Outer Banks Lodging: Better to Stay in a Luxury Resort or Home Rental?

The Outer Banks (OBX) is a series of barrier islands on the North Carolina coast, with some of USA’s most popular beaches. Activities are plentiful, including Kitty Hawk—site of the Wright Brothers first flight. OBX is a popular destination for weddings, family reunions, and group vacations.

We have a more current article about OBX vacation rentals: Outer Banks Vacation Rental Tips For Your North Carolina Beach Getaway

Before your next Outer Banks vacation, please read 8 Great Things to Do In Outer Banks, North Carolina.

Where to Stay in OBX: Vacation House Rental or Luxury Resort?

Two luxurious Outer Banks lodging options to consider are a vacation home and a resort hotel. Here is a comparison analyzing these choices for three families (6 adults, 5 children) visiting the Outer Banks for one week, from July 20 to July 27, 2014 (rates were valid in early June 2014).

Option 1: Vacation Home

Many firms rent OBX houses but I checked Twiddy as I have rented with them. I selected my preferred date (7/20) and oceanfront. There were 15 results.

I looked more closely at Dune Daze. Some houses in the results list are really not oceanfront (check map links), have Saturday checkin (TIP: Sunday has MUCH less traffic), or are located in Carova Beach (only accessible with 4×4 vehicles).

Dune Daze has two king bed suites, two queen bed suites, and two rooms with two beds (two twins and a bunk bed).

master bedroom of a vacation home in Outer Banks


This beautiful home costs $8,845.62 for the week. ($600 optional travel insurance is included)

The Twiddy website has a nice feature showing the cost per person per night.

outer banks lodging

Option 2: Luxury Resort

Sanderling Resort is a four diamond resort stretching across the barrier island from the Atlantic Ocean to the Currituck Sound. Sanderling has several pools, spa treatments, other first class amenities, and onsite dining options.

An Oceanview Suite room is $599 per night ($703.31 with taxes and fees)—total of $4,923.17 for 7 nights. Although this room type was only available for 2 nights during this period, I will use it for the resort comparison. Another option is an Oceanside room (with two queen beds), with a total weekly rate of $4,066.27.

oceanfront room at Sanderling Resort


Total hotel cost would be $14,769.51 ($703.31 x 7 days x 3 rooms) or $4,923.17 per room.

If You Choose the Luxury Hotel

Sanderling Resort blends casually elegant first class amenities in a relaxing, renewing, and inspiring setting.

“Guests can come to Sanderling Resort to relax in a four-star setting. The property offers amenities, activities, and detail-oriented service to make a vacation worthwhile—fire pits, various restaurant spaces, and a fitness center all contribute to the well-rounded resort, and because space is vast, there are small, cozy nooks where guests can enjoy quiet activities, too.”

— Wendy Murray, Sanderling Resort’s director of sales & marketing

  • Getting There: Sanderling Resort is 16 miles north of the Wright Memorial Bridge (intersection of US Highway 168 and NC 12).
  • Getting Around: Private car is recommended for visiting Outer Banks.
  • Dining: Several on-property dining options are available. OBX has hundreds of restaurants. The town of Duck, NC is 5-10 minutes south. Corolla, NC is 20 minutes north.
  • Shopping: See below.
  • Activities: Complimentary resort activities and amenities include three pools, fitness center, beach items (towels, chairs, and umbrellas), live music, events, and more. Other services include spa and salon treatments, yoga classes, onsite rentals (bike, kayak, SUP, skim/boogie/surf boards), and a concierge desk to assist with golf, excursions, and other activities.
  • Sleep: Oceanview Suites have a king bed and queen sleeper sofa, small kitchenette (to prepare simple meals), dining room, separate half bath, and multiple TVs. Oceanview King rooms are on the top floor and have the best views (but do not have separate sleeper sofa). All rooms have private balcony with hammock chairs.

If You Choose the Vacation Home

Dune Daze is a luxury vacation home with open gathering areas and private sanctuaries. It has an oceanfront setting, private small pool and hot tub, three decks (two covered), and a private beach walkway; included are washer/dryer, grill, TV with cable/satellite, movies, games, and other home amenities.

“Outer Banks rental homes offer unparalleled value and luxurious amenities on a very personal level for families. Each home is unique to allow your family to find just the right match.”

— Ross Twiddy, Director of Marketing and Co-Owner of Twiddy

  • Getting There: Dune Daze is 19 miles north of the Wright Memorial Bridge (intersection of US Highway 168 and NC 12).
  • Getting Around: Private car is recommended for visiting Outer Banks.
  • Dining: Flexibility of shopping and preparing food, ordering takeout/delivery, or eating in restaurants. For a splurge, Cafe 111 and The Kitchen Witch are experienced personal chefs/caterers and Delivery Genie delivers groceries. OBX has hundreds of restaurants. Corolla, NC is 5 minutes away. Duck, NC is 15-20 minutes south.
  • Shopping: See below.
  • Activities: The oceanfront setting is prime for water activities and beach time. The private pool and hot tub are very convenient. In a vacation home, more time can be devoted to meals and socializing (great happy hours!). Just for the Beach and Ocean Atlantic deliver/pickup rental equipment (beach items, kayaks, bikes) directly to/from your house.
  • Sleep: Two master suites and four other bedrooms allow plenty of space for everyone. The large great room, spacious kitchen, and deck areas offer extra room to spread out.

No Matter Where You Stay

  1. Meals. Plenty of magazines and guides list OBX restaurants. You can find publications in the Sanderling Resort or vacation home rental office lobby, and probably in your room. Some of my family’s favorite OBX restaurants are Goombays, Roadside, Blue Point, Rundown Cafe, Coastal Cantina, and Bad Bean Taqueria.
  2. Activities. OBX activities revolve around the beach and water (ocean and sound). Most visitors enjoy some combination of shopping, dining, fishing, golf, mini golf, kite flying, bicycling, tennis—and lots of fun and relaxation. Some popular sites include Wright Brothers Monument, Jockey’s Ridge, lighthouses, and 4 wheel drive beach tours to see the wild Corolla horses.
  3. Shopping. Shopping is a favorite pastime in OBX, with options from beach souvenirs to exclusive art galleries. Duck and Corolla have enough shops to keep your attention for the week but you can also venture south along highway 12 toward Nags Head.


For independent spirit and cost savings, select the OBX vacation home, especially when traveling with a group. Even if hiring a caterer for meals and paying extra for activities, a vacationing group can save thousands of dollars by renting a house.

For pampering and a community environment, select the luxury resort. The resort is a better choice for one couple or a small family.

Both options offer a chance to retreat to private quarters if the action becomes a little too hectic.

Also see 8 Great Hotel Advantages (over Airbnb)

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26 thoughts on “Outer Banks Lodging: Better to Stay in a Luxury Resort or Home Rental?”

  1. When I visited Malta with friends we rented a vacation home and it was so much more economical. We stretched our budget than if we had stayed in the hotels. I would definitely recommend it.

  2. I never rented a vacation home but it looks like a great option! Now I know for my next trip 🙂

  3. I love the Outer Banks! So relaxing… I’d personally go for the resort. I like everything to be taken care of for me when I travel – no cooking or cleaning 🙂

  4. Nice place! I really love that beach rules sign, very quirky. They both look and sound like incredible places to stay.

  5. Never heard of OBX but love learning about new places. Think I’d go for the vacation rental too as I don’t really do resorts, but I could perhaps be persuaded…

  6. Being from the west coast, I must admit I had never heard of OBX. I have been looking at pictures of OBX since reading this post and it looks gorgeous! I will love to make it to the east coast sometime- these places may be a tad outside of our price range though 😉

    • Hi Valerie. OBX, in my opinion, is a jewel of the East coast. After all, it is where the Wright Brothers had their first flight. The options I presented are peak season and oceanfront. People save tons of money by visiting offseason and/or a few houses away from the ocean. There are also campground, condo, and motel options.

  7. After getting engaged in Airbnb, I have gained a lot of respect for the hospitality industry – let’s just say it’s really stressful, and not at all as easy as many would think.

    • The per person cost can be much lower with the vacation homes. Off season rates are much lower. Weather in May, September, and October can be as good as summer.

  8. Both properties are very nice. I would probably stay at Sanderling Resort. It looks lovely.

  9. It sounds a great place to visit, but it’s also extremely expensive (and for us, plus airfares!)

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