Villa Rentals vs. Vacation Rentals

August 1, 2011

Courtesy of Irene Aviles, President of Private Trade Winds

So What's the Difference??

I'm glad you asked because there’s no industry specific standard clear enough to properly educate the public. The word Villa has been around for centuries, and it has always represented the grandeur of palatial summer homes in Italy and France. Today, it is important to understand what the word villa means especially to an ever growing population of affluent travelers. The luxury consumer in the USA is very different from the European traveler, and some may say that as Americans we are creatures of comfort, very specific, and perhaps demanding. We are a culture where often times comfort trumps experience.

Villa travel in Europe is as popular as it was centuries ago, but at present self-serve holiday travel in other people’s homes is the most popular option, more widely so than hotels. In the USA, vacation rentals (what we call travelling in other people’s homes), is a growing segment of US travel and largely booked online from large listing services like HomeAway and VRBO.

Villa travel in the USA is a developing market for the luxury traveler. Today, the word villa represents homes with hospitality-type services. At PTW we go as far as to say that a villa, no matter the size, is about accommodating the American palette for comfort, service and experience. We want it all - and the time is now!

So what defines a Villa and what defines a Vacation Rental?

A Villa can be defined in two categories: Classic and Modern

The Classic Villa:

Classic Villas have been around for centuries in Europe. Through the years they have been renovated in various stages from generation to generation to produce a current, and hopefully, luxurious vacation experience. Classic villas are usually large and fitted with on-site staff such as housekeepers, butlers, and cook.

The Modern Villa:

Modern Villas include luxurious accommodations in various size real estate options from 1-bedroom condos to sprawling 13-bedroom estates. They can include large and small homes, condominiums, residence clubs, fractionals and condominium hotels. Modern villas typically come with some sort of hospitality service if booked through a professionally managed organization. Since the travel industry and private homeowner renters are not consistent in using terminology, it is important to always ask about details regarding service and amenities. At PTW, all of our villas have passed a rigorous checklist of requirements to provide a 5-Star villa hospitality experience and have been branded by PTW with service and amenities to provide a 5-Star Villa Vacation. This includes professionally decorated accommodations, maid service, bath amenities with robes, complete or gourmet kitchens with bottled water and coffee, and endless concierge service to plan every step of the trip. Undoubtedly what the luxury traveler seeks.

A Vacation Rental is a generic term for short term rentals in private homes

This is a more commonly used term and refers to someone who wants to travel in homes. Websites such as VRBO and HomeAway are very successful listing services, and they allow the consumer to filter and choose the options they want to rent. Each is owned and managed separately with no consistency of quality, service or amenities. These self service websites offer a multitude of options worldwide, but no guarantee of reliability. Most of the properties listed on these sites do not provide hospitality service, amenities or concierge service, and the overall experience is not considered luxurious.

Although there is a vast array of vacation rentals worldwide, a very small percentage even come close to Villa status. Most consumers do not know the difference or realize that they have several choices. This explains why such a large percentage of Americans do not rent vacation homes, nor do they realize villa options exist, or worse how to find them!

So how do you find true luxury Villas?

Choice #1 - Buy into a Destination or Residence Club. This option is quite costly, but offers high quality, consistency and service.

Choice #2 - Find a local professionally managed Rental Company. This option is ideal if you know what you want and have a checklist of your expectations for furnishings, kitchenware, and services you want. Most likely you will not find everything you want, but it is better than trusting an on-line listing and you should find better services.

Choice #3 - Join PTW or a similar Hybrid-Club. With the recession at hand, creative entrepreneurs have recently developed the optimal option - the best of a Destination Club, with less commitment and cost. This offers the customer consistency of product, hotel-type service, amenities and most likely concierge service.

PTW villas provide clients with endless worldwide opportunities to enjoy a myriad of real estate options from homes, condos, estates, fractional properties, residence clubs and condo hotels! So many choices! All with 5-star hotel comforts, high end interior design, convenience and prime locations - plus concierge and hotel services. Since Private Trade Winds is also a private travel agency, luxury travelers get the best of the villa world, plus the finest service in all luxury travel options. Villas can be rented on an individual basis, or through our club concept for additional savings to frequent travelers.

As a long time lover of villa travel and an owner of several vacation villas myself, I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have on how you can enjoy villa travel, and/or how you can market your vacation villa to discerning and affluent travelers to yield a desirable result. Please leave your comments and I’ll be checking in regularly to respond.


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