This Cambridge Company Lets You Vacation Like You’re in The Holiday

Ever wanted to do a home swap?  This company allows luxury home owners to now sign up to exchange their homes.

The year is 2006. iPod nanos and Wii have a grip on the nation.  You can’t go anywhere without hearing Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day.” And most importantly, The Holiday is entering theaters…and people’s hearts. The Nancy Meyers’ rom com followed two women (Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz) who book a home swap, desperate to escape crises in their personal lives, and end up finding love on their vacation (with Jack Black and Jude Law, no less). More than becoming a mainstay in your yearly holiday movie rotations, it introduced the idea of a home swap to a wider audience.

Turns out, home swaps are not only a real way to vacation, but HomeExchange, the company featured in the movie, is also real and thriving right here in Cambridge. (They even served as consultants on the film.) And they’ve now launched a new network where owners of high-end homes can access over 300 other luxury homes to visit across over 40 countries.

So how does it work? Do you just hop on the computer in a moment of desperation and get a charming cottage in the British countryside or a sleek mansion in Los Angeles like in the movie? Not quite. To start off, you need to apply to be part of the network, according to CEO Emmanuel Arnaud, since this part of the company is for luxury homes. HomeExchange Collection has a list of criteria to check the quality of the homes to make sure other swappers are getting their money’s worth.

Should you be lucky enough to be accepted to the network, you pay a $1,000 annual subscription to access the homes, which range from castles in the wilderness to penthouses in international hubs. You can do a reciprocal exchange like in the movie (where you and another guest use each other’s homes at the same time). But if you want to use someone’s home and they don’t want to use yours, you can give them “guest points” which they can use towards other exchanges.

You might not want to go into things hoping to meet a good looking celebrity at the other end of your trip—the cute romance with a handsome single dad or hilarious composer is not guaranteed. And most of the platform’s users aren’t singles traveling alone, so if you’re looking for love, you might be out of luck. “The case you see in the movie happens, but it’s not the majority,” says Arnaud, pointing out that most people use the homes in groups, not as individuals.

Intrigued? Here’s a peek at some of the luxury home offerings of HomeExchange Collection.

home exchange paris

Photo courtesy of HomeExchange Collection

Paris, France
This three-bedroom loft is located in the Bastille district, a mere 50 meters away from the subway, which is ready to whisk you away to the other sites of the city. Inside this stunning home, you’ll enjoy an indoor pool, a Foosball table, and an indoor swing. Two-story windows offer tons of natural light and views of the lush outdoor garden, which you’ll also get to enjoy during your time here.

home exchange San Miguel de Allende

/ Photo courtesy of HomeExchange Collection

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
This stately hillside Mediterranean-style home is designed for optimal indoor-outdoor living with three terraces to accompany its luxury offerings. The upper level offers an outdoor sitting area and a fireplace where you can dine and entertain while watching the sunset. The lower terrace has a hot tub, pergola, a fire table, and a 60-foot solar-heated lap pool surrounded by tropical and fruit trees. And a third adjacent terrace boasts more lounge space surrounded by climbing white roses. What else could you need?

home exchange thailand

Photo courtesy of HomeExchange Collection

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Treat yourself to a stay in this stunning, custom-designed mansion. Its wide board antique rosewood floors, high ceilings, large rooms, and striking exterior were all inspired by the Thai temples you might visit while traveling here. Those staying here will have access to a full-time maid, a gardener/chef, and a part-time massage therapist to help you reach your ultimate state of relaxation. Use the time you’d spend cooking and cleaning to instead explore the five-acre grounds, where plumeria and fruit trees bloom, alongside orchids. It’s enough to nearly put the mountain views (also a perk of staying here) to shame.

home exchange south africa

Photo courtesy of HomeExchange Collection

Plenttenberg Bay, South Africa
If a trip amongst the hustle and bustle of a foreign city is more your speed, try a stay in this three-bedroom penthouse located in the heart of Plettenberg Bay, known for its stunning beaches, gorgeous forests, and abundance of wildlife. This particular home is also within walking distance of many of the city’s shops and restaurants. If you want to take it all in from above, a terrace off the unit offers a bird’s eye view of this holiday destination.

homeexchange san francisco

Photo courtesy of HomeExchange Collection

San Francisco, California
If you’d prefer to stay a little more local, this luxury high rise in the Golden State welcomes you. Located on the 26th floor, this unit’s floor-to-ceiling windows and wraparound deck offers unobstructed views of San Francisco, from its iconic hills to the Pacific Ocean. The condo offers guests a fully equipped kitchen and a home office, as well, making it perfect for a working vacation.