I grew up spending a good chunk of my summer holidays at my aunt and uncle’s house in suburban Long Island. On the days we spent at the house, my cousins and I spent all day playing in the pool before we all had dinner together out on the deck. We grew up and swapped playing in the pool for drinking wine by it and chatting long into the evenings out on that deck, just enjoying each other’s company. A few years ago, they got a beach house out east and we added beach walks and beautiful views to our evenings, which made the experience even better. These are some of my favourite memories and I still look forward to making this trip every year to see my family.
It is therefore surprising that we never considered a similar set up when we went away elsewhere. Danny and I rarely travel by ourselves and are usually joined by various friends or family members. I am a luxury hotel lover through and through and selecting where we stay and then enjoying our hotel is one of my holiday highlights. However, travel for me is just as much about who you are travelling with and spending time with them, as it is about the destination and a family villa holiday just makes sense when travelling in larger groups.
The more I go on family villa holidays, the more I appreciate the experience and realise how much better it can be than a hotel. If you are unsure, here are 5 reasons why you should consider getting a villa over a hotel on your next family holiday!
You also need to make sure you know how to get the most out of the experience with these tips on booking a villa rental.
This one is a biggie and generally the larger the group, the more you save.
We tried a family villa holiday for the first time in January 2018 on a trip to Disney World; we have all been before so weren’t desperate for the full “Disney Experience”. The hotels on the Disney resorts are not cheap and in my opinion, not worth what you get for the price, so we went all left field and got a villa. It cost 20% of the amount we would have paid to get the number of hotels rooms we needed in Disney.
We also have a few individuals in our usual group that would like their own room and with single person supplements becoming increasingly rarer, their costs were going up. Plus, I have a big family and booking multiple hotel rooms when we generally like smaller, boutique hotels was becoming hard and expensive work!
2. Luxury Amenities
With all the money you could save opting for a villa over the same standard of hotel room, you could choose to splash out on something a bit more luxurious. Villas can come with a huge range of amenities including private pools, game rooms and cinemas for a lot less than you may think.
Many often come with additional options such as maid service or a private chef if you fancy a posh meal “out” one night. If you’re in a larger group, this may well be cheaper than going out for a meal. Plus, if you have kiddies, you can pop them up to bed and carry on your evening!
This is one of the major reasons I love family villa holidays, the whole vibe is just a bit more relaxed and there is no drama trying to find a quiet space that you can all squeeze into that you would generally get in a hotel. You won’t spend loads of time trying to find everyone and then having to all sit separately at breakfast either (this seems to happen to us regularly).
It really is great for spending time together, everyone still has their own room as you would in a hotel, but then you have lovely communal areas where you can all gather and relax at your leisure.
4. A New Way to Experience a Destination
I spend AGES selecting hotels and I love the process almost as much as staying at them. I have now got so good at selecting superb hotels that I have flown half way across the world and then don’t want to leave them! For me, this has its place, but one of the things I have loved about family villa holidays is that you are generally within a local community and it allows you to get more to the “heart” of the destination.
You go to the grocery store, wander into town for ice cream and talk with your local neighbours. I find this leads to more of an awareness of where you are and adds a complementary strand to your travel experience above and beyond the top 5 tourist attractions. Also, some hotels I have been to are so amazing, but you could be anywhere in the world as it doesn’t give a great sense of locality.
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There are various advantages to not sharing the same square kilometre with 500 other people, you can just do you. A favourite past time of mine is drinking wine in my pyjamas snuggled under a blanket on the outside deck, usually laughing a bit too loudly and swearing excessively. This could be considered a bit disruptive to my fellow hotel guests, but luckily my family don’t mind it! You can go for a midnight swim if the mood takes you, roll from your bed to the breakfast table in your PJs and you never have to wait for a table or fight for a sun lounger. The space is well and truly yours and it give you a sense of freedom that I just don’t find in a hotel.
I love the relaxed vibe and informality of it and we can still get dressed and go out for dinner and/or cocktails whenever we fancy a change.
Considerations of Family Villa Holidays
As with everything in life, there are pros and cons! There are a couple of things you need to have a think about before deciding on whether to go for a villa over a hotel:
You need to know who you are travelling with. This is not a “get to know you” kind of holiday, it could be disastrous. You will be living with these people, so if you aren’t sure, don’t do it. You want to get to the end of your holiday with a renewed sense of appreciation for your chosen villa guests, not with the urge to throttle them and feeling slightly more wound up than when you arrived. A long weekend might be a good way to test this rather than diving straight into a fortnight long holiday!
You also need to think about how much housework you are prepared to do. The majority of villas come with a maid service, usually on a weekly basis. This still means you will be washing dishes and tidying up in between time though. We are generally fine with this, it’s a team effort and we all clear up after ourselves so we don’t find it too taxing. We do always opt for maid service though, I’m not doing any heavy duty cleaning on holiday!
Also have a think about cooking, as the majority of villas are self catering. It’s mostly adults on our trips so we have a rota as to who cooks each night; we usually pair up due to a range of cooking abilities! When my cousins were younger they would still get involved and make menus and place cards for the table and then take great delight in taking everyone’s orders! I really enjoy cooking and it is not something I get as much time for at home, so this is a highlight of my holiday.
However, if come away for a break from it all, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you fall into this camp, don’t rule a family villa holiday out though; see how far your local restaurants are, check the cost of a private chef coming to your villa to cook and see what apps offer a delivery service so you are well prepared.
What are your thoughts on family villa holidays? Let me know if you have done them and what you thought!