Serviced apartments are a fantastic alternative to hotels for relocation assignees around the world, offering tangible benefits to both the employee and the employer.
You may have seen our recent post about the advantages of using serviced accommodation when relocating and travelling.
Today, Leo Capotorto GMS, Director of Global Business Development for Avenida Suites, based in Florida, tells us about their serviced accommodation provision in the Latin American (LATAM) region and what to bear in mind when renting an apartment.
The LATAM market and business culture present some very unique and challenging requirements for assignees, ranging from the property particulars, availability, and means of procurement. Avenida Suites has established some general guidelines and expectations to explain some of the main differences and set realistic expectations in what can be a challenging market for assignees.
Of course, all accommodation providers must work within the constraints of the local market, culture and laws, and Avenida Suites' local staff and partners are committed to maintaining the same high level of service they deliver in the US. All staff and partners on the ground are fluent in both English and native languages and provide 24 hour on-call services for all guests.
Although there will be times when Avenida Suites can handle arrivals with just a 2 or 3 day lead time, this will be the exception rather than the norm due to several factors:
- Unlike in the US, there are no apartment buildings where you can rent an apartment in an hour and have furniture delivered the next day. All apartments are individually owned and furnished so it can take a couple of days to finalize a rental contract.
- For each new request, Avenida Suites must verify current availability with the owners/managers as most owners use multiple avenues to advertise and let out their apartments.
- Once options are presented, if it takes the owners/managers more than a couple of days to confirm availability and make a decision, Avenida Suites must re-verify that the apartment is still available as owners in LATAM rent on a first-come first-served basis.
- There is a very limited supply of quality, full-sized furnished apartments. To address this, Avenida Suites is building up their own inventory in order to improve availability in the LATAM region.
- Speed of decisions is crucial, especially during peak times, as the demand for apartments and the lack of supply cause them to get rented pretty quickly.
There are many different types of property and unit styles available, from one room studios with a hotplate or microwave, to a fully furnished home with a swimming pool, complete with domestic help. Standard accommodations are similar in style to a condominium in the US (apartment block). These units offer full kitchens with separate bedrooms and living spaces. Like any market, quality can and does vary. Avenida Suites utilize only four and five star quality properties and in the event of availability issues due to points 1 to 5 above, they will clearly communicate if otherwise when offering a property and prior to making a reservation.
All properties are supplied fully furnished. A detailed check-list is used to verify all properties prior to acceptance into Avenida Suites' inventory. This is done to ensure a minimum standard is met for all properties. In all cases you can expect the comforts of home to be of a high standard and similar to those found in the US and the UK.
The location of an apartment in the big LATAM cities in is an extremely important consideration due to a number of factors:
- Travel time (traffic jams are normal)
- Safety (high-end and slum neighbourhoods can be close together)
- Proximity to shopping and major roads and businesses
- Nominal age of buildings in the local area
Avenida Suites has taken the time to understand these specific nuances and only have apartments that are located in the best and safest areas.
Payment and cancellation terms
This presents probably the most significant difference between the US and UK standards.
In order to guarantee a reservation, Avenida Suites must wire funds to the owners/managers immediately upon receipt of your booking confirmation. This is the only way to ensure the reservation. Once a payment has been made to an owner, there is almost never a refund from the property owners/managers in LATAM.
Please be sure of the selection, amenities, and dates before commitment as a refund cannot be guaranteed if plans change.
Please be aware that pricing of apartments can often vary due to seasons and special events. As expected, owners will often put their prices up during these time periods, so be prepared to pay a premium even if the reservation stretches across an event (i.e. World Cup, Olympics, etc.).
Arrival in country
Many international flights operate overnight or arrive very late at night. Because you must be met at the apartment for key handover, please do be aware of late night or very early morning arrivals as it can become difficult to get the guests into the apartment right away.
Travelling through cities late at night can often be dangerous and we respect the safety of our employees, partners and customers and therefore in the interest of everybody's safety and security prefer to avoid late night or very early morning arrivals.
Many apartments are quite old, even though they may be in good condition. This means that they most likely won't have the very modern amenities that we take for granted in the US and UK.
Windows are often single pane and do not close and lock like our modern windows. They may not seal out all noise and dust. Some may even have aluminium panels for one side of the window.
In laundry areas, there is usually an air vent that does not close or seal, which will allow air and dust to enter. Keep doors to laundry area closed.
Air conditioning and heating
There are very few central A/C or heating systems. If there are A/C systems, they are the wall unit or the window unit type. Not every apartment has A/C so be sure to check amenities list if this is an important consideration.
Most apartments have an on demand gas operated hot water heater. Pilot lights often go out and need to be relit for the hot water to work.
Toilets and plumbing are often old and the municipal pipes and sewer systems are not made to handle large amounts of paper waste. Many people do not flush the toilet paper down the toilet, and instead place it into a waste basket. In some older cities, there are not many newer buildings, so be aware of this.
Kitchens are often much smaller and are not integrated into the main living space. Stoves and ovens are gas operated and, along with refrigerators, are much smaller than you may be used to.
In some areas of the city, due to building age, there are no parking spaces, so please be sure to check this if parking is needed. Parking is also often an extra cost and can be quite expensive, especially in Rio and Buenos Aires.
Every building will have a gate guard, usually one for the pedestrian gate and one for the garage.
Rio, Sao Paulo, and the other major cities in the region are very large and there is a tremendous amount of construction happening all the time. The cities are noisy during the day, but usually calm down before 8PM.
Internet and cable TV
The infrastructure is not as modern as in the US and the UK, which means you should expect frequent short outages or very slow internet speeds, especially during peak hours. Please do not call for service right away if there is an outage as it usually comes back soon. If out for more than a couple of hours, then call.
Celsium provides top-quality serviced apartments globally via our preferred partners. If you would like to learn more about serviced apartments worldwide, please contact us here.
Image by Diego Torres Silvestre