The hotel is not the only option when booking accommodation in Orlando. In fact, the game of vacation rentals and villas is booming throughout Florida, with many people preferring to have their own accommodations rather than register in a hotel. According to Covid, it is even more appealing to those who prefer to be secluded from other campers in a self-contained cottage with its own pool.
Renting a private villa or vacation home is an ideal way, especially for families, to spend time in Florida. For large groups, parents with young children and those on a tight budget, the option of renting a villa in Orlando Vs with hotel accommodation is definitely worth considering.
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What are the pros and cons of renting a villa in Orlando?
During our many trips to Orlando, we stayed in Orlando villas, vacation villages, Orlando hotels and theme park hotels at both Disney and Universal, which gives us a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing which type of placement is best for your family or group.
To help you make the best decision for your visit to Orlando, we’ve reviewed the 12 pros and cons of renting a villa in Orlando:
12 Things to Consider Before Renting a Villa in Orlando.
Have fun in your own space (Image: VisitCentralFL)
1. Holiday villas are comfortable and inexpensive for large groups
It may not seem like it at first glance, but when you rent a villa in Orlando, the benefits are significant, especially if you’re coming with a large group (grandparents or multiple families, for example). A standard villa in Orlando has at least three bedrooms for 6 or more people. The cost of a one-bedroom apartment is usually much lower than the cost of two or three separate hotel rooms.
Even if you are a family of two parents and three children, some hotels (especially Walt Disney World hotels) offer entrance fees for rooms for up to four people at most resorts. If there are five of you, even if one of them is a child, you will need to book a larger, more spacious room or suite due to fire regulations, so make sure you budget for this. We look at the real cost of staying in Orlando and Walt Disney World and offer some budget recommendations for your trip in this ticket.
2. Orlando villas for rent – excellent value for money
Villas in Orlando are much cheaper than you might think and are often very competitive with hotel rates. There are different standards for vacation rentals in Florida, ranging from cleanliness and simplicity to luxury and discomfort. As a guide (given that many Snowbirds retire to Florida during the winter months and aren’t looking for anything fancy), families travelling to Disney World from the UK tend to look for something in between.
If this is your first holiday in Orlando, chances are you won’t be spending much on accommodation (of any kind). So it is unlikely that you will need an expensive villa equipped with smart technology, computer consoles, pool tables and water slides. I suggest you opt for a simple but elegant villa, with some luxuries such as a pool, electric showers and digital TV, but nothing too fancy will strain your budget unnecessarily. Don’t forget: The more you save, the more you spend!
3. Enjoy the luxury of your own private pool
Owning your own home can be the ultimate luxury (Image: passporttamps.uk)
If there’s one way to feel like a VIP on a limited budget, it’s to swim in your own private pool. Most villas in Orlando have a private pool. Poolless villas are available and cheaper, but I wouldn’t recommend them because central Florida is hot and humid. Moreover, after a full vacation in a theme park, a few days of relaxation by the pool during your trip are absolutely necessary. For a guide on how to take advantage of everything Orlando has to offer and afford to take a few days off, check out our popular two-week sample itinerary.
TOP TIP: The base price for renting a villa in Orlando does not always include the cost of heating the private pool. This is usually an option, but (unless you’re visiting during the hottest time of the year, and even then…) we strongly recommend opting for a heated pool, as you’ll be surprised how cold the water can be in a tropical country…. brr
4. Self-service Saves on food and beverages
If you’ve read our article on the real cost of a trip to Orlando, you’ll see that a lot of money is spent on food and drink. In general, the food in Orlando is relatively cheap. But three meals a day for two weeks for an entire family eventually adds up. By having a kitchen to prepare your own meals, you can save money by not having to eat out every day. If budgeting is an important topic, it’s definitely something to consider.
When we stay in the villa, we often make our own breakfast on carnival days. It’s faster than sitting down to eat, and you can get right to work once you get to the parks. If your budget allows, you can enjoy a special breakfast (like the Character Breakfast) at Walt Disney World during the day without reducing the cost of the meal. As we have young children, we can put them to bed at the villa and then prepare a light and relaxing dinner to enjoy at home – without having to deal with noisy children or having to eat ridiculously early in the morning.
Supermarkets are ALWAYS in Orlando, you walk at least 20 minutes from the airport, so don’t worry about not being able to bring supplies.
5. It is easier for adults to enjoy children’s leisure time
Adults are on vacation too! (Photo: paspoort-stempels.nl)
Most parents with children sit in the hallway outside the hotel door for a drink and a chat, or hang out in the bathroom watching Netflix without disturbing their kids. To be fair, staying in a hotel probably means that at least one of you will be confined to a room once the little ones have left Disney.
The key to a successful family vacation at Disney is making sure your kids sleep (and eat) well. Pushing them too hard only makes the kids cranky and upsets the parents. A big part of that job is making sure they go to bed at a reasonable time (you can bet that a kid who is still running around Disney Springs at 10pm doesn’t have time to spend a full day at the parks the next day). Unfortunately for parents, this means that once the baby goes to bed, you’re back in your hotel room. Some hotels have childcare and family suites, but if you rent a villa in Orlando, it basically solves the problem.
Once the young guests are in bed, the adults can sit down to eat, relax in the living room or have a drink by the pool, making the adults’ day a lot more enjoyable. This configuration is also practical if your party includes teenagers or grandparents. The villa offers more seating and the ability for all guests to choose between an early evening or a nightcap.
6. You save on parking fees when you rent a villa in Orlando.
Another great benefit of renting a private vacation home in Orlando is that you don’t have to pay for overnight parking. This can provide significant savings, especially if your group has multiple vehicles. For comparison, self-serve parking at Universal Orlando’s Sapphire Falls Hotel costs $26 per night, plus tax. That’s about $190 a week, per car.
However, it should also be noted that you will still have to pay for theme park parking and will not have the luxury of a theme park shuttle if you are staying in a villa in Orlando. Walt Disney World Resort guests pay for an overnight stay at their hotel (starting at $19 + tax), but they can park for free at the theme parks.
7. The villa in Orlando offers more space for everyone to spread out.
A multi-generational vacation or trip with family or mutual friends can be an incredible experience, but this type of vacation has its share of frustrations – which makes everyone happy! Having a villa in Orlando means you can all spread out a bit. A social distance, if you will. You’ll have an indoor and outdoor space, several rooms to retreat to – handy for arguments with siblings – and (usually) multiple TVs to avoid arguments from afar. Hotels often don’t have these luxuries, so depending on the type of party, a vacation home in Orlando may be the best option for you.
VIDEO: Discover how three generations of the same family enjoyed their trip to Florida by visiting SeaWorld Parks – SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens and Aquatica.
8. The best of both worlds: Try a holiday home
house with services (Image: passports.com)
For some, the idea of renting a private villa is intimidating. Being alone in an apartment, not being safe in the neighborhood and not having the security of a hotel environment can be discouraging. It is true that the villa in Otlando is a very different experience, but overall not negative. Every vacation home we have rented in Florida has been trouble free and easy to use, and there has always been someone on the phone in case of problems.
However, if you want the amenities of a hotel (like 24-hour reception and room service) but the luxury of your own space, there is a modern type of villa in Orlando – Resort Villages. We stayed at Magic Village Yards, a resort of vacation villas just five minutes from Disney, and it was an excellent compromise. Read our full review here, but we basically had our own (large) house with parking, kitchen, private grill and outdoor space, but with reception and concierge, restaurant on site and a shared gym and pool. It was very safe because the whole complex was cordoned off by security. As for the location, it is in the Kissimmee area, minutes from 192 attractions, restaurants and shops and 15 minutes from the Magic Kingdom.
9. They will be further away from the theme parks.
Find your thrill within a half-hour drive (Image: Universal Orlando)
The downside of staying at the Villa is that you’re a little further away from popular hotel areas (International Drive, 192 Highway, Celebration and the theme parks themselves). This practically rules them out as an option if you don’t want to rent a car for your visit. I covered if you need a car in Orlando at this station. An important tip for Orlando, however, is not to worry too much about the distance. New visitors, especially those from the UK, are always shocked by its ridiculous size. Therefore, common search terms on sites like booking.com, such as distance to the center, don’t really work and people are often put off by a good hotel or villa because it seems to be several miles away.
I usually tell people that it’s best to assume that everything is miles away from everything (which is sometimes the case), and that the mountain will start from there. As a guideline, you probably won’t want to drive more than 25 miles from Disney Springs or Universal Citywalk. To help you appreciate this distance, the villa where we often stay is 23 miles from Universal and 45 minutes away, and 18 miles from Disney, which takes about 25 minutes.
As an indication, the best areas for villa rentals are near Walt Disney World and the resort of Orlando, in the Golden Triangle, i.e. Davenport, Kissimmee and ChampionsGate. These neighborhoods are 20-25 minutes from Disney and offer quick access to downtown Orlando, Universal Orlando, major shopping centers (Florida Mall) and Orlando International Airport.
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