Frequently asked questions
Booking a cottage
Q: How do I book a cottage?
A: First, we suggest you take a look through our website. We offer a full range of cottages to meet every need. Have a look at the photographs, read the descriptions of the cottages and their locations and choose the cottage that best suits you and your family. Next look we suggest you view the online calendar for the cottage to confirm its availability for the dates you want.
Finally, complete our online request form and our experienced staff will contact you to confirm details and to complete the booking process.
No booking is considered confirmed until your application has been approved and we have received your deposit.
Q: Are there minimum stay requirements?
A:Yes, there may be minimum stay requirements. For example in the High Season, all of our rentals require a minimum 7 night stay and the check in/out is often restricted to a specific day of the week. Long weekends also require a minimum 3 night stay. Check each property page overview for my details.
Q: When can I book a cottage?
A: You can submit a rental request at any time. Booking in fall and winter will give you the best choice of locations and dates. New listings are added year-round.
Q: Is the Availability Calendar up to date?
A: The calendar is updated constantly. Once a booking is confirmed, it will be immediately reflected on the calendar. Please be aware that availability changes quickly, so book your choice early to avoid disappointment.
Q: Is there a minimum booking period?
A: In high season, the minimum booking period is one week. In low and winter season, the minimum booking period is two nights. The minimum booking period over long weekends is three nights.
Some cottages offer exceptions. Please contact us to discuss your needs.
Q: What does “weekly only” mean?
A: If a cottage is identified as renting “weekly only” during a specified time period, it means it can only be rented for the full seven days, e.g. Saturday to Saturday. You are welcome to book multiple weeks, but partial weeks are not available.
Q: Can I book a long weekend?
A: Long weekends are booked at high season rates throughout the year. Long weekend rentals are not available for the July, August and September long weekends.
Q: Can I book at the last minute?
A: There is a lot that goes into a cottage rental and we need to make sure that the cottage is ready for you and will be ready for the next renters. Some cottages may be available for last minute rentals (more than 3 days out). Contact us to check availability.
Application and Payment
Q: Why is the application form so detailed?
A: We represent many high-end private properties and cherished family cottages. Cottage owners want to be sure they are renting to responsible people who will treat their property with respect and treat it as if it is their own property. Our goal is to give the cottage owners the peace of mind that we are renting to people who will respect their cottages.
All personal information provided on the application is used for internal screening purposes only.
Q: Is there HST on the cottage rental?
A: Some of the cottages we list have do charge HST on top of the weekly rental rate due to CRA requirements. If this is the case, it will be noted with the rate on the cottage profile.
Q: Are your rates negotiable?
A: We have a dynamic pricing model that is based on many factors including location, date of booking, numbers of beds and much more. Our pricing is based on this model and we continually monitor rate trends for each cottage to ensure that our properties are always priced competitively. Finally, we offer a Best Rate Guarantee, which means you’ll never find a Serenity home on a different website at a better rate.
Q: Where can I find the Booking Application?
A: The link for the Booking Application can be found on the profile page of the cottage you booked in the top right corner.
Q: Why do you require my Homeowners or Rental Content Insurance?
A: The cottages we list are privately owned and are only able to acquire Liability Insurance, so your Homeowners or Rental Content Insurance is required in case of any Negligent Damage.
Q: I don't have any insurance, but can I still rent a cottage if I pay the Accidental Damage Fee or Security Deposit?
A: Without a Homeowners/Rental Content Insurance policy a rental will not be accepted, as negligence or willful damages are not covered by our Accidental Damage Protection Plan or Security Deposit.
Q. DO YOU OFFER TRAVEL INSURANCE?
A. Yes, we do! Unlike hotels, vacation rentals require non-refundable payments to secure a reservation. That’s why we highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect against unforeseen issues that occur prior to and during your trip.
Play Travel Protection: Nationwide covers up to 100% of your non-refundable trip cost if you cancel due to an approved reason -- and you can add it to your trip for just 7% of your total booking fee. Click here for more details.
Travel insurance is optional and can be added to your reservation on our checkout page.
Q. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I BOOK MY TRIP?( I will have to rewrite this once the website is set up. I am having it work off of booking requests so need to figure out how to activate the payment once i have accepted the booking but i like the 30% down and we are currently doing 60 days out for high season and 30 days out for low season)
A.When you book, you’ll be charged for 30% of the nightly rate, plus taxes. For reservations made within 30 days of your check-in date, payment will be collected in full at this time. Then, you’ll receive an email confirming the details of your stay.
Within 24 hours of booking, our Guest Experience Team will process your initial payment and send you a payment confirmation email. If there are any problems processing your reservation, we’ll reach out to you at this time.
30 days prior to your arrival, the remaining balance on your reservation will be automatically charged to your credit card on file.
15 days prior to your arrival, you will receive an email with check-in instructions, including the exact address of your property and details on how to get in touch with your local guest contact.
Q: What happens after my application is submitted?
A: Once we receive your completed application, we will contact you to confirm details. You will be asked to provide:
- A deposit equal to 30 per cent of the total invoice or the full amount for reservations made within 30 days of check-in
- A signed copy of the ‘renters’ agreement’
- An online internet banking payment or credit card
Q: How do I make payments?
Deposit: Most renters prefer to pay their 30 per cent deposit online. This is easily done through most major Canadians banks. We accept VISA and Mastercard through our secure site.
Balance: The balance owing, dated 90 days prior to the start of your holiday, is due within two business days of booking approval. We accept online internet banking payments or credit card.
International vacationers can wire funds directly to our bank account. Contact us for details.
Q: Is my payment protected?
A: Yes. Upon receipt, your payment is deposited into a Travel Industry Trust Account. need to rewrite this once we have a TICO number Your payment is further protected through TICO’s Compensation Fund.
Q: Will I receive confirmation of my booking?
A: Upon receipt of your 30 per cent deposit, we will send you written confirmation of your booking and an invoice.
Q: What is Damage Protection?
A: In lieu of a security or damage deposit, Serenity Vacation Properties are covered by our Accidental Damage Protection insurance program. For a non-refundable fee of approximately $8.00 per night plus HST, you and your traveling party are protected with up to $2,000 in coverage towards unintentional property damages that occur during your stay.
We’ve found this approach is much easier and less expensive for our guests than a substantial deposit payment. Your initial cost to book is much lower, and there is no need to worry about a dispute with the owner over potential damages after your stay. We do still charge a refundable security deposit to cover damages which do not fall under the ADP.
We caution all guests that intentional and willful damage, as well as damage caused by violating rules such as maximum occupancy or "No Pets" policies, may still be assessed a post-stay charge per the terms of our Rental Agreement.
Q: What happens if there is loss and damage to the cottage?A: We have an Accidental Damage Protection plan because we know that an occasional accident is bound to happen and any losses or damages during your holiday must be paid for. However, minor spills and stains can often be dealt with quickly without leaving lasting damage and incurring a cost. Before you arrive, your cottage will have been cleaned, the inventory checked, and any missing items noted or replaced.
Q: How does the Accidental Damage Protection Plan work?
A: The Accidental Damage Protection plan covers you for any find any deficiencies or damages on arrival which have not been noted already provided you let Serenity Vacations, or the property manager know within the first 24 hours of your stay.
The purpose of the Accidental Damage Protection Plan is to cover damages that could not be easily anticipated or foreseen. These damages must be reported to Serenity Vacations by phone before the vacation is completed and in addition, all damage must be reported to Serenity Vacations in writing within 5 days of the end of the vacation rental period.
The Accidental Damage Protection Plan does not cover:
- Loss or damage caused by a pet
- Loss or damage due to misuse of hot tubs or damage to hot tub covers
- Failure to leave a cottage in a clean and tidy condition as described in the cottage instructions
- Loss or damage caused by failure to follow the rental agreement
We also require authorisation to charge your credit card number in the event of non-accidental or pet damage, overage on internet usage (in excess of the GB allowance if unlimited service is not available), and additional cleaning fees, being reported by the owner following your stay.
This fee is not charged unless there is a substantiated claim made.
Q: What if I cancel my trip?
A: We know that sometimes last-minute changes come up, but vacation rentals do require non-refundable payments. You’re welcome to cancel at any time, but you’ll have to forfeit the payments you’ve made to date including the administration fee. To avoid this situation, we would highly recommend travel insurance.
Q: How do I get the keys and directions to the cottage?
A: Once we have processed your final payment you will receive an email with the directions and how to enter the cottage.
Q: How do I get to the cottage I rented on an island?
A: There will be water taxi information provided to you in the email you receive with the arrival details. You contact the water taxi and arrange for their services at your own expense.
Q: What are the Check in and Check out times?
A: Our rental contract for the property that you have rented will have the accurate check in and check out time. However, check in is typically at 4.00 pm on the first day of your cottage holiday and check out is typically at 11.00 am on the day of departure. This allows the cleaning crews time to clean and prepare the cottage for the next set of incoming guests. If you arrive early, please don’t expect to enter the property as the cleaning team may still be working. Instead we would suggest that you check out the local area.
When check-out time comes, the cleaning staff will expect to access the cottage. If they are not able to enter the cottage because your group has not left, additional charges may be charged to your credit card.
Q: Who can rent and are there any Age Limits?
A: We primarily provide family holidays and it is our policy not to accept bookings from groups of young people under the age of 30 and groups comprising all-adults. This policy is not intended to be discriminatory but is merely to protect our cottage owners’ interests and to meet the requirements of their rental insurance policies.
You must list all members of your party, whether they will be staying for the duration of the rental or only a part of it or are a day guest. The rental agreement will limit the occupancy to the number stated on the application form, so make sure you include everyone – including children/babies.
The owners of the cottage set the occupancy level usually based on wear and tear on the cottage through the rental season, water levels/septic system size, and the number they feel comfortable with having on their property. We sign contracts with our owners agreeing we will adhere to their occupancy levels. Please be aware that these occupancy levels are for all times and day guests are to be included. Overcrowding and exceeding maximum permitted numbers will result in an additional charge and eviction.
Maximum occupancy is also usually restricted by the rental insurance policy the owner has on the cottage, so please bear this in mind if you choose to disregard these restrictions. Should any catastrophic event occur while you are at the cottage and there are more people occupying the property than the insurance permits, the policy may be invalidated in which case you may be held liable for any costs incurred.
We appreciate that you may want to have a friend or family member drop by for a visit while you are at your rented cottage. Remember that cottage communities are very close, and it is not unusual for us to get a call from a cottage owner’s neighbour telling us there seem to be a lot of people at the rented cottage. Overcrowding and exceeding maximum permitted numbers will result in a charge on the damage deposit, and even eviction. If someone shows up who is not on the rental agreement it is your responsibility to call our office and advise us so we can let you know if you are already at your maximum.
A: Some of our cottages accept pets. Cottages that accept pets (one pet per cottage) are specifically identified in their profiles. Renters or their guests who bring a pet to a non-pet cottage will be asked to leave with no compensation for lost vacation time.
Many are happy to have dogs but not cats, so please check with us before assuming your cat will be welcomed at the cottage of your choice. Similarly, if you want to bring more than one pet, please check too. There will be additional conditions for accompanying pets, so you should read the relevant clause in the rental agreement carefully.
If a cottage does not accept pets, do not assume that a property is "pet free". Some owners have pets and bring them to the cottage but restrict renters from bringing their pets.
Q: Are pets allowed on the beach?
A: This is based on each individual municipality. We ask that you check the local municipality and their bylaws.
Q: Are the docks always usable at the cottages?
A: Many of our listed properties include a dock(s) for watercraft or use as a sunny seating area. While some docks are permanently in place, most have to be removed for the winter to avoid damage created by ice, water level changes and winds. Typically, non-permanent docks go into the water around mid-May and are removed in mid-September. Weather patterns, however, play a significant role in determining timing of docks coming in and out of the water. Winter ice may delay a dock going in and an early fall snow lead to the removal of a dock before the Thanksgiving period. For this reason, we cannot guarantee availability of docks in non-high-season periods.
Q: Can I have a campfire at the cottage?
A: Some of our cottages do have fire pits for your use; please check your Cottage Information Kit to see if one is available. If a fire pit is not indicated in the cottage description, then FIRES ARE NOT PERMITTED AT THE COTTAGE. If fires are permitted, then please check with the local municipalities to make sure there are no fire bans in effect.
Q: Can we light fireworks off at the cottage?
A: NO. Fireworks are banned from all cottages listed by Serenity Vacation Rentals due to insurance restrictions. LIGHTING FIREWORKS OFF AT THE COTTAGE DURING YOUR STAY WILL RESULT IN IMMEDIATE EVICTION FROM THE PROPERTY.
Q: Do I have to clean the cottage?
A: Most cottages include the cleaning fee in the rental rate or as an additional fee. In this case the expectation is that you leave the cottage in the same condition in which you found it, including cleanliness. This includes all kitchen counters cleared, your food removed from the refrigerator, moved furniture returned to the original location and garbage dealt with according to the cottage guidelines.
Q: What’s Included in my stay?
A: Most of our cottages are well-equipped and the only things you need to bring are your food, drink and personal items.
Here is what you can expect to be included unless noted otherwise in a listing:
Q: Bed linens
A: All of our cottages include beds that have been freshly made up for your arrival, so you don’t need to bring bed linens with you.
Expect to bring your own outdoor towels to all cottages
Q: Kitchen Supplies
A: You can expect to find all the pots, pans, dishes, glassware and kitchenware that you’ll need to cater for your group. A microwave oven, coffee maker, tea kettle and toaster are provided in all cottages; many will have additional small appliances such as a blender, a slow cooker or maybe a waffle maker.
You’ll find some basic essentials such as salt, pepper, herbs and spices available at most cottages but if you need anything specific make sure you bring it with you.
Q: Paper Products and Cleaning Supplies
A: We ask our owners to supply the paper products you will need for the first few days of your vacation. Kitchen paper, toilet paper, coffee filters (if required). You’ll also find dish soap, hand soap and cleaning supplies.
Q: Internet Connection
A: While the availability of Wi-Fi is more common in cottage country areas, do not expect it to be as fast or reliable as the service you may have in the city. Many cottage areas can only access the internet via ‘line of sight’ Wi-Fi or a satellite connection, and this is often limited.
Where an internet connection is available, the listing will show the limits and if you exceed those limits your credit card will be charged for the excess GB used. Excess charges can mount up quickly! If you will be doing more than checking emails you should choose a cottage with unlimited internet service.
If a cottage has unlimited internet you may be able to stream music and watch Netflix and other streaming services. However, remember that there may be lags in service as it is not as consistent as it is in the city.
Q: Will my cell phone work at the cottage?
A: Many areas have little or no cellular service depending on the service provider. Check with your service provider to determine whether a specific area has service. Do not assume your cell phone will work throughout Cottage Country.
Q: What Outdoor Amenities are provided?
A: All cottages have a gas BBQ and are supplied with a gas tank on the BBQ and a full spare in case you run out of propane during meal preparation. Should you go through all the supplied propane, you’ll be able to fill the tank locally, and directions to the nearest supplier will be available.
Q: Is there watercraft at the property?
A: The majority of cottages supply non-motorised watercraft for example, a rowboat, canoe, paddleboat or kayaks. Some are now including stand-up paddleboards. There will be some lifejackets or PFDs, however it is your responsibility to ensure all water safety equipment fits correctly, particularly for children. We strongly recommend that you bring your own PFDs for children.
Follow any instructions left for you by the cottage owner before going out in a boat, and make sure you have a safety kit including a whistle, baler and rope.
Q: If you are on the water without life jackets for each person and a safety kit, and are stopped by an OPP water patrol, the fines are high. Don’t risk your safety and your wallet!
A: If you plan on renting a boat and securing it at the cottage dock, please call and check there is sufficient depth of water before confirming your rental.
Q: What should I bring to the cottage?
Water Shoes – many lakes have zebra mussels which are very sharp and will cut unprotected feet.
Mosquito Repellent – use before going out in the early morning and after dusk.
Life Jackets or PFDs – as noted above, especially for children.
Poop Bags – if you are bringing a dog please don’t leave these behind, and please do not dispose of them in campfires.
Fishing Licence – even if you are just fishing off the dock you need a licence and OPP patrol boats are known to stop to check.
Q: Is the cottage checked by anyone before I arrive?
A: Yes, all the cottages are checked prior to check-in to ensure that everything is ready and in working order for you. The check is also done to ensure that we know if there was any damage or loss from the prior guests.
Q: Has Serenity Vacations seen the cottage I am renting?
A: Serenity vacations does not list a cottage without viewing the cottage at least once prior to listing. This allows us to ensure that the same standards are provided at each cottage that we offer. It also allows us to view the surrounding area, so we are aware of what is available for our guests. Serenity tries to view all of the cottages we have listed during the low season to ensure the standards are still met and to note any changes in the area so we can be better equipped to answer your questions,
Q: Can we view the cottage prior to renting?
A: For the safety and privacy of our cottage owners we do not allow this. We will provide the final address once we have received your final payment. Each cottage profile on the website has a description of the cottage along with numerous photos and a map that gives you the general area of the cottage.
Q: What do I do if there is a problem when I'm at the cottage?
A: Please contact Serenity Vacation so we can try to rectify the problem for you while you are at the cottage.
Q: Can I drink the water at the cottage?
A: The majority of the cottages use either the lake or a well as the primary source of water, including drinking water. While many cottages have filters, we would recommend you bring bottled water for drinking regardless of the water source.
Q: What do I do with my garbage?
A: Instructions for garbage disposal are provided at each cottage. Many cottages do not have garbage pick-up and therefore drop off is required at local designated drop off spots. Details will be provided in the Cottage Guide at your rental property.
Q: Cottage Life vs. Critters...
A: Flying, crawling, scurrying animals, and bug life are a part of Cottage Country! Life out here is usually pretty different from life in the city. That is why you're going on vacation right? So, relax, read a book, maybe a book on cottage country wild life, and remember that most critters are more frightened of you than you are of them. It is important to observe some rules when vacationing: -Don't leave food out on the kitchen counters or anywhere else, ants and mice love leftovers. -Don't leave patio doors open, chipmunks and squirrels love to visit, not to mention mice and will enter at the slightest invitation. -Lights at night will attract moths and other types of flying insects, some small enough to penetrate screens. Mother Nature, seasonal temperature variations, life cycles etc. can all create unexpected visitations, again a part of cottage life that we all have to deal with. Check your Cottage Information Kit for any notes the owner may have made about visiting wildlife.