We get a lot of questions from prospective guests about renting our villas - most are of the basic variety: how much? is it available? how many beds? I call these questions "basic" because the answers are easy. We look up a date, check the rates, describe how the bedrooms are set up, and that usually does the job. But every now and then, we get questions that take a little more work to answer like, "When's the best time to come?", and "How much in advance do I need to book a particular week?".
No-one likes that answer. Nonetheless, it is often the "right" answer. For example, the best time to book a Roatan vacation rental depends on what matters most to you: rates, crowds (or lack thereof), weather, visibility for diving, whale shark migration, etc. Early May has a pretty nice mix of lower prices, fewer tourists and great weather. Some weeks in September can be even better on these three dimensions, but you start to risk the weather piece the later you go into the fall (if you're looking for constant sun).
If rates are most important to you, the biggest single factor is whether or not a given week is rented as the arrival date approaches. Roatan vacation rentals have similar economics to airplane seats. If a plane takes off with an empty seat, the chance to make money on the seat is gone forever - but its costs are not. It is the same with our villas. If the house is unoccupied for a week, we still have to pay all the fixed costs. As a result, all owners have an incentive to discount their prices as empty weeks approach - which brings us to the question of vacation planning.
At Coral Vista Villas, the question of when you need to plan a vacation definitely depends on the weeks you want and how flexible your plans are. Certain weeks are targeted by many travelers - the holiday weeks are an obvious example. Other weeks just seem to fall into travel dead zones. As you can see below, even though inquiries are generally rising each year, there's a clear pattern. The big spikes are the flood of inquiries we get for Christmas and New Year (e.g., just under 90 inquiries for the last week of 2012). The high season follows and there is a mini-spike around Easter. Then, inquiries trend down through the summer into the low season, and the pattern repeats itself.
With so many inquiries competing for certain weeks, the lead time required to secure those weeks has become significant. Christmas 2013 at Coral Vista 1 booked almost 59 weeks (well over a year) in advance. Mid-January, on the other hand, can often be booked as little as a month or two before arrival. For those of you who don't want to decipher this graph, we keep a running list on our website of the weeks that are still open inside of 60 days along with their associated discounts.
So, figuring out when the best time to visit is and how much in advance you have to plan, is all about the economics of a Roatan vacation rental. The laws of supply and demand are universal. They dictate price and availability. As always, the more flexible you are able to be on dates (and the shorter the lead time you need), the more you will be able to find great deals during great times to visit. But even if you aren't able to be very flexible, understanding the chart above and being clear on what aspects of a Roatan vacation are most important to you will help you plan and have a great experience.