Jimmy Buffett Slept Here – Why Caribbean Villas Are So Darn Popular
You’re ready to book that trip to the Caribbean that you’ve been talking about for so long. You go online to get your airline tickets. Easy.
But here’s the hard part… where to stay? So many choices. You could book a hotel, a condo complex, or a vacation villa. How do you decide which one is right for you and your family or group?
Well, the best place to start is by asking what amenities and services you’re looking for. What are the most important options to consider before laying down your hard-earned cash on a deposit?
Space? Convenience? Privacy? Cost? Let’s look at all four features.
Generally, hotel rooms and condos don’t afford you a lot of space unless you’ve booked the penthouse suite. Many people justify this by saying they won’t be spending much time in their rooms anyway. But unexpected bad weather can change that forecast quickly. And perhaps one of the reasons they’re not spending much time in the room is because there’s no room for the whole group to gather! Many people choose a villa vacation because of that reason alone. Typically there’s a living area or family room where everyone congregates for drinks and conversation… if they’re not outside on the pool deck. And sometimes the size of one villa bedroom can be as large as an entire hotel room. (Tip: If space is important to you, always check out the square footage of your accommodations before you book!)
Let’s face it, there’s a lot to be said about the convenience of staying at a hotel and typically having a store, activities, concierge, and restaurants right on the premises. However, unless it’s an all-inclusive (which many find is the way to go, especially with kids), you’re paying for all those meals and it adds up after a while. Because condos and villas have kitchen facilities, they give you the option of buying food at the local grocery store and preparing meals back at your place…whether light snacks or full blown dinners. Many villas also have the advantage of providing or arranging for island chefs to be brought in so you don’t have to worry about the cooking chores. Most villas also have gas barbeque grills for the outdoor chef in your family or group.
If fighting the crowds is not your idea of a vacation, then a villa rental may be the way to go. Unless you travel in the off-season, you may spend more time trying to find a lounge chair by the pool than actually relaxing in the sun. Some people don’t mind sharing their vacation with strangers, but others see this as a time to spend exclusively with family or friends. Add to that the fact that many villas are located on or next to secluded beaches, and vacation houses win at privacy hands down. One trade off may be that generally villas don’t put out lounge chairs on the sand for their guests; however many provide beach chairs to borrow.
This is a hard one to calculate because there are such wide ranges of prices and services from island to island. At first blush, anyone looking at a villa rental may shy away because of the prices. But usually, once you break it down, you can rent a four bedroom villa for about the same price as two standard rooms at a hotel or condo, everything being equal. Compare apples to apples and see how the cost works out for the places you are considering… chances are you’ll actually be paying the same price but getting a lot more space and privacy by renting a villa! (Tip: Be sure and check what is included in the quoted rate. In many Caribbean countries the hotels, condos, and villas must collect a government accommodations tax. Some hotels and condos also add a service fee, which altogether could tack another 20% onto your bill. Ouch!)
So… villa, condo, or hotel? You can see that where you stay in the Caribbean requires a little bit of planning. The first step is to decide what features are most important when you’re looking for your slice of paradise. For an increasing number of groups, couples, and families, a Caribbean villa rental provides the comfort, privacy and space they desire.