Vacations have evolved since I was a kid. We were a small family and most times a single hotel room and a cooler with deli meats and cheeses for sandwiches would pretty much take care of our weekend getaway needs. It seems like everything was easier in the 90’s, including being the vacation planning authority in your family. Fast forward a few decades and options are almost unlimited. Since we have the world at our fingertips, let’s think outside the hotel. In fact, ditch that notion entirely. We’re talking resort residences for our next destination.

Resort Residence Amenities

Photo Credit: Amanda Williams / Rural TravelingMom

Is anyone else ready for a little change up? I cannot be the only one that ends up wanting to sit on that little luggage stand locked in the closet when the walls of the hotel room seem to be closing in around you! If you’ve been there – I mean literally been there, in the closet or the bathroom or wherever your ‘happy place’ is when your party has outgrown your accommodations – then rejoice in knowing that in this millenia, there is a better way to stay!

The Last Straw

Let me share with you a little story. It’s the story of about a ten minute span from a recent trip that my family took with some of our relatives and friends to celebrate some birthdays and just kick back and enjoy time together. It’s also the moment in time when I think we stopped booking hotels for anything but our immediate family and searching for bigger, better options when we wanted a joint vacation with others.

Hotels are History!

hotel versus resort residence

Photo Credit: Amanda Williams / Rural TravelingMom


Slam! Cousin Will comes busting into the hotel room (the more expensive family suite to be exact) and drips across the entire space with a certain swagger only a toddler can pull off, in a soaked diaper and swim-assist body flotation device no less.

Slam! Through the door come two more cousins. What are we eating?! We’re STAAAAAAAAAAARVING. (Of course they’re starving! Breakfast was only 23 minutes ago and the evidence of that grand production is still balancing on the end table that has been employed as the eating epicenter for the weekend getaway in the hotel room. Extension cords and slow cookers are bubbling away with lunch and dinner. The floor resembles a Texas Roadhouse – with the amount of detritus from snacking there, the kids must be purposely shucking food onto the floor, right? Quick! Run back out into the hotel hallway and make sure to slam the door again!

Slam! No one came in door from the pool. Nope. That slam was the adjoining room door being pulled shut before the two ankle-biter dogs that my mom and dad adopted could escape. Maybe if they would have allowed the dogs in my room, it would have improved upon the situation though – like mini vacuums!

Meanwhile, grandpa is taking the world’s longest shower, determined to make the bathroom his own personal sauna. The shower made a curious squeal once the knob went past anything other than ‘tepid’ – so at this point the din in the room was a magical barage for most of the senses! The other bathroom, in the other adjoining room is being taken up with fizzling science project eggs, a Pinterest party favor gone wild. Vinegar is emanating from that commode.

Resort Residences instead of hotels

Photo Credit: Amanda Williams / Rural TravelingMom

Through all the commotion and kinfolk parading in and out from the pool area through the suite and into the adjoining hotel room, miraculously the baby was able to score a nap in a teeny alcove whilst chaos continued to coalesce around him.

Yep, we’d be leaving housekeeping a sizable tip and just praying that we didn’t see any “incidental” charges crop up from the extreme use of the rooms with our very large group of family and friends. Whoever said this would be a vacation clearly channeled the spirit of a sardine while booking our accommodations.

Sound even a little familiar? Granted, our family seems to encourage a certain kind of crazy and chaos unique to our genes, but I think we’ve all been there. There’s a reason resort residences are the new lodging go-to and hotel alternative for savvy family travelers: more space, often less money, always more smiles.

Resort residences offer outstanding value, often with more room and fun amenities for your travel dollars than a typical hotel can provide. Though many families are seeing the proverbial light, there are still others that keep pulling out their hair trying to host reunions, birthday parties, and group vacations from within multiple hotel rooms like the debacle we hosted last winter. Let me count the ways you’ll WIN at vacation planning once you make the switch like we did!

Resort residences Orlando

Photo Credits: Amanda Williams / Rural TravelingMom

Resort Residences Save Money

$200? Boom! That’s about what you’ll drop per night, per room for typical hotel digs. More for the larger suites that you’ll ultimately be booking. $20 per plate? Pretty standard for a sit-down meal at most restaurants. Feeding  and housing 14 people? Wow. That’s getting expensive already.

We cannot ooze enough enthusiasm about full-sized living spaces and kitchens and having coffee made in the actual cooking epicenter of a vacation rental and not two feet from the stool in the loo! Gross! Why have we put up with such things for so long?

Resort Residences Offer Amenities

Resort residences give you access to the amenities of home but the location of paradise. Fully equipped kitchens allow you to cook many or all of your meals, thus saving money and sanity. Remember all the door-slamming kids from my hotel nightmare? Let me just say, they do NOT get quieter when we stick them in a stuffy restaurant in sticky high chairs and make them wait to feed. Our clan evokes the dining style and habits of a lion pride with a fresh zebra dinner at chow time. Not something we like to take out on the town.

resort residences family vacation rental

Photo Credit: Amanda Williams / Rural TravelingMom

We once left an expensive dinner with an armful of crayons, coloring pages, and even stuffed animals. We hadn’t won the award for ‘best family’ at the restaurant and we weren’t the recipients of door prizes for being the 100th customers that evening. We were the proud parents of two kids that were strung out from vacation fun and decided, much to our chagrin, that the middle of our delicious meal was when they were going to mount their attack on our pride and our parenting toolkit. Well, we ran out of tricks and soon the restaurant was running out anything they could think of to keep the kids happy long enough for us to reconcile the bill and get out of their hair. Tactics included extra gaspacho (an odd but effective way to get the smallest one to behave momentarily) and even stuffed animals, compliments of the attached gift shop. Yep. That resort residence is paying for itself already, isn’t it? Think of the freedom and culinary control you’ll enjoy in your pajamas official vacation uniform!

The larger spaces of resort residences offer groups the ability to travel together and split the lodging costs. This means instead of stuffing yourselves into a room with a few bunkbeds and pull-out couches, everyone might get some privacy! Maybe even their very own bed! This offers a more affordable per-night rate as well as a better overall experience for the group.

Cost/Benefit: What You Might Miss (Or Not)

This varies widely by site, but you can usually make do without some of the extras that hotels might provide. Little Lulu might have to make her own bed. You might need to whip out that Smartphone and be your own concierge. Since you’re not just renting a house with these Airbnb alternatives, you’ll likely be getting all the benefits of a larger resort complex, which means activities for all the ages of your group and even daily housekeeping service. Want to enjoy that waterslide? Go ahead, buddy, slide all day long.

You’ll likely lose the sous chef by cooking in instead of eating out – unless cousin Freyda happens to moonlight with Emeril or something – BUT you’ll keep your cool since your kids probably won’t be blowing their tops. You might also have to tote your own high chair – but then again, with many resort residences if you call ahead you can arrange those little details too!

And if you’re looking to make fantasy into reality, renting could be your chance to discover what it feels like to live in an oceanfront villa in Maui. Oftentimes, resort residences have much nicer appliances, open space and mattresses than I feel our home does! (Not to mention most are so well-appointed – no mountains of kids crafts and DVD collections – a vacation from all the clutter of home!) For me, getting away from it all while still having it all is the only way to go.

Resort Residences — The Best Way to Stay

resort residences Maui

Photo Credit: Amanda Williams / Rural TravelingMom

Vacation rentals are an economical, practical option for families and large groups who would otherwise have to pay for more than one hotel room. Sharing a house lets you strike a compromise between togetherness and privacy; you can enjoy family meals together in the communal kitchen, but you’ll also have enough space for everyone to come and go as they please. Parents will appreciate not having to get the kids dressed to go down to breakfast in a hotel restaurant. In your own kitchen, PJ’s are perfectly acceptable!

If you’re looking for some really well-curated options in the realm of resort residences, Vacatia has perfected the vetting process for finding the best amenities and resort extras families love, putting them in one convenient place.