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  • Writer's pictureCarol McKee

Villa Anyone?

Renting a Villa is seen by some as a privilege only open to the rich and famous, right? Not true! Villa rentals are great options for groups of friends, multi generational families and those looking for a get away without a lot of exposure to the hazards of our present COVID – 19 lives. Villas can be as small as a one bedroom and as large as is needed for a group.

You may be surprised how affordable this vacation can be. More on that later. And trust me that is a real statement.

Always wondered what you need to do to rent a villa? This article is for you (even if you have not thought of a villa as an option before now). No matter what you want to do on your vacation you can likely rent a Villa. I put a list of destinations below. But first, why do you want to do this anyway?

Why Rent a Villa

The travel world has changed a lot in the last six months. Certainly there was a time when the perceived seclusion of a villa might not have had a broad appeal. But these days there is a lot to like about that idea. Of course not all villas are secluded high in the hills far from town. Many are available in more urban settings and some are even to be found on resort properties. But all offer something you might really be thinking about these days – privacy and separation from the masses.

In our new found desire for social distancing those that have taken a short trip nearby (or imagined doing so) have discovered that it’s not so easy to stay away from other people when you got to a hotel.

There are villas to match any need with lots of travel styles too. Kid friendly villas in the Caribbean and Orlando, smaller villas for a romantic getaway, large villas for friend groups of events like weddings.

Affordable luxury

You may be surprised to learn that a villa can be more affordable than a stay at a luxury hotel. For the same (or better) standard of quality as one of these hotels you get a lot more for your money. When you factor in all the benefits and amenities that come with a villa this is quickly apparent that a villa rental is a good value. For example three rooms at a high end hotel could be more expensive than a villa rental.

But when comparing a villa to a hotel there is one important comparison – a kitchen (and maybe a chef in the kitchen if you want!). Often when traveling the cost of food for each person can be exorbitant – some luxury hotels charging as much as $50 per person just for breakfast! Add in the cost of lunches and dinners and soon you will see that a villa rental when you can eat most of your meals, even if hire a chef so that you are not the one preparing them, is actually a great benefit and represents a savings.

For groups of people traveling together, be it for friend groups or multi-generational families not only do you realize a savings over a hotel stay but you also have lots of space to enjoy the company of others. Living rooms, kitchens, pools and hot tubs, gyms, game rooms, the list of amenities and features is long and unique to each property. But all have lots of space to get together and enjoy yourselves in privacy with wonderfully designed spaces and lots of available for what you need.

For an example of how affordable a villa can be check out this 3 bedroom villa on the water and with a pool in Croatia, pictured above, is just over $1,000 dollars per night in the fall which is a great bargain when the cost is split between several people. High season in any location will of course be at a higher price but still might be more affordable than you think.

Staffing is optional in most villas but well worth it if even for just a few nights.

Service When you think of service in a villa you might think first of this: Your own chef. And yes that is a great option when renting a villa. However you might not realize that you don’t have to have a chef on property all the nights of your stay. At villas in some locations such as Barbados, Jamaica, and St. Lucia your villa comes with a staff cook. In other places a chef can be arranged for some or all the nights of your stay. Many will also even do the grocery shopping for you!

Other services at your villa will include a concierge, who will come visit you in person during your stay a couple of times. Daily housekeeping service is also included in most destinations. And some of the best bath amenity products are also kept in your villa, just like at your favorite hotel, and these are restocked during your stay as you would expect.

Want a butler as well as a chef? Most properties can staff your villa with a butler. While that might seem a bit pretentious to some consider that a large group like a multi generation family can benefit from having one point of contract for the groups needs. A butler can make sure that you have what you need when you need it. And that can make a vacation truly relaxing in all aspects.

Cleanliness in the era of Covid-19

Cleanliness is the new luxury. Standards of clean are rising in response to the world wide pandemic. And anyone that wants to travel wants to be certain that where they are staying is spotlessly cleaned. Here is where a villa has a huge advantage over the popular home rental sites on the internet and I would argue over just many hotels. Because these villas are partnered with bigger entities like resorts and travel companies rather than owned and rented out by individuals a standard of cleaning practices can not only be created but they can be effectively applied.

There is not an independent idea of clean, rather there are standards that are ensured and enforced by a bigger entity that is interested first in your satisfaction as a client. The villa rental companies that I work with have a standard that must be enforce and maintained across all the properties that they rent to clients.

Where can I rent a villa?

Let’s look at the where question – are these villas only available in say, Italy? That is what I think when I picture a villa. Viewing the rolling hills of Tuscany , with an Italian chef in the kitchen while we sip a good Brunello out on the terrace . . And that is completely possible if that is your dream too!

However villas can be found all over the world, even in places you would not imagine such like Las Vegas! Honestly if you want to travel somewhere it’s likely there is a villa waiting for you to stay there.

Villas can be found all over the world:

  • Costa Rica

  • Almost every island in the Caribbean – too many to list but includes the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands

  • Indonesia (think Bali)

  • Europe – too many locations to list but especially in France and Italy

  • Mexico in the areas of Los Cabos, Rivera Maya and Puerto Vallarta

  • The island paradises of French Polynesia and Fiji.

You can even find a Villa to rent for a vacation in what you might think is an unlikely place…the USA! States where villas can be found in:

  • California – from Wine Country to the mountains as well as the cities including Hollywood

  • Colorado – Skiing anyone?

  • Florida - Orlando area and Miami. Think Disney with a villa (and chef) = the best way to do it!

  • Hawaii – The Big Island, Maui and Kauai all have villas. Let’s gather a group and go!

  • New York – In New York City and in the Hamptons

  • Nevada – Yes you can rent a Villa in Las Vegas! Many of which are on resort properties

  • North Carolina – cool off with 14 of your friends in the Smoky Mountains

  • Utah – Skiing, hiking, outdoor recreation galore.

How does this work? So okay now you are thinking maybe a villa is for you after all. But how does a villa rental work? Here are some tips.

1. Choose a location The first thing to consider is where you want to go. Depending on who is coming and when you want to travel this is the first thing I advise people: consider your flights. As a Travel Advisor I always look for a direct flight for my clients and key in on those locations. If no direct flight exists then I try to look for no more than one connection. But direct flights are the best option so that you spend less time on a plane and in a crowded airport and more time relaxing. You may be surprised that I keep a list of direct flights for the cities where my clientele lives. Wondering about that? Feel free to ask. 2.Determine how many beds/bedrooms you need Some places will say they sleep 14 people but then you discover that there are only four bedrooms and a bunch of sleeper sofas. To me that is deceiving. So before you seek a villa rental figure out not only how many beds you need but also how many separate bedrooms. And while you are at it decide how many bathrooms you must have as well. 3.Calculate a budget This is important and I will start by saying be realistic. I once heard a fellow travel advisor say that clients often treat an inquiry as if they were dealing with a car salesman: throw out a low ball number and see what they can do. That approach is all wrong for booking a vacation. If you low ball what you are willing to spend you will get a lower level of vacation because your low-ball number doesn’t actually get you what you want. So instead be realistic about what features and amenities are important to you and honest about what you are willing to spend to get them. Remember that if there is a group of people sharing the villa the price per person can end up being even less than a good hotel. If you are traveling with a group remember that collecting each person’s share of the cost is something that I routinely do in order to take the responsibility off of you. 4.Do I have to pay for the whole villa? Rates are for the whole villa rental and not per person. However if you rent a villa with more bedrooms than your party needs you do not need to share those rooms with strangers. The whole place is yours for the length of your stay. And some villas will even charge less if you do not use all the bedrooms. 5.What is the required length of stay? Most villas have a 5 to 7 night stay requirement. However many villas do also accept shorter stays, particularly for last minute bookings. But be forewarned that the December holiday period usually requires a longer stay with some even requiring a 10 night or longer booking. And the holiday period, from about mid December through New Years Day, is the busiest time of the year for all types of travel including villa rentals. In fact most travel during that period is booked far in advance with many booking 6 months or more prior to travel. 6.Use a Travel Advisor to book a villa. Why use a travel advisor instead of booking it yourself? Simply put you get a lot more. Travel advisors have access to even more perks than you can get on your own including amenities, dollar credits, gifts and more. Travel advisors offer more service for your booking. For example when working with a group, a Travel Advisor can collect preferences as well as the payments for the booking and coordinating for the whole group. But a Travel advisor also offers more protection for you and acts as a resource during your stay. Your advisor who can help you when unexpected things happen before, during and after your trip. A Travel advisor can also connect you with properties that have been thoroughly vetted and reliable travel insurance providers which are more import now than ever. Not only does an advisor take the guess work out of your stay but can take all the 'work' involved with a booking off your plate as well!

When to book a villa

If you are looking to travel during the holidays this year then the answer to that question is now! Space is already filling up for the festive season. And it seems as if everyone’s travel plans for this year are being moved to 2021 so availability is also tight. While it seems that things are up in the air (and as of this writing they sure are) making a move to book something now maybe the smartest thing you can do.

All and all a villa offers you a lot more than you might have initially thought. So as you consider your travels this year and beyond I hope you will consider renting a villa! Should you wish to see what is available I would be happy to help you. Feel free to reach out to me and let me know where you are dreaming about.

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