A berry good time in Southern California, Temecula edition

Temecula may be one of California’s best-known wine regions, but I’ll always remember it for something else: the fresh fruit we harvested on a recent visit to this out-of-the-way Southern California destination. That’s right, we saw the horde of tourists go one way, and we went in the other direction.

Want a refund on your vacation rental? Then don’t do this.

When Melissa Daniels planned her family’s vacation to Florida, she found a rental on HomeAway. But when she initiated contact and requested to book the property, the management company insisted that she book directly with it instead of through HomeAway. And that’s exactly what she did.

Vacation rentals have no standards, but maybe they should

Before you rent another vacation home, listen to Tim Kerin’s story.

When Kerin, a small-business owner from Damascus, Md., recently rented a home through a no-name rental agency in Costa Rica, he noticed something peculiar: The generous floor-to-ceiling glass window in the master bathroom offered a commanding, but somewhat compromising, view of the Pacific Ocean from the toilet seat.

Please stop wiring money to strangers!

Repeat: Please stop wiring money to strangers!

Too bad that Heidi Barker of Watertown, Conn. didn’t see this warning before she wired money for a vacation rental. She was planning a Caribbean vacation in St. Maarten. Using VRBO, she found a beachfront, ground floor, two-bedroom condo. The listing was legitimate. But the person she communicated with via email was not the owner.

I’m dealing with an “unstable, ignorant” landlord. Can HomeAway help?

David and Helen Kunz were looking forward to their summer vacation in Ocean City, N.J. They had booked a vacation rental home and sent the owners the payments they had asked for to reserve their lodgings. But just before their vacation started, the Kunzes were told that the property was no longer available – and they couldn’t get back the money they had prepaid for it.

If your vacation beach house looks too good to be true, it may be just that

Her “villa” in the Dominican Republic looked like a real find. It came with its own concierge and a private pool and was only steps away from a rugged Caribbean beach. Best of all, the price was right for Elisabeth Sperry, a veterinarian from Falmouth, Maine: a week for just $3,500, a 25 percent discount from the regular rate.

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