Sosua villa rentals are today an important aspect of the travel industry in the Caribbean region, and the whole vacation rental concept is expected to topple the hotel industry as early as 2020. unimaginable 20 years ago, it is now a reality. Turning properties into mini resorts by adding amenities found in the hotel business has created a massive, worldwide concept that has turned economies like Sosua and other areas of the DR into residential-type tourism destinations. Just look at how many hotels were active between the mid 1980`s to 2010 compared to 2018. Now travelers find more attractive to rent a villa than to book a hotel room.

ADVANTAGES OF VILLA RENTALS:

  • Total Privacy
  • Cleaner Swimming pool, Jacuzzi
  • Zero crowds
  • Secluded beach access ( on beach access ones )
  • Access to private chef, custom fresh meals
  • Disabled traveler accessible rentals
  • More living space than a hotel room
  • Zero timeshare vendors
  • Ability to have visitors
  • A more home-like atmosphere
  • Freedom of schedule
  • Better security through less strangers

Clearly, to most travelers there seems to be more advantages to renting private villas than not, as hotels pack larger numbers of people, offer smaller living areas per guest and have other limitations most would like to overcome. A villa has the advantage of privacy, so undesirable people can`t get into your space, and there will be a factor of zero when it comes to crowds. One aspect that probably has fueled the private vacation rental market is the swimming pool and jacuzzi, as many people just can`t share due to personal preference, or needs.

Therefore, those who travel to the Caribbean after postcard-like beaches will only make it when booking a private beach villa, as most secluded beaches are harder to get into through public roads. Between Sosua and Cabarete there are about 5-7 secluded beaches, and the very best ones are best accessed through gated communities where villa rentals are found. To the delight of most, Sosua Beach ( the largest beach in town ) is located 3-5 minutes away from most locations, by car and in some cases can be reached on foot.

Another critical aspect to most demanding travelers is the food, that most resorts can`t match when it comes to having a private chef that cooks specifically to a particular guest`s requirements; specially when ingredients and meat can be freshly purchased, guaranteeing a unique experience and minimizing food-related risks close to zero.

sweeping vista of a luxury villa rental in Sosua`s El Batey

Villa rentals in Sosua also offer chef, driver and concierge.

People with disabilities will find that even when many hotels ( and villas ) advertise as universal access friendly, they`re really not. There are some wheelchair friendly rentals, which is a great advantage for elderly and mobility-critical travelers. Some even offer caregivers to assist the needs of the guests, with accessible bathrooms and rooms – which is virtually nonexistent in resorts. Freedom of schedule is also a plus in the villas, as guests can plan their tours and activities with complete freedom, also the timing for the meals.

One complaint from many resorts are the vendors, another zero factor in villas as there is no way a vendor can get into a private villa and knock on the door to offer a timeshare ( beware, some villa resorts might do ). Villa resorts are different than “standard” villa rentals as the first are inside a resort while the latter are inside a residential community. Having guests over, or visitors is another advantage to a Sosua villa rental. Foreign or local, anyone can allow visitors to their villa given they provide security with permission to allow them in.  Weddings/bachelor party renters see the clear advantage when booking Sosua, perhaps more than other Dominican Republic destinations.

Sosua beach aerial photo

An aerial view of Sosua, courtesy of Golden Treasures.

DISADVANTAGES OF VILLA RENTALS:

  • More expensive than a hotel
  • Guests buy their own food, drinks
  • Need to pay for transportation
  • Less mingling with other travelers
  • Need to plan your own activities
  • No discos/bars inside the compound

 


The main disadvantages of villa rentals are related to overall costs; per room, a villa can cost two or three times the cost of a comparable lodging in a resort, and the food and drinks are to be covered by the renter. In cases where the hotel offers free airport transfer, the villas in their majority do not. Those travelers that book a resort to mingle with other people will find an all-inclusive more appealing than a villa rental. And to access bars and discos villa renters need to go out into town ( which can be a lot of fun, though ).

Will the hotel industry survive? of course. Not everyone can afford a private villa, and the all-inclusive industry makes most of their income from low priced deals.

SAFETY WHEN BOOKING A VILLA RENTAL:

Booking a villa rental anywhere in the world is very easy these days, just go online and you`ll find dozens of sites offering vacation rentals virtually everywhere. Spotting a bad listing is not the only concern, there are listings that use the same outdated photos taken on opening day, so guests find when they arrive that the place is not in the same condition as when first opened. The main tips to watch for when booking a villa are listed here:

  • Social media record ( how many years posting online ) Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus
  • Online site reputation and history ( is it a new or old .com  )
  • Number of published listings
  • Video, High Res Photos ( or the lack of it )
  • Branding across the web
  • Online security ( SSL ) green padlock icon in site URL bar. This is probably the first sign that a site takes their security as priority, now required by Google and other search engines.
SSL icon in bar

SSL in the URL bar is a must have for all sites.

LOCAL VS INTERNATIONAL SITES:

The main ways to book a villa are three: Local sites, International sites, and travel agents. Local sites have the top advantage over the region they serve; are mostly owned by management agencies ( who know exactly the condition in which each rental is at any given time ) and have far less margin for errors. Photos, videos and promo material provided by a local agency is prime, as it comes straight from the main source.

International sites, on the other hand, rely on what is sent to them by individuals, and over 80% do not verify on premises as it is a daunting task to be done on thousands of listings.  Some offer security by paying owners one day after check-in date, which is good. Travel agencies are reliable as long as their sources provide them with reliable service, and the relationship between the agency and owner dates back a few years so as to build trust.

VILLA RENTAL REVIEWS: It is well known that online reviews are 80% fake. Do not fall for reviews as many people manipulate them, we for instance know that most travelers with a good experience do not care to write reviews unless we explicitly ask them for a favor or offer them an incentive to do so. TIME magazine wrote an article years ago on the subject of online reviews. This Yelp review article also has important statistics on reviews. Do your own homework and check the list of main tips unless you know someone who can recommend a good provider out of their own experience.

VIDEOS AND PHOTOS: 

Large, high resolution images are much better to show how a rental looks like to the potential renter, but images are easier to edit and enhance so most people prefer to see a video ( motion picture ) instead. Having both is a plus, though the cost of producing a video is often the reason most listings don`t have it.

RATES AND FEES: Some rental booking websites will publish a low rate that will increase once the booking is done, because they add fees for cleaning, electricity and other extras. Always make sure you can tell what fees will be added and what services will be provided. Some listings show a very low rate because they miss on key services such as proper security ( no kidding ), power back up ( actual generators, not inverter batteries that don`t power A/C ) and properly maintained properties. Some rentals will include maid service only 3 times per week, so be sure to ask if you are getting daily service, or not.

RENTAL TERMS: With an industry as wide open as vacation rentals, terms vary as much as there`s fish on the ocean. Many sites will grant 60 days with full refund, others 30 days and so on. Whatever it is, always ask for the rental terms in the contract unless it is stated so. Some very large villas ( ultra luxury ones ) will have strict terms, beware. Usually, the smaller the rental, the more flexible the terms. Also, before making any reservation payment, be sure to ask if your intention is to bring parties into the villa ( as in bachelor parties ), or to host events such as weddings and receptions where outsiders will be coming in, or party set ups are needed.

CONCIERGE: Sosua vacation rentals do provide a better vacation than most hotels, but be sure to find out if you can get concierge service, or hire one if available online. Some rentals will include it free, while others will rely on the front desk staff in the case of communities that check in on a front desk instead of directly at the property.

Industry-wide sources and links on the subject:

© 2018 by Golden Treasures Villa Rentals.