Most of us only get a handful of true college Spring Breaks, and to make the best of each chance to actually get away (and not just head home to the P’s), let loose and party with the best, it may take a bit of homework on your part. We hope to offer a good starting point or two. Get the most for your money by knowing all the options.
Where to Stay
You can always start the good old-fashioned way of putting together a fun, affordable trip to a top destination on your own. Even if you’re not taking economics, it’s important to understand the concepts of supply and demand. If your Spring Break takes place in the busiest two weeks (the middle weeks of March), your lodging rates might be higher than for the lucky kids at Colgate University, whose Spring Break takes place weeks before most of the rest of the country. This guideline holds true when dealing with the major national hotel/motel chains (Holiday Inn, Hilton, Motel 6, etc.). The cool part for you, of course, is that there will actually be people there when you hit the beach and the clubs.
If you’re looking for the cheapest place to stay (in order to save your budget for other activities), like a modest Days Inn, Comfort Inn, or Motel 6, you need to make reservations right now! These places always sell out first because their rates are the lowest and they will take just about anybody with money and a pulse. But they are cool places to have fun!
During Spring Break, almost all hotels require a minimum stay, usually three or four days, sometimes more. Hotel managers want to make sell all their rooms, and they know that if you leave on Wednesday, they’ll be hard pressed to sell the room for the rest of the week. Many of the higher-end hotel chains (Sheraton, Radisson, Hilton, etc.) require the room to be rented by someone over 21 years old, who actually stays in the room, although some will waive this requirement if you provide a damage deposit, so it never hurts to ask.
Even these days, almost all hotels will accept cash payment, but guests have to pay for their minimum stay up front – and if you have to check out early, don’t get mad when they keep your money. Higher end hotels require a credit card or a cash deposit for "incidentals" (phone calls, room service, movies, etc.), but you’re often much better off declining the incidentals access (and deposit required), which you always have the right to do.
Bigger is Better
You will find that many larger (100-plus rooms) independent hotels and motels are often the best way to go. These places are usually local, even family owned, many times with the owner or manager living on-property. The property managers know it’s Spring Break -and the true student-friendly hotels are having pool and beach parties, their nightclubs are open until late, they probably have a free shuttle at least to the airport and the clubs, so — as long as you don’t break anything — you can blow it out and have a blast!
A rented condominium, in the mind of this writer, is the one and only way to truly live large during Spring Break — and most of the time, you can find awesome deals on one and two-bedroom condos for less than many hotels charge. In most cases you will get a larger room, a full kitchen, complete furnishings (almost always rattan), more privacy and less traffic.
However, most condos do not offer room service, on-site restaurants and clubs, or a wild party scene. Remember that your Spring Break probably falls during the the same week as many school districts, and families prefer condominium complexes to hotels because they are quieter. Almost all condos will require a 21-year-old renter, a minimum stay and up front payment. Do not stay in a condo if you plan to get crazy and destructive. Condos are often privately owned and seriously frown upon any damage at all.
My very best Spring Break was when two friends and I rented a phat beachfront condo overlooking the pool, then partied at the big hotels and clubs, met a dozen new friends, and then got it goin’ all night long back at said phat condo. Not too big. Not too crazy. But it was BIG fun in South Padre that year!
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