Daily Travel Tips
Weekly Column
Eileens Blog
Travel Diary
In the Media

Featured Savings



Daily Tips

A New Orleans Scare For Your Kids

Oct 24, 2014
Head to New Orleans the 26th and 27th for a scary time. In honor of Halloween, Windsor Court Hotel is hosting its annual Tea in Le Salon.

Eileen's Favorites


Calendar of Events

Get out there and have some fun! See family friendly events happening all over the nation in our Calendar of Events.


Passports with Purpose


Next time consider a villa on your family vacation


 Villa Aquamare on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands

Villa Aquamare on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands

By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Media Services

I’m sitting in the infinity pool looking out at the private beach and the ocean beyond. My bedroom has a to-die-for outdoor shower and a hammock overlooking the ocean.

But we’re not at a fancy resort. We’ve got this spectacular five-bedroom Villa Aquamare on the western coast of the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands all to ourselves, at least for the night. Only 3,500 people live on Virgin Gorda and it’s one of the most beautiful islands I’ve ever seen.

“Your only job is to relax,” says William Matthews, who will facilitate our every desire — a picnic on a private island, a massage, water sports? One honeymooning couple even arranged for a steel band to serenade them.

Soon, the private chef will arrive to prepare our dinner.

Talk about vacationing like the 1 percent! And it’s quite a change from living aboard the Moorings sailboat we’ve chartered for a week. My gang is happy to snorkel, kayak and hang out at the pool nearby.

Did I mention the price? The rate at the villa for five nights in five bedrooms is $17,000 per week this fall ($14,500 if you use just three bedrooms). Yes, it is pricey — very pricey — but not so crazy when you consider that $17,000 could be divided among three families. Grandparents who have priced gathering the clan for a special birthday or anniversary may think it is money well spent for the privacy and service.

You aren’t paying $5 each time a child wants a virgin colada or $15 for the real thing. You have the pool and beach to yourselves and a long dining table with white upholstered chairs ideal for catching up — as we are, since my family hasn’t been together in one place for a year.

“If you rent two or more rooms at a hotel I could find you a less expensive villa option on any island, said Andrew Macafee of www.wheretostay.com, which has 1,500 villas all around the Caribbean.

A villa or condo makes vacationing with kids — no matter what their ages — so much easier. Remember that the kitchen is always open, Macafee says, and in some cases, you have a staff all to yourself. And you don’t have to share the pool with strangers.

That’s probably why the vacation rental industry has morphed into a $25 billion dollar industry. According to a new survey by PhoCusWright for Wyndham Vacation Rentals, nearly three out of five vacation rental guests said they didn’t even consider another option during their last trip.

I’ve been able to put babies down for a nap while we relaxed on the patio in the Caribbean and I’ve fed and housed a gaggle of my daughter’s college friends at a ski condo in Colorado. I couldn’t have done that at a hotel. (Check out Wyndham Vacation Rentals, where a two-bedroom in the heart of Vail, Colo., will go for $375 a night this winter and where there are less expensive options in ski country and at the beach.)

With our three kids and assorted friends and relatives, we’ve opted for villas and condos everywhere from Cape Cod to Tuscany. We’ve rented apartments in Rome and Paris and condos across ski country. Villas work for moms’ getaways too — as we found out last year when my grade school friends and I opted for Bluefields Bay Villas in Jamaica for our annual getaway ().

There’s another plus, especially in Europe. You get to explore the city or the region like a local, buying groceries, stopping at a neighborhood cafe or park. By your second morning, you’re greeted like a friend when you stop in for coffee.

Kit Burns, whose company, Doorways Villas, offers places at all budgets in Italy, France and Spain has a special portfolio of family-friendly villas and can even arrange special family excursions (think pizza-making lesson) ideal for multigenerational gatherings. “Hotels are boring for kids,” she said.

A tip: Think of heading to Italy or France for Christmas or spring break when museums are less crowded and the rates, airfares and tourist attractions cost significantly less.

Plan on spending about $100 per bedroom per day, perhaps less as you add more bedrooms, suggests Michael Thiel, whose company, Hideaways.com, offers rentals around the world to those who pay an annual $195 fee for access to the vetted properties and special amenities. (For TakingtheKids readers, Thiel is offering a first-year membership for just $95 and a free copy of “Villa Vacations Made Easy,” www.hideaways.com/twc).

Maybe you can pay nothing for lodging — if you can swap houses through a company like HomeExchange.com, the largest online home exchange travel company in the world. You’ve got 142 countries to choose from.

However and wherever you book, ask a lot of questions first. “The vacation rental industry is incredibly fragmented. Consumers are often on their own and left with no recourse,” explained Bob Milne, president, Wyndham Vacation Rentals North America, which has just announced a Vacation Rental Bill of Rights designed to help educate travelers on the emerging vacation rental industry.

Burns suggests asking to get in touch with someone who has actually rented the villa you are considering. Especially in Europe, ask if special excursions can be arranged for your group. For example, Think Sicily, the premiere villa rental company on the island, has a variety of family-friendly properties and families can even arrange “Think Experiences,” which include everything from private transfers to an archaeologist-guided workshop for children exploring the ancient Greco-Roman history of Syracuse.

As we lounge on the deck, we see a lone sailboat in the distance and some of the other BVI islands — The Dogs, Beef Island and Tortola.

But there’s just so much lounging and luxury my gang can take. The next morning, they’re ready to head back to our sailboat.

© 2012 EILEEN OGINTZ, DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.


Beach Vacations, Destinations, Families & Groups, Lodging, Weekly Column | , , , | 6 Comments

6 Responses to Next time consider a villa on your family vacation

  1. Pingback: Multi-generational travel gaining popularity among familes | Taking the Kids

  2. Pingback: Travel News Blog » Blog Archive » Taking the Kids: When the grandparents are leading the way

  3. Pingback: Taking the Kids: When the grandparents are leading the way | GT Trends, We're Going Places

  4. Pingback: Taking the Kids: When the grandparents are leading the way | TravelingTips.net

  5. Pingback: Taking the Kids: When the grandparents are leading the way

  6. Pingback: Taking the Kids: When the grandparents are leading the way | Travel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>






Connect

Facebook Twitter YouTube Follow us with RSS

Family Travel Guides for Every Season

eNewsletter Archives

Taking the Kids publishes two e-newsletters per month, filled with information and advice for families traveling with children as well as tips on destinations and special travel offers from sponsors.





Find your hotel at the best price
Compare booking sites with trivago!

Follow us on Twitter



Recent Comments:

  • noemi bermudez: We really want to go out on a Disney cruise for the holidays but they always conflict with Christmas recess helllppp!!!
  • dina: I really liked your article. I have family living in London, I hope it is close to east End so I can visit all the restaurants you mention.
  • Amy Carney: Loved using your guidebooks in Boston, Washington DC and Boston! Thanks for making touring these big cities easier for us!...
  • Luana: On holiday when the kids wander off!! I have read reviews of the Vital ID identity wristbands that help find lost kids and thought it may be helpful to...
  • Alison: I love that you can pick and choose what your family is interested in doing! It would be a wonderful place for them to try out different things that they...
  • Kimberly: OH! I am so jealous!!!! This place looks like a lot of fun. I wish I could afford to take my family some place like this. I think they would have a...
  • Kimberly: WOW! They offer a lot of great activities. The Ramblewild excursion looks like a lot of fun. I’d like to try something like that but I’d...