When I was growing up, the idea of a villa vacation inspired thoughts of aging seaside properties, luxurious, but far out of any price range I could ever consider. However, I have discovered that a “villa vacation” can mean something far more friendly, modern, and affordable. And I firmly believe that the right villa can create the foundation for a truly fabulous extended family vacation, far more than any hotel-style resort.
Before I get into the reasons I love villa vacations so much, let me define what I mean by the term villa. Dictionary.com defines villa as:
a country residence or estate. 2.any imposing or pretentious residence, especially one in the country or suburbs maintained as a retreat by a wealthy person.
However, many rental home brokers and resorts have expanded the modern definition to include any sort of home complete with kitchen, usually laundry facilities, living spaces, and of course, bedrooms and bathrooms. This modern definition would include small urban apartments to sprawling multi-building beachfront estates in the Caribbean. Additionally, many hotels have gotten in on the game and offer “villas” on their resort properties that include your own kitchen, dining, laundry, and living spaces. What they all have in common is that they provide you with an additional level of privacy (no need to hang out in a hotel lobby) and convenience for preparing meals or doing laundry. Additionally, almost all properties defined as villas will give you more space than all but the largest hotel suites.
So what are the advantages of a villa over a hotel room or several hotel rooms?
- Cost The headline price of most villas that would accommodate an extended family group can seem daunting. However, when compared to the cost of multiple hotel rooms and all the extras, the villa price can be attractive. When you add in the fact that you don’t have to eat out for every meal, can fix exactly what picky children are going to eat, do your laundry, and get extra space it can be a bargain. If it is a villa where you will be hanging out by your own private pool, beach, or cozy fireplace with mountain view, it is likely that you won’t be racking up expensive bar tabs either. Additionally, as many villas are privately owned, you often have the ability to negotiate a discount.
- Space I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like extra space. But when you are traveling with your extended family making sure there is enough space for everyone to spread out can be the difference between great memories and not wanting to see each other again for months (or worse years). Not only do villas offer your party the ability to all have their own bedrooms, but you also can get common areas such as outdoor bars, yards for playing croquet or badminton, game rooms, not to mention great pools that facilitate hanging out together. Unlike a hotel where everyone retreats to his own room, the extra space in a villa facilitates much more family interaction while making it possible for those who need a moment alone to get it.
- Privacy When people first meet me, they often think I am an extrovert (must be that American cheerleader thing). But in fact, interacting with almost anyone beyond my family and close friends drains me. That is one reason I love my villa vacations. To me, the idea of retreating into a paradise where I don’t see anyone I don’t want to is fabulous. Don’t feel like doing my make up today… no problem. I don’t want an overly talkative stranger chatting me up on a pool lounger. And when my babies need their diapers changed, I don’t always want to go find a bathroom. I love just changing them poolside and continuing my conversation with my brothers whom I don’t get to see often enough. Renting a villa can give you a level of privacy for your whole group that no hotel or resort can match. If you pick the right villa, you can not only have this privacy, but also be close to resort amenities like a shared beach, tennis courts, kids clubs, or bars. This can give the extroverts in your group the extra social interaction they need and you get the best of both worlds.
- Convenience Particularly when dealing with small children or others with special needs, having access to a kitchen and laundry facilities can be a make-or-break deal. With a villa it is no problem to get a bottle heated up at 3am, wash outfits that have been soiled, or fix special meals for picky eaters or those who have dietary requirements. You will have the space so that when kids need naps others can still converse at a normal volume, have a great time, and no one needs to go back to the room with the kids.
- Living the dream I think everyone in my family loves pretending the villas we rent are our family home, even if just for a week or so. I don’t believe I have ever had similar fantasies about even the most amazing hotel room. Renting a villa can be a true escape and enables one to participate in a life, whether beachside in the Caribbean or overlooking the Italian countryside, that is far from everyday reality. And isn’t that a key element of any vacation?
I am sure there are situations when a villa or home rental just won’t do or isn’t available. But given a choice, I would choose a villa over any hotel vacation for a larger group almost anywhere on earth.