Northern California has a wide variety of family vacation rental options available

The best vacation rental for your family event depends on your family’s situation and the kind of family event you want to have. When choosing the location and property for your family vacation or get together, we tell prospective guests to consider the following (and we think you’d be wise to do the same).

The vacation rentals’ locations relative to the different family members attending.

At the Collier Hotel, we find that our location is convenient for families that live on different ends of the I-5 corridor (e.g. Sacramento or the Bay Area and Portland), because we are just about in the middle and only require 30 minutes of “out of the way” driving time (but still feel like we’re really off the beaten path). We also get quite a few local residents who use our historic hotel to host more family than they could fit in their own homes.

The number of guests staying at the vacation rental.

There is a huge advantage to having all family members be able to stay together. For example, we can accommodate 10-20 guests just fine, and we get a lot of family groups in that range. Almost every area of Northern California will have a vacation rental in that size, but properties for larger groups will definitely take more advanced planning. In our neck of the woods, about the only places that can accommodate more people are guest ranches and places that utilize several cabins that are close to each other.

The type of family event or vacation.

The type of event being held can also give one property an edge over another. For example, if you are planning to host a large meal, you’ll want to pay close attention to the property’s kitchen. If you are gathering around a wedding, a vacation rental that can accommodate both the ceremony and guest accommodations is a real find. We’ve had small weddings at our property because there is a nice location for 20 or 30 guests on the lawn under our tree. On the other hand, we’ve had several wedding parties from larger weddings stay at our property, but there was no way they would have been able to host the wedding on site, and they couldn’t find a venue that could do both a wedding and accommodations. In general, we have found our property most suited to extended, low key family reunions where meals for 10 or 20 people were frequent but large productions were done offsite at other local venues.

The activities in the vacation rental's immediate area.

Northern California has extremely diverse geography and attractions. That’s one of its beauties, but it also means that you need to carefully consider the activities you plan to do and where they are located because activities are highly seasonal and drive times in Northern California can be much longer than they look on a map. For example, we had a lovely out of area family book our hotel through a big box type site that we had a partnership with without calling us. Turns out that they wanted to go skiing at Mount Shasta. The problem was, there was no snow at Mount Shasta, and we were an hour and a half drive from the ski slopes. I’m sure they enjoyed our lovely town, but they probably would have been better served by checking the snow pack and availability at other properties before they booked us.

Most of our guests love our location because they do their homework and come for our incredible hiking, fishing, and nature viewing. We have outdoor activities galore, and too many wilderness areas, national forests, and swimming hole filled rivers and creeks to count. That being said, if someone is looking to do some serious shopping or take in the “high culture” of a more metropolitan area, they’re going to have at least an hour drive (unless they come at just the right time).

Same thing goes for ocean fun. We don’t look like we’re far from the ocean, but it’s a 3-hour drive (picturesque but very winding) to the nearest beach. A property in the Humboldt area would probably be a better fit.

The walkability of the vacation rental location.

For family groups, especially those traveling together, the importance of walk-ability is often overlooked. A vacation consists of structured outings that take up some available time, but a lot of time is often unstructured, and having activities and nice attractions and places to play within easy walking distance makes a huge difference in the overall value of the experience. We find this is one of the biggest factors that impresses our guests. We have several great playgrounds, playing fields, a nice pool, a full service grocery store, a post office, two breweries, six restaurants, and a nice “small town America” downtown all within two or three blocks. This kind of set-up is rare, and people really appreciate that.

The seasonal pricing structure of the vacation rental.

Most vacation rentals have an off-season when rates are much lower, and there is often a sweet spot that is outside of peak season but still really nice. For us, I think that would be October-November and March-May. Often when people call about those time periods, I will give a discount because I know we won’t book up all the way during these times and it’s nice to have some extra revenue coming in during the slow season. Same goes for weekday stays. If you’re flexible, I’ll be much more eager to book a weekday stay because I know it will be harder to fill.

The channel you book through.

For us, our website (or calling us) is going to be the cheapest. Every other marketplace (VRBO, AIRBNB, etc. takes 10-15% from us, so we pass on those added costs to consumers who need to use those marketplaces to find places to stay. That’s why I always recommend searching first for individual vacation rentals and comparing to what’s available on those larger platforms. If you can find a phone number or a property specific site you will often be able to get better deals. In addition, you’ll find owners and managers are typically pretty knowledgeable about their markets and local attractions and can help situate you well. In our case, I frequently recommend other accommodations if we are sold out or if I don’t feel like our vacation rental will be the best fit for the prospective guests. This kind of help is particularly valuable if you’re trying to figure out whether grandpa’s wheelchair will work at a vacation rental or if picky Uncle Herbert is going to be happy with the mattress in his room or the food at the brewery down the street.

Summary: The Best Northern California Vacation Rental is the one that's right for YOUR Family!

Hopefully this list helped get you one step closer to picking the best possible vacation rental for your unique family. If you think the Collier Hotel might be a good fit for your group, don’t hesitate to contact us.

If your family decides that a warmer location is in order, please consider consulting with the Jamaican experts at the Villa Brawta vacation rental, which is located on Discovery Bay on the northern coast of Jamaica and offers a small town Jamaican experience, short drives to most of the major tourist attractions, a white sand beach, and a steal of deal on a luxury villa. 

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