Frequently Asked Questions




Here are answers to the questions that we are asked most often. Can’t find the answer to your question? Call us at 269-469-1412 and we are happy to help and maybe we will even add it to this list!

Mailing address for payments
Yellow Bird Vacations
PO Box 315
Union Pier, MI 49129
Please make checks out to Yellow Bird Vacations and add your reservation number to the memo line.

New Buffalo main office
7 E Clay St
New Buffalo, MI 49117

New Buffalo/ Grand Beach back office
19405 West US Highway 12
New Buffalo, MI 49117

Office hours
Summer: Monday - Sunday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Eastern
Off season: Monday - Friday 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Eastern
Please call us at 269-469-1412 prior to visiting our office due to COVID-19 safety protocols.

Phone numbers
Union Pier office (Reservations, Marketing, Bookkeeping,Homeowner Inquiries, HR): 269-469-1412
New Buffalo/ Grand Beach office (Housekeeping, Maintenance, Laundry): 269-469-9048

Emergencies
Please call  911 first for police, fire and medical emergencies and also for non-emergency police calls in Berrien County.
Yellow Bird After-hours Emergency Hotline: 269-426-5577 - This number sends a group text to the staff on call so please identify the property that you are staying at along with the nature of your emergency so we can follow up with you as quickly as possible. We have a list of the closest medical facilities with map links at the end of this page.

What information do you need to help me find the best property for my needs?
The following info is needed to help you most efficiently:
  • Number of Adults
  • Number of Children
  • Dogs (yes or no) - most of our dog friendly houses will accept one dog for a $100 fee
  • Amenities that you wish for (lakefront, pool, hot tub, fire pit, etc)
  • A reasonably firm budget to help us whittle down the options a bit
  • Any detailed info about what would make your vacation great!
    Please click here for our Contact Form to start the ball rolling if you don't have a specific house in mind!
How do I reserve a property?
1. In many instances you may place your own reservation online at www.yellowbirdvacations.com. Reservations placed online after hours will be approved by our reservations department during the following business day. Reservations are not official until payment is received and a rental agreement is signed.
2. Email at [email protected] and we will respond as soon as possible.
3. Call our reservations crew at 269-469-1412.
We will then gather your contact information (email address, home address and cell number) so that we may place a reservation for you. You will receive an email from us with a link to our online reservation system called Livestay about 30 minutes after we place your reservation.  This system will allow you to proof the dates and details of your reservation prior to payment, sign a guest agreement online and then pay securely with a credit card if you wish. 

What forms of payment do you accept?
  • We accept Visa, Mastercard,and Discover payments over the phone or on our secure online reservation system Livestay (remember that credit card payments incur a 2.75% fee)
  • Personal check by mail
  • Electronic checks via email - please ask us about this service, which does not incur a fee and is essentially the same as an electronic debit from your checking account. All you need to do is email us a picture of your completed check and enter into your register.  Our bookkeeping team will then process your payment in the next few days.
What are the reservation payment terms?
We ask for a 50% down payment to be paid within seven days of placing a reservation and your final payment is due 30 days prior to your stay.  We will remind you of your second payment via email a week in advance and we do not process any payments automatically.  Payment in full is requested for all reservations booked within the 30 day window prior to arrival.

What is your cancellation policy?
Our cancellation policy is simple, if you have made payment and need to cancel, we will open your dates and aggressively attempt to re-book the house. If successful, we retain a $300 re-booking fee and refund the remainder of your payment minus credit card fees (if applicable). Your deposit could be forfeited if our attempts to re-book are unsuccessful.  Yellow Bird partners with CSA Travel Insurance, who offers travel cancellation insurance policies that can be added to your reservation made through Yellow Bird.

Where do we check in?
In 2020 we are allowing guests to check in at the property they reserved for safety when possible, bypassing the normal office check in process in most instances. We will email and text detailed check-in information such as keypad lock codes or keybox codes to you during the week before your arrival and some houses without automated locks will have keys hidden or left inside for you case by case.

What time is check in and check out?
  • Check in: 4:00 PM Eastern
  • Check out: 10:00 AM Eastern
The housekeeping required for our summer arrivals and departures is tightly scheduled and we are unable to allow early check-in or late check-out between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend. There may also be cases where we have added time between guests for safety or maintenance reasons. 

Can we check in early?
Please ask about flexibility if you are booking off-season dates as we always try to make your stay as long as possible.  We shoot for 2:00 PM Eastern for check-in and 2:00 PM Eastern for check-out during the off-season when possible.

What if we may be arriving later than 5:00 PM?
Please let us know this in advance so we can make alternate check-in arrangements with you if needed.

What can we expect at the property?
All properties have unique amenities. The most efficient way to research potential properties is to view each property's page on our website. We are happy to provide additional details by email or phone. Expect a Yellow Bird property to have the following unless otherwise specified:
  • One of the following: Internet TV such as Roku, Apple TV etc, cable TV or satellite TV
  • Wireless internet
  • Central air and heating
  • Washer and dryer.
  • Coffee Maker (we do our best to describe the type on each property page)
  • Kitchens are ready for every day meal preparation - plates, silverware, pots, pans, serving dishes, etc.
Our property pages have details about each specific house so please take a look at the list of amenities as some homeowners are moving away from Cable TV and DVD players are also becoming less frequently found. Please ask in advance if you are interested in pay-per-view or specific sporting events as they may not be available at all properties and there could be a block in place that we will need to have removed. You will be billed for all PPV items, including movies and most TVs. 

All of our properties are registered and inspected by local authorities where required so you can be assured of safety.

What is supplied at the property for our stay?
  • Bed linens and bath towels for the maximum number of occupants in the house
  • Beach towels and beach items will be listed specifically under the property's amenity list. They are somewhat transient so it's always wise to bring your own beach stuff.
Starter supplies include:
  • Two rolls of toilet paper per bathroom
  • One roll of paper towel per kitchen
  • Kitchen garbage bags
  • Dish soap
  • Dishwasher Detergent
  • Hand Soap
  • Best practice is to inventory provisions upon arrival and purchase necessities from local grocery stores.  We do not provide condiments and spices for health and safety reasons.  We don't supply shampoo as most people seem to have specific brands they use.
How do we check-out?
  • Please abide by the 10:00 AM Eastern check in time in the Summer as part of our safety protocol and so that the housekeepers have proper time to ready the house for our next arrival.
  • Leave the used beds unmade. Do NOT strip the linens.
  • Place used bath towels in a bathtub or shower.
  • Please start a load of beach towels.
  • All dishes should be washed. You may leave a load running in the dishwasher.
  • Return indoor & outdoor furniture to original positions.
  • Turn off all lights.
  • In Summer: Air conditioning should be left at 74 degrees. In Winter: Heat should be left at 68 degrees.
  • Lock all exterior doors and close and lock all windows.
  • Please bag your garbage place it in the garbage bins.  If your property offers recycling it does not need to be bagged.
  • Please move garbage cans to the curb. If your can lids will not close, please contact us immediately and we can send help.
  • Important - take a good look around for items you may have left behind.  We seem to find a lot of tablets, devices and charging equipment!
  • Lock the house behind you, and if you were given keys then please return them to our nearest office (this address will be provided).
  • If our office is not open then please put your keys in the Key Return box at the office closest to your property (next to the side door of the building). You are considered to be checked out officially once the keys are returned to our office.

Can I see the property before making the reservation?
We are happy to show a house to guests booking week long stays when possible.  We need at least 24 hours notice to make this happen as it may require pre-approval from our homeowner and weather must be safe and reasonly decent to avoid extra housekeeping.  Please note that our houses are usually in use during weekends and visits must generally be scheduled on a weekday.

Can we have extra family or friends at the property?
The occupancy limit for each property is listed on each property's web page. This is a firm number in most cases, but does not include children in pack and plays or cribs.  Please be considerate of the property, neighbors, and homeowner and do not exceed this number. Violation of occupancy will void the agreement and could result in expulsion. If staying in a neighborhood with community amenities, there will be association rules that apply and thus extra guests are not permitted to use the association beach, pool or facilities.  Houses affiliated with community pools and hot tubs have the right to schedule time on an incremental basis.

Is smoking allowed at the property?
Smoking is not permitted inside any Yellow Bird property. Cigarette or cigar butts found at a property will incur an additional housekeeping and landscaping fee so please remove them when you depart.  In rare instances, some properties may be deemed as completely smoke-free (which includes the exterior premises as well) so please ask us if you have questions in this regard.

Are dogs allowed?
We represent many dog friendly houses that you can see by clicking here. This is detailed on each property page as well.  There may be a small handful of houses that will make special exceptions at any given time, which will be noted on our site. If that is not noted then we can't get approval for an exception.  We know you have a great dog and enjoy it when you send pictures but our houses that don't accept pets always have a solid reason for that policy.
Even though we really, really love cats, they are never allowed for a variety of reasons, including severe allergic reactions for future guests and homeowners.

We get asked about fenced in yards quite often but can never guarantee that they are completely fenced in a 100% fool-proof manner so please keep an eye and/or leash on your doggies at all times. It should also go without saying that we ask you to pick up all dog detritus from the yard please.

Is public transportation available?
Amtrak provides service from Chicago via Michigan City, IN to downtown New Buffalo. Information and schedules can be found at http://www.amtrak.com. We have several houses in downtown New Buffalo that are great for a car-free getaway and our reservationists can help you identify them.
Please note that there is still not a consistent Uber/Lyft type service in New Buffalo, so we recommend the local transportation services listed on our website.

Are there any cabs or buses which service the local area?
Click here for a list.  A Call Away Taxi (219-215-0890) is always very helpful.  Harbor Country Transportation offers taxi service for your group and is great for winery tours as well. If departing from the Amtrak station in New Buffalo, the Four Winds bus will allow you to ride (for a nominal fee) to any New Buffalo hotels or Four Winds Casino. Please schedule your winery tours in advance and make sure you have transportation lined up for your safety.

Are there any hospitals or urgent care centers close by?
Emergency Rooms: Urgent Care: Lost and Found Items - If I leave an item at the property how would the return be handled?
Returned items will incur a $25 fee plus the cost of shipping and handling.  We will need your shipping address and a credit card to process the payment prior to shipping. Please be extra careful as new guests will usually be arriving shortly after your departure which makes it more difficult for us to locate your belongings.

Reviewing Your Stay With Us
We will email you a detailed survey shortly after you depart.  We really need your feedback and please note that we would appreciate an email to [email protected] if there are urgent repair issues or anything drastic that we should know about immediately.