The idea behind The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals is that hosts Luis D. Ortiz, Jo Franco and Megan Batoon visit accommodations available for rent around the world. Each host is tasked with a different kind of rental to look for; Ortiz seeks out high luxury rentals, Batoon seeks rentals that are affordable but give a lot of bang for the buck, and Franco looks for unique accommodations, ones that are either in unusual locations or tied to interesting local experiences.
Opening Shot: “Are you ready to travel the world once again?” says host Louis D. Ortiz over shots of the vacation spots visited during the season. “We’re going to show you the most amazing way to do it.”
The Gist: While many of the episodes will be more based on a theme than a location, the first episode takes place in Bali. Near the city of Ubud, the trio visits a four-story bird-nest-like structure, which was Batoon’s find; it’s more or less part of a hostel that serves a communal meal and has a cocktail hour with all of the hostel’s guests. But it’s the nicest-looking hostel you’ll ever see, but Jo still gives the tip to wear flip-flops in the gorgeously-tiled communal showers.
Next up is Jo’s pick, a set of cottages owned by a local village chief. The cottages themselves are beautiful, and have a view of the rice fields nearby. But the chief also brings them to a Galungan Festival ceremony, which gives them firsthand experience with one of the biggest spiritual festivals in Indonesia.
Luis’ pick, a massive villa in the beach resort town of Seminyak, is big enough for parties of 200 people. The three of them tour the huge villa, do some yoga on surfboards in the pool, get massages and host a small dinner party. At the end of the episode, each host describes his or her favorite experience.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? While The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals tries to show travelers doing local experiences tries to evoke an Anthony Bourdain kind of vibe, but the production feels more like E!’s old travel series Wild On… than anything else.
Our Take: Despite its attempts at trying to be informative, The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals is pure eye candy. And that’s OK with us. The producers of the series have taken pains to put the locations where they shoot in the best light, using drone shots and other techniques to give viewers an idea of what they might see and experience if they went to these locations themselves.
That’s the most successful aspect of the show. The lush scenery made us want to spend some time in Bali during the fall, when the trio of hosts were there. The presence of the hosts is what we question. Don’t get us wrong: Ortiz, Batoon and Franco all are personable and are open to expanding their minds through interactions with local residents. The idea is that Ortiz, a former securities broker (and Million Dollar Listing: New York cast member), has the line on luxury, Franco, who has her own YouTube travel channel, is the most experienced at finding unique accommodations and that Batoon, ostensibly a design expert, is less experienced.
But all three seemed to go through each venue they visited acting like American tourists, saying “Nice!” and “Wow!” and “Look at this!” a lot, but not making much of an effort to really get to know the area in which they were staying. At least that’s what the first episode showed. It was mostly the three of them oohing and ahhing at where they were staying and not a ton of interaction with locals. Even when they were at the Galungan festival ceremony, they felt more like people checking an experience off a bucket list than people really absorbing themselves in what they were experiencing.
It would be easy to say that the show would work better without hosts, but then it would be just another clip show that you can see on the Travel Channel or another basic cable network any day of the week. Having the three hosts not only is an attempt to connect this kind of show to an aspirational millennial audience, but it also gives the perspective of pleasant surprise and enjoyment that you might experience if you were there.
But don’t expect a Bourdain-style rumination on what the country or people have been through; Vacation Rentals comes off more like an infomercial than anything else. But at least it’s a good-looking infomercial.
Sex and Skin: Nothing.
Parting Shot: With shots of the three hosts relaxing at the luxury spot, we hear Megan say, “We really saw the best of Bali. And that’s what we came here to do!”
Sleeper Star: As we said, the photography in this series it top-notch, and really shows how beautiful each destination is.
Most Pilot-y Line: If we heard someone say “Nice!” one more time, we were going to rip what was left of our hair right out of our heads.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Yes, The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals is as light as a feather, and you’ll likely forget all about an episode right after watching it. But the photography is pretty and the destinations are interesting enough to be a light watch in between heavier shows.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.