Baby Boomers first crossed the country on the new Interstate system as children. The lore of the leisurely Route 66 was replaced with speed and distance. This represented a watershed time in changing expectations for travel and vacations. The millions of Americans that hit the rode saw the creation of the first motel chains. Destination resorts became far more numerous and luxurious.
From Hotels to Resorts to Vacation Rentals
The early austere accommodations of the motor hotels (hence, motels) were initially intended to be simple, affordable overnight stopping points for newly mobile Americans. As the hotel and motel chains grew, the lines between their offerings blurred. In just one generation the market has segmented and specialized in such a way that travelers can find a place to sleep that fits any taste and budget.
The focus on destination resorts introduced the concept of vacationing at multipurpose locations designed for families, business travelers, conventions and similar large groups. Offering an ever increasing array of amenities, these resorts attract millions of vacationers a year.
In the past decade, a new trend has shown increasing popularity. The concept of vacation rentals has seen rapid growth, rising to an estimated 13 percent of the U.S. travel market in 2011. This is now approaching the level of a long term trend in Europe, where the vacation rental market runs 20 to 25 percent.
The Similarities and Differences between Resorts and Vacation Rentals
The primary difference between the traditional resort and a vacation rental is crowds. Resorts are corporate businesses. The infrastructure that makes a resort attractive translates into large staff and high fixed costs. To remain profitable, these resorts need high occupancy, all of the time. That can mean hundreds or even thousands of people on the property continuously.
The vacation rental concept, on the other hand, is based on the use of individual homes, condos or apartments. An individual or family at a vacation rental property may see no other vacationers during their entire stay. A lack of crowds means more privacy and independence. It also means not being bothered by service personnel and the ongoing maintenance that is so common at large resorts. Being on your own doesn’t mean being alone. Some vacation rental brokers have a menu of options for vacationers to choose from. This can include maid and shopping services, or even a private chef.
Resorts, on the other hand, compete to outdo each other with services, amenities and activities. The words pamper, meet your every need, and at your service are carried to their ultimate meaning at many resorts. Sometimes it’s fun to decide which of five gargantuan pools you want to visit. There are also times when an amazing buffet is just the ticket.
The financial differences between the two options of resort or vacation rental can be large or small, depending on your selections. Often, putting the family in one house is less expensive than two or three resort rooms.
The nice thing is that the differences aren’t an either or situation. You can plan a vacation at a resort this trip, and try a vacation rental the next. It’s all about having the vacation you and your travel partners want and deserve.