If you want to get away for a while and actually get away from other people, sometimes you have to pay for it.
Honestly, people pegging their vacations to the price of gasoline probably aren't getting that far away from the surge of summer vacationers. They'll be sitting in airport security lines three hours long while folks who travel enough to consider $85 and fingerprints for TSA Precheck a bargain just breeze by. According to TripAdvisor, 78% will spend as much on vacation as they did last year -- $8,600 -- while others will spend that much just to avoid being stacked on top of everyone else in a hotel.
No, they're going to be among the 38% going on more long trips. They might exceed Baby Boomers' average retirement-fueled travel budget of $10,600. However, while they might benefit from airfares that have decreased 10% since last summer, according to travel site Orbitz, they won't be impressed by hotel rates that have risen 17% during the same span. With roughly 80% of all U.S. summer travelers staying in the states, the haves will be spending their way away from the have-nots.
"Affordable airfare, low gas prices, and a strong hotel market are early indications this will be a busy summer travel season," said Orbitz Senior Editor Jeanenne Tornatore. "And with average vacation budgets under $1,500, travelers will be seeking out savings, which they'll find by booking packages and using hotel promotion codes."
With the summer vacation market flooded with frugal travelers, the folks at TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals kept an eye on the higher end of the accommodation spectrum and found ten vacation houses that are in a class of their own. They have enough amenities to let you relax, but a high enough weekly price tag to keep the rabble away:
10. The Jungle
Location: Miami Beach, Fla.
Weekly rate: $39,200
Miami Beach has many lures for vacation travelers, but subtlety isn't one of them.
If you're paying this price for a week's vacation, you want to live as if Dwyane Wade is going to stop over at any time to use the basketball court. You want to live as if Luke Campbell is going to pull up to the private dock at any moment and ask to use the place as a setting for a 2 Live Crew reunion video. You're going to want to be in a place where, if Shakira wants to borrow the piano, she can feel free to do so while you adjourn to the terrace.
This three-bedroom, six bathroom Venetian Islands villa known as The Jungle offers all of the above, a beige felt pool table, two outdoor wet bars, a fire pit, a hot tub, an interior bar with a custom marble top that can changes colors, Balinese stone floors, statues and a see-through wine cave. That weekly rate doesn't come with access to the neighbors, but it does afford you the ability to live like one of them -- if only for a few days.
9. Palm Desert Villa
Location: Palm Desert, Calif.
Weekly rate: $39,760
Don't listen to TLC's advice from the '90s: by all means, chase waterfalls.
This particular property, located on the 18th hole of the Desert Springs Golf Course features a resort-style pool with waterfalls and fountains and poolside outdoor private areas for lounging and dining. It's Old-World Tuscan villa meets new money, as an interior clad in marble, laden with art and covered in vaulted ceilings invites visitors to stay for a corporate retreat or golf outing.
With seven bedrooms all featuring their own bathrooms, there's enough privacy to make large parties feel comfortable. With four golf courses within ten miles of the property; however, it's like living in a golf resort -- without the random drunks crowding the clubhouse bar after you finish up the back nine.
8. Villa W198
Location: Kissimmee, Fla.
Weekly rate: $39,998
This is how much money many parents would pay not to stay at Disney World, if they could afford it. To not be kneecapped by running kids every time you stepped out of your hotel room, to not be harassed by roving "characters" in felt suits during breakfast and to not have to cram into the monorail with tired families about half a ride away from a complete meltdown is nothing shy of a luxury.
And that's what you're getting at this home just 12 minutes from the Disney parks. With four bedrooms, four bathrooms and room for eight, this home in Reunion Resort Orlando overlooks a Jack Nicklaus golf course and features a pool and hot tub with views of the course. Sure, the home theatre, game room, video game library and outdoor kitchen are nice, but having a place to soak when you've spent all day on lines that your special tickets were supposed to bypass comes in handy. Theme park trips are long, but they get a lot longer when you're not able to recharge properly between days on your feet.
7. Villa Dinama
Location: Miami Beach, Fla.
We're just going to keep putting homes in the Venetian Islands on this list because, well, they're ridiculous.
Villa Dinama has 3,000 square feet of patios, balconies and terraces alone. It's basically a party deck built around an infinity-edge swimming pool and outdoor living areas butting up against separate boat and jet ski docks. You can see all of it from behind the glass walls of the 7,700-square-foot home and its seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, room for 12 and smart home technology.
The automatic entrance gate seems like a given at this price, as does the game room, but a chauffeur to take you the seven minutes to South Beach and VIP club host to get you into all the best spots are particularly nice touches. Sure, you could use this for a family outing, but you might be better off using it as a reward for the entourage.
6. Ocean Villa
Location: Malibu, Calif.
Weekly rate: $43,750
We're going to switch coasts from Miami to Malibu, if only to give folks with an eye for stars' homes a change of scenery.
With an ocean view, private beach and private dock, this six-bedroom, six bathroom villa sleeps 12 and puts you within the same rarified air as Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Martin, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston and so many other famous folks that listing them here would take up the rest of this entry. And while it may not look like you're getting much for your money -- huge patio, fire pit, outdoor barbecue, balcony, hot tub, chef's kitchen -- your access to Broad Beach, Malibu's billionaire beach, and a private dock are the key draws at this cost.
5. Villa Teaka
Location: Miami, Fla.
Weekly rate: $43,167
O.K., we promise that this is the last spot anywhere near Miami, but we had to include it if only to show how it makes the houses that we listed before it look like rooms at a La Quinta.
At some point, the folks with the finances to fund homes like these decided that they really loved what vacation homes looked like in Bali -- but didn't feel like hopping a flight to Indonesia each weekend. This 6,000-square-foot waterfront home in the Venetian Islands makes its 60 feet of water frontage, pool and huge rooftop deck feel like throw-ins compared to its interior details. Lofted ceilings over the great room, expansive bay windows, Bangkirai wood trim, a chef's kitchen and an entertainment room with pool table and color-changing marble-topped bar (seriously, everybody got the memo on this feature at the same time) all combine to make Villa Teaka absolutely extraordinary.
No, it isn't Miami Beach, but you wouldn't have its skyline view if it was. Enjoy the master suite's water view, the poolside fire pit and hot tub, outdoor dining and basketball court. Considering this house's rental terms make exceptions for "city approved and permitted video and photo shoots," you'll be living in the kind of aspirational luxury even music video directors dream of.
4. Malibu Estate
Location: Malibu, Calif.
Weekly rate: $43,867
So what does a little extra get you in Malibu? A tradeoff.
This four-bedroom, four bathroom villa only sleeps ten, but kicking out those extra two guests gets you a pool, a rooftop terrace with a fireplace; barbecue and wet bar, a great room with sliding glass walls and a two-story fireplace, a billiard room and a jetted tub in the master bathroom.
You'll actually have to drive to El Matador Beach, but at least you'll have enough to keep you entertained at home to make leaving less of a temptation.
Location: Beverly Hills, Calif.
Weekly rate: $46,500
We've now reached the not-playing-around portion of the list. This five-story palazzo sits in one of the most famous addresses in the world and isn't just luring you with ten bedrooms, nine bathrooms and room for 20. It wants you to know that it's hosted Grammy Awards parties, Video Music Awards, afterparties, Academy Awards events and a whole lot of other affairs that should get the yokel renters' tongues wagging.
On four acres in the middle of Beverly Hills, the Palazzo is reachable only by its quarter-mile driveway. It has valet service available for parties. It has concierge service available should you need shuttle access or anything else. Its entertainment room is basically a theater with a pool table in it.
The chef's kitchen, the mountain views, the heated pool, the spa, the hot tub, the private cabanas, the domed roof for skygazing, the full gym, the Greek marble and the 100-inch flatscreen in the master bedroom are all above and beyond anything we've offered you so far. This isn't where the stars live: This is the place that the head of the studio that just told a star in Malibu to take it walking after a contract dispute calls home.
2. Aspen Core Luxury
Location: Aspen, Colo.
Weekly rate: $49,000
You're just moving up the hierarchy from stardom to power to "captain of industry."
We're starting to drift into the trappings of true wealth here, and few places exude wealth quite as well as this five-bedroom, five-bathroom, ten-person Aspen villa that's clearly just someone's vacation home. Right in the heart of downtown Aspen a block from The Little Nell and Gondola Plaza, this villa is in walking distance of the Wheeler Opera House and just minutes away from the Aspen Golf & Tennis Club. With its outdoor hot tub.expansive covered and heated porch, outdoor barbeque, two indoor wet bars, multiple gas fireplaces, laundry facilities, elevator and wine cellar, this villa is meant to function as a resplendent home for when you want a change of scenery from your other resplendent home.
Yes, you'll miss ski season, but the Aspen Music Festival and School runs year-round, while the mountain views are gorgeous any time of year.
1. Polynesian Palace
Location: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
Weekly rate: $49,000
This is about as big as it gets on the Big Island.
Royal Kailua Estate is a 11,000-square-foot property overlooking Kailua Bay. With eight bedrooms, nine bathrooms and room for four behind its ten-foot-tall wooden gate, this estate goes big with its amenities as well. The natural stone pool has its own waterfall and a hot tub just steps away. The pool cabana has its own kitchen and bar, while the home itself is packed with a library, jetted tubs, a professional kitchen and views from just about every room.
With access to kayaking, windsurfing, kite boarding and scuba diving, the estate does its best to give its guest a private slice of Hawaii. If you're considering a family compound in the area, perhaps after your stint as leader of the free world, this sprawling spot may be worth a look.