” The natural beauty of the trees attracts visitors from far and wide as they burst forth in blazing magnificent color. The trees truly show us how beautiful ‘letting go’ can be! “
As we enter the final quarter of the year, we can’t help but wistfully long for the halcyon days of summer. However, there’s a sweet resignation to the start of autumn and the restorative and restful effect it has on us—mind, body, and soul. Fall is so much more than pumpkin spice and bonfires, although those things certainly boost our enjoyment of this beloved season in the Midwest.Read More
The age of living like a local…on vacation, is HERE!
Places. Placemaking. The magic of place! No matter which way you say it, if you’ve discovered the splendor of traveling to new places, lived the local life (yes, with their locals), eaten the food from their favorite restaurants or take-out spots, and explored natural landscapes and culture while avoiding the camera-flashing bus-tour vibe of yesterday (yes, that big city tour for the masses is fading away), then you’ll know why hundreds and thousands of Americans are getting themselves into a trip about the new trend of vacation rental property.
On the other hand…
…if you’re still wondering what this new buzzword – vacation rentals, is all about, then stay on board because you’re about to taste something amazing!
Matt Landau, travel writer and Vacation Rental Marketing Blog (VRMB), calls it The Sense of Place. Taking a traditional vacation is, well, it’s a vacation – and you can have fun on a traditional vacation, but you SIMPLY WILL NOT gain the rich Sense of Place that can be achieved from “living” like a local.
But, what’s the big buzz about? Can there really be THAT big of a difference?
Oh yes! You’ve heard of the traditional summer vacation at on the coast. You’ve seen countless ads promoting summer vacation packages for a yet another 7-day vacation to the Outer Banks of one place, to the coastal air of another, and still to the grandiose views of a given hotel near Mount Somewhere-or-other – right?
Live like a local…only you’ll be away from the humdrum of everyday
Right! But we’d bet money on saying that, for anyone that’s taken one of these offers or booked their own getaway or vacation in America’s ‘favorite’ destinations, they’ve missed the feeling of living, breathing, eating, socializing and enjoying the local life, just as if they were at home…but away on vacation. Why? Because they were not part-and-parcel of the local life from the time they arrived…and by the time they departed for the (usually) long journey home, they had not developed the sense of place that they could have achieved if they had rubbed shoulders with friendly locals-in-the-know from the get go! You see, it all comes down to the experience of the Place – and not the commercial tourist’s plastic and napkin affair, which never really gets them out of the lobby, so to speak.
But the new trend of Vacation Rental Properties changes ALL this!
Imagine that you discover (perhaps by reading or watching an ad, or on social media, or through an enamored friend or family member), that Ottawa, Yes Ottawa in ILLINOIS, holds some gorgeous small-town charm. You do a bit of web surfing and learn that the town, along with Heritage Harbor, it’s world-class marina resort and settlement, is in the heart of breathtaking Starved Rock Country where historic happenings dating back hundreds of years took place. And, you decide, “I want to take a vacation there!”
A fresh perspective on Vacations, OR Traditional (slightly over-commercialized) same-old
From this point on, one of two things happens: Either you go the traditional route, making reservations at a brand chain hotel in the area, OR you catch the magic train of Vacation Rentals, and you get in touch with Heritage Harbor’s, Harbor Inn.
Let’s just give you the benefit of the doubt, and say that you opted for the latter rather than the former (to get that sense of Place, and all that)…
Friendly locals help you to live life like they do, while you’re on vacation
Speak to a proud local from the very beginning
You would be called and greeted by a friendly voice on the other side of the line, who would take the trouble to get to know you just a bit, only to ensure that you were placed in the right cottage, villa or home, and that you had close and convenient access to the craft, facilities and amenities that were most suitable to you. A detailed guide for What to do in Starved Rock Country would be shared with you, and you would receive helpful trip tips and things to think of if you’re going to get the best of Starved Rock Country.
Be part of the community in a natural, unforced and refreshing way
On arrival, you’d be no different than any other homeowner on the Heritage Harbor development. You’d be part of a warm and friendly neighborhood, you’d have your freedom to move yet you’d receive countless greetings and offers of help, not just from the Harbor Inn’s friendly staff, but also from residents and other vacationers.
The daydream-come-true continues
To carry on the daydream (but one that comes true every day for vacationers across the Midwest)…it wouldn’t be long before you were heading up to Red Dog Grill for a meal or refreshment with newfound friends, paddling out on the blissful Illinois Waterway with someone who had been a few times more than you, or venturing out with a local into Starved Rock Country for an exploratory hike, a daring skydiving adventure, or just to watch the Bald Eagles doing life in the winter. Can you see how vacation rental properties are transforming vacations yet?
Vacation Rental homes are Inn
The days of hotel rooms in high-rise buildings are fading away somewhat. Couples and families across the US are now drawn to vacation homes like bees to honey, and it’s not difficult to see what all the buzz is about!
AirBnB’s vast Vacation Rentals arm is probably the main reason they have grown as they have…and here’s the thing: people want to vacation in homes where they can explore as a local and experience the authentic appeal of special places. Traditional hotels are for visitors, outsiders and travelers, and are full of do-not-disturb signs that offer you little more than an in-your-face reminder that you are not at home.
Share the vacation bliss by renting your home to vacationers
What about you? Are you one of the lucky ones that own a vacation house, cottage or villa in a beautiful place? If you are, you’ll want to give some thought to placing your property on a vacation rental management program so that you can seize the opportunity of earning a second income, or at least covering a decent portion of that mortgage repayment every month. More than that, you can still enjoy your vacation spot at your leisure by communicating the dates of your stay with the rental manager in advance. It’s the new, hassle-free way to get the most out of your vacation property, both from a lifestyle and financial point of view. Heritage Harbor and The Harbor Inn, makes owning a vacation rental cottage a breeze; with grass cuttings, snow removal and landscaping being maintained by the home owner’s association, an optional general cottage maintenance program; and guests stays being managed by The Harbor Inn. It doesn’t get easier than this.
Come on – the Vacation Rental adventure awaits!
Custom cottages at Heritage Harbor Ottawa
If you are thinking of investing in a second home, small considerations can mean all the difference between a vacation property that’s good for the long haul versus one that seems like a good deal now, but turns out to not be the right fit. Work through these criteria to narrow down your options before you buy.
“Location, location, location” is a catchphrase for a reason. If your vacation home is too far away, you’ll put off going there due to travel time. Yet if it’s in the next town over, it might not feel like you’ve really “gotten away” from your day to day life.
When you’re considering buying a second home, it can be easy to underestimate the time you’ll spend getting to your destination. On Friday nights and holiday weekends, it can seem like everyone who works or lives in Chicago is trying to get out of town. This can mean long car rides just trying to get to a second home you purchased.
Over time, you may find yourself opting to stay in town for the weekend because you don’t want to spend 3+ hours in traffic again. If you really want a second home you’ll return to time and again, look for places that are under two hours from the city.
An ideal location near Chicago means less time in the car compared with driving to rural Michigan or Wisconsin. There are great places to be found right under your nose just a short drive from the city. Starved Rock Country is a quick 90 minutes from Chicago, and is fill of hidden gems like Heritage Harbor, a marina resort located in Ottawa, IL.
In the long run, you’ll want a second home that’s near amenities, so you can have fun exploring a new area. When friends or relatives come visit, they’ll want to join in the fun, too!
Look for a community that’s close to multiple dining options so you have variety while allowing convenient access to nature, history, and children’s activities. Ottawa has a great dining scene, with new restaurants popping up regularly. Starved Rock State Park is close by for year-round recreation, along with other fun activities such as zip lining, sky diving, hiking, biking, and more.
Heritage Harbor Marina
3. Boating Lifestyle
If you want a second home that allows for fishing and boating, you must consider the quality of the boating lifestyle in the place you’re considering.
Boating opportunities are numerous in the Chicago area but offer different lifestyle propositions. If you typically fish or boat on a lake but you’re thinking about getting a riverfront property, rent a weekend cabin on the river first as a way to confirm the decision is right for you.
For marina communities, investigate the quality, age, and ease of access to amenities onsite. Will you be sharing facilities with the public, or only with other property owners? Determine what costs are associated with marina usage before you make any property decisions. Never assume that you will be able to access something for free; always find out to compare available properties.
Rental options can be handy if you don’t have a boat. Seasonal boat rentals offset expenditures and enable you to enjoy all the conveniences of boat ownership without assuming the expense of boat ownership, maintenance, and seasonal storage.
Ask how long the boating season is at any communities you like. Water and weather conditions vary, but can mean a difference in as much as 1-2 months from one body of water to another. If boating is the main reason you’re looking for a vacation home, season length is key.
While you’re exploring any boating communities, you’re thinking of joining, get to know the locals. Find out if there are social events, from neighborhood block parties to fireworks festivals. A community that’s friendly and inclusive will be a lot easier to join than a marina that’s standoffish or suffers regular churn.
As a final factor in evaluating the boating options, consider potential boating destinations. If you pick a lakefront option, you are limited to the lake. Even if it’s a huge lake, you could tire of spending every Saturday exploring the same shorefront. A river offers somewhat more flexibility, especially if nearby riverfront towns have summer music festivals, waterfront dining, and more.
Heritage Harbor custom cottage with river views
4. Home Design
Once you’ve narrowed down the communities that are best for you, hone in on the homes. What designs are offered, and what meets your lifestyle?
An ideal community will offer different home plans and designs that allow you to select the best option for your budget, personal preferences, and more.
Does the home have a deck, patio, or other outdoor space that allows you to enjoy the sunset over the water? Are there outdoor amenities, storage space, or privacy screens from the neighbors?
Inside, is the space adequate for you, your family, and guests? Flexible lofts or dens allow you to accommodate extra guests.
For a second home, buying into a place that’s part of a homeowner’s association or HOA might make sense. If you only get to your second home one or two times a month, you’ll find that maintenance tasks claim your attention. A strong HOA will take care of common maintenance tasks, so you can just enjoy your home.
5. Financial Considerations
Make your final decision on what property is right by reviewing your budget and the finances.
Crunch the numbers for HOA fees, flood insurance, boat rental, dock fees and other variables to arrive at the true cost of ownership.
With something like a second home on the water, it’s important to consider the add-ons that you get. Waterfront access boosts your enjoyment of the home, but also the money you could get from renting it out to others and from reselling it years from now.
As you work through these five criteria, you can identify the right location for your second home, find the perfect community, and budget for the expense.
Welcome to the Flite Series! This contemporary vacation home is an interior unit. It features 2 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, an open plan, a full finished walk-out basement and plenty of windows to showcase those incredible views! For more information on the Flite Series and other homes at Heritage Harbor click here.
Welcome to Heritage Condo Series ~ Garden Level Plan! These new vacation condos are ideally situated just steps from the marina. This garden level plan is located on the first level and offers an open floor plan, 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full basement and an attached 1 car garage. Enjoy the tour!
Welcome to the Heritage Condo Series ~ Scenic Level! This new vacation condo is ideally located mere steps from the marina. The scenic level plan is situated on the second floor and features 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, an open floor plan, spacious master bedroom, screened-in deck and an attached 1 car garage. Enjoy the tour!
Thinking about owning a vacation home? Come and visit us during our Land and Water Event on Friday, October 14th – Sunday, October 16th. We are located at 1970 N. 2753rd Road in Ottawa, IL. During this unique event, you will get an overview of the property, a boat ride (weather permitting) and a $25 voucher to enjoy lunch at our on-site restaurant, The Red Dog Grill.
Tour times are as follows:
11:00 AM Property Overview followed by 12:30 PM Boat Ride
1:00 PM Property Overview followed by 2:30 PM Boat Ride
3:00 PM Property Overview followed by 4:30 PM Boat Ride
Advanced registration is required and space is limited! RSVP by calling (815) 433-5000, emailing HHO@HeritageHarborOttawa.com, or register online here.
About Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort
Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort is a 142-acre master-planned marina resort community of 600 homes located on the Illinois River in Ottawa, Ill., just 90 minutes from downtown Chicago. Featuring a 32-acre marina surrounded by pocket neighborhoods of waterfront custom homes, condominiums, cottages and townhomes, Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a unique residential option in Starved Rock Country for those seeking a vacation, retirement or full-time home on the water.
The Simple Life
Located along the Illinois River in Ottawa, Ill., Heritage Harbor Ottawa is a 142-acre development of single-family homes, townhomes, vacation cottages, carriage homes and condos, centered on a 32-acre harbor with a full-service marina and year-round restaurant. With its boating amenities, waterfront living and nearby recreational attractions, such as Starved Rock State Park and the I&M Canal Trail, the community offers an ideal resort lifestyle for those seeking a vacation, retirement or full-time residence.
“Many of our buyers are a bit nostalgic about how they want to spend their precious free time with their family and what they are looking for in a vacation home,” said Tammy Barry, director of sales and marketing for Heritage Harbor Ottawa. “Often they think about their own childhood and how they would pack up the station wagon and go away for the weekend. When they come to Ottawa and Heritage Harbor, they love our small-town atmosphere and simpler way of life that not only harkens back to another time, but also lets them focus on building terrific memories with their family and friends.”
Charming downtown Ottawa
Barry noted the Ottawa community is a big contributor to the lifestyle vacation-home owners appreciate at Heritage Harbor. “This is a small town where business owners know their customers and greet them by name, which really adds to the sense of belonging when you own a second home here,” she said. “Plus, we still have a butcher’s shop, an independent grocery store, a weekly farmer’s market and a liquor store that even delivers. Our locally owned businesses create a sense of place that’s harder to come by in areas that are dominated by chain stores and big national brands. People tend to slow town and enjoy the experience of patronizing area businesses, rather than rushing through errands in order to cross items off their to-do list.”
She added that Ottawa is home to a number of community events and festivals that add to its charming atmosphere. “There are things happening throughout the year, such as Riverfest in the summer and our annual Scarecrow Fest in the fall, which encourage area residents to come out and enjoy our downtown district,” she said. “It’s a lively little town where you’re always likely to run into someone you know, whether you’re at one of our summer festivals or simply taking time to window shop as you walk through downtown.”
Ottawa’s relaxed pace of life and small-town feel extend to the streets of Heritage Harbor, where a series of pocket neighborhoods are designed to build a sense of community among residents. Green spaces with seating areas, community fire pits and meandering walking paths encourage homeowners to socialize. “One very traditional feature we include in many of our home designs is a wide, inviting front porch,” said Barry. “Back when most homes had front porches, families would often sit outside in the evening, visiting together and chatting with neighbors who walked by. We worked hard to recreate that same friendly atmosphere at Heritage Harbor through our streetscape and our home designs.”
Quaint and inviting cottages
A recreation-based lifestyle with plenty of outdoor activities and easy access to nature is another appealing part of the “simple life” at Heritage Harbor Ottawa. “Our vacation-home owners are looking for a complete change of pace from their day-to-day life and a place where they can not only enjoy the activities they love, but also share them with family and friends,” said Barry. “We often work with buyers who grew up in a family with a boat or lake cottage and want to give that same experience to their own kids. For them, having a home at Heritage Harbor and boating on the Illinois River is how they spend quality time together and create memorable family experiences.”
In addition to boating, Heritage Harbor is a convenient home base for hiking in Starved Rock State Park, biking on the I&M Canal Trail and enjoying a variety of other outdoor pursuits.
“We say it’s a slower pace of life, but it’s anything but boring with everything the area has to offer,” said Barry. “What our buyers really love is that this region lets them truly unplug and slow down, in the sense of having time to spend on the people and activities that matter to them most.”
Currently available at Heritage Harbor Ottawa are custom home sites priced from $92,500, vacation cottages priced from $209,990, townhomes priced from $284,900 and immediate-delivery single-family homes priced from $329,900.*
For information on Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort and available homes, call (815) 433-5000 or visit www.heritageharborottawa.com.
*Pricing subject to change.
Vacation home sales are on the rise! Imagine the comfort and convenience of having your own vacation home located less than 90 minutes from downtown Chicago. According to Tammy Barry, director of sales and marketing here at Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort there are five important elements buyers should consider when looking for a vacation home:
1) Lifestyle and Amenities
First, buyers should make sure any vacation home they consider offers the lifestyle and recreational amenities they value most, advises Barry. “After all, a vacation home is all about how you want to spend your valuable free time, so think hard about what activities you want to have nearby,” she said. “For instance, many buyers choose Heritage Harbor Ottawa for their vacation home because they want a boating lifestyle with a full-service harbor, a great waterfront location and the camaraderie of the marina environment. Plus, our location in Starved Rock Country offers a great active lifestyle with access to state parks for hiking, the beautiful I&M Canal Trail for biking, and areas for fishing, watching wildlife and more.”
Barry suggests vacation home buyers should spend ample time in an area before deciding to purchase a second home there in order to experience the full lifestyle the location offers and see how they will spend their time. “It’s also a great idea to visit during different seasons to see if it is a vacation home destination you can enjoy year-round,” she said.
2) Ideal location
According to Barry, it is also important for buyers to think about a second home location in terms of the logistics of traveling there. “Buyers should be realistic about how much traveling they are willing to do to get to and from a vacation home,” she said. “Most people want a location within two hours of their primary residence so they can get maximum use out of their second home without spending a lot of time in the car or having to purchase expensive airline tickets.”
She added that in a major metro area like Chicago, traffic patterns and rush hour are a factor, too. “Think about whether a location will allow you to avoid typical traffic issues,” Barry said. “For example, Starved Rock Country is a great second home choice for anyone living in the southwest or western suburbs because they don’t have to go through or around Chicago to get to Ottawa. That can be a big time savings, particularly during rush hour.”
3) Sense of Community
Many buyers are also looking for a second home where they’ll enjoy the same sense of community and belonging they have at their primary residence, noted Barry. “One of the main reasons for purchasing in a favorite vacation destination is the opportunity to put down roots and feel like you belong,” said Barry. “That’s why buyers have so much appreciation for the tight-knit community among our residents at Heritage Harbor, where neighbors really become friends, not to mention the small-town charm of Ottawa itself. Everybody knows each other and people can relax and enjoy the slower pace of the local scene.”
4) Memories to Cherish
Another top priority for a number of vacation home buyers is having a place for family and friends to spend quality time together. “Buyers often want to be able to step away from their busy day-to-day lives and go somewhere where they can focus on their loved ones and create amazing memories,” said Barry. “We have quite a few residents who think back fondly on their own childhood and the special places their families spent time together, and they want to recreate that same legacy for their own kids and grandkids.”
Barry added that for these buyers, a vacation home where they can live a simpler lifestyle with their family and friends is imperative. “At Heritage Harbor, they want to do things like skip rocks in the river with kids, sit around a bonfire with friends, or have family game night after a day out on the water,” she said. “The focus is really on the time spent together.”
5) Value and Rental Income
While a vacation home is a luxury purchase for most buyers, value is still often a deciding factor for those in the market for a second home, according to Barry. “We see many buyers who are attracted to Ottawa not only because they love the lifestyle they will enjoy here, but also because they can still get a good value on a second home compared with other popular destinations, such as Michigan and Wisconsin, where the market is maxed out and prices are higher,” said Barry. “Here, buyers realize they are still getting in early on a market where prices haven’t peaked.”
Another factor for some buyers is the home’s potential as a vacation rental property. “For many homeowners, renting out their vacation home when they aren’t using it themselves can be a good option to offset the cost of ownership,” said Barry. “Many resort communities like Heritage Harbor also offer rental management services to residents, which simplifies what goes into renting out the home such as maintenance and cleaning as well as marketing the property.”
For information on Heritage Harbor Ottawa Resort and available homes and vacation rentals, call (815) 433-5000 or visit our website.
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