If you like the idea of your very own holiday home in the sun, you may be surprised at how easy it is to research, book and take a villa break.
Read our dos and don’ts on renting a villa to ensure you enjoy the best holiday for you...
You don’t have to be a celebrity or loaded with cash to afford your own temporary holiday home. With a huge supply of villa types around the globe, you can find a property to suit your needs.
Whether you want a private escape with your loved one, or are looking for somewhere to gather a large group of family or best friends, there will be a property for you. Families in particular love villa holidays as kids aren’t bound by the set times and rules of hotel life.
You can forget the luxury of endless all-inclusive buffets and staff to wait on you hand and foot (unless of course you really are a celebrity and take a serviced villa). And you won’t get organised entertainment, kids’ clubs and a daily maid service.
However, what you’ll gain is a place that is your own for the duration of your trip. No annoying guests to fight over the sun loungers with, probably your own private pool, the luxury of deciding when and how you eat, drink, sleep and party, and the ability to really kick back and enjoy life with all the little luxuries of a normal home.
The price of self-catering breaks will also astound many as villas can often work out far cheaper than a package break to a hotel, even with car hire added into the cost.
Essentially, you get the use of a home for the period of time you rent it for. It will usually come with bedding and towels, a kitchen, use of a private or shared pool and whatever facilities the home has on offer. Many also have a welcome pack with a few basic groceries on arrival.
However, you should read the terms and conditions of any rental, looking out for information such as whether there is a cleaning or maid service, if there is a refundable deposit to be left on arrival or any other details that are important to you.
How? Get online, it’s as simple as that. While there is still a market for buying magazines and browsing brochures, getting online allows you to view the properties on offer in real detail.
The main villa specialists offer a range of properties and you can search by the number of bedrooms, price and even filter by whether they have coastal views, their own private pools and other facilities to select the perfect holiday home for your party. Don’t scrimp on villa size – you want to enjoy your break and not be packed into a tiny home to cut the costs down.
You should also read reviews and, if you want specific questions answering on your property, contact the rental company for advice. If you have not heard of the company offering the villa then read reviews of them online to ensure you are booking with a valid operation. You could also consider speaking to the villa owner or management agent.
It’s vital that you research the location of your property and how you will get to it on arrival. Unless it is within a resort you will probably need a rental car or cars to make the most of your stay. The last thing you want is to find yourself marooned in a fabulous property with no easy access to restaurants, shops or the beach. You should also consider transfer time from your arrival airport.
Also think about check-in and check-out times and factor these into your plans and possible flight times. Avoid arriving too late or too early as you will either get lost in the dark or be hanging around for hours waiting to get in.
You also need to consider how you travel to your villa destination. Most people will fly, so consider whether you are going to book your flights with your villa specialist and therefore get protection under the ATOL scheme for package holidays, or whether you are going to book separate flights and accommodation (for which you must ensure you have a travel insurance policy including end supplier failure).
A common dilemma for holidaymakers is whether to book direct or via a villa company. We recommend using a known company with an ATOL licence and paying by credit or debit card only.
Don’t pay via bank transfer or hand over cash unless you know the villa and its operator – although even then your money is at risk as there is no protection available in law.
And, as with any holiday, take out a decent travel insurance policy from the day you book.
Once booked, make a list of all the things you will need for your break and get them ready to pack. Get all your paperwork together, from boarding passes to driving licences, location of the villa to where to collect the keys and understand how you will pay your deposit. Importantly, ensure you have the details of who to contact in an emergency or if something gets damaged.
If you are travelling with a group, discuss how you will organise the essential tasks before you travel to avoid any misunderstandings ruining your break.
For example, who will do the shopping, cooking and clearing up? Are you operating a kitty and who will manage that? Sorting these things before you go means you can enjoy more of your trip when you arrive.
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