Specialized rentals might not be a new phenomenon, yet increasingly enticing and commissionable options continue to build up the accommodations landscape in some of North America’s most popular destinations.
Whether for space or cost reasons—and very often both—today’s travelers, especially families, welcome the idea of a more “homey” stay and still get many of the benefits usually offered by a hotel.
According to Angela Nolan, general manager of The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui, young families and those traveling with parents and grandparents are a fairly representative profile of the type of guests they’re seeing these days. “A fair bit of multi-generational families [book] 2-bedroom accommodations and travel together. In addition, with our recognition in 2011 and 2012 as a AAA four-diamond property, we have seen the luxury family and couple seekers show greater interest in the resort,” she explains.
Besides the spacious accommodations in the island’s North Ka’anapali Beach, six pools and BBQ facilities, guests also enjoy a Westin Kids Club, an array of cultural activities, three onsite dining options, general stores for grocery shopping and kayaking, stand-up paddling or snorkeling, with a reef system right in front of the property. Within the villas they get the much-loved brand perks, including the famed Heavenly Bed, while the spa offers everything from fitness classes to kids’ mani-pedis.
The resort sweetens the pot for families during the summer with “Mocktail Mixer” events for teens and tweens, which features unlimited video game use, VIP access to a “Chocolate Lounge,” a special time set up for them at the spa, games, raffles and more.
“The conveniences of our accommodations, complete with kitchens/kitchenettes, provides our guests with the flexibility to customize their vacations and not be so reliant on having to pack up the family for every meal,” says Nolan. “The added space allows for a more enjoyable in-villa experience.” Business, she adds, has been “robust” over the last few years, and they continue to see positive momentum in booking trends.
Standard rates start at $349 per night. The resort’s Suite Treat package offers a third night free with 25 percent discount on dining and 10 percent discount on spa treatments (rate plan LXPKG1), with a 2-bedroom stay at $1,200 per night. Starwood Preferred Guest members can save 50 percent off their next stay at The Westin Ka’anapali through Dec. 31 (rate plan SPG50PRO). The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas are part of Starwood Vacation Ownership, which also has properties in Kauai, Myrtle Beach, Orlando, Jensen Beach, Avon/Vail and more.
Maui is also home to a variety of properties from Destination Hotels & Resorts, which also has vacation rentals in California, Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and Washington as well as hotels in several destinations. The options in Maui, in the area of Wailea, range in size and price, ranging from a studio to a 4-bedroom. The higher-end, elegant Wailea Beach Villas, for instance, start at $799 per night.
Guests enjoy a centralized check-in area and an activities desk where they can book whatever they want to experience while on vacation—“Anything that you can do in Hawaii, they can book it for you,” says Greg Staley, the company’s v.p. of sales & marketing for destination rental management. There are also outdoor cooking areas by the pool, with both BBQs and refrigerators so that guests can bring down whatever they want to enjoy during the day and not have to spend on pricey meals and beverages.
“You’ve got a full resort experience—it’s just done a little bit differently,” says Staley.
The rentals scene for snowbunnies and their families are no less enticing. According to Stacy Bauman, Resorts West’s director of sales, the company has seen increasing interest in ski-in/ski-out properties. “We think this is because of an increase in multi-generational travel. We’re seeing more grandparents coming on ski trips and more sets of siblings traveling with their families,” she explains.
“Our guests are often large families or close groups of friends who really value the chance to stay together at one property,” adds Resorts West’s guest services director Amy Moss. “We often hear that guests have chosen one of our homes because hotel rooms often don’t offer the same sense of really being together that a home does.” These vacation homes offer lots of space in bedrooms, dens with pool tables, large dining room tables and gourmet kitchens. “Given the services we provide—housekeeping, shuttle and concierge—and the size of the homes, we also find that guests don’t feel like they are giving up many perks that a hotel might offer,” says Moss.
According to Tracie Heffernan, the brand’s communications manager, the brand’s most popular year-round property is Silver Star at Park City in Utah, a slope-side collection of 2- to 5-bedroom condos, townhomes and cottages at Park City Mountain Resort. “Private villas are also very popular, including our Belle Arbor homes in Silver Lake at Deer Valley Resort and Northside homes in Empire Pass at Deer Valley Resort,” she says.
In Bauman’s view, staying ski-in/ski-out allows family members to be on different schedules, which can be a surprisingly big factor in keeping the vacation harmonious. “Not everyone has to be ready at the same time to drive to the base, and when one member of the group feels like taking a break from skiing, there is no special trip back home,” Bauman explains. “This freedom to come and go from the slopes back home is one of the biggest reasons guests have cited for choosing a ski-in/ski-out home.”
Rates at Silver Start at Park City start at $325 per night for a 2-bedroom; through Dec. 2, guests who reserve three nights receive a complimentary fourth night. Ski season rates start at $677 per night for a 2-bedroom.
Rates at Belle Arbor start at $1,200 per night through Dec. 7; ski season rates start at $3,000 per night. At Northside homes, rates currently start at $1,200 per night; ski season rates start at $3,675 per night. During the upcoming ski season, nightly rates include daily housekeeping, shuttle service throughout Park City and private concierge service that assists with ski rentals, dinner reservations, grocery deliveries and more. Services such as a private chef, in-home spa treatments and airport transfers are available at an added cost.