VRBO Jamaica like a Boss!

VRBO Jamaica like a Boss!

How to VRBO Jamaica like a Rock Star!

Where to stay in Jamaica – Mais Oui Villa

Did you know that VRBO is now pronounced “Verb-o”? And it’s now both a noun and a verb, similar to Airbnb? As everyone jumps on the vacation rental bandwagon, let us show you how to VRBO Jamaica like a star.

“VRBO Jamaica?” What is that?

Don’t expect to hear the term “VRBO” or even “vacation rental” among Jamaicans. Those are American terms.

Most privately rented, free-standing homes in Jamaica that are rented out to tourists, especially if they are near the sea, are called villas.

So if you are searching for VRBO Jamaica and you keep coming across villas, don’t worry. It’s what you’re looking for.

VRBO Jamaica versus Airbnb Jamaica – What’s the Difference?

The tagline for VRBO says it all – “Why Rent a Room When You Can Have a Whole House?” With VRBO, you aren’t renting shared spaces. You’re getting a home – whether it is a condo or apartment, villa, cabin, cottage, or house.

With Airbnb, it could be a whole house like a VRBO but it could also be a shared space in someone’s home.

VRBO has been around for much longer than Airbnb. The properties on VBRO in Jamaica tend to be well established villas and are more likely to be professionally run.

Airbnb in Jamaica, so far, tends to have more newcomers to the market and many more budget type properties. These properties are more likely to be someone side hustle to make extra money.

Recently, property managers and owners of more upmarket properties have started dipping their toes into the Airbnb scene in Jamaica. And, since AirBnB bought Luxury Retreats for megabucks, you know they will be forging ahead into the luxury market to a greater extent.

When would a VBRO Jamaica be better than an Airbnb in Jamaica?

Consider a VRBO Jamaica if:

1. You are traveling with a large group. Think of those vacations with extended families or multi-generational groups or reunions with say 10-20 people. (VRBO has more properties for large groups than AirBnB but , with the rising popularity of AirBnB, I expect that to change over time.)

2. You want a more professionally run property.

3. You expect to have a private staff.

Consider an Airbnb in Jamaica if:

1. You are a solo traveler or traveling as a small group of say 2 to 4 people where you need a smaller space. Some Airbnbs are large spaces but you have more smaller Airbnbs than VRBOs in Jamaica.

2. You want much more local interaction. Staffed villas provide local interaction through the staff. The introduction of AirBnB in Jamaica provided the opportunity for almost anyone to be a host. As a result, Airbnbs tend to be in communities that may or may not be in tourist areas.

VRBO Jamaica versus US vacation rentals – What can you expect? How do they compare?

Jamaican vs American vacation rentals – what’s the difference?

Maybe you are familiar with vacation rentals in the US but is it the same as renting a property in Jamaica?

It is and it isn’t.


Villas and vacation rentals, whether they are in Jamaica or the US, can be found in almost any location, anywhere there is a need for short term lodging.


In the US, the requirements for licensure depend on the state or municipality. Jamaica villas are supposed to be licensed by the Jamaica Tourist Board but many are not.

Read our article: The Value of Renting a Licensed Jamaica Villa.


The amenities of private homes, whether VRBOs in Jamaica or vacation rentals in the US depend on the owner.

There is no set standard or recognized star rating for villas and vacation rentals. Properties range from very basic to ultra luxury with an equally varied array of amenities.

If you are traveling with kids especially, be sure to ask about any amenities that you might need.


Jamaica villas, as well as US vacation rentals, are usually managed by an owner or property manager who is available but generally not residing on site.

Cleaning Fee

Most US-based vacation rentals charge a cleaning fee. How transparent the fee is is a different matter. Some places list it as a separate charge while others bundle it with the rates.

Since Jamaican rentals are staffed, there generally isn’t a cleaning fee but there is the expectation of the staff gratuities. If cleaning fees are charged by a property in Jamaica, it would most likely be related to some sort of damage to the property.

Damage deposit

There is no standard in either country about charging or not changing a damage or security deposit. This is owner dependent.

Some owners charge a refundable deposit. Others ask for damage insurance. Either a deposit or insurance is often requested for events such as weddings.

Extra guest Fees

Most properties, whether VRBO Jamaica or US vacation rentals charge additional fees for extra guests beyond what was disclosed at the time of booking.

For example, if you book a property for 10 people but 11 people show up, expect to pay extra for that additional person. Some owners have strict occupancy levels and may actually cancel the booking.

Also, don’t assume that kids and babies aren’t included in the total guest count. Remember, babies often need a lot of laundry so this is additional work for the staff. Some properties allow babies for free, some allow toddlers under age 3 for free, and some charge for all guests. Be sure to ask ahead of time.

Rental agreement

Expect that professionally run properties in both Jamaica and the US will require a signed rental agreement.

If you aren’t offered one, you should ask. That is a sign of how serious the owner is about his or her business.

The rental agreement highlights the main rules as well as terms and conditions for rental. It is for the protection of both parties in the event of a dispute.

With the popularity of Instant Booking, so properties will have the document on their website as either “House Rules” or “terms and Conditions of Rental”, or something similar.

Minimum stays

Again this varies by the property and local rules. Most villas in Jamaica have a four-night minimum. Almost all have a 7 night minimum for Christmas and New Year’s weeks, with some properties requiring a 2-week minimum for that time of year.

Cancellation Policy

Both options have cancellation policies to consider. Fly-to destinations, in general, tend to have stricter cancellations than drive-to destinations simply because drive-to destinations tend to have more opportunities to re-book in the event of a cancellation.

Jamaican villas tend to have much stricter policies than US properties since cancellations are next to impossible to re-book under 90 days, even under 120 days.

Be totally familiar with the cancellation policy for the property you are booking.  And remember, anything can happen. Trip insurance is always recommended.


The main difference between a VRBO Jamaica and a US vacation rental is the presence of staff.

Most Jamaica villas come staffed with at least a cook/housekeeper and gardener. Staff may or may not live on property. This depends on the villa.

The typical US vacation rental is unstaffed. Some higher-end properties in the US may offer personal chef services or maid services that can be hired at an extra cost.

Laundry Facilities

At most Jamaica villas, the staff will do light laundry for guests, sometimes for a fee, sometimes for free. Some vacation rentals in the US may come with a washer and dryer, but should never be expected.


Jamaica villas generally do not charge separately for utilities like electricity and water. This is typically built into the rate. Some villas do charge for additional gas, beyond a certain amount of usage, like for hot tubs. US vacation rentals typically don’t charge extra for utilities although in Hawaii some owners charge more for air-conditioning.

Meal Shopping and Preparation

The staff at villas in Jamaica usually do the food shopping and preparation for guests. Guests pay for the cost of the food and the transportation charges. A few villas are all-inclusive or offer an all-inclusive meal plan; but, as a rule, meals are not included in the rental rate.​

All-inclusive hotels are very popular in Jamaica; however, if you are looking for an all-inclusive villa experience, you have to make sure that is clearly communicated and that the price you are given is an all-inclusive price.

At US vacation rentals, guests generally do their own food shopping and cooking. There is no expectation of staff or for meals to be included in the price. Private chefs can be hired at some US vacation rentals for an additional fee.


Tipping is a way of life among villa workers in Jamaica. The typical minimum tip is 10% of the rental in high season and 15% in low season.

At US vacation rentals, there isn’t an expectation of a tip for the cleaning crew; however, it would be appreciated.

Read our article: The Stress-free Guide to Tipping in Jamaica at Villas and Vacation Rentals.

6 Key Questions to Ask Before You Start Looking for a VRBO in Jamaica

The better you fine tune your needs before you start looking for a VRBO, the more productive your search will be. So, you need to know the answer to at least these six questions.

1.Who is going? Family? Your BFFs, College mates?

2.How many people are going? How many bedrooms will you need?

3.Why are you going to Jamaica? What are you celebrating?

4.When do you want to go?

5.How much you want to spend? What’s your budget?

6.What do you want to do on vacation?

For even more help, read our article: How to Choose the Perfect Jamaica Villa Rental for Your Needs.

Decide where you want to stay in Jamaica

Once you know who is going, why you are going and what you want to do, you can think about the best location on the island for your group.

If you’ve never been to Jamaica, it might be hard deciding where to go. Should you pick Negril, Montego Bay, Port Antonio, South Coast, or Ocho Rios? Each area has its supporter.

We love Discovery Bay, the most western section of the Ocho Rios region. And the secret is getting out about Discovery Bay villas and vacation rentals.

Centrally located and within 30 minutes of over 30 of the top attractions on the north coast, yet away from the crowds, it is now a rising star among Jamaica destinations.

To top it off, it is also the perfect place for day trips to other sections of the island, giving you the best of both worlds.

Read our article: How the Heck Am I to Decide Where to Stay in Jamaica.

Learn more about Discovery Bay in these articles:

Why Stay in Discovery Bay Jamaica

Is Discovery Bay Jamaica Right for You?

Top Things to Do in Discovery Bay Jamaica

Puerto Seco Beach Club in Discovery Bay Jamaica

How the search filters on VRBO can help you narrow down your choices

Once you have narrowed down which area or areas you would like to stay, it’s time to find the perfect house.

With over 2000 Jamaican villa vacation rentals listed on VRBO, you are sure to find at least a few that peak your interest. And it can be overwhelming to chose one, especially when each one seems even more enticing than the one before.

Once you know what you are looking for, the best thing to do to narrow down your search is to use the filters on the website.

Start your search by the number of bedrooms you require and the key amenities you desire to narrow down the list. The more amenities you check off, the fewer homes will show up, and the higher the prices.

If your budget is firm, then set an appropriate budget range. Otherwise, do the search without budget constraints to see what is out there and for what price. Once you have done that, you can narrow down your options based on your budget and desired amenities. You don’t want the perfect house to be just on the other side of your budget range.

To help you figure out a reasonable budget, read this article: What is Your Jamaica Villa Vacation Going to Cost You.

The Top Secret Hack You Absolutely Must Do Once You Find Homes on VRBO that Peak Your Interest

I’m hoping the online travel agencies like VBRO, HomeAway, and Airbnb don’t see this post because this is such a secret hack.


Established villas in Jamaica have names! Yup!

Write down the names of the homes in which you are interested. Then, go over to Google and search for them to see if they have websites.

Homes that have websites tend to be much more serious about their business and have much more information on their own website.

And …… you will be able to find the contact information for someone to talk to about the property. For such a major investment, wouldn’t you want to talk to a real live person before you book?

So what’s stopping you?

Whether you book through VRBO’s website or the owner’s website is up to you. Do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable.

You do need to realize that VRBO, like all the other online agencies, charges its own fee. In essence, this a finder’s or service fee, which could easily add hundreds of dollars to your booking.

Book direct and save fees from online booking sites

Go ahead. Now you know how to find the perfect VRBO Jamaica – like a boss!

Check out Mais Oui Villa – The Family-Friendly VBRO Jamaica for Large Family Groups That You Will Just Love!

‘Til next time.

Think and dream Jamaica!

Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian

Considering a visit to Jamaica with a group? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups, retreats, and intimate destination weddings and vow renewals.

Visit our website: https://www.MakeItJamaica.com

Give us a call:  833-MAISOUI (624.7684) toll-free or 914.709.0457

Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MakeItJamaica

Follow us on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/makeitjamaica

Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/MaisOuiVilla

Follow us on Instagram: @MakeItJamaica

Sign up for our newsletter and immediately get our Free Discovery Bay Insider Guide to discover what you won’t find in the guidebooks.

How to VRBO Jamaica like a Boss

Related Posts

About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

About the Author Sherry

Sherry & Darrell, owners of Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa in Discovery Bay, Jamaica, consider themselves unofficial ambassadors for Jamaica. They look forward to using their insider knowledge to help guests create priceless vacation memories. Feel free to say hi!