Accommodation options for travelers have really exploded in the last few years, with websites like Airbnb, Homeaway, and VRBO offering travelers the ability rent villas directly from the owners. Then there’s still the traditional hotels and resorts that beckon you with their all-inclusive options and enticing discounts.
So what should you do? It’s a hard choice, and there’s no right option for everyone. It truly depends on what sort of vacation experience you’re going for. There’s no hiding we’re biased, and we do realize we’re not for everyone, but we’re going to give you our fairest breakdown of the options.
- All-inclusive (generally speaking, or at the least, have different package levels of what’s included). Drinks, restaurants, amenities are generally all-included.
- Close at hand. Everything from restaurants to evening entertainment to bars to activities, are all right there and easy to do. By the end of the week, you might get tired of the options, but at least you won’t have to travel far.
- Price. By economies of scale, resorts can often afford to offer some pretty irresistible deals sometimes, even wrapping in flights with it.
- Social. Resorts are by nature, a social gathering. This could also be a con depending what you’re looking for, but if you love meeting new people and socializing, a resort is a good option.
- Consistency. If you like knowing exactly what you’re going to get, and you often stay at let’s say, Sandals Resorts while traveling, your experience at one resort will be quite close to another.
- Kick back. With a resort, you literally have everything taken care of for you – your next meal, your plans for the evening, your bed is already made, etc. So if all you want to do is kick back and relax on the beach with a pina colada and do nothing – a resort is hard to beat.
- Kid-friendly. A lot of resorts have great amenities for kids, especially if you have a few of them.
- Safety. Generally speaking, if you’re traveling to a country where you might not feel safe or comfortable outside of a controlled, protected grounds, a resort offers everything you need in one area with no need to step off.
- Less privacy. From your resort balcony sitting atop, below, and aside every other balcony.. or a crowded beach.. or a packed swimming pool, privacy is not a huge selling factor for a resort.
- Smaller space. As we said, resorts can offer good deals because of economies of scale, and to do so, they need to have a lot of guests. Your personal room space at a resort is small, especially compared to a private villa rental.
- Monotonous. From the design, the look & feel, to the restaurant options, the drinks, the same beach, some people might grow tired of being cooped up in the same place after a few days.
- Less authentic. This is a big one for us. We very openly and honestly cater to travelers who want an authentic experience, to truly explore the destination. Unless you’re venturing off the resort all-day, everyday (in which case, why are you at a resort?) then a resort just can’t offer that authentic, immersed experience in the local culture and environment – that’s just not in their nature! The whole point of a “resort” is that is everything is right there so you don’t need to step off the resort.
- Less freedom, more rules. Okay, that’s a bit of a broad term, but at a resort you obviously have to abide by their rules, and at a villa rental you might have some rules, too, but it won’t be like at a resort. For example, breakfast only starts at 9am! And sorry if you got back late from your excursion today, but the dinner buffet closed at 8pm! Or take this one – at a private villa you might decide to work on your “full body” tan if you know what I mean. At a resort that probably wouldn’t fly, unless it was one of “those” resorts of course!
Private Villa Rentals From an Owner:
- Wow-factor. Each villa is unique. If you’re looking for something really impressive, architecturally or in terms of the design or view – there’s a villa out there for you.
- Immersed in the local environment. A villa rental is generally somebody’s home or investment property, so they generally have locations immersed in the local environment. If you seek that authentic experience of being immersed in the local nature, culture, and surroundings, a villa rental can’t be beat.
- Incredible locations. This is not always true, but for us it definitely is! As resorts are huge projects, they just can’t get teh same locations as a single villa can.
- Self-catering. Villas offer you more amenities, space, and tools to vacation precisely as you wish. For instance, our Barefoot Beach Villa features a chef-designed, gourmet kitchen so the person in your family who loves to cook! There’s an movie room with a flatscreen TV if you want to watch a film one night, there’s a beautiful pool and deck if you want to lounge outside, a bartop to enjoy a drink and the view, etc. At a villa, you choose what, when, and how you want to do things!
- Privacy & quiet. Private villas win this one by a landslide. For instance, we offer villas in such quiet, serene, and natural settings that they’ve been called “a birder’s paradise“. If you’re really looking to get ‘away from it all’ with some peace and quiet, a villa rental is for you.
- Freedom, but with options! If you want to use your self-catering villa to prepare all your own meals in your fully-equipped kitchen, then by all means! But maybe you prefer to have a private cook come prepare them for you! Or maybe just for a few nights? Either way, you have the control to do as you wish.
- More charm. Villas are often someone’s private home, or vacation home at least, so they bear a bit of the charm of that person and the small dedicated staff team who look after it. It’s always wonderful to see our guests writing about how friendly and nice the housekeeper was in their Tripadvisor review. All in all, there’s just more of a “personal touch” at a villa rental.
- Rent a car! It’s kind of hard/pointless to rent a car while at a resort, but at a villa, it’s the norm, and having your own car while on vacation gives you the means to explore so much! Especially in St. Lucia, with a car rental there really is no part of the island that is not within your means!
- More pet-friendly. On the flipside to small children at a villa (see below), you’re more likely to find a pet-friendly villa rental than a pet-friendly resort or hotel.
- Secluded & isolated. Okay, this is not always true, but is more-so the case than at a resort. For some people, that’s a pro, for some it’s a con – just depends on what you’re looking for.
- You rely on the owner. Unlike a resort where you have an entire staff bending over backwards at your whim, at a villa rental you often are relying entirely on the owner. They aren’t your travel agent, so you’ll still need to figure out a lot on your own, and if something goes wrong, are they nearby? Are they even in the same country?
- Does the owner have other properties? This is something not many people consider. If you rent a villa from an owner, you get there, and it’s not what you expected, or there’s a double booking, or something is wrong with the place, is there another villa you can stay at? Or do you need to scramble to find a hotel room?
- Not always small-child-friendly. Although there are many villas (that we offer) that are totally kid-friendly, there are also many villas that may not be appropriate for small children (due to location on a cliff side for instance, or lack of safety fence around the pool, etc, etc.).
- More space! In terms of bang for your buck, a private villa rental will afford you more living space. Enough that you’ll never feel cramped or cooped up. And with some good deals, something like our Great House which can accommodate up to 10 people, can still be very affordable for a single couple.
- You’re more on your own. For the more adventurous out there, this is more of a pro, but it’s true that at a villa (rented by an owner), you’re more on your own to figure things out; where to go, what to do, how to get there, etc.
Is There a Happy Medium?
Hey, that us!
We like to think we help bridge the gap between hotel/resort and private villa rental. We take the worry out of “renting from an owner” with our team of reservation staff, our on-island concierge, housekeeping, and maintenance staff, and our on-island manager who looks after all our guests – no matter where on the island they’re renting a villa.
So we provide a lot of the services and conveniences of a hotel, but still with the authentic experience of renting a private St. Lucia villa. Need help planning your stay? We can help with everything from car rentals to private cooks to activities to restaurant reservations and more! We even offer unique add-on packages to add a little something special to your stay, like Dinner on the Beach or our Adventure Package. And if anything goes wrong, we have staff and management in St. Lucia that can help you right away. And the fact we represent multiple villas across the island also means we can find you a back-up solution quickly if anything were to go wrong with the first villa.
Now, in regards to all the pros and cons listed above, obviously different villas rank differently on those scales (some are more private than others, some smaller, some bigger, etc). We purposely represent a diverse mix of properties so that whatever your travel needs might be, we’ll have a great option for you!
That’s why we offer, “more than a set of keys”.
– Lauren, Oasis Team