Villas in Jamaica FAQs
Q. Why a Villa?
A private villa is a unique vacation experience! Many travelers return to the same villa year after year and come to think of the property as their Jamaican home away from home. This is because villa vacations are all about personalized attention and service. Do you prefer breakfast at noon? No problem. Would you like having a pool all to yourself? Lounging in a hammock in your own private tropical garden? This is what a private villa vacation can provide. Privacy, the ability to set your own schedule, genuine relaxation, and the opportunity to experience true Jamaican hospitality and service.
Q. What is the difference between a villa, apartment/condo and cottage resort?
A villa is a free-standing private home that is made available for rent to vacation travelers. Private villas range from 1-10 bedrooms in size and offer additional living space such as living rooms, dining areas, patios or verandas. Some also have dens or recreation rooms. Almost all private villas have their own private pool and full staff. Apartments and condos range from studios to 3 bedroom units and are generally found within small complexes with shared pool facilities. Most apartments and condos offer fully equipped kitchen facilities or kitchenettes for guests to do their own cooking. All apartment/condo units offer daily maid service and some offer additional cook service. Cottage resorts vary in style--some offer free-standing individual cottages, while others offer different accommodation-types housed within one building. Whatever your preference, VillasInJamaica.com has the style of accommodation you need!
Q. What is the maximum occupancy of a villa?
As a general rule, villas have a maximum occupancy of 2 guests per bedroom. Therefore if you are a party of six, we suggest a three-bedroom villa. If you are a party of eight, a four-bedroom villa is most suitable, etc. Since villas are wonderful accommodation choices for families, additional children may be accommodated beyond the maximum occupancy if enough bedding is in place at the particular villa chosen. In some cases, additional adults can be accommodated, however additional person charges or cot fees may apply
Q. What is the minimum night-stay?
Most villas have a 5 - 7-night minimum year round, shorter stays are available on a request basis. Stays of less or more than one week are pro-rated at the weekly rental rate in most cases. Over the Christmas/New Year's holiday period the villa owners require a full week for each week: Christmas week and New Years week. There are some villa owners that require 10 or 14 nights over Christmas & New Years. (typically owners require weekend to weekend over the holidays)
Q. Are the rates per person/per night?
Rates shown on our site are weekly (7 nights), per villa, and based on two people per bedroom. For example the rate shown for a studio or a one-bedroom would be for up to 2 guests, the rate for a two-bedroom would be for up to 4 guests, three bedrooms would be for up to 3 guests, etc. Extra persons (over double occpancy) may be allowed and the owners will charge a certain amount for a "extra person" per night - that rate is determined by the owner. All rates are quoted in US dollars and subject to change - per the villa owners.
Q. What are the dates for high & low season?
Most properties have two rates, one for high season and one for low season. High season runs from mid December to mid April, and low season from mid April to mid December each year.
Q. Are there any periods with surcharges or discounts?
A majority of properties have a surcharge for the Christmas/New Years period and some also have a surcharge for Easter and Thanksgiving. In some cases, select properties also feature months in which rates are lowered or may go on "Special". This might be in May and September/October. It is also common that the villa owners require their full weekly rate over a holiday week, so if they lower the rate for fewer bedroom used, they would required all bedrooms be booked over the four holidays mentioned above. There are also some Jamaican holiday where this might be required as well ... as well as a minimum of one week be rented; this might be for Jamaica Independence and SunFest in Montego Bay. We will always double check this for you!
There is a US$50. charge for all bookings made within 14 days of arrival.
Q. Are damage deposits required at all villas?
Most villa owners require a damage deposit to be paid with your final payment. The amount varies depending on the particular home, however the average deposit is US $500. This deposit is refunded to you after travel is completer as long as no damage to the villa or it's contents.
Q. Is tax and gratuity included?
Most private villas include tax in their rates. Staff gratuity however, is not included and we suggest a minimum of 10% in high season and 15% gratuity in low season for staff services. Gratuity is based on the total villa cost and should be paid to the staff directly at the end of your stay. We suggest you split the gratuity between the staff instead of leaving one lump sum. Using your own discretion, you may choose to give a larger portion of the tip to the staff member who provided the majority of the services or who provided services above and beyond the call of duty. At apartments/condos and cottage resorts, Jamaican room tax and service charges may not be included in the price of your rental and would be collected locally. We will always advise you of the percentages collected for local tax and service before you confirm your reservation.
Q. Do all the properties listed have full staff?
In general, all private villas provide a full staff. Most villas come with a staff of three including a cook, housekeeper and gardener/houseman. Some villas have additional staff members including butlers, nannies, laundresses, and villa managers/concierges. At apartments/condos and cottage resorts, staff is generally limited to daily maid service.
Q. What are the services that the staff provide?
The staff is responsible for all aspects of grocery shopping and meal preparation as well as keeping the villa and grounds clean and maintained. They will provide fresh towels and linens as needed. If you like, someone in your group can go with the cook to do the shopping, this way you can see what's in the market and the general costs. Household laundry is done by the staff, please ask your housekeeper about personal laundry, there is no charge for laundry & ironing - a small tip is appreciated. If you need something ironed during your stay please ask your housekeeper. You will also find the staff to be an invaluable source of information. If you need a nanny or a taxi, they can also assist in setting up these types of services.
Q. How is meal preparation and grocery shopping handled?
We will send you a preliminary grocery/menu planner about 60 days prior to your arrival. We ask that you use this list as a guide and choose what you would like the staff to pre stock for your first night dinner, first breakfast, and any snacks, beverages or bar items. We like to receive this about three weeks prior to your arrival If any member of your group has food allergies or special dietary needs, we ask that you let us know this as well so the staff can be informed. You will be presented with a bill from the grocery store for the items you have selected. After that, you simply communicate with the staff for the balance of your stay for your meals, beverages, etc.
Generally the cooks excel at Caribbean-style meals, but are also very adept at American and continental cuisine. Please remember that villas are not run like restaurants in which each person orders a different meal. Plan for family style meals with one or two main entrees. The cook will always do his or her best to accommodate for individual tastes. For example, you may opt to order Jerk Chicken for dinner, but ask for some to be mild and some to be spicy. Shopping for groceries can be accomplished in several ways. You may do your own shopping, you may ask the staff to shop for you, and some grocery stores may deliver. Many guests opt to ask the cook to join them on a shopping excursion, this is an excellent way to get a good sense of the products available in Jamaica as well as where to go to get the best fresh produce, fresh fish, fruit, etc. The cooks taxi fare for the grocery shopping, or the grocery delivery fees are usually added at the bottom of the bill.
Q. What additional costs should we plan for?
Food, transportation, tours & excursions, and incidentals (e.g. phone calls) are not included in the cost of your rental. Food costs can vary greatly depending on food preferences and quantity. Simple meals like a traditional Jamaican chicken fricassee with rice and salad can be more affordable. If you prefer multi-course meals or entrees requiring imported ingredients, seafood, steaks, etc, then the food cost can rise significantly. An estimated average would be about $55. - $65. USD per person per day /less for children. Food costs can fluctuate in Jamaica just as in the states.
Local phone calls from your villa are generally complimentary, however keep in mind that calling from town to town in Jamaica is considered long distance. Outbound international calls are usually not feasible from private villas (unless you call collect) as international calling codes are necessary, however phone cards can be purchased for this purpose and you can also leave the number to your villa with friends and family so they can call you instead.
** There is a US$50. charge for all bookings made within 14 days of arrival.
Q. Can I use my cell phone in Jamaica?
Jamaica's cellular system operates on the TDMA and/or GSM network. If your cell phone is TDMA or GSM compatible and your provider has a roaming agreement with Jamaica?s Cable & Wireless Mobile or Digicel Jamaica, you may use your cell phone in Jamaica. Be warned however that the roaming charges can be very expensive. We recommend you check with your cellular service provider in advance to make sure of compatibility. Alternatively, you may also rent a cell phone in Jamaica and set up a temporary account with Jamaica's cellular provider.
Q. Do the private villas in Jamaica have Internet access?
Yes, 99% of the private villas in Jamaica have internet access. You can check the "Amenities" option on each villa link to be sure your villa choice has Internet. Please ask us to be 100% sure.
Q. What is the electrical system in Jamaica?
Jamaica's electrical system is the same as the U.S. 110 volts / 50 cycles so you will not need an adapter if you opt to bring items requiring electricity such as hairdryers or portable stereos.
Q. What is the currency in Jamaica?
The official currency in Jamaica is the Jamaican Dollar. Currently the exchange rate is approximately US $1.00 = JA $100.00. You may exchange money into Jamaican Dollars at banks or licensed exchange bureaus in the airport or in resort towns. Most establishments also accept US dollars, traveler's checks, and credit cards.
Q. What options do we have for ground transportation and/or car rentals?
The local taxi's in Jamaica are very expensive so VillasInJamaica.com offers several options for transportation while in Jamaica.
Round trip aiport transfers vary in price depending on how many people require the service and the location of your villa in Jamaica. Car rentals rates are subject to GCT tax, insurance, and liability deposits, but this is included in transfers and weekly van & driver services. Please remember that in Jamaica you must drive on the left.
The local taxi's are expensive in Jamaica, so we highly recommend our weekly Van & Driver service and think this is a great value, hassle free, and a great option. We have been using the same company for over 35 years and many of our repeat clients will request the drivers they had on their last villa vacation! There are three sizes on the vans - please see below:
A 15% gratuity should be paid to the driver at the end of your week for their excellent service.
Airport porters or baggage handlers should be tipped when service is provided.
At this writing:
10 -12 passenger van with driver is $975. weekly (7-8 people with luggage for airport transfers) +15%
14-16 passenger van with driver is $1,300. weekly (11 people with luggage for airport transfers) +15%
23-25 passenger van with driver is $1,650. weekly (18 people with luggage for airport transfers) +15%
Luggage vans are always available ... cost will depend on the location your villa is in.
Rates include a dedicated licensed driver/tour guide for maximum 12 hours per day.
Once over 12 hours the company will apply a $35. per hour surcharge will apply - your driver can collect this locally in cash.
Van & Driver rates are based on using this service for consecutive days and always includes airport transfers from Montego Bay.
Multiple airport transfers for Montego Bay villas, if your villa is more than one hour from the airport please discuss with your villa specialist.
One tank of gas is included with all full time van & driver bookings - 6 or more nights
A half tank of gas is included for 5 night full time van & driver bookings. (all van categories)
All gas beyond the complimentary half and full tank, mentioned above, is paid for at the time of fill up by guests.
Trips to Kingston or Port Antonio are charged at $320. US round trip, plus tip to driver. Tolls paid in cash by guests - about $25. each way.
Car seats are available for $16. round trip or $8.00 one way. ($50. per week)
Vans with handicap lifts are available:
6 Guests including wheel chair passenger - $1,000 per week (add 15% tip to rates)
8 Guests including wheel chair passenger - $1,200 per week (add 15% tip to rates)
Q. What should we bring with us?
Jamaica is a tropical climate and day-time temperatures are usually in the 80's or 90's, so light summer clothing is recommended. You may wish to bring a light sweater for winter evenings when the temperature can get into the 70's or for air-conditioned restaurants. In general, Jamaica is casual in style and we therefore recommend you not bring expensive jewelry along. Please do bring personal toiletries such as toothpaste and shampoo. Sun block and mosquito repellent are also good items to have handy. Villas provide bed linens and bath towels, however you may wish to carry your own beach towel. You may also reduce your grocery budget by bringing NON-perishable food items like canned tuna fish, peanut butter, cereal, etc. Items such as these are not locally produced and can therefore be fairly expensive.
Q. When is hurricane season and what are the chances a hurricane will hit Jamaica?
Hurricane season begins June 1st and ends October 31st. No one can predict if or when a hurricane or tropical storm will hit Jamaica with 100% accuracy. However, with today's technology, these storms can be discovered well in advance and their paths can be fairly accurately projected. We highly recommend travel insurance and will always provide the link with all details on our "Confirmation/ Invoice".
Q. What are the payment requirements?
Once you have selected your property, and are ready to confirm, a 25% deposit is required within 7 days. (some owners require 30%, but most deposits are 25%) The final payment is due 60 days prior to your arrival at the villa. For Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years reservations, the deposit amount is 50% with final payments due 90 days prior. Some owners will allow 60 days prior for final payment for Thanksgiving. Payments can be made by personal check, business check, cashiers check, money order, PayPal, or official bank check. Guests can also send payment via wire transfer or "Chase Quick Pay", which can be set up if you bank with JP Morgan Chase Bank.
Q. What are VillasInJamaica.com cancellation policies?
In general, private villas reservations are nonrefundable. We therefore highly recommend purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance is available to all clients within the continental United States and can be added to your booking anytime, but not once you have advised of cancellation of a reservation. Please read all coverage details that pertain to pre-existing heath concerns. If you are traveling from outside the Continental United States we suggest looking into travel insurance that covers international travel.
Should you need to cancel your reservation, and have not taken travel insurance, we will always do our best to negotiate a refund, or a credit for a future stay, for you with the property owner, however success cannot be guaranteed. If we are able to negotiate a refund for you, a cancellation fee will be assessed at the time of negotiation, in many cases this is 20% of the deposit paid, plus an Administration fee of $100.00. Please note that some villas require their final payments 90 and 120 days prior to arrival. This is general for Christmas and New Years. If those villas have a cancellation within 90 to 120 days prior to arrival all payments are non-refundable.
Please note that all villas are non-refundable inside of 61 days prior to your arrival. Some owner have non-refundable deposits. Most villa owners have a "non-refundable" policy for holiday bookings; Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving and Easter. Changes and/or revisions are subject to a $100.00 fee.
Q. Does VillasInJamaica.com offer trip cancellation insurance?
VillasInJamaica has offered travel insurance with Travel Guard for over 30 years. We highly recommend travel insurance for the best way to recoup your deposit payment or full payment for your villa vacation. If you are traveling from outside the Continental United States we suggest looking into travel insurance that covers international travel.
Travel Insurance provided by Travel Guard
"No matter how hard you try, the weather is one thing you just can't plan for. Every year snowstorms, hurricanes and other unexpected weather events cause travelers to delay, interrupt or even cancel their trips completely. That's why there's Travel Guard - it's what you need to help cover your vacation investment"