bit further, Farmingdale is the home of public golf with Bethpage being the location of the 2002 U.S. Open. Public tennis courts can be found at East Hampton High School, Bridgehampton High School, Southampton High School and Mashashimuet in Sag Harbor giving you plenty of opportunities to get out for a hit on the courts!

A great way to explore the various areas of the Hamptons is by walking or biking. Biking in particular will take you just about anywhere. It’s reasonably ease to get from town-to-town and bike routes are easy marked so you can easily follow the roads of the beautiful wooded trails around the villages. For something a little different, why not try a 2 hour horseback ride along the beach.

Since you’re enjoying your vacation right beside the water, why not take it one step further and get out on the water itself! There are many places around the Hamptons where you can rent canoes, rowboats, kayaks and small sailboats for a great day out in the water, however if you’d prefer there are a number of companies offering guided kayak tours, and harbor boat cruises. While you’re out on the water be sure to partake in a little fishing. Montauk is considered the sport-fishing capital of the world due to the world record number of fish caught at Montauk.

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While you’re in the Hamptons, you could easily dedicate you’re entire weekend to visiting the different wineries. The Wine Spectator once touted Long Island as the East Coast version of the Napa Valley. There are over 50 different vineyards ranging in size and the wines have won national and international awards. Some wineries serves breads, cheese and crackers along with their wine, others have a full barnyard around the tasting room, complete with chickens and roosters to give you quite the unique experience.

If you’re looking for something out of the sun, why not check out the numerous galleries in the Hamptons. If you’re there during the right season, you could come across a different art show opening every night. The largest group of art galleries is located in East Hampton, however there are galleries all over the area. If you’re into art, you should definitely have a scout around these galleries and see some of the fantastic works on display.

Aside from the artwork, the Hamptons have a large offering of shops and antique stores. The antique stores in particular are well worth checking out, and for those shopaholics, many prominent designers have set up shops in East Hampton each summer.

The numerous events, the beach, the scenery, the water activities, the sports, the shopping and the galleries make the Hamptons a perfect place to visit in the summer time.

What are your favorite things to do in the Hamptons?

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Increasing Search Visibility For Your Listing

How Do You Get Your Property Listing Seen?

Vacation home owners list their properties in hopes of gaining more exposure for their rentals. As with the arduous search for a life mate, we’ve all heard that “getting out there” is the first step. So it is with the often challenging world of securing guests for your vacation rentals. Listing is a homeowners’ way of “getting their rental out there”. But, of course, listing your vacation home is just the first step.

Optimize Your Vacation Rental Listing

Property listings require cultivation. Many homeowners listing their properties may not realize that how they create their listing affects how likely it is to be seen. This is because search engines use algorithms to internally rank the relevance of web pages including your property listing page. Here are some tips towards optimizing your vacation rental listing:

  • Write a thorough, detailed description. A single line isn’t good enough.
  • Use many keywords that describe your property (e.g. near the beach; close to outdoor activities; center of Nashville; ocean view, beachfront, etc.)
  • Use formatting to make things easier to read:
    • Use bullet points.
    • Separate paragraphs.
    • Don’t turn your description into a ‘Christmas tree’. Take it easy on colors and bold font. Search engines like Google will penalize you if your description looks ‘spammy’.
  • Upload multiple high quality photos and add descriptive tags.
  • Complete your owner profile. Not only will this make the transaction more personable, it will enhance your page ranking as well.
  • Include all appropriate interests and activities near your property.
  • Include amenities including ones unique to your property.
  • Create a website – this will help broaden your exposure.
  • Link your account with your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Be social – share your listing and website on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks. The more popular your page is, the higher it ranks.
  • If your property is in another country, try adding some description in the local language of that country. So if you have a villa in Madrid, add some lines in Spanish.

If you follow these simple steps towards making your listing as pretty as possible, the more likely it is to be viewed by prospective guests. Remember that the more visitors you have to your listing will contribute to the ranking of your page by search engines. Increased bookings should follow.

Submit your photos and be in to win!

The Earth Hour photo competition is now live and we’ve got some fantastic photos coming in!

There is still plenty of time to enter to win the latest model of the iPad!

the new iPad for your best photo

Enjoy outdoors? Upload your best photo and be in to win the new iPad from Rentini

Simply click here and upload a photo of you, your friends or your family enjoying the great outdoors.

The person who gets the most votes on their photo, wins!

Good Luck!

Enjoy the outdoors? Submit your photo to win a new iPad!

If you read our blog post yesterday you will know Earth Hour is upon us.

There’s just a week and a half to go until 8.30pm on March 31st when we switch out the lights for sixty minutes. We want to remind you just how important sustainability is to help protect our planet.

We all want to enjoy the great outdoors and the natural wonders our planet has to offer for many years to come. Therefore it’s our responsibility to do what we can to halt global warming.

Rentini is celebrating Earth Hour this year by giving away new iPad!

Check it out here at Rentini’s facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/rentini/app_158086484245654

All you have to do is submit a picture showing you, your family or your friends enjoying the great outdoors. Everyone will then be invited to vote on their favorite photo and the picture with the most votes will win!

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Enjoy the outdoors with Rentini and win the new iPad

“Show Me Your Tax ID Number,” as required by HB 2078

In wake of the deferment of bills SB 2089 and HB 1707, non-resident vacation rental owners of properties in Hawaii have had little time to relax. They’re still contending with other bills that could be passed at their expense.

Show me your ausweis!

Bill HB 2078 requires homeowners to publicly expose on the web their tax ID and personal info of the local agent

The latest bone of contention is over House Bill 2078, which if passed will require that all non-citizens who run transient – i.e. short-term – vacation rentals in the State of Hawaii display a registration ID or website where the ID can be found on all advertisements or solicitations. All non-residents must also “provide contact information for a local agent”.

Just as with the previous bills, non-resident vacation rental owners feel that HB 2078 unfairly targets them.

Many homeowners, and community organizer John Eckel is one of them, have expressed privacy concerns too. In his testimony against the bill, Eckel writes:

Display of a tax ID number could lead to intrusions on the privacy of owners and even potential identity theft. If a unique ID number can be created without the identity of the property owner being made known publicly, I would support the display of this number on all ads by residents and nonresidents alike.

Homeowners argue that requiring a local contact person included on ads clutters the message and confuses prospective guests about who they’re working with. Eckel again raises privacy related concerns:

Listing a local contact… [is] a violation of the privacy right of the local contact person. Further, if the name of the local contact were publicly available, it could easily enable criminals to falsely claim to be the emergency contact person to facilitate crimes on unsuspecting guests.

Homeowners targeted by this bill are irked most of all by the issue of taxation, feeling that the bill punishes them for allegedly not paying their dues even though they are tax compliant.

It’s true that tax evasion is a valid concern, but just who is doing the evading and what its scope is for vacation rentals in Hawaii is debatable. In 2005 a Hawaiian Tourism Agency study concluded that an estimated 9,000 vacation rental units were non-compliant with tax laws. This figure was challenged at the time and the agency has since stated that, “The results of that investigation, where several thousand undocumented accommodations were identified, were presented to the Department of Taxation, the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, and the counties to take administrative and enforcement actions necessary to ensure compliance with state laws and county ordinances.”

In other words, local agencies had the information to crack-down on whatever non-compliance existed at the time.

The Department of Taxation testimony to the House Committee on Finance on April 3, 2007, opposing bill SB 750 SD 3 HD 1 related to Transient Accommodations Tax, also addressed the HTA 2005 study. Their testimony stated, in part:

INCREASED SCRUTINY MAY DRIVE TAXPAYERS UNDERGROUND-The Department points out that after its last audit project with HTA, the Department concluded that, in general, those that rent transient accommodations are tax compliant. The Department fears that any increased scrutiny could potentially backfire and drive otherwise tax compliance individuals ‘underground.’ Taxpayers that are forced ‘underground’ can have a direct impact on collections.

Non-resident homeowners that would be most hurt by HB 2078 are irate that they would have to take steps to prove the legitimacy of their rentals when no data has been presented to confirm that there is even a tax enforcement problem with transient accommodations.

Most agree that having an emergency contact number should be mandatory for guests and homeowners, that it is in their mutual interest. What many do not agree about is the necessity of having this person take a center role in the advertisement of the rental itself. This and showing their tax ID number leaves many shaking their heads.

What do you think of HB 2078?

You can submit testimony here. You will need to enter “HB 2078″ into the search box and make sure your testimony is submitted before the 24 hour cut-off deadline at 7:15 pm EDT on March 21, 2012.

Please duplicate your testimony and share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Earth Hour

Have you heard about the hour in March where the entire world goes dark? All the lights get switched off, the laptops get powered down and the candles come out to play.

It’s called Earth Hour. Earth Hour began in 2006 and has been growing ever since. This year, with 135+ countries and hundreds of millions of people participating, it’s destined to be better than ever.

Earth Hour was born in Sydney, Australia as a way for Sydney residents to show their support for climate change action. The following year, 2.2 million individuals and 2,000 businesses in Sydney turned out their lights for one hour. In 2008, Earth Hour planned to reach the whole of Australia, but then Toronto, Canada had signed up and before they knew it 35 different countries and 400 cities and towns were raising their hands to be part of the event. The invitation to turn off the lights was soon extended to everyone, becoming an annual global event.

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Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for people to become aware of their electricity consumption and to be inspired to become more sustainable.

Each year power companies have reported seeing a dramatic decrease in power consumption during earth hour, showing that switching off electrical appliances, even for 60 minutes, really makes a difference. 

This year, the founders of Earth Hour, World Wildlife Fund, are encouraging people to go beyond the one hour by changing their habits for the long term. By always remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room, powering down your laptop at night and unplugging chargers from the wall when they’re not in use, you can make a significant difference.

It’s quite possible some of your most treasured memories from your childhood and from your family vacations involve spending time in the great outdoors. Mine certainly do. I have memories of long days at the beach, climbing hills, skiing down the perfect slopes, sailing on crystal lakes and walking through rainforests. I want my great-great-grandchildren to be able to enjoy these natural wonders as I have, but unfortunately I don’t know if they will!

The threat of carbon emissions is becoming critical and it seems climate change can’t be ignored any more. I personally have started to notice it more over the past few years. Around the globe earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and tornados are becoming more common. New York had a warm winter and summer appears to have come early, while New Zealand had a cold and wet summer. Icebergs float break away from Antarctica and float up past New Zealand.

Earth Hour’s Co-Founder Andy Ridley said everyone needs to realize they have the power to make a difference and act. Everyone from school children to world leaders can take part and make a difference.

“The state of our planet affects each and every one of us. Last year Earth Hour reached 1.8 billion people across the planet, this year through digital media we are offering a greater opportunity to connect people with the desire to take much needed action for the environment.” Ridley said.

If we want to preserve the planet for our future generations, we need to start now. We can’t wait until it’s too late and Earth Hour is the perfect opportunity to get everyone involved. You can also make the hour a fun event to observe with friends and family. Host a candle lit dinner party, or roast marshmallows over a fire. If you have children, you can use this event as a chance to teach them about climate change and the importance of sustainability. Help the kids create paper lanterns that they can place a candle in for the duration of the hour.

 

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If staying at home to observe the hour isn’t your thing, cities all over the world have events planned to mark Earth Hour. Toronto’s High Park Zoo plans to host an Earth Hour Walk, so people can walk through the zoo with candles and lanterns before concluding at the Grenadier Restaurant for a post-Earth Hour gathering.

In the Philippines residents can help send off 10,000 biodegradable wishing lanterns or attend one of the numerous street parties organized to help raise awareness. In Dubai, festivities are being planned in the Burj Plaza opposite the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.

Even astronaut Andre Kuipers will participate in Earth Hour by keeping watch over planet earth as the world goes dark. He plans to share photos and provide a live commentary via the European Space Agency.

Kuipers says, “There is no better way to raise awareness for the future of the most beautiful planet in the universe”

Be sure to read up on Earth Hour and the events happening near you at http://www.earthhour.org

St Patrick’s Day

It’s that time of year again. The world is turning green. Green like the Emerald City, the summer leaves and of course, green like the Irish. It’s St Patrick’s Day, and it’s taking over. Where ever you go you might come across green themed parades, people in green stumbling out of Irish bars, and maybe even people doing Irish jigs on the side of the road. But what is St Patrick’s Day about? Why do we celebrate it? Who was St Patrick?

Saint Patrick
St Patrick was the patron saint and national apostle of Ireland who lived during the fifth century. He is credited with bringing Christianity to the Irish people. The most well-known legend of St Patrick is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the three leaves of a native Irish clover (the shamrock). St Patrick was not the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, however it is said he encountered the Druids at Tara and abolished their pagan rites. It is said Patrick converted the warrior chiefs and princes before baptizing them and thousands of their subjects in the “Holy Wells”.

Legend claims St Patrick was also the one to rid Ireland of snakes. In old pagan religions, the symbol of serpent snakes were common and often worshipped, therefore it is said driving the snakes from Ireland was symbolic of ending pagan practice. While it is true there are no snakes in Ireland, there is no evidence to suggest snakes were present in Ireland before St Patrick abolished paganism.

St Patrick died on March 17, 461 and retained the reputation as the principal champion of Irish Christianity.

ImageThe Beginnings of St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations
Since the 9th or 10th century, people in Ireland began observing the Roman Catholic feast day of St Patrick on the anniversary of his death. Since the holiday began in Ireland, it is believed that as the Irish spread out across the world, they took the celebrations with them.

However it wasn’t until 1762 when the first big observance of St Patrick’s day occurred outside of Ireland with a parade honoring the holiday. The parade was held in New York City to help the Irish soldiers serving in the English military to reconnect with their Irish roots and other Irish citizens. Over the next 35 years, Irish-Americans  began to celebrate their roots more prompting the rise of Irish societies such as the Hibernian Society and the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick who would all hold separate annual Irish parades before eventually uniting their individual parades in 1848 to create one official New York City St Patrick’s Day.

The color green
St Patrick’s Day has been long been associated with St Patrick’s Day, but did you know originally the St Patrick’s color was blue? However over the years, the color green has slowly replaced the blue and grown to be the predominant color of the Irish. Shamrocks are regularly worn which is in recognition of St Patrick using the Shamrock to explain Christianity. The color of green is also said to represent Ireland’s lush green farmlands.

Celebrations of St Patrick’s Day
St Patrick’s Day has come to be associated with all things Irish. For those who celebrate the holiday for its intended meaning, St Patrick’s Day is a day for spiritual observance and renewal.

Traditionally, Irish families would attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon by dancing, drinking and having a feast. The usual rules for Lent of being unable to eat meat were waived and people would have the traditional Irish meal of bacon and cabbage. However, once the official parade was launched in the United States, the day quickly became a recognized day of celebration throughout America, and then eventually throughout the world.

The biggest observance of St Patrick’s Day remains, of course, to be in Ireland. Almost all businesses, with the exception of restaurants and pubs, close on March 17th. As it is a religious holiday, many Irish attend Mass to offer their prayers for missionaries worldwide before the serious celebrations begin. Parades and festivities are held all throughout Ireland including at Downpatrick where St Patrick is rumored to be buried.

In the mid-1990s, the government in Ireland decided to use the day to promote Ireland and its culture, therefore began a festival which has slowly grown to be a five day event. The national festival now ranks amongst the greatest celebrations in the world and creates a strong atmosphere of enthusiasm and excitement throughout the country.

In some areas of the United States, you could think you’ve walked straight into Ireland during St Patrick’s Day celebrations. While it is not a legal public holiday anywhere in America, it is still widely recognized and celebrated. Big cities and small towns throughout the country celebrate with parades, wearing green, playing Irish music, eating Irish food and of course consuming copious amounts of alcohol. Children are able to watch the parade and can enjoy crafts, coloring and games all with an Irish theme.

Chicago takes celebrations to the next level by dyeing the Chicago River green each year. This tradition began in 1962 when city pollution-control workers dyed the river green as a means of tracing illegal sewage discharges and realized the dye could be a unique way to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Now the city releases 40 pounds of green vegetable dye each year and turns the river green for several hours.

ImageCanada hosts one of the longest-running St Patrick’s Day parades in North America. The parade in Montreal has been running since 1824. Quebec City recently returned their St Patrick’s Day parade which ran from 1827 to 1926 before an 84 year absence while Toronto celebrate with a large parade in the city’s downtown area. While some groups, particularly Guinness, have lobbied to make St Patrick’s Day a public holiday in Canada, so far only the province of Newfoundland and Labrador recognize St Patrick’s Day as a provincial holiday.

Celebrations in Great Britain are widespread. Before her death, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother used to present bowls of shamrock to members of the Irish Guards, which is a regiment in the British Army consisting of soldier’s from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The Irish Guards continue to wear the shamrock on St Patrick’s Day. The Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church continue to observe the religious holiday as a feast day while cities throughout England and Scotland celebrate with parades, festivals and cultural events.

Japan and South Korea hold numerous parades and festivities which are spread across the entire month of March, and the tiny island of Montserrat in the Caribbean recognize St Patrick’s Day as a public holiday. Switzerland and other central European countries celebrate in a similar fashion, by holding parades and wearing green however it is also not unusual for Swiss students to organize celebrations of their own on Saint Patrick’s Eve. In Australia and New Zealand, St Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated as a day of drinking, with revellers typically wearing green clothing and drinking from early afternoon until late at night.

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St Patrick’s Day and the consumption of alcohol
While Christian leaders have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick’s Day, it appears in many places around the world the day is recognized as a day to drink. So why is St Patrick’s Day associated with drinking? The custom comes from an old Irish legend where St Patrick was served a measure of whiskey which was less than full. St Patrick felt he needed to teach the bartender a lesson about generosity. He told the bartender that a monstrous devil resided in his cellar, and this devil fed on the bartender’s dishonesty. St Patrick said he could banish the devil if he was able to change his ways.

Some time later, St Patrick returned to the pub and found the bartender filling the patrons’ glasses until they were overflowing. He went into the cellar with the bartender and found the devil starved from the bartender’s generosity. He banished the demon and stated that everyone would have a drop of liquor on his feast day. This custom is known as Patrick’s Pot or “drowning the shamrock” as it is customary to float a shamrock lead in the whiskey before having the shot.

From that one legend has become the culture of drinking on St Patrick’s Day, the stumbling out of bars, and copious consumption of beer and whiskey. If someone were to tell a bartender that there was a devil in the cellar today, they’d be laughed out of the pub. However, in St Patrick’s Day, it was enough to create a tradition which is still observed almost 1550 years later.

Enjoy St Patrick’s Day on Saturday. Take a moment to remember the religious connotations of the holiday, the story of the devil in the basement and be sure to wear a splash of green!

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