Self-Catering Holidays: The Hottest Way to Travel

By: Roger Munns

Even if "self-catering" is an unfamiliar term to you, you may at least be familiar with the concept. The idea became mainstream in the 2006 movie "The Holiday," however; self-catered travelling has actually been around in one form or another for decades.

Thanks in large part to the Internet's ability to considerably shrink geographical distances and make communication and the trading of services faster and easier, self-catered vacations have seen a tremendous surge in popularity in the last decade. Tourists who choose this style of travel forego the tradition of making vacation arrangements through a travel agent, who would normally perform services like booking a hotel, reserving a sight-seeing package, etc.

Instead, travelers book accommodations directly from a private owner or from a specialist villa holiday company who will put vacationers up in a home or condominium/apartment. As often than not, vacationers find their contacts through an Internet listing.

So why is the self-catered holiday the new ticket to a great vacation? The trend continues to catch fire with travellers worldwide for a number of reasons, including:

* Flexibility: Dealing directly with a private owner often means travelers get a better pick of travel dates. It's also easier to negotiate deals when it comes to length of stay, inclusiveness of a package and other things that wouldn't be possible with a hotel stay. It's also a great way to accommodate large families or groups of travelers without having to separate groups.

* Privacy: Choosing self-catered accommodations means not having to worry about nosy neighbors in close proximity or the sound of the ice machine down the hall at 2:00 am. Your accommodations are yours and yours alone. You also get a much more "homey" feeling than you might with a hotel room.

* Freedom: There's no need to worry about meal schedules because you're cooking for yourself, or you can simply choose a local restaurant at your own convenient time.

* Cost efficiency: This is one of the biggest reasons that travellers choose self-catered holidays. Dealing with a private owner almost always means you get a better rate than you would in a hotel. Places such as Mallorca, where many of the best hotels are close to the coast, travelers will pay a prime rate for beachfront property. However, if you go inland to a self-catered private home or condominium, you're much more likely to find a better rate; without having to sacrifice quality. Chances are, you'll still be only minutes from major amenities, shopping and sightseeing destinations.

Since your accommodation includes a kitchen facility, you have the option of saving money by cooking at least some of your own meals during your stay. Even if you choose to eat out, you'll probably be paying less for meals than you would at a hotel restaurant or with room service. Sometimes you can negotiate a better rate with a private owner, especially if you plan to stay for an extended period of time (a week or more). Plus, you get an entire residence for the duration of your stay rather than just one or two rooms and a restroom.

And don't think that your choices are limited just because you're choosing a non-traditional hotel vacation. There are self-catered accommodations all over the world with added features like a swimming pool, home gym, games room, entertainment center and many extras. Whatever kind of vacation you want, you're sure to find accommodations that suit your desires.

Just what kind of impact self-catered holidays are having on the hotel and hospitality industry is difficult to determine. The hotel industry in Spain continues to grow, despite the rising number of travellers who are choosing self-catered accommodations.

However, since the number of vacationers who have opted out of hotel stays for their holidays has also grown over the last several years, it may be a safe assumption that the tourism industry in Spain as a whole is growing. In fact, it's quite possible that the number of recreational tourists in Spain is on the rise because vacationers have so many options when it comes to accommodation and more people can now afford to travel than ever before. Whatever the case, it appears that self-catered holidays will continue to be a desirable and affordable way to travel and the tourism industry will be benefitted, rather than hurt, by this trend.

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