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Where's The Best Place For You
To Stay In New England?
A Hotel, B&B Or Rental House?
By James Hyde

You finally got time to vacation, and you're heading to New England. Trouble is,
you're not quite sure whether you should stay in a hotel, motel, a B&B , inn or
rent a vacation house.

Here are some insights into the best lodging for your needs.

Because we don't know your specific interests, or what presents itself as the best
place for you to stay, we'll plug some traditional variables into the equation, and
that should help you narrow your choices.

If you're single or a couple, before you read this, take a look at the many spas
and resorts up here. They are designed as ultimate de-stressors, and offer all
kinds of exquisite pampering services.

If you're not interested in being pampered or you're a family, read on.

Let's start with your budget.

Gas prices are a factor and may mean that the grand hotel you had in mind is
now beyond your means, so we'll say you can work with between $1,500 to

Most people are convinced that the region's ski season or spectacularly colored
autumnal leaves are the biggest draw to New England, but they're mistaken.

Starting with Memorial Day and coasting through Labor Day, summer is when
the most tourists flock to New England -- even those who live inside the region.

But as the seasons change, so do the rates, and if you're looking for lower rates in
the summer, you may be in for some sticker shock. However, while you may pay
higher hotel fees in summer, you don't have to surrender your first born for lift
tickets -- unless your kids bug you to go a mountain and make ample use of the
Alpine Slide and growing number of other rides at something like $19 per ride if
you go to Vermont or New Hampshire.

Second, how long are you planning your stay?

For most folks, five days is about the max. When you've been away that long,
you need to take a vacation from your vacation. Let's say we'll choose five
weekdays. The smart thing is to get away at a time when you're nowhere near a
holiday or weekend. There are myriad advantages to weekday getaways,
especially for skiing if you decide to come up in the winter. You'll have much
shorter lift lines, more mountain to yourself and lower-priced lift tickets.

Third, how many people will be going with you?

Let's say three and a half: your husband, your daughter and son, aged eleven and
thirteen respectively. The "half" part is next.

Are you planning on bringing any pets, a dog, cat, boa constrictor? Let's say
Mugs, your Chihuahua, will be making the trip. While there are many
pet-friendly places to stay, pets usually aren't welcome at many hotels unless it's
a no-tell motel that'll rent you an 8-by-10-foot cabin for $49 a night per person
and you can't get the fold-up bed to stay up, so it becomes your table.

Fifth, is being close to a single mountain or attraction important, or will you be
heading for the shore? Would you rather be near a lake?

All of the New England states have wonderful ponds, lakes or beaches. If you
like to play in the surf, Newport, Rhode Island has three beaches, each with a bit
rougher surf. Vermont and New Hampshire have wonderful lakes. Lake
Champlain in Vermont makes its way to the Hudson. And Lake Sunapee in New
Hampshire is a prized vacation spot. Maine is loaded with gorgeous lakes and
rivers, especially the Kennebec. Connecticut has wonderful shorelines and lakes.
Massachusetts has some of the best surf up on Cape Cod.

No matter where you go, let's figure out what accommodations are best for you.


Room rates at hotels and motels typically range from $159 a night to $349 a night.
So it pays to do your homework, which is best done on the Web. If you've
decided to go to Vermont, Stowe in the North is loaded with hotels, resorts and
spas. In the southern part, the Stratton area is a great place to stay.

Hotels offer more amenities than do smaller lodging places, such as indoor pools
and the like, and there's usually that piece of chocolate on your pillow.

Many of the lodging entities cut deals with various ski resorts and summer
charters to provide you with stay-and-ski or stay-and-play packages that can
work well for you budget-wise.


These really run the gamut from being breathtakingly romantic and luxurious to
being a spare room in someone's house.

Rules: Some B&B innkeepers seem to busy themselves in the morning thinking
up new ones. They love them. Some are uber strict -- one in Vermont, for
instance, demands that guests, "not sit on the bed." Oh, okay so you sleep
in that wonderful Shaker chair? How exactly does one get into bed without
sitting on the edge? At this place, I guess you have to dive into bed.

While their prices are comparable to hotels and motels, you can find some great
deals at B&B and inns, and like hotels, many of them offer stay-and-play

But ... B&B inns are notorious for not allowing pets to stay unless it's a
dog-friendly inn, of which there is a growing number. Second, the thing about
B&B getaways is that they are geared more toward romantically minded guests;
those who bring that all-important shiny rock with which to pop the question.
They're also geared to those looking to de-stress in absolute silence.

The rooms are often frilly, but very nice and you want to find an inn with a nice
host or hostess. You can tell the difference immediately when they pick up the
phone. I don't know of any B&B where the owner doesn't answer the phone. If
they scream, "What!" head for the next on the list.

The best thing to do is to tell an innkeeper that you will be bringing your son,
daughter and Mugs along, and if they don't growl or sputter on the other end of
the line, that's good news. While you get a room and breakfast (thus the name of
these inns), some also serve dinner.

Some with larger dining rooms rent space to chefs who prepare marvelous
delicacies for the discerning palate. BB&Ds are very rare, however, and you're
still on your own for lunch, but you can always get that $25 hamburger and $14
soda at the base lodge when you want a skiing break or to tear the kids away
from the Alpine Slide.

In all seriousness, while there are many superb B&B getaway deals out there,
they do tend to be geared more toward adults than they are to families because
there's one bed per room. They won't turn you away, but it may not be the ideal
place to stay for your son and daughter, who would have to sleep on roll-out
cots or in another room-double the fare.

House or Condo Rental

Ignoring time shares for this article, that leaves us with renting a house or condo
for the week. This a hybrid mix of a hotel and B&B, but with all kinds of room
and total privacy. The owners often have rules posted, and you must be
absolutely certain you obey them or no refrain next year.

You do have a whole house to yourself, you can eat without having to go out,
you can sleep in if you want without some lady with a cart knocking on your
door to make your bed.

There are really two kinds of rental housing: a house in the proximity of a ski
area, or a condo right on the mountain or lake and beaches. If you're not
comfortable driving in snow, then a trailside condo will be your best choice if
you're here to ski.

During the spring (
after mud season -- you don't want to visit Northern New
England during mud season), you can drive anywhere and spend the bulk of
your time sightseeing. Houses can also offer the best budget deals. In towns with
a ski area, houses and condos start at about $150 per night depending on when
you go -- again, avoid holidays and weekends -- and can charge as much as $500
a night depending upon where they are. Usually, the closer to a mountain they
are, the more expensive they are if it's a big house, but that's not always the case
with condos.

In the final analysis, doing a house or condo rental with all of your variables
could be your best bet. At $150 a night, that's $750 for five nights.

Here's a good tip: When you first get into town, assuming you're not exhausted
from the drive, visit a local supermarket and get enough food for a week so you
don't have to drop a ton of dough at restaurants.

Most houses have not only TVs and cable or satellite, but VCRs and DVD
players, as well, so your little guy and gal can bring some favorite tapes or DVDs

It's not all perfect. Many of them insist that you to change the sheets on the beds
and leave the house as neat as you found it. But if that's all you have to do to
enjoy some privacy, relaxation and do-what-you-want-when-you-want freedom,
this is the way to go. Just make sure Mugs doesn't leave his mark on the carpets.

Finally, if you like the house and would like to own your own as a vacation
home, now that the housing bubble has exploded, prices have come way down
from ridiculous peaks, so take a ride and look for "For Sale" signs. Take down
the broker's number at a house your like and give them a call. It may be the best
vacation investment you'll ever make, because when you're not there, you can
rent it out and have your guests pay the mortgage.

James H. Hyde is Co-Founder, Editor and Designer of NewEnglandTimes.Com, and
Co-Founder, Editor and Designer of
ExploringNewEngland.Com. He has served as
Managing Editor of three magazines; is a winner of the coveted Jesse H. Neal Award; and
has written two syndicated newspaper columns.

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