Choose the right KIND of home

Choose the right kind of home – The best part of vacation homes is that they can give you amenities that no other lodging can provide.  How about your own private swimming pool?  Or your own private hot tub?  The important thing is to know what is available and to know what you are getting.

Most of the individually-owned short-term rental communities consist of three different kinds of homes:  condos, townhomes and pool homes.  All provide so much more than a hotel room:  a full kitchen, their own washer & dryer, three or more bedrooms with a minimum of two bathrooms, but each has their own advantages & disadvantages.

Condos – are typically 2 or 3 bedrooms with 2 bathrooms.  The usually come in 3 to 4-story buildings (hint:  ask about the availability of an elevator to avoid challenging luggage logistics).  They are usually close to the clubhouse and community pool because it is the only pool that is available.  Of course this means every trip to the pool becomes a complex family movement requiring coordination and the challenge of finding a pool chair.  You also have neighbors on all sides, above & below except for the scenery in one direction, so make sure to ask about the view.  Parking is en masse, uncovered, and usually unassigned so the walk to your unit can vary.

Townhomes – are typically 2-story homes with 2 bedrooms upstairs and 1 bedroom downstairs.  They have 2 or 3 bathrooms.  In back, some have a 10 foot by 10 foot ‘splash pool’ in a small screen-enclosed lanai.  The lanai allows you to swim and avoid the swarming mosquitoes or other biting bugs.  With the narrow dimensions of the homes/lanais, there is little space to have a pool lounger or to dine outdoors.  If you’re paying for a pool of any kind, make sure your read the section on pool info regarding pool heat to make sure you’re not stuck with the choice of an unusable pool or unexpected costs.  Parking for a single vehicle is usually right in front of the unit and uncovered. 

Pool Homes – are typically 4 to 6 bedrooms with 3 to 5 bathrooms, but the emphasis is not the cost per bedroom as much as the options you’ll enjoy.  These are free-standing homes with a private, in-ground swimming pool that provides an instant use for the kids combined with privacy & guaranteed pool lounger for the parents.  The pool & yard are usually enclosed in a large screened-in area called a lanai that provides spacious outdoor living without the harassment of biting insects.  Inside the lanai you have a wide variety of options, many that come with an extra fee including:  a private hot tub, gas BBQ, a lake view, outdoor speakers, pool/hot tub heat.  Parking is usually an attached garage, simplifying luggage logistics.

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Romancing the Mouse reply:  In our opinion, the only different vacation experience comes from a pool home.  A timeshare condo is frequently less expensive, higher standards of quality and less hassle than a privately-owned condo.  A townhome is a teaser, but with a tiny splashpool and even smaller deck space enclosed in a lanai, there are no options to enjoy Florida outdoor living.

Only a pool home provides a place for parents to really relax after the kids are in bed:  a swimming pool, BBQ, outdoor dining, and a private hot tub.