This week we returned from a lovely villa holiday in the Algarve. If you’ve never been, I’d highly recommend this destination. The weather was glorious and the beaches spotless. With a flight time of only 2.5hrs it’s also not too long for entertaining fidgety toddlers.
For us, a villa holiday suits our young family’s needs well and this is our second one with the girls. There are definitely some compromises to be made but overall we find a villa more flexible than a hotel room on a resort.
If you’re considering this type of getaway here are some pros and cons of staying in a villa from our experiences.
Flexibility: On a resort there are often set times when you can eat and the menus are generally varied but repeatative. In a villa, we can do a shop once we arrive to stock up on staples and then pick up extras or eat out when somewhere catches our eye. This way we get to sample the local cuisine but can fall back on beans in toast if the mood takes us.
Space: Instead of being cramped up in a hotel room, you get a whole house. You have plenty of places to store toys and you can spread out. We find this especially useful of an evening. We can still keep up the bedtime routine and know we won’t have to sit silently in the same room. In fact a late night swim isn’t off the cards.
Privacy: Although this isn’t a major factor in deciding to holiday in a villa, it is a nice bonus. You are pretty much guaranteed to be in a relatively quiet area. No need to worry about rowdy revellers coming in at all hours and waking a sleeping tot.
Luxury of your own pool: Everyday was hot and so being able to just jump straight in with no fighting for a sun lounger is fantastic. Again you can spread out towels and costumes to dry and move furniture to get the best of the shade or sun. However do consider a heated pool. This was really important in our February holiday but even in June with temperatures into the 30s, the pool didn’t really warm up until later in the day. Also a gated pool is an absolute must.
A washing machine: Such a simple convenience but one that comes in so handy with little ones. Surprisingly, it doesn’t seem quite the chore when you’re on holiday especially when you know it’ll be dry within the hour. Also coming home with a case of clean clothes is utter bliss. Don’t forget to pack some wash tablets.
Carting everything but the kitchen sink: Unfortunately you will need to take more. We packed among other things, anti bacterial wipes, a dish cloth, plastic plates and toddler cutlery. The difficulty is not knowing exactly what will be there when you arrive. Just think, you won’t need all those evening shoes so you can pack dishwasher tablets instead.
No entertainment: One of the great aspects of a resort is all the shows and activities they put on for adults and children. In a villa, you’ll have to make your own fun. However if you decide to take the grandparents, the free babysitting can mean you get to explore and venture out.
Cooking and washing up: There’s no getting away from this one. If you’re going to a villa there will be no one there to do this for you. Well not unless you’re a gazillionaire and are planning on hiring staff. We tried to pick easy meals like pizza and pasta for a few days and eat outing others. Sometimes we’d go cheap and cheerful and other times go to fancier restaurants with sea views.
Location: Generally, the best villas, in very central locations are either astronomically expensive or get booked up a year in advance. You can find lovely villas just off the beaten track or within walking distance of amenities. Be prepared to spend hours researching where a villa is, what is nearby and how far you’ll need to walk to get to the beach. Trust me this is time well spent.
So there you have it. To villa or not villa, that is the question. I’d love to find a happy medium between villa and resort. Where have you been with your toddlers?