Today, the California-based operation has hundreds of listings across the country and globally, including in the Caribbean, Thailand and Australia.
"We also have a few listings in Maryland," she says.
Gaithersburg, a classic estate built in the early 1900s. Described as "the exact type of place that many people who dream of an East Coast wedding are in search of," the site also notes its "classy, romantic atmosphere."
The six-room brick mansion has extensive lawns and gardens, mahogany-paneled rooms, grand staircases and ornate chandeliers, with a mural painted onto the ceiling of the music room. Kentlands can accommodate up to 150 guests for special events. Costs vary depending on the season and other details.
Other companies nationwide and in Maryland, are also seeing an uptick in private home rentals for parties, weddings and family reunions.
HomeAway, a Texas-based company founded in 2005, has more than 325,000 listings worldwide, including dozens in Maryland. Its website, Homeaway.com recently offered everything from mansions on the Chesapeake Bay and a cottage in Oxford, to a farmhouse in Frederick and a condo in National Harbor.
"Vacation rentals are ideal for family and group vacations, but because of the space and access to kitchens, more and more people are renting them for events such as weddings, birthday parties and corporate retreats," says Jon Gray, senior vice president of HomeAway, North America. "They offer accommodations and a party venue in one instead of having to book them separately, ultimately helping people save money."
Locally, one Maryland company offering upscale rental properties is Taylor-Made Deep Creek Vacations in McHenry, which was launched in 2008. Its inventory includes stunning lodges with views of Deep Creek Lake and a property with eight bedrooms and an indoor pool.
"We cater to brides, to corporations seeking a wonderful place to come for a lakefront retreat," says Jodi Refosco, who co-owns the operation with her husband, Joe Refosco, and brother Chad Taylor. "In the colder months, we get a lot of couples. In the summer, we see many families for reunions."
Refosco describes the business as both a year-round vacation rental site, as well as a property management company that offers a range of services.
"We take care of everything from housekeeping to cleaning the hot tub. Our brides also get a special wedding coordinator."
Some of their properties are used by the owners as second homes; others are on the market and for sale. Many are investment properties, which the owners rent out a few days a month, to make extra income.
Refosco stresses that just as the client is treated with respect, so are the property owners.
For example, each owner is assigned a representative who inspects and secures the property within 48 hours of each event. The representative inspects for any damage that may occur during a reservation and contacts the owner if repairs or maintenance is needed.
"They check every drawer, underneath every bed, in every cabinet and behind every door," she says.
The owner rep also coordinates with vendors to, say, mow the lawn or perform other tasks while the property is being rented.
"We also make any suggestions to the owner to keep the property in renting condition or any upgrades to increase owner income," Refosco adds.
There are ground rules when it comes to private home rentals for an event. Experts say that before signing a formal agreement, renters should always read the fine print and be wary of requests for you to send cash or payments using wire services.
"Some vacation property rental websites that feature luxury properties may specifically say 'yes' or 'no' to hosting special events," says Grove. "For example, some properties may clearly state 'no weddings' on their ad page."
Grove adds that while event coordinators have to be mindful anytime they're planning a party or wedding, the stakes are even higher in a private home.