Sunday, September 27, 2009

Booked & Ready To Go; Next Steps

As baseball season ends and curling season begins, I'm struck by how fast and yet also how slow time seems to be moving. My condo has been confirmed, the first payment has been made. All I have to do now is wait for 2010 to arrive.
I've also booked our flights. This is a part that I thought would be as difficult as the hotel. I was even preparing to have to fly into Seattle and drive to Vancouver. Thankfully that won't be necessary as I've managed to book us on West Jet. Both West Jet and Air Canada have several flights a day from Toronto to Vancouver. If you're willing to do a connecting flight you give yourself even more choices.
When I booked availability was still good but I wouldn't wait for too long. I was actually surprised there weren't more flights that were full.
Now that all the the big stuff has been taken care of, we are focused on the smaller, more fun items. I'm trying to fill the extra days that we are in Vancouver. Shopping is a must! I hear Yaletown has great boutiques. I've also been told there is an area of stores that features Vancouver designers. I definitely need to go there!
I'm also hoping to meet up with old friends and acquaintances I know in the Vancouver area. I'm really looking forward to that, being able to combine my trip of a lifetime with catching up with old friends. Don't worry, I'm also leaving some time open to meet up with the new friends I will be making!
My mom is occupying herself with studying a map of downtown Vancouver. And yes I mean the old fashioned street map. None of this GPS crap for her. I have no doubt her hard work will pay off. She hasn't gotten us lost yet. She is also strangely occupied with locating a grocery store in our area. I'm not sure why this is such a priority for her but I hope she finds ones soon. I'm willing to check out some cool restaurants a few nights so a grocery store is not as high on my priority list.
As for my younger brother, he is watching all of this in amusement. He thinks I am nuts and wonders how he gets pulled into all my crazy ideas. The answer? I've got no one else to drag to this thing other than my family members. If someone wanted to pay my way to the Olympics I wouldn't put up a fight. My brother, he's along for the ride and sooner or later he will start enjoying it. If for no other reason than on some days he will have an entire condo to himself with all the cable channels he could possibly want.
I have to say I am really enjoying my Olympic planning days. I never thought this time leading up to Vancouver 2010 would be this much fun. From contributing to Inside Vancouver to being interviewed for a "How to" column on finding accommodations in Vancouver, it's so funny to me that people are interested in hearing my story. After all, I'm just a girl who has loved the Olympics all her life. I knew the only way I would ever get there was as a spectator. The fact that I will probably need to get a second job to afford all of this is a small price to pay (corporate sponsorship anyone?).
These experiences are adding a dimension to my journey that I never anticipated. It makes the ride up to February 2010 that much more fun!
Go Canada Go!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Accommodations Anyone? Do your homework.

For those of you who may be in the same boat I was, looking for a place to stay in Vancouver during the Olympics and having a tough time, I wanted to make you aware of some things you should check before booking any rental accommodation.
Once I was pretty sure Mode Suites was going to be my choice for renting a condo, I had to convince myself that who I was dealing with was reputable. After all, I had found them online and they could have been anybody.
I started by asking if they were registered with a local Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau. It was a good sign when the person I had been dealing with encouraged my due diligence and happily provided me with the information they were registered with a Chamber of Commerce. The next step was to ask that Chamber of Commerce to verify this company did indeed have a membership with them, which in fact was confirmed. That office was also able to provide me with the Business License number of Mode Suites. They suggested that I contact Vancouver City Hall to see if the Business License was registered with them. It was.
From there I felt pretty good about proceeding with the booking. A couple of things here, make sure you read the contract-twice at least. If you have any questions, ask them. Do not assume anything. Make sure there is a contract that spells out payment schedules, how damage deposits will work and is very clear about what is included in the condo/house you are renting. A contract is a legal document. Do not sign it if there is something you do not understand.
If you are paying with a credit card, the company should also send you a credit card authorization form which states you give them permission to charge your card for the agreed upon fees. If there is no contract, no credit card authorization (which you do not need if you are using a different form of payment) and the company does not issue you a receipt, be leery as to what you are getting into.
The Olympics is a great event and there are a lot of legitimate companies you can deal with, but there are others who may not be. It is our responsibility as consumers to check things out. If the person you are dealing with discourages you from verifying their business, that would be reason enough for me to walk away. Any business that has nothing to hide will give you the information you need to check them out.
A special thank you to the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and Vancouver City Hall. Both organizations were very pleasant and helpful to me with all my requests.
Good luck in your search. I can't wait to see everyone in Vancouver. Its approaching fast!