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Review | 'The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals': Inspires you to take notes for your next vacay, but also to hit mute occasionally

The show takes you to some of the most amazing places you’d want to experience. So when the pandemic is under control and the world opens its arms to you, you can plan something weird and wonderful.

June 22, 2021 / 06:31 PM IST
The three hosts of 'The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals' (screen shot) are young - and excitable.

The three hosts of 'The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals' (screen shot) are young - and excitable.

Are you a travel snob? Telling people you’ve done the Game of Thrones and the Lord Of The Rings tours? Followed Anthony Bourdain’s South America for food and Europe? That’s your backyard… You’ve done Croatia and Romania too.

Even then, you will discover a very different way to travel. I had to get over the constant exclamations of, ‘Oh-mah-gawd!’, ‘it’s ridiculous!’, ‘It’s amazing’ when I watched Netflix’s The Most Amazing Vacation Rentals.

I forgave them because one, they are just so young and such enthu cutlets; two, I imagined David Attenborough (or even Amitabh Bachchan) calmly giving gyan about places that we were looking at instead of the ‘come rent the place now’ type American overkill; and three, I did what any sane person wants to do when facing serenity: I muted their exclamation riddled dialogue: ‘Look at the view!’, ‘Look at that door!’ ‘Look at the claw-footed tub!’, ‘Look at that!’.

That said, the show truly takes you to some of the most amazing places you’d want to experience. So when the pandemic is under control and the world opens its arms to you, you can plan something weird and wonderful.

There are eight parts to this show, with every part taking you to budget, average and luxury accommodations. From the humble igloo in Finland to a mansion with a private beach in Hawaii, there is everything that you’d love. Some places will stay with you, and the others, too weird to experience first hand, are best seen on this show.

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The Seasons Niseko in Hokkaido Japan made me swoon. The food and the warmth inside and the snow outside. And the chef mentioned Shabu Shabu which is perhaps the thinnest slices of meat and vegetables swished in a broth (Osaka dish, best in the world!) and I sighed into my coffee here… The feast deserved poetry being read along with it rather than seeing three very young hosts make snow angels and then jump into the heated pool. To each their own, I guess…

My second most favourite part of this show is not something they concentrated on (like I said, it’s more about ‘you can rent this!’). A connection with the culture. Yes, they do take us to Bali’s Galungan festival (ten days in November this year), and show us little snatches of it, but it doesn’t touch you where the heart usually is. The moment where you ask the ancestors permission to step into the ocean and on the island in Hawaii was made for instant reverence. What a wonderful way to live with nature. But we heard whoops and cheers of the three hosts and glimpses of the underwater gorgeousness.

I truly wished there were more moments like that in the show. Where you are stunned into silence by the sunsets and the sunrises, the oceans and the mountains. Speaking of mountains, when they showed Alaska’s spectacular mountains, the Utah canyons and the blue oceans in the Bahamas, you wished there was more of the scenery than the talk.

Speaking of experiencing the canyons, you must walk through the river in the Red Canyon and camp under the stars in the truly magnificent Grand Canyon. Campfire food and coffee tastes so much better because you grew up remembering the dialogue: White man makes big fire, sleep far from it, native man makes small fire, sleep next to it.

The Dude Ranch experience they show is rather serious. The owner felt caricaturish gruff and rough... For you have seen in the movies, a dude ranch experience is mostly hilarious, and if you do try to take the trail on horseback for the day, you’d better have budgeted for two days to recuperate your city derriere. And the fact that you spend lots of money on cowboy boots you’ll never wear back in Mumbai (or wherever you call home) is a lesson no one will teach you.

The houseboat in San Francisco reminded me of Sleepless in Seattle, and I loved the idea of living on boats with artists and poets, and discovering a community of like-minded people. But the houseboat called Arkup in Miami just blew my mind. No Shammi Kapoor singing, ‘Yeh chand sa roshan chehra’, but it is made for a scene straight out of a James Bond film. The boat is incredible. For $5 million, it’s a one-of-a-kind sustainable living house that can float on water. If it were mine, I wouldn’t share it with anyone. The seas with the views would be mine… All mine…

You’ll love to take your family to the most fabulous Hawaiian retreat that appears in the last episode, though. Only if the kids did not whoop and scream across the property and went down to the beach and stayed out of sight for the times you spend staring at the sea. Pierce Brosnan has a home there on the island and it brought back memories of the film The Descendants.

I’m hopelessly claustrophobic, and I could not live in the live caves converted to a luxury vacation home even if it were free. The Beckham Creek Cave Lodge is stunning because the cave is actually a live thing (with stalactites and stalagmites and water dripping constantly). Everything looks gorgeous, but it’s not for me. Neither are the treehouses in Bali and South Carolina. The jet engine converted into a hot tub is amusing for a bit, the romance of the overly ‘romantic ‘Charleston tree houses is nice for a while, even the Alpaca treehouse is cute, but clearly I’m the wrong target audience. In the hills of Maharashtra, there are a few luxury tree homes which may be fine, but climbing down a bamboo ladder from the fourth floor to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night is not exactly something I’d want.

Before I get sidetracked to the hand cut soba noodles in Niseko, Japan, let me share the best part of the show. Experiencing the wonderful architecture of a phenom called Javier Senosiain. And I was so grateful that they had a two minute interview with this fabulous architect in the episode. The space is called Quetzalcoatl’s Nest. It’s located right in the heart of Mexico City (the last time I wanted to visit the city was after watching Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma; shot in Tepeji 22 of Roma Sur neighborhood). Quetzalcoatl is the snake headed god and his nest is incredible to view. It will remind you of Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona. You can actually stay here inside the belly of a giant snake building. Senosiain believes that nothing in nature is a straight line, and everything in that apartment has curves. It’s worth all the exclamations you can add to any experience. This part of the episode is so beautiful, I watched it twice. By the way, he’s the man behind the peanut house, if you feel like looking him up…

My day was made when I watched the beautiful snakey apartment for rent and frantically looked up dates for the next footie match that will take me to that continent (South America). Shows like this make you more determined to experience life differently, and hopefully teach you patience so you will not want to push some monkey-cap wearing tourist off the mountain when he screams at his family: Dekho! Sunset!
Manisha Lakhe is a poet, film critic, traveller, founder of Caferati — an online writer’s forum, hosts Mumbai’s oldest open mic, and teaches advertising, films and communication.

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