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If there are Vacation rentals in Afghanistan, They must be here for good.

By William May
Published: 09/05/04 Topics: Comments: 0

I kid you not. The LA Times is reporting that Estullah Rooz, after years of fighting Soviets, rival Mujahedee and the Taliban, the man known as the Commander Mullah is going corporate. And how you say? Well, he's building the first Swiss designed and pre-fabricated Vacation Rental homes on Lake Qargha six miles north of the Afghanistan capital of Kabul.

Rooz concocted the idea with a friend of his - Zemary Hakaim - who immigrated to Switzerland in 1972 and became a self confessed Hippie. Together they leased land at the lake and convinced local landlords to allow them to erect the Swiss Style Chalets. And for labor, Rooz and Hakaim recruited or converted experienced freedom fighters into carpenters, landscapers and service personnel at twice the pay of a soldier's salary.

Rooz expects his Vacation Rental homes to be a real money maker once erected. For now, he profits with food sales and guests can also visit the recently opened golf course complete with pro shop made out of an old, dented shipping container.


Don't you love entrepreneurs? They're the ones who find a way to bring a great idea to fruition. In a very convoluted way this is nothing more than what many resort area owners have learned to do with their vacation homes over the past few years: cater to different renters. Evolve the renting market from one of quaint cabins and rustic retreats into one of fancy homes and luxurious villas. With skyrocketing prices, enterprising individuals find a way to overcome their limitations.

As illustrated by our comrade in arms Mr. Estullah Rooz. I'm going to write him a letter and offer him an Honorary VROA membership. He certainly deserves one and I think we might just have a few tidbits that might help him along the way. I'm sure he also has tips for those of us looking to setup our own rentals in Afghanistan.

I won't be the first to rent his place but goodness knows I really wish him well.

To read more about Mr. Rooz, check out the full story on VROA.org under the News section.


I've placed tens of millions of dollars in advertising media purchases for clients over the years, so you might think I'd know the whole story.

Unfortunately, advertising is a trial-and-error business. So it is with great embarrassment that I admit I have unknowingly overlooked a MAJOR advertising/public relations opportunity for Vacation Rentals.

You gotta let the Travel Guidebooks for your city, resort, state or region know your home is available for rent.

By guidebooks I mean those legitimate published books that offer listings, advice and sometimes ratings on lodging, activities and restaurants in the target area.

Unless you have multiple properties your chance of getting listed might be low - but keep this in mind - if they don't know you exist they'll never have a chance to list your home in their guidebooks.

The good news is that submitting your home to the guidebooks is cheap and easy. Here's how:

- Go to Amazon.com & Google.com and search by keywords to find the titles and authors of guidebooks for your area.

- Find the address, phone, email and so forth of the editor and/or author responsible for that book. You may have to call the publisher to make sure you have the correct names as editors can change even for books that come out every year or so.

- Store those names in your computer address book (or even on paper if that is all you have).

- Write a letter template that tells them why you are writing and give a little blurb about your home. Keep it short and give them your website, they'll need to know far more than you could put in the letter.

- Send that letter to every guidebook every six months. I use the same letter over and over again simply indicating that I am "reminding" them to consider me.

It will take time to get results, but if you get listed it's money in the bank.


There are a number of web directories, groups and publications where owners can learn about how to do business.

It's good to see the industry resources growing, but VROA's opinions differ on key issues.

First, VROA has no conflict of interest. Web directories sometimes promote their own agenda - fully ethical by the way - but judge the message by the sender.

Online groups are interesting and can give a sense of comradery to the user, but remember all that chat is "unvetted" data. That's a newspaper term. Most consumers don't realize (or take for granted) the fact that major media sources have go out of their way to "check facts" before they publish them. Online group users don't.

At VROA we base our information on years of staff experience and the filtered feedback we get from owners committed enough, and usually experienced enough, to understand how a professional association can serve the industry.

Lately, I've been seeing all kinds of advice in online postings that is simply wrong. For example - here is a frequent chat question - "Can I withhold the guest deposit for ... (you name the sin)."

And the answers are always "yes" or "no" - and both are wrong.

Confiscating a deposit is absolutely necessary in some cases but very dangerous if the owner doesn't understand the law, and hasn't prepared themselves with strong contracts, notices and more.

I love owning rentals. But it's not all fun and it is certainly not a game or a hobby. Owners should use great discretion when listening to advice from any person with the two minutes it takes to join a chat group.

Free advice could turn extremely costly if it leads to simple but expensive errors.



As always, I seek your input. Please share your tips, techniques, compliments, and complaints on this or any other subject by writing me at Director@VROA.org.


scarlet & Tim Deshong's luxury Hale Lele Villa located on the golden shore of Maui. Exquisitely appointed, this wonderful villa sports over 6,000 square feet of elegance. www.DeluxeRental.com.

(If you want your place considered for Home of the Week, please drop me an e-mail.)


The Blue Ribbon Inspection is much preferable to a star rating system. I own one of those quaint little cottages in the mountains that could never compare to some of your luxurious rentals. However, my occupancy rate is very high and I consistently receive rave reviews from my guests. Not all guests are looking for pricey, luxurious rentals. In fact, most families are not. They are looking for a casual environment in which they and their children can feel comfortable.

I enjoy receiving your newsletter and find it to be the only truly informative one in the industry. Not a lot of hype - just good practical advice and info I can use. I also appreciate your asking for the input of owners.

Sharon Z. Ryan, River Rose Cottage


We're working diligently on the revised Blue Ribbon Inspection program. Lots of details but we want to do it right. You raise an apt point, guests come in all shapes and sizes seeking all kinds of accommodations. We want a system that will tell them what they get and whether it is clean, comfortable and honestly represented. More on Inspections soon.

- Wm. May


Read and download samples of terms and conditions, booking confirmations and so forth on the members-only Web site: www.VROA.org.


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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0051 – 09/05/04

Comments: 0

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