Monday, June 16, 2008

Where You Gonna Sleep?

So you're headed to Carriacou. Great! Now where are you going to stay?

Some factors to consider: How many are in your travel party? How many nights are you staying? What location characteristics are important to you? What are your plans for dining? How much are you willing to pay to be pampered?

We'll stop at that, as most other factors are simply a derivative of those already in this list.

The fewer in your travel party, the greater the options; it's that simple. The more people you add to your travel party, the fewer locations on the island that can accommodate you all as one group. There are many options across the island for those of you traveling alone or as a couple.

The longer you plan on staying, the better sense it makes to find a more 'permanent' lodging option; a place to make home camp while you enjoy the adventure of the island. Some lodging options require a stay of five nights or more to justify the work of accommodating guests.

Location becomes an issue depending upon your on-island travel options (i.e. on-foot, 'bus' or rental car) and what kind of entertainment you seek (i.e. are you a party animal or limin' fool?).

Some people like to go on holiday to avoid the kitchen, while others don't mind doing a little housekeeping to create a fun group activity.

Finally, are you willing to pay for room service or does your budget limit you to a sleeping bag and a tent? Ha!

Here's the situation for our family, your travel party may or may not resemble us.

We are a family of five, although this year our oldest teen daughter will be on a school trip to Europe and unable to join us in Carriacou. So we needed a lodging option that could accommodate two adults and two young teen children. Young teens. You know. "I need my privacy" kind of age, so no chance of them sharing a room with Mom and Dad. We are not aware of hotels on Carriacou that have adjoining rooms, so our lodging hunt jumps directly to villas (houses).

Although we would love to have a long stay on the island, we are limited to ten days. That is sufficiently long for villa rentals. Most villas require at least a one-week stay with the start or end landing on a Saturday in order to accommodate other potential renters. A ten-day stay can test your vacation budget if your lodging choice is on the expensive side. Unfortunately, money is a factor for this family, so the villa's features must be carefully considered.

Location is one of the most critical components for us. Our family is not into wild night life (hence, our selection of Carriacou for a destination). We prefer quiet nights with few lights to disturb our view of the starlit skies. We rent a car (easier and more affordable with a group of four), so distance from Hillsborough is not critical. The rental car also allows us to easily visit beaches and sites around the island, as well as for making trips to town for provisions.

Our family is a pretty typical American bunch. Dad works a lot of hours and travels on business often. Mom is busy with a job of her own and well as taxi duty with the children. The kids are involved in a lot of school and extra-curricular activities. That means that most nights, dinners are disjointed and very un-family-like. With this in mind, you may understand how our family actually enjoys time together in the kitchen! The whole process of shopping for provisions on the island ("What's THAT?" "Is this edible?" "Coke Light?") has made many memories for us, and we all have a blast pitching-in to make a meal to share. Therefore, having to provide our own housekeeping is actually a benefit we seek.

That leaves us with the final consideration: cost. As we have all learned a long time ago, 'you get what you pay for', so we shop carefully. It is not always easy to place the lodging options on a comparable basis; one can have a better location, while another has a pool, while another is less expensive. We actually create a table that lists the features, the pros and the cons. For this year's vacation, we have decided on a villa in the L'Esterre region; Las Tortugas (www.lastortugasvilla.com). It meets our needs as well as some of our Caribbean living dreams (it is our holiday after all, so we are allowed to splurge a little). Our family would rather spend a bit more on accommodations and be thrifty on our dining options. Maybe more on that in a later post...