Why We Love A Villa Holiday
Oh how I do Love A Villa Holiday. There is no doubt that once you have children the word ‘holiday’ takes on a whole new meaning.
Once upon a time you checked what bars were in walking distance, you only saw your hotel room to get ready to go out and to sleep in, and you spent your days doing as you pleased and no one else; whether that was slow meandering strolls through city streets, or laying face down by the pool trying to generate the energy to actually go for a swim.
And then you have kids. And let’s face it, while they’re little, the whole ‘holiday’ thing is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it’s a change of scene, but you might find yourself spending your evenings in the bathroom reading so that you don’t disturb the toddler who’s just gone to bed in your hotel room extra bed. Or you’ll just go to bed at 8pm with them – you’re all up at 5.30am anyway. You have no washing machine, a limited supply of resources on hand and of course the entire resort will be watching your toddler’s meltdown.
You still want the holiday, still love to travel – but your needs change, and your idea of what the fortnight in the sun will look like probably takes on a whole new meaning.
It’s at this point that a lot of families often realise they’d love a villa holiday. At first glance it feels like a luxury option – but it can also be a fantastically economical way of having a holiday. If you club together with friends or family, a big property with lots of bedrooms, when split between two or three families, often works out as way less expensive than a hotel stay (especially if you’re a larger family like us, and won’t all fit into one hotel room!)
Whether you’re thinking about renting a beautiful Farmhouse in the Dordogne, are dreaming of Villas in Mykonos or perhaps longing for a bargain rental in Sri Lanka there’s literally a whole world of possibilities out there. Here’s our top reasons why you should really properly love a villa family holiday.
1. No neighbours.
No one loves to constantly shush their kids because they might be disturbing the people in the room next door – and no one likes the embarrassed need to talk a little louder because you can hear the couple next door either! It’s one of the tip top reasons that our annual search for a holiday property will always include the words ‘detached, secluded or remote’. No nearby neighbours to irritate us, and our own teens can play music, get boisterous in the pool – and actually a friend told us her body-conscious daughter sunbathed for the first time as a teen because there was only her family around the pool.
2. No Reps.
You apply the sun cream, you lie back and shut your eyes – and the Rep pops up to see if you’re interested in the cruise later, coming on the Old Town Tour, wants to discuss if you’re happy with the food… or the kids club marches past on the hour, every hour. No thanks. Your Villa, your rules – shut your eyes… and nap.
3. No Maid service.
Stick with me here. Yes, okay, you’ll have to pick up your own towels, and won’t get clean sheets every day. But you’ll also not have to rush round tidying up before the maid arrives (come on, you’re British and not a brat. We know you do it too), and you can stay in bed all morning if you wish. Plus – seriously. No one needs clean sheets every day. Save the planet with a less-laundry eco choice too!
4. Pay for the whole thing
I already sort of covered this above – when you pay per person, the costs add up. if you’re paying a set price for the whole property, then the more of you there are, the better value it is. I have never ever, not once, found a hotel deal for all six of us which is better value than a private property rental.
5. You’re the boss of the travel
I know, package holidays make it easy – and yes, some villa companies will also offer the flights. But you still pick your own and create your own bundle. Everyone I know, though, makes their own travel arrangements; you can choose the inconvenient timed flights for the cheap deals, or you can pick the best departure times for travelling with your kids. Or you can do what we do – with six of us, the best option is to drive. If you’re planning to take your dog to France, this is definitely the way to go (click for a step by step guide on how to do it).
6. The sunbeds are all yours.
So are the deckchairs, the poolside seating, the table by the barbecue (plus the barbecue itself), and the seats with the view of the sunset. All Yours.
7. Big Ol Get-Togethers
A many-bedroomed villa (or collection of them) are perfect for family get-togethers. They’re equipped for lots of people (unlike when you all go to Auntie Joans and someone has to sit on the plastic sewing box), have loads of space for relaxing, playing games, and eating and drinking spaces are always catered well for!
8. Kids like a routine.
A villa will quickly become a home-from-home – they can settle into a family routine without the weirdness that is hotel life. Nap times re-establish, they can access the fridge anytime they fancy a snack, and you can sort food and bedtimes whenever you fancy it. And if you choose to eat late on the terrace and they fall asleep where they sit? Well, no one’s judging you, are they?
9. The space!
A hotel room, no matter how swish it is, is limited. Staying in a villa gives you all the space of home, plus a garden that is all yours too. It’s easy to find a quiet corner, or take some time out, because you’re not all living on top of each other.
10. You set the breakfast schedule
No need to get downstairs before 10 – breakfast is whatever time the first one gets out of bed and wanders to the local bakery or puts the coffee on. If your kids are early risers they can be munching croissants whilst sleepily watching your iPad at 5.30am on the patio without you needing to get out of your pjs. We’ve been known to slowly breakfast at 11.30, lunch at 3 and dinner around 9 at night. Just because we do it when we’re hungry, not when the kitchen’s open.
11. There’s a washing machine
NO ONE likes the post-holiday laundry mountain. I know I’m not alone in spending the last few days of the holiday washing and drying all the dirties, so that I take home a suitcase full of clean clothes which simply need unpacking.
12. Food Shopping
Of course you don’t want to cook every night, and exploring the local restaurants is an ace part of any holiday. But so is shopping in the local supermarkets and fresh produce markets, trying the local specialities and new foods you discover. And how is it that on holiday you can pile on the table some bread, some slightly-warm cheese, a few tomatoes, some yoghurts and some sliced meats and declare lunch is ready. Day after day after day they eat it happily. Just try that at home…
13. See the Locals
Villas can often be situated in rural areas and small communities, and are usually away from the noisier tourist traps – perfect for really getting a feel for the local region. No one likes looking like a tourist – and no one likes constantly being with them either!
14. You want to be alone…
Honestly – holidaying amongst a few hundred other guests is our idea of hell. NOT a relaxing break. I don’t want to be bumping into the same people all day, nor do I wish to compete for the facilities on offer. I want privacy and relaxation – and to know that if I fancy playing table tennis I’ve only got to beat my children to it.
15. Set your own hours.
There’s no karaoke night to disturb you if you’re all in bed by ten. And there’s no other guests to consider if you feel like sitting out under the stars with a third bottle of wine til 4am. Your place, your rules.
16. Private pool
I’ll just repeat that. Private Pool. No one else there but you. Sold.
(for hours of guaranteed fun, take pool toys. The space is all yours, so floatables and dive sticks and a ball are all absolutely essential)
If you’re thinking it might be a good choice for a multi-generational holiday, you’d be absolutely right. You can choose to separate and do different things, and join together for your evening meals. You’ll have built-in babysitters, plus the grandparents will love to spend time in the pool with the kids. Cathy over at MummyTravels has some great tips on villa holidays with the grandparents to help you avoid any of the potential downsides!