Private Villas: How to Save Money on a Caribbean Group Getaway

Savings can add up with a villa stay when you travel with more than four

Pool at the Cadassee villa, St. Lucia. © Wheretostay.com

Planning a Caribbean getaway? For couples or a family of four, a hotel stay might be your best option, since you can sleep up to four people per room. As the kids get older though, four to a room may feel a little cramped, and can be downright miserable after a few days. Adding an adjoining room may calm the bickering, but will quickly inflate your budget.

Likewise, if your family vacation has been crashed by grandma and gramps, or the idea of eloping has transitioned into a destination wedding with 20 of your closest friends, a private villa could be your best option. Whether your group is six or 16, renting a house may be more cost-effective.

Let’s do the math. The average price for a resort stay is $300/per night, but now Mimi and Pop want to tag along. That’s $600 per night. But wait: Hotel taxes can add significantly to your cost -- another 27 percent per night in some destinations. And don’t forget the table for six, three meals a day, plus snacks by the pool. Now, your wallet is saying “more is not merrier.”

Let’s take the same scenario but move it into a Caribbean villa, using some examples from WheretoStay.com. Since your nightly budget was $600 per night, you could be vacationing like an A-list celeb in a $4,200-per week-pad with private pool, maid service, and a kitchen. In St. Martin, for example, the Victoria Villa can be rented for $465 per night between mid-April and mid-December, and you’ll get three bedrooms located on a hilltop with views of the ocean, surrounding hillsides, and Orient Bay.

In St. Lucia, the Caddasse villa goes for $440 per night during the same time frame and has three bedrooms with amazing views, a private pool with a beach, on-site staff, and golf and restaurants just a short drive away.

And don’t forget how much you’ll save by having a kitchen. When you can eat breakfast and lunch by your own private pool or bring cold drinks down to the beach, taking the family to a nice dinner in the evening isn’t as painful on the wallet.

The same formula works for larger groups: the Caribbean is dotted with private villas that sleep 10, 12, even 20 people. For example, the Tarmarind Villa on St. Lucia goes for $995 per night and sleeps up to 14, with views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, a private pool, and a large patio for entertaining. The Silk Cotton Villa on St. Thomas sleeps 12 for $986 per night, but the spacious grounds can accommodate up to 200 guests -- perfect for a destination wedding.

For example, imagine getting married on the beach steps from your villa, and then moving inside for an evening reception. Family and friends are together for a few days, then after the wedding they leave and your tropical retreat turns into the most amazing honeymoon suite. When you pool the money your guests would pay for a hotel room and book a private villa, your wedding instantly becomes the must-have invite.

Jen Bryarly is a project manager for Wheretostay.com