If you are looking for an authentic experience with true Jamaican culture, you might want to consider renting a vacation home. There are many options scattered throughout the island from quaint cottages for budget travellers, to multi-bedroom villas and condos that can accommodate large groups. Whatever your budget will allow, you can easily replicate the luxury comforts of a five-star hotel inclusive of a personal chef and maid service, or go the route of shopping for local food and preparing it yourself.
1. Set a budget
When preparing a budget, give consideration to the cost of living in Jamaica and the amenities that will be necessary to make your stay comfortable. If you choose luxury-inclusive accommodation, your costs will be much higher than if you opt to prepare your own food and take care of light housekeeping. Your budget should include allocations for food, entertainment and tours, housekeeping, property maintenance, as well as laundry costs. Amenities like access to a pool or private beach can also cost extra so be prepared.
2. Discuss layout and privacy
Be sure to have a frank discussion with the landlord about security and privacy. Have a discussion about who is allowed on the property and at what times. Will other renters be staying in the home or on the same property? You need to know. Also, how does the layout facilitate your enjoyment of the property? If a beach view is a priority, or the bedrooms offer little privacy, these are factors that should be discussed before renting.
3. Research locations and neighborhood
With the help of a real estate agent, do conduct a thorough research of the neighborhood and scout various locations before making a final decision. Before finalizing the agreement, make sure you are convinced that the area where the property is located is not only safe, but within reasonable distance of emergency and medical services, as well as conveniences like supermarkets and restaurants.
4. Understand the duties of the housekeeper
If there is an onsite housekeeper, be sure that you understand what they are there to do. Do not assume that they will cook three meals a day as well as keep the property clean. At some properties, the cook and housekeeper are two separate people and therefore attract separate costs. But some places will provide a housekeeper who will also prepare meals and act as an impromptu tour guide if asked.
5. Book your stay in the off season
You can realize significant savings just by booking your vacation rental home during the off season which ranges from mid-April to mid-December. During this time, rental costs can drop by as much as 50% and many landlords will offer incredible deals and even include extra amenities to entice visitors.
6. Research and compare properties
Before you make a decision, conduct a comprehensive search of the properties available on the island to see what matches up to your tastes. You can do this with the help of a real estate agent, or do it yourself online. Whether you are travelling alone or with a group, looking for beachside or eco-friendly property, make sure that it is conveniently located and has sufficient space for the activities you have in mind.
7. Search for reviews and contact reviews
While researching different properties, read reviews to find out what previous renters have to say. Travel review sites like TripAdvisor are a great place to start. You can even contact some reviewers who will be only too happy to share their experience, good or bad, and offer tips and recommendations that can improve your stay.