After more than a year of staring at the walls, Americans are booking vacations again. To help them pack, home improvement TV has a number of shows during the summer that are about where to go and where to stay.
Television, it seems, wants to leave the house just like the rest of us.
On June 18, Netflix presents "The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals" and presents quirky and unusual places around the world – an apartment building in Mexico City in the shape of a snake, an igloo in Finland, a lighthouse in Alaska. HGTV has extended two of its vacation shows for season two, both of which will air in June – "Renovation Island," about a couple remodeling a shabby resort in the Bahamas, and "Vacation House Rules" on how to furnish your vacation home it more profitable.
And when Magnolia Network goes digital on July 15th as a joint venture with Discovery Inc., it will have a range of shows (available on Discovery + and the Magnolia app) aimed at rusty vacationers and giving us a refresher on what is out there and what's going to make a vacation rental shine. On-the-road offers include "RE (Motel)", which introduces funky motels on the side of the road; Van Go, a series about Brett Lewis who turns people's vans into tiny RVs; and Inn the Works, which follows a young innkeeper who creates a retreat in Big Bear Lake, California.
But even if these shows take us to distant places, the focus is less on the sights we can see and more on creating a temporary home. When we go out as tourists again, they want to help us experience trips through the places we book through Airbnb or other websites.
"It is probably no coincidence that we have stories of travel, opportunity, and wanderlust," said Allison Page, global president of Magnolia Network, of so many travel shows joining a Chip and Joanna Gaines-led network. HGTV's favorites.
The timing for these shows is unexpectedly random. The network was slated to launch last October but was delayed by the pandemic, and its cable TV debut, where it will replace the DIY network, is on hold until January 2022, “That fantasy that feels achievable: that they get into their car , put off this sedentary phase of life and find something beautiful, ”said Ms. Page.
In an email, Ms. Gaines, Magnolia's chief creative officer, said, “I know these shows have timely reminded us of what makes life so beautiful: family, adventure and opportunity. When you hear these stories and watch them develop, you can't help but go out and create or experience something special. "
Of all the shows, "The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals" feels like the one made for the moment. The first episode was filmed in Bali in January 2020, against the crowded, dynamic backdrop of prepandemic Indonesia. But in the following episodes, mostly filmed after the pandemic began, the world feels strangely empty. On the other hand, who needs other people when you can stay in a 4,300-square-foot floating mansion in Miami or a 6,000-square-foot lodge in a cave in the Ozarks?
Hosts, Luis D. Ortiz from Million Dollar Listing, YouTuber Megan Batoon, and travel writer Jo Franco, explore a world during recess. They are amazed at their travel destinations, but rarely meet a hotelier on their travels, let alone another guest or local. One episode features a luxurious private island resort in the Bahamas, as opulent a destination as you'd expect for $ 15,000 a night. You feel like this island is not the only place that is deserted.
“We were in these places in the middle of nowhere and had the time of our lives,” said Ms. Franco, 28. And maybe that's a good thing. Our collective fear of late-stage pandemic travel could lead to "a really interesting change in the way we travel now," she said. "We can immerse ourselves in the experience, we can withdraw, we can feel private and safe."
Unlike Anthony Bourdain, who introduced a generation of onlookers to rich cultures through street food in crowded markets and narrow cafes, this version of travel offers a vacation that focuses on where you live, not what you do. Covid restrictions may be easing, but many travelers are still looking for safe, social distance accommodations.
"I think a well-designed vacation rental can provide a lot of comfort for people to know that something can be safe when they are afraid of Covid," said Ms. Batoon, 30, a designer whose YouTube videos are frequently featured on Thursdays -it- do it yourself home improvement projects.
While “The World's Most Amazing Vacation Rentals” is all about where to stay, shows like “Inn the Works” focus on the elbow grease that comes with turning hotels into places you want to visit. Inn the Works tells how Lindsey Kurowski hired her three siblings to help her restore a historic lodge with 13 cabins near the Bear Mountain ski area in southern California.
In the first episode, in which she and her siblings discuss how the lodge should be renovated, Ms. Kurowski addresses two arriving guests and asks for their understanding of the state of the renovation. "In return, I'll give you a discount," she tells them. After shaking off the construction noise and an extension cord that will run out of her room, she hugs them (the first episode was filmed before Covid) and says, "I'm so lucky!"
The rest of the series was filmed during the pandemic, when Ms. Kurowski continued to rent cottages while a crew filmed renovation work on the four-acre property. "That may not be my smartest idea," Ms. Kurowski, 33, told me. "It's not ideal to stay in a hotel that is currently being renovated."
Despite the chaos and pandemic, Ms. Kurowski said the hotel has been "insanely busy" over the past year, which she attributes to the stand-alone cabins which make an ideal socially distant destination. She has since bought a second inn, a motel in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, near where she grew up.
Vacationers are looking for something different about their accommodations, and it's not just the pandemic that is driving change. Instagram and home improvement TV have managed to turn even our getaways into something that requires the photogenic quality of a big reveal. Ms. Kurowski, who also produces events for corporations, sees the value in “some styling tricks” and a well-staged photo.
“People change the way they travel, how they book hotels, everything is different,” she said. “People want money for their money, they want most of the amenities they can get. You want a personalized experience. "
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