Renting a Villa (or Condominium or Apartment or Private Island)
is the most comfortable, convenient, affordable and satisfying
way to experience the world. Once you try it, you will usually seek
out these types of accommodations whenever you travel.
A little history ...
When I was in my teens, my family rented a villa in the Caribbean with
another family who had children about our ages. It was one of the best travel
experiences I recall as a child, and I came to appreciate the world outside of
a hotel compound at an early age. Our Jamaican cook introduced us to
curried chicken, peans and rice, pumpkin soup, ackee and saltfish, and baked
bananas in coconut cream. We would sit, in amazement, with "Miz Una" at the
kitchen door stoop while she expertly opened coconuts with her machete.
My mother had mumus made for my sister and me by a woman who came to the door peddling her sewing skills. Musicians - with their steel drums, maracas, and rumba box - came to play for us poolside. My father taught me the art of bargaining in the straw market on this trip, and I bought my friends strings of brightly-colored beads. My parents purchased beautiful conch and tulip shells from Cut Rate Charlie's trunk. A family friend who was traveling with us taught me how to drive a stick on the backroads of Antigua when I was 16 ... on the 'other' (left-hand) side of the road. Great memories that have lasted a lifetime.
Over the years, we traveled with family and friends, staying in villas on other Caribbean islands, and in the mid-70s, my parents bought a vacation home in Treasure Cay on Abaco in The Bahama Out Islands.
In 1982 when VHR, WORLDWIDE first opened its doors, the number of villa rental specialists could be counted on one hand. Our company recognized the need to introduce vacationers to this wonderful lodgings option, and to educate travel agents on the concept so they could, in turn, not only be aware of these types of accommodations but also recommend them to their clients from first-hand experience. Since then, villa rentals have become the fastest growing segment of leisure travel, and have been used by corporations as incentive travel awards and the site of small to mid-sized business meetings. We have found that once people stay in one of our properties, they generally choose this type of accommodation for their future trips.
What is a villa?
The term "villa" covers a lot of territory. To many people, what comes to mind is a single family dwelling (house). To our staff, it covers a much broader spectrum and refers to anything from an exclusive private island to a cozy beach bungalow, or a palatial estate to a well-appointed pied-à-terre, even a lavish fully-equipped resort suite or a sumptuous condominium.
What the term doesn't represent is a typical hotel room and bath. There must be living, cooking and dining areas to complete the accommodations.
Why rent a villa?
Each villa experience is unique. Savvy travelers choose the special ambiance of a villa because of several important considerations:
Location. Beachfront villas allow direct access to the sea; hillside villas offer amazing views and lovely breezes. Imagine stepping out the door of a modern apartment in the heart of your favorite city and walking to fine restaurants, theater, all manner of shopping, museums.
Privacy. Peace. Relaxation. Need we say more?
Family Reunions and Friends' Get-togethers. The ability of the whole family or group to stay (and dine) together under one roof.
Weddings. We know from first-hand experience how wonderful it can be to have your destination wedding at one of our properties. Our staff has years of experience coordinating every aspect of your special occasion to ensure a stress-free event.
Service (your own staff in many cases). There's nothing quite comparable to being served a savory West Indian repast in the formal dining room by your own butler, or enjoying breakfast poolside in your pajamas if you wish. Meals prepared according to your specifications and schedule ... and at a fraction of the cost of dining out. The staffs at our properties (no matter how grand) receive accolades for their attention to detail, making guests feel as important as Royalty.
Atmosphere. Being surrounded by colorful tropical gardens or fields of sunflowers, meandering through vineyards or olive groves, exploring ancient ruins on property, appreciating why a water view is just the best eye candy in the whole world.
Groups. Girls' or guys' getaways; golf tournaments; fishing or boating trips; snorkeling or scuba diving excursions; yoga retreats; bird watching expeditions; photography opportunities.
Small Business Meetings/ Incentives/ Corporate Venues. There are a number of villas, estates and private islands that are ideal for corporate venues. Whether a small business meeting or incentive, there's a great benefit when the property is concerned only with your comfort, schedule, and needs - and you're not competing with other (hotel) guests for service, food and beverage, and attention.
In other words, it's all about YOU. And what many people don't realize - an added bonus - is that renting a villa will save you quite a bit of cash when compared to other lodgings options of similar quality.
What should I look for when renting a villa?
The most important aspect of searching for that perfect villa is to make your arrangements through a reputable, experienced company whose staff is familiar with both the individual properties and the destinations where they are located. VHR, WORLDWIDE has been in operation for over four decades and expends considerable time and expense in the training of its staff - who are seasoned travelers, themselves.
We are able to provide an objective overview of what each of our hand-selected villas has to offer, and any situations that might prove unsuitable (such as safety concerns for young children, ease of access for those who are physically challenged) for a given client. We take great pride in our expert 'match-making' skills, which accounts for the amount of repeat business we enjoy.
Safety and security are of utmost importance to us. We do not place our valued clients in homes where the host is in residence, which can be risky. When you rent a vacation property from us, you rent the entire accommodation, not a room in a house.
I am traveling with a group of friends. How do I choose the best accommodation for us?
A word to the wise: know your travel companions. You're going to be living with these people for the duration, so you should be aware of their likes, dislikes, habits (good and bad), schedules (Do they sleep late? Party to all hours of the night?), food preferences, etc. You want there to be harmony - to enjoy each other's company and relax, not come home stressed out.
Let one person make all the arrangements and be the 'point' person for the group. It's much easier this way. My parents used to rent a villa with three or four other couples every other winter (they took us with them on the alternate years). My mother was in charge and made all the arrangements, so she got first pick of the bedrooms. She did the research, collected and forwarded the monies, and helped with airline reservations and car rental arrangements.
When planning a trip for a group, you need to determine a suitable destination, for starters. For example, each island in the Caribbean has its own culture, cuisine and atmosphere. In fact, some islands - such as Jamaica - have several diverse regions, each with its own personality.
Before any decisions are made and money exchanges hands, it's essential that everyone shares their expectations of the trip. Get together as a group - either in person or via Zoom - and discuss the trip. By outlining what activities and environment are key, it's easier to narrow down the appropriate destination (popular vacation spot or tranquil isle?) - especially where casino gambling, golf, fine dining, duty-free shopping, scuba diving and fishing (deepsea, bonefishing, etc.) are concerned. Will they be interested in sightseeing? Or just hanging out at the pool or beach? To some people, these considerations don't matter; to others, they are of utmost importance.
Budget also plays a key role in not only selecting a villa but also where its located. The Bahamas Out Islands, Jamaica, and Cozumel offer a wide variety of accommodation and very good value. That is not to say we can't find you what you need in your price range in other destinations - in most cases, we can!
Traveling during the holidays or children's vacation periods
To avoid disappointment, make your plans well in advance whenever possible if you are traveling during the holidays or children's vacation periods. That can be anywhere from 6 to 9 to 12 months (especially for larger villas) in advance, as many families want to return to a place they really enjoyed, and they will rebook it quickly.
So, if we find something you love, don't delay ... BOOK IT!
Airline tickets, car rentals and other services
In some destinations, it is essential to rent a car or other vehicle. Our company works with select car rental agencies in various destinations. We have chosen these companies based on their level of service, reliability, and price, and we use them ourselves when we travel. The prices at some of the local agencies are often well below those of the major companies.
Once you have reserved your villa, VHR, WORLDWIDE will be pleased to book your airline tickets for you if you do not have a travel agent. Additionally, we can arrange any special services that you desire to complete your trip, such as a nanny, babysitter, cook (if not provided), masseuse or chauffeur/driver for those who prefer not to do the driving, themselves.
A word to the wise
Since VHR, WORLDWIDE was established over four decades ago, the Internet has been flooded with individuals who profess to be 'villa rental agents'. Some of these folks are good, honest, professional and hard-working colleagues; regretfully, others have never even seen the properties. There are also a host of "bulletin board" sites which contain lists of properties for rent. The media has reported on the fact that some of the properties in these lists do not even exist (example: someone listed an igloo they made in NYC on one of these sites!). In other words, you can easily be scammed. Know the difference between a company like VHR, WORLDWIDE that checks out the individual vacation homes it represents and one that simply lists random accommodations.
So how can you be sure you are working with a reputable company? You need to ask some important questions:
How long have they been in business? VHR, WORLDWIDE opened its doors in 1982, one of the pioneers in the villa rental business.
What do the leading travel publications and travel writers have to say? VHR, WORLDWIDE has been recommended by well-known travel writers and business authorities. Some of their comments may be found on this website.
What makes a good villa rental agent? First, experience. Our staff has traveled extensively throughout the world. We are available to answer questions and make recommendations from first-hand familiarity. Not only are we personally acquainted with the accommodations we offer, we know about the destinations where they are located and can guide prospective guests and their travel planners accordingly. Secondly, dedication. You will find that our staff's attention to detail is unsurpassed, as you will note from the breadth of our the information we provide on each of the properties we represent.
How good is their information? We are proud of the quality of written and photographic material we
provide on each of the properties in our rental portfolio. We regard our clients and their travel agents
as savvy travelers and, as such, anticipate their questions by addressing them in our property profiles ... before they are asked!
Why VHR, WORLDWIDE? The company's principal vacationed in rented villas for more than 15 years before VHR, WORLDWIDE was established and knows the market best. We have earned a sterling reputation. The comments we receive from satisfied clients and their travel agents attest to our commitment to quality service and accuracy of information. We are proud of the fine reputation we have earned, and enjoy an enviable repeat business.
We love what we do - and it shows!
"Just wanted to drop you a note about the apartment in Scotland. We were very pleased! It was clean, nicely furnished with 6 rooms and 2 baths - much better than a hotel room and less expensive! Being in the center of the city allowed us to live among the wonderful Scottish people. As you know, we have booked through your company several times before and, as usual, your description of the apartment was spot-on and we were treated very professionally by VHR's staff."
- Richard and Maureen
Lori Gédon, CTC, President