Hotel vs. Vacation Rental?
Your bags may not be packed (yet) but you’re ready to go – to Tamarindo, that is! You’re excited and you wish you were already there yet, are we right?
But, before you get here, you have an important decision to make: Where will you stay in Tamarindo? More specifically, are you going to book a hotel or a vacation rental?
It’s not the simple decision it used to be: There is no longer a clear-cut difference, on paper, between Tamarindo hotels and vacation rentals. In fact, over the last decade or so, Tamarindo’s vacation rentals have upped their game and are now outfitted with high-end furnishings and electronics, overlooking spectacular views, and even offering many of the traditional hotel-only amenities, including daily housekeeping, concierge services, and daily breakfasts.
In other words, fine amenities are no longer the distinguishing factor between hotels and vacation rentals. So, what is? When should you book a Tamarindo hotel vs. opt for a vacation rental? Well, that depends a lot on you. Our checklist helps you make the decision:
A Hotel Might Be Right for You If…
If you’re in town for just a night or two, a hotel room is a great choice. Hotel staff are used to fast turnover and most hotels have no minimum stay, so you can roll in at 11 p.m. and be out the next morning at 4 a.m. if need be.
You Want to Be on the Main Road
If only the beating heart of downtown Tamarindo will do – if you want to be neighbor to a restaurant and kitty-corner to a bar – then it’ll be easier to find a hotel that meets your needs. (Note: Tamarindo is small, at just a mile north to south, so if you’re willing to walk a block or two off the main drag, then plenty of vacation homes, especially of the condo and townhome variety, will become available.)
You’re Traveling Alone (or Nearly So)
If you’re traveling alone or with a partner, then you may not need (or want) the space, privacy, and autonomy of a private vacation home. Bottom line: It’s a lot easier to make the economics and convenience of a hotel room work for 1-2 people than it is to coordinate rooms for your family of 5-6.
You’re Traveling Last-Minute
If you’re traveling to Tamarindo at the last minute, you can probably hop online and find empty hotel rooms at a great cost – sometimes, 25-40% off the standard rate! And, while vacation rentals also offer last-minute deals, hotels are usually the more easily booked: Just log in to a third-party site, and reserve, even if you’re checking in in just a few hours.
A Vacation Rental Might Be Right for You If…
You Value Your Privacy
The hotel life isn’t for everyone. If the thought of paper-thin walls and housekeepers with keys, crowded pools and luggage trundling down shared hallways doesn’t sound like a vacation, then you’ll appreciate the unparalleled privacy of a Tamarindo vacation home. Whether you’re in a high-rise condo or palatial estate, your space is yours.
You’d Like Space to Spread Out
Not only does the average hotel room measure a mere 350 square-feet, but hotel room sizes are trending smaller– into the 170 to 200 square-foot realm. That’s a tight squeeze! A vacation rental invites you to step out of the shoebox and into a full home’s worth of space, usually in the 1,250+ square-foot range and, often, heading into the 3,000-, 4,000-, and 5,000+ square-foot stratosphere.
You Like to Eat in. Or at Least, to Make Coffee
When was the last time you truly enjoyed hotel-room coffee? We’ll wait…
All righty, then. No one enjoys hotel-room coffee because it’s not freshly ground, you get one measly cup at a time – there’s nothing like a 6 a.m. coffee-maker line/race between you and your traveling companions, right?! – and there’s nowhere fun to sip it.
At a vacation rental, though, you have a full kitchen – for anything from pouring a bowl of cereal and prepping picnic sandwiches, to whipping up a local feast and brewing up a full pot of morning coffee, which you can then enjoy overlooking the ocean. Or poolside. Or on your own private balcony. Because that’s how you roll.
You’re Traveling with Family or Friends
A vacation home really shines, when it comes to sharing your space. If you’re traveling with kids, or with extended family, or even with a group of friends, a vacation rental affords space for time together and room for private moments apart.
In other words, it’s a shared space for your shared vacation – in a hotel, you’d be separated, with no place to gather for meals and camaraderie – while still promising plenty of private space for a relaxing vacation. Plus, today’s finer vacation rentals are sure to offer the comforts of home – game libraries and pool toys, tech entertainment and private pools – to please everyone in your group.
We can all agree – the sound of group satisfaction (and no “I’m boooooored!” refrains) is absolutely priceless.
You Appreciate Amenities. ALL Amenities
When you’re in town for longer than a long weekend, you start to miss the conveniences of home. That’s why, when it comes to amenities, it’s not about just the luxuries of daily housekeeping or an on-property whirlpool: You want fast Internet. You’d love a private pool – no sharing! And you need a washer/dryer, a full-size refrigerator, a coffee maker, and other nice-to-have amenities, like more than one TV, a full-size stove, and real tableware.
Bottom line: A vacation home is more than a room with a view. It promises all the conveniences of home, with a unique and often luxurious touch. You can be ocean view or oceanfront, in a cozy condo or sprawling estate with a sprinkling of private cottages, in town or at lavishly private property.
You Like to Save Money
As a general rule, even if you’re a couple with need only of a single bedroom, you’ll save money on a vacation rental. Put another way: Amenity for amenity, luxury for luxury, in an apples-to-apples comparison of a vacation rental vs. hotel room, the vacation rental usually offers greater bang for your buck, even when judging strictly by the numbers and not accounting for the price per square foot.
Example: This 2-bedroom condo at Pueblo Colonial offers colonial architecture, handcrafted woodwork, private balconies, and full living/kitchen and one of the best pools in Tamarindo, and yet the condo runs just $120-$151 per night (not including holidays). On the flip side, one room at a 4-star hotel in Tamarindo starts around $175 and climbs well into the $300+ range.
And that doesn’t even begin to consider all the money you save simply by preparing a few easy meals at “home”…
And You Hate Hidden Fees
We’ve all been there: You arrive at your hotel and discover there’s an extra fee for parking, or for breakfast ($15 a person? For your family of 4?!), or for use of the air-conditioner (yikes), or for undisclosed room tax. Consensus: It’s not the good kind of surprise.
Book your Tamarindo vacation rental with a reputable company or owner, and the total you see is usually the total you get: With the exception of certain amenities, for example, access to exclusive beach clubs, the full rate (from a reputable company) for your Tamarindo vacation rental includes everything from use of the pool and a/c, to included concierge services and Costa Rica’s required 13% lodging tax.
At the end of the day, the choice of Tamarindo hotel vs. vacation rental comes down to you: What is your vacation style? What needs and wants top your list? Because, what one traveler values the next may not. Choose what’s right for you. And have a wonderful time in Tamarindo!
This blog post was written by Erin Raub for Stay in Tamarindo, a full-service concierge and vacation rental company located in Tamarindo, Playa Langosta, Hacienda Pinilla, and Playa Flamingo.