When it comes to vacation planning, where you stay is the most important decision next to your destination. Your accommodations set the tone for your experience and influence your group dynamics in powerful ways.
With so many options, it’s difficult to know which one to choose for your family. Do you book a traditional hotel room, a vacation rental by owner, or a timeshare rental? Fortunately, you don’t have to make a blind decision. Here are the pros and cons of each choice.
Traditional hotels come with a lot of perks, including a full-time staff. If you want breakfast in bed or information on local attractions, help is literally a phone call or an elevator ride away. Housekeeping is included with your rate, and you may have access to a pool, fitness center, day spa, on-site restaurant and golf course.
In spite of all the amenities, hotels are less convenient for families, largely due to their size. If you have young children, it can be a struggle to fit all of their stuff in a small hotel room. There’s also less physical space for your kids to run around and play. And if you’re traveling with extended family or friends, you’ll have to book multiple rooms, which cuts in on time together and multiplies the cost.
Vacation Rentals by Owner
Vacation homes are typically rented directly by the owner to the consumer and offer a myriad of benefits. For the price of two mid-range hotel rooms, guests can typically have a spacious house all to themselves. It’s a great option for groups or travelers who simply prefer more space. Most vacation homes also include a fully-equipped kitchen, giving you the option to eat in when you want.
The downside is that you’re pretty much on your own. Some owners will orient you when you arrive, but they certainly won’t deliver extra toilet paper to your door, and housekeeping usually isn’t included. You may have a private pool in the backyard, but you’ll have to pour your own drinks and you’ll often pay an additional fee to heat the hot tub.
Did you know you don’t have to own a timeshare to stay in one? It’s true! Many timeshare resorts, including Southern California Beach Club, are open to the public as well as their owners. And no, you don’t have to sit through a sales presentation to stay in one.
While timeshare rentals are often overlooked, they’re actually the perfect solution for many families, simultaneously offering the best of a hotel and a vacation rental. Timeshare rentals offer resort amenities along with extra space at a budget-friendly price. Let’s not forget that many offer daily activities, including crafts and outings for guests of all ages. And timeshares typically include housekeeping, either included in your rate or for a nominal fee.
The only drawback—because timeshare resorts are privately owned, they may have limited availability, especially during peak season. Make sure to reserve your dates well in advance, or visit sites like ResorTime to find nearby alternatives if your first choice is booked.