If you are traveling with family or simply want some space for your next Disney vacation renting a private villa is an increasingly popular off-site accommodation solution.  There are tips and tricks along the way that will help you ensure you get the best value and the right property for you and your family.

Before You Go

Irrespective of whether your planned trip to Disney is a last-minute decision or over a year away, you need to start planning in advance.  Location is key and there are numerous short-term rental resort communities in and around the Kissimmee area.   Villas closest to Disney are most popular with some resorts such as Windsor Hills being just a few miles away.  Do research and ensure you select a resort that offers a free shuttle bus service to the parks.  Many resorts are built around large lagoon styles pools with waterparks so finding one with this also helps.  You’ll find all of the above at Windsor Hills as well as a large collections of villas with private pools.  We recommend you focus on resort first then narrow your choice down to a few specific resort communities.

Villa swimming pool

Next you should start reviewing individual villa listings and researching each on the internet.  Many villa owners in Florida give their property a name so a Google search should turn up several reviews.  These reviews should provide some insight in the property, the owner and the resort.   Next, start sending inquiries to owners and ask for quotes.  An owner will usually be willing to answer any questions you have about the property such as location within the resort and proximity of the resort to the nearest shop or restaurant.  ORLANDO TOURIST TIP: Owners willing to answer your questions or who phone you personally are likely to carry that high level of service through the whole transaction so this should be taken into consideration when making your final selection.  Many owners have websites so review this and take a look at the property interior.  Confirm with the owner that the pictures are current to ensure the property is still in the condition presented in the pictures.  Confirm whether the pool is south facing if you intend to spend time soaking up the sun during your stay.

enclosed screen pool at a villa near DisneyAfter asking for quotes from several owners you should prepare to negotiate.  The villa rental market in Orlando is highly competitive meaning fantastic deals can be got by shopping around.  Expect to pay on average around $1600 a week for a 6 bed villa with private pool.  Prices will vary throughout the year with September being a quiet and less costly month while prices peak during the festive period.  One way to land great deals is to spend time checking each property availability calendar and looking for available slots between periods of heavy booking.  Owners will often find it hard to fill a specific week if it’s enveloped by bookings so asking for a quote that fills that particular slot followed by some bartering is a great way to land a bargain.  Of course this approach will only work if you have flexibility in your own schedule and haven’t booked flights yet.  Lastly, don’t over-negotiate.  It just leaves a bad taste in the mouth and you’ll find owners have a lower limit they won’t cross.  You’ll soon find where that is.

Booking Up

When booking up expect an owner to provide you terms and conditions.  These should cover cancellation charges, liability guidelines, check in and check out times, payments terms and additional costs.  If an owner doesn’t offer these up, ask for them.  If they aren’t forthcoming be concerned and look elsewhere.  You’ll usually have to pay Florida state taxes on your booking as well as additional costs for cleaning and pool heat if you want this switched on during your stay.  When asking for costs always request them as “inclusive of all taxes and extra charges.”   Florida State law demands that owners need to keep record of who is staying in the villa so expect to be asked to provide a list of all party members.  Every owner will have their own payment terms but standard practice is to ask for a deposit to hold the reservation with full payment required between 4-8 weeks prior to arrival.

outside photo of rented villaAfter Booking

After you’ve booked up feel free to stay in touch with the owner.  They are usually happy to answer any questions that come up as your vacation approaches.  Owners are often a rich source of local info and tips so ask for their advice on things such as car-hire, restaurants, dinner shows (such as Capone’s Dinner & Show) activities and theme park tickets.

During Your Stay

Just before arrival the owner should provide you with all the information you’ll need for your stay.  You’ll get passes to enter the resort if it has a manned secure entry gate.  You’ll need codes to get access to the villa, passwords for the wifi (which every villa should have now).   You may need access codes or passes to gain entry to the resort pool area or waterpark.  Expect a standard email from the owner that details all this.  Most owners don’t actually stay locally so they usually contract out day to day maintenance and support to a management company.  You should get the details of the management company in advance of your stay.  These will be your first point of contact if something goes wrong such as a broken toaster.  A good owner will usually be more than happy to take calls and answer queries during your stay as well.

After Your Stay

After your stay the owner will usually get in touch to ensure your departure went to plan and that you were happy with your vacation accommodation.  Return business is vital so building a relationship is valuable (for both parties) if you are a regular at Walt Disney World.  Owners will often offer better rates to return guests if they know the property will be treated with respect.

Most of all research is king.  Do your research on the internet and you’ll be sure to land the right villa rental for you at the right price.