This is the second blog in our special series on Florida holidays, written by Michelle Ralph.
When holidaying in Florida, I have probably stayed in hotels and villas an equal number of times. I have had amazing holidays in both!
I always used to book a hotel. I liked a busy reception area, restaurant or bar on the premises, and usually a fridge in the room for storing cold drinks, snacks and baby formula. I liked a large communal pool where my young children could make friends with others and have lots of fun, taking a little pressure off me to entertain. I liked that there were staff on hand to answer any queries and give insight into the local area, and other travellers to chat to. And it is a big plus that most of the hotels provide transport to the major theme parks, avoiding the self-drive and parking fees at the park.
My children are now 5, 8, 16 and 20. As my family has expanded, I have chosen to stay in a villa rather than hotel for three main reasons.
Firstly, it has proved to be the most financially affordable choice for a larger family. My family’s tolerance for sharing bedrooms is low and we have a smoother, happier holiday if my children get their own sleeping and chill-out space. With a kitchen we can easily prepare drinks, meals, snacks and make use of the abundance of leftover restaurant meals you can take home, so we rely on eating out less.
Secondly, days tend to be busy in Florida, whether out visiting theme parks, shopping or visiting the beaches on the coast, so we invariably use a pool most in the evening on our return home. It is great having a pool on tap at any time to jump into after a hot and tiring day out. My teens have had many a late-night playing volleyball after dark in the villa pool and my husband and I enjoy a late-night swim or glass of wine poolside with the children in bed. We have also found many rental villas offer a games room complete with table football or air hockey and we have bonded over many family tournaments on these.
Thirdly - and I almost don’t want to admit this one – as I’ve gotten older, I enjoy more quiet time. I like going back to a peaceful, spacious villa with no other people around. Theme parks, shopping and eating out are so much fun, but they are busy and noisy, and I appreciate returning to the contrasting peace and quiet of a family villa – or as much as it can be with four children!
As our children grow up and part ways with our family holiday, perhaps my husband and I may decide a hotel would then be the way to go.