Package holidays are by far the most popular type of holiday among sun-seeking Brits but villa holidays are becoming more common and cost-effective so we've decided to pit them against each other to find out what the pros and cons are for both.
Villa holidays sound like a really expensive option compared to your average package holiday but the truth is, they are a lot more affordable than most people think and your average family could enjoy a villa holiday for much the same price as a package holiday would cost.
Private home rental holidays only account for about 7% of the total holiday booked by Brits in 2018 but the number is rising.
Just to be clear, we're not talking about Miami Vice style palatial palaces or dwellings inhabited by Bond villains in some lush corner of a Caribbean island, and we're also not talking about Airbnb pads either. We're referring to your run-of-the-mill 2-5 bedrooms and modest pool property in a sun-kissed location.
There are so many villa rental sites on the internet these days and a quick peruse on google will give you a very good understanding of the types of properties that are available in holiday destinations that you are familiar with.
Peace and quiet vs hustle and bustle?
One of the most obvious but very enjoyable aspects of a villa holiday is the fact that you have all the privacy in the world and it's like having a home away from home.
It's true that a lot of people do like the hustle and bustle of the holiday apartments, complete with the rush to secure a sun lounger by the pool with your towel at 5am in the morning. Plus having other holiday-makers around to chat to and make new friends is really nice also, as long as they aren't the kind to keep you up all night having a rave in the apartment next door.
Ok, so so there is a compromise on the atmosphere compared to a resort/package holiday but a short trip down to the local strip and you'll soon be swimming in a sea of fellow holiday-makers enjoying drinks in the numerous bars and feasting on meals tailored especially for tourists in the wide selection of restaurants.
Really, it's all down to the location of your rental and that will dictate how much or how little atmosphere is at your doorstep.
Where is best for villa holidays?
Literally anywhere you have been on holiday in the past is a good place to start your search and more than likely there are properties to rent quite nearby the main resorts.
You probably won't be able to get a beach-front property as most affordable villas are based a little bit in-land. There is no way they can compete on sea-front square-footage prices compared to the deep pockets of holiday resort developers.
However, in-land doesn't mean you're going to be in the middle of nowhere. Well, you could be if you wanted to. If you base your search on locations very inland you will find they go for really cheap. Everyone loves to save a few quid but having tumble-weed as your nearest neighbour isn't very inspiring so let's keep things balanced here and look at rentals that are just a few minutes drive away from the main resorts and sea-front.
As a guide though, the vast majority of rentals are in the countries that we Brits and other tourists visit the most.
Portugal - Algarve, Costa Verde, Duoro Valley, Madeira, Silver Coast
The Balearic Islands - Ibiza (party Island), Mallorca (lively but also family friendly), Menorca (very quiet and serene)
The Canary Islands - Fuerteventura (great for water sports), Gran Canaria (Excellent resorts), Lanzarote, Tenerife (Big on night life)
Mainland Spain - Almeria, Andalucia, Costa Blanca, Costa Brava, Costa Calida, Costa Dorada, Costa del Sol
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A private swimming pool is a hands-down number one draw for most holidaymakers. Nothing like sunning your toes by the pool. If kids are part of your party it's essential that a suitable adult is in attendance at all times.
How to book a villa holiday
Booking a holiday rental isn't as simple as booking a package holiday but saying that, it's not rocket science either. The main thing you need to know is you 'MUST' first find the property and check the availability before you start booking flights.
It's really important that you find a suitable rental that's affordable for you and your family/party and ask the owner to please hold the selected dates while you book your flights. Almost all owners will give you a day or so of grace to find your flights.
Once you've bagged your flights, it's time to hurry back to the site and ask the owner to reserve the property on the dates you've booked your flights for. They will need a deposit of around 30% of the total cost with the rest due around 4 and 6 weeks before you arrive.
Renting a car is a must for most villa holiday
Now that your flights are booked and the property is reserved it's time to start thinking about transportation. Really, it's almost always a good idea to rent a vehicle for the duration of your stay because most villas are located a few miles away from where all the action is. The good news is there are lots of car rental companies out there so supply is never too low, with the exception of certain destinations such as the South of France (you need to be able to shoot from the hip if you want to reserve a car at Nice airport).
Absolutley do not relay on landing at the destination airport to hire a car though, do it here so your car will be waiting for you when you touch down.
If you don't drive or can't bear driving in foreign countries then you're going to have to splash out a bit more cash to get a rental closer to where the action is.
A huge benefit of hiring a car is that you also get to move around and visit nearby resorts and places of interest without having to pay crazy prices on cabs, excursions or boat rides. Sticking to just a single resort can be tiresome and leave you wanting.
Pros and cons of a Villa Holiday
Like in life, there are pros and cons to everything and villa holidays are no different so let's break this down into a nice and clear list.
Villa holiday pros
Space - You get a nice big house all for your family and friends.
Privacy - next to no holiday-makers close by.
Private swimming pool - 100% needed if you have kids.
Stay clean - You have access to washing machines and drying areas.
Yummy meals - If you like cooking, the kitchen is all yours so you can make meals with all the yummy ingredients on offer in the local supermarket. Will save you a bob or two also compared to restaurant prices.
Security - All your stuff is safe and sound because there is no one else around.
Personal rep - Almost all rentals will have a personal rep that will welcome you and get you settled in and give you tips on the special local gems that most tourists will never hear of.
Villa holiday cons
Short supply - Demand outstrips supply so it can be stressful finding the right place for the right price. Book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.
Won't drive, don't drive - Almost all villas require you have a car otherwise you will spend half your holiday walking and getting into cabs.
I'm no Nigella Lawson! - If you don't like getting down and dirty in the kitchen, a villa may not be the best choice for you. Restaurants are usually close by, but selection may be limited and after you've shelled out big bucks, the last thing you may want is to add a couple of hundred Euros to your daily food bill.
Responsibility - Most villas are pretty expensive properties so the owners are going to really expect you to look after the place while you're there. Just to make sure they have your attention. To incentivise you to treat their property as if it were your own, many owners will require a damage deposit.
No Lifeguard - Swimming pools are super fun and a must if you have small children but they are also a major hazard for small children. A private pool does not have a lifeguard so you have to be super vigilant at all times.
Having access to the open markets and the facilities to cook with all the amazing ingredients is a plus. Markets like this one are usually close by to residential areas where most rentals are located. You can buy enough food for a week.
Package holidays are the bread and butter of the tourism industry
In 2018 49% of Brits chose a package holiday abroad, down ever so slightly on the previous year (51%). Also, of those that chose a package holiday abroad, 69% said they opted for a package holiday because everything
is taken care of. Convenience is king!
There is no denying it, package holidays are responsible for the global boom in tourism. Prior to package holidays, visiting far-flung destinations was the preserve of the wealthy and it wasn't until clever travel operators conjured up the simple but sweet idea of packaging flights, transfers and accommodation into one pretty affordable price - Result: Boom in global tourism.
There is something so special about making a single payment or even better multiple small instalments knowing that someone else is doing all the hard work so you can hop from home to holiday without stressing about the logistics of it all.
Yes, package holidays are here to stay for very good reason too. They're cheap, they're cheerful and there are lots and lots of supply all year round.
If you're looking to book a package holiday, you're always spoilt for choice with 1000s of deals out there vying for your holiday savings. Plus, you can bolt on all sorts of other stuff with your package, including all-inclusive food, hire car, excursions and the list goes on and on.
However, it's not all easy street for package holidays, they too have pros and cons so let's look at a few real quick.
Package holiday pros
Everything included - They take care of all transport, transfers, accommodation, excursions, entertainment and more.
Lots of availability - There are 1000s of deals out there and finding one that suits you is quick and easy.
Close to the action - Almost all package holidays have their accommodation right in the heart of the resort and usually just a stone's throw from the sea-front.
All inclusive - You don't have to worry about budgeting while you're enjoying your holiday because all your food is sorted. You just need to pay for your drinks.
Security - There is always someone closeby looking after the building and guests.
Communal Pools - Resorts always have lifeguards around the pool area for that bit of extra peace of mind.
Very sociable environment - With lots of holiday-makers sharing the same facility as you, there is always someone to talk to, not to mention kids clubs, bars and restaurants and evening entertainment.
Package holiday cons
Very busy - If peace and quiet are what you want from a holiday, you may be left wanting and the scramble to secure your sun-lounger by the pool can be tiring.
No-go for culture vultures - Being stuck in the resort with everything at your fingertips, makes it more of a challenge to pick yourself up and explore the surrounding area to soak up the local delights. A week can fly by and you may not have left the complex.
Foodies may suffer - If you go all-inclusive, you may be stuck with food that doesn't excite your palate and special dietary requirements may be difficult to adhere to. Also, restaurants close by to big resorts are often over-priced tourist traps, which means less money for cocktails and beer.
Iberostar Las Dalias Playa de las Americas Tenerife. Great for families with young children. Lots of pools and loungers also. This is a typical mid to high-end resort. Iberostar has resorts all over the world.
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So all said and done both types of holidays we've covered here have pros and cons but, you most likely have already tried a package holiday so maybe a villa holiday is knocking on your door.
The absolute best way to bring the price down of renting a property is to chip in with extended family and or friends. There isn't much of a difference in price of a rental that sleeps 6 and one that sleeps 10.
Ten people all chipping in around £200 (not including flights and car hire) each and you're set for a week in a very nice villa somewhere really pretty.
Guaranteed you will have the time of your life and feel like a top one-percenter for a week or two.
Also, it's worth mentioning that in a time of covid, a resort full of people from every corner of the globe may not be the best place for avoiding infection but if you're in your very own property with close family and friends, your risks are drastically reduced. Potentially, coronavirus may indeed push up demand for this type of holiday.
A document recently released by Apta does indeed show that the number of people now booking non-package holidays is trending up with 47% now choosing to go direct and book their flights, accommodation directly with service providers. True, only a fraction of those are booking villas but the number is increasing year on year.
Holiday-makers enjoying fun and games in the sun on the beautiful beach of Formentor in Mallorca, Spain. The surrounding pines trees make this one of the most stunning beaches in the Balearics.
Villa holidays won't be everyone's cup of tea but certainly should be tried out at least once. A lot of people try them out for the first time to mark a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary or graduation. Get a load of family members together to add to the money pot and have a dream holiday and bank some amazing memories to last a lifetime.
Another indication that holiday rentals are going to continue to grow is that there are now several companies that have started offering packages, just like a normal package holiday. They package flights, a villa and car hire into one lump sum, with just a small down-payment.
Such packages take all the stress out of booking a holiday rental because not only do they package everything for you but they also vet the properties they include in their packages to ensure they are up to the very highest standards possible.
Conversley, when you book direct with the owner, there is always a chance that when you arrive, the property may not look quite as good as it did in the pictures you viewed online and some things may not work also.
It's not in the interest of any direct owner to rent you a shoddy property because they risk being de-listed if there are complaints. So, by and large, the vast majority of holiday villas won't fail to please but if you do get the hebbie jeebies going direct with the owner, you always have the option to opt for one of the packaged ones. Just bear in mind that you do pay a premium for the convenience.
Whether you choose a villa or packaged resort holiday, one thing is for sure and that's us Brits love a holiday. An astonishing 60% of the population embark on a foreign holiday each year.
Wherever you go and however you choose to go on your next holiday - ENJOY!
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