The Plum Guide – Would we Pass the Test? – Part 1
The Plum Guide* is a London, England based curated website of vacation rental homes. It’s produced by a company which personally evaluates homes using a 150-point test criteria, and then presents them on their own listing site. Their purpose is to do an ‘honest’ assessment of vacation rental homes (reviews aren’t satisfactory), thereby ensuring a quality stay for those guests who book through the site.
Only 3% of homes that apply to be included are accepted. The evaluation includes a number of objective and subjective assessments. After a visit by a Plum Guide critic and photographer, the vacation rental is assessed by an ‘editorial board’ which make a collective decision to include the home in the Plum Guide or not.
The Plum Guide – would we pass the test?
Our homes are already in the top 2% of Orlando Vacation Rentals based on their Market Rank criteria used by HomeAway/VRBO in 2019. (They have since changed/updated their assessment procedure, although nothing has changed about our own high standards.) But how would our homes do using the Plum Guide criteria? Would they win the Plum Guide Award?
Keep reading for the honest answers!
Before going any further, let me qualify this by explaining that I couldn’t find any detailed information on the 150-point test criteria that Plum Guide ‘critics’ use to assess a home. I was able to come up with a number of defining points based on outside media articles about the Plum Guide, and much can be surmised about what the other criteria may be that make up the total 150-points, but I suspect it is pretty mundane.
When comparing both Breezy Oak and Pleasant Oak Villas to other Orlando Vacation Rental Properties of similar size and price, we already know that they score exceptionally well for quality and value. They’re not the cheapest, but provide a big bang for your dollar, making them a great choice for couples, families, and small extended family groups.
But the truth is, when assessing them on The Plum Guide criteria, they would likely fail! Just like every other Orlando Vacation Rental would!
This is practically inevitable when Plum Guide properties are evaluated using a criteria designed for assessing VR homes in central London, and modified only somewhat when taken to other world-class cities. The fact is, Orlando is a very different animal. It became the world’s leading vacation destination (based on number of visitors) as a result of the Walt Disney World resort (itself much larger than many cities) being created twenty miles southwest of it. Before that, it was a sleepy little cattle-ranching and orange-grove town that just happened to be near the criss-crossing of two major highways in the center of the state.
Orlando can’t fit their criteria
As Walt Disney World celebrates it’s 50th anniversary in 2021, it reinforces the point that, aside from the weather, there wasn’t much of anything bringing tourists to the Orlando area before 1970. And great Florida weather could be had in lots of other more developed and historic parts of Florida, which is where tourists would go.
The point is, nothing around Walt Disney World, nor the area that attracts tourists to it, is ‘city-like’. So a lot of the Plum Guide criteria is meaningless in a late-20th-century American suburbia designed around the automobile… modified only to the needs of tourists in cars. Visitors who go to Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and a few of the lesser attractions on International Drive, never even go into or see Orlando, FL itself for the most part. And most don’t even realize it, or care for that matter.
Orlando Vacation Rentals? There’s no such thing. Short-Term Rentals are completely illegal in Orange County, which encompasses most of Orlando proper. To the South-West, Osceola and Polk Counties have subdivisions full of vacation rental homes, purpose-built with protective covenants for them in the Home Owner’s Association documents, including zoning that allows, and even encourages, them being located there. Take that all you AirBnB disaster local-legislation battle sites!
An important note to keep in mind based on that; if you see a vacation rental on offer in Orlando itself, meaning one located just about anywhere near Universal Studios and Sea World or NorthEast of them, it is likely operating illegally. This means it would probably be unlicensed too, and also likely not reporting or remitting state and county sales taxes. As I like to often say, if a vacation rental owner/manager will take shortcuts with the laws and rules governing them, what shortcuts or cheats would they be willing to take with their guests? And who can you complain to if you have a problem with them? It’s not like they care about Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation oversight. You’ll be on your own!
Yes, the Plum Guide assesses vacation rental properties with a definite ‘center of the big city bias’. As a result, every legal vacation rental in the Orlando Area would fail the assessment! The areas are not pedestrian friendly, and there is no local transportation available either. (Poorly run sub-contracted hotel shuttles just don’t cut it!) A rental car is a must. There is a good reason Orlando is the number one rental-car market in the world!
You can read more information about Plum Guide at the following links:
* Please note that we have no affiliation or connection with Plum Guide, or the Plum Guide Award and do not claim one. The Plum Guide is run by a London, UK company whose name we could not determine, but presume to be Plum Guide. We could not find any trademark claims on the Plum Guide website; PlumGuide.com.