Vacation Travel Tips

Save Money on your West Michigan Vacation
by Denise Tackett

Visiting the New Buffalo area in Southwest Michigan is a fantastic experience any time of year. Located along Lake Michigan, it is one of eight communities making up Harbor Country; a cluster of small communities with plenty of interesting things for everyone in the family to do.

Generic hotel room or spend your summer days in the lap of luxury while overlooking a private lake, surrounded by 100-year old Catalpa trees?
(WAYA Rentals photo by Minas Smitchger)

Year around New Buffalo has an eclectic collection of shops and restaurants to visit and the Four Winds Casino Resort, owned by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, is nearby for those who want to try their luck with gaming, or attend an entertainment event. In the summer, visitors will find not only a public beach at the base of Whittaker Street, but also parks, a boat launch and a marina. In the fall, Michigan presents crisp temperatures and a blazing display of autumn leaves, just perfect for back road adventures in antiquing and wine tasting. And don’t forget the winter. Trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing are only a short distance away. Or, cozy up to a fire and just enjoy getting away from the hectic pace of home.

When choosing where to stay when visiting the New Buffalo area, it’s worth the effort to look into something a little more comfortable than a standard hotel room. Vacation rentals offer advantages that hotels can’t give; including full kitchens, multiple bedrooms and plenty of space to lounge and entertain. They can be a “home away from home” and allow for things like cooking meals, traveling with pets, and laundry facilities, which most hotels can’t offer.

But how can visitors make their way through the maze of finding the right rental in an area they may have never visited before? The easiest way is to contact a rental home specialist.

“One of the things we do is find the right home for the right person,” said Ron Morales of WAYA Rentals, part of the Koenig Rubloff Realty Group. His website,, allows visitors to not only look at the properties available, but search by features like whether a rental is kid and pet friendly.

There’s also the overall ambiance of a vacation rental. Many hotels have the same stark look that’s repeated throughout the chain. Vacation rentals are homes the owners live in themselves at least part of the year. They tend to be cozier and more comfortable than bland hotel rooms. Morales, whose company WAYA stands for “We Are Your Answer,” started his rental company in 2006 with his own home in New Buffalo. Since then he has taken on several properties, but carefully screens each one before adding it to his listings.

Renting a house can be more economical than hotels for week-long stays and travelers who have large families. Many of those families find that it works so well, they return year after year, according to Morales who says he has a 92% retention rate of clients who come back within a year or two. “There’s so much to do in the area,” said Morales. “It’s a great place for families to visit.”

A big advantage of vacationing in the New Buffalo area is its proximity to Chicago. Just a short drive from the city and visitors are in a completely different setting.

“It’s a big plus to be only about one hour from downtown Chicago,” Morales said.

Morales recommends that visitors begin booking their reservations as early as January and February for summer holiday weeks. “Of course that doesn’t mean people can’t call at the last minute, sometimes we take on new properties and they will be available.”

To learn more about WAYA Vacation Rentals in and around Harbor Country, click here.

Tips for renting a Vacation Home
  1. Book early. February or March is not too early. Popular properties often have repeat visitors – and they go quickly.
  2. Read the reviews. Postings on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing and Google provide good insight on prospective rental properties – you can learn from other travelers.
  3. Shop around. It's often good policy to contact multiple vacation rental properties before you book. Carefully evaluate the pros and cons of each property.
  4. Don't forget the Deposit. Seasonal rentals usually require a large upfront security deposit. Don't forget to factor this into your budget. It is also very important to know the the process by which your deposit will be returned.
  5. Finally, read the Contract. Don't be so quick to jump into that dream vacation rental, to overlook the importance of the contract. It will not only address payment and deposits, but also could place limits placed on activities, who can be in the home or how many cars can be parked in the driveway. It basically explains what you are on the hook for – liability in case of damages or if extra cleaning is needed.
For additional information about New Buffalo, Michigan including things to do, hotels accommodations and vacation rentals, browse this site.

About the Author: Denise Tackett is a freelance writer and the Executive Director of the Morton House Museum in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

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