Tag Archives: Holiday home

Get the best out of England this autumn

Autumn leaves in the park

Nothing beats the feeling of an English autumn: the changing colours, the crisp clean air and the crunch of leaves underfoot. Here are four autumn activities to make the most of.

See woodland wildlife in Hampshire

Hear pigs snuffle through the forest hunting for acorns, see skewbald ponies rounded up for the season’s pony sales and watch buck deer rutting, clashing antlers and barking in a battle for supremacy.

Autumn is the perfect time to visit the New Forest. Go for a ride to see the mists roll in over the heaths, spot funghi springing up in the woodlands and walk along the river from the beautiful village of Beaulieu to the quaint hamlet of Bucklers Hard.

Discover places to stay in Hampshire

Conker games in Northamptonshire

Join the thousands who flock to the ancient market town of Oundle in Northamptonshire for the World Conker Championships. Competitors battle it out on eight white podiums in an arena and the victor progresses to the Conker Throne, where he or she is crowned with conkers.

Northamptonshire is dotted with chocolate-box villages of quaint cottages with Tudor timbers and thatched roofs. Visit the county’s impressive collection of splendid mansions, including the ancestral homes of George Washington at Sulgrave Manor and Princess Diana at Althorp House.

Find a home from home in Northamptonshire

Apple orchard tours in Somerset

Explore the orchards of Somerset’s famous cider farms like Burrow Hill or Wilkins, taking in the rows of fruit-laden trees and pausing to taste the local ciders straight from the barrel.

The rolling limestone hills of Mendip and the alluring Quantocks are especially lovely in the autumn. Nearby, you can walk down Europe’s oldest complete medieval street and visit the Bishop’s Palace at Wells. You’ll see Glastonbury Tor soar from the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels to an impressive 158 metres.

Choose a Somerset holiday this autumn

Leaf-peeping in Gloucestershire

Autumn arrives with a bang at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum in Tetbury. Here you’ll find 341 varieties of Japanese maple, famous for their blaze of reds, oranges and yellows. You can follow one of the seasonal trails here or join a tree-discovering event.

Don’t miss Gloucester’s magnificent Gothic cathedral – you’ll probably recognise it as the one in Harry Potter and Dr Who. If you find yourself further west on the other side of the River Severn, you might like to stroll through the Forest of Dean and absorb its dramatic hills, curving roads and unspoilt views.

Find a place to stay in Gloucestershire

Sunny Spain’s a hit with tourists

Book a sunny stay at Relax Bungalow, Gran Canaria

Owners of Spanish holiday accommodation will be pleased to hear that a massive 57.6 million foreign tourists holidayed in Spain between January and November in 2013.

According to the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism, these are the highest numbers yet, with the Canary Islands and Catalonia proving particularly popular.

As we reported last year, tourist spending in Spain was already up by 13.7% by March 2013. The Ministry now reports a marked increase in visits from Russian and Nordic tourists, but British, German and French visitors still lead the way when it comes to booking sun-baked holidays in Spain.

The rise in international visitors is being attributed to several factors. Many travellers seem to have chosen the safety of a Spanish break over more unstable sunny destinations, such as Egypt. And hoteliers and holiday home owners have also implemented reductions in their accommodation prices, which, alongside Spain’s fantastic weather and many other charms, have pulled in more business.

Spain’s not the only market on the up, either. Tourism Review reported a 55% rise in European visitors to Italy over the Christmas period and Travel Weekly reported a bumper 2013 summer for UK tourism. You can read more about Spain’s tourism growth on Euro Weekly News.

Did you notice an increase in visitors from any particular countries in 2013? And how are bookings going for 2014 so far? Tell us in a comment below and don’t forget to add your Home ID!

Fill up your rental calendar with short breaks

Make sure you've added nightly prices

More and more travellers are choosing frequent mini breaks throughout the year, so make sure you’ve set up your account to accept short stays. It’s a great way to fill quieter periods, particularly outside of peak season. You’ll also be in the running to pick up those all-important last-minute short getaways.

If you’ve specified your minimum stay as less than a week, it’s vital to add your nightly prices so that your listing will display accurate costs. Otherwise, guests searching for short breaks will see an amount calculated by dividing your lowest weekly price by seven.

When it comes to setting your pricing, you’re in control. So if you want to charge one rate for week nights and another for weekend nights, it’s up to you. Use local competitor prices as a guide and bear in mind that paying for single nights instead of a whole week is generally more expensive.

Going back and forth over incorrect pricing puts guests off and wastes your time. So specify your nightly prices now to provide a smooth and simple booking process and turn each enquiry into a confirmed booking!

Go to Properties > Prices to add nightly rates and fill up your calendar.

Use event tourism to boost your business

Book a Parisian studio and take in the Paris Marathon

2014 is set to be another great year for event tourism, with an increasing number of travellers booking holidays to coincide with popular events. Now’s the time to capitalise on festivals and events happening near your holiday property to fill up your calendar.

Do you own a Scottish holiday property within easy reach of Glasgow’s upcoming Commonwealth Games site? Or maybe you rent out the ideal Californian base for Coachella festival-goers to escape to when the party’s over? All you need to do is tell people about it.

First stop should be your listing: regularly update your summary for search results and your main description with the names of upcoming local festivals and events. This way search engines will pick up your listing whenever travellers are looking for accommodation for an event you’ve mentioned. You should also add seasonal events to your own website if you have one, making sure they feature prominently on your homepage.

A few months before a big local event, put up a few posters to showcase your property as a great base for the festivities. It also pays to be social-media savvy – your friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter can raise your profile for free.

Don’t forget to leave business cards for your guests to take with them, and always gather feedback by requesting a review just after the stay. This will help you spread the word about your place – if this year’s Paris Marathon tourists give you the thumbs-up, it’s likely you’ll be booked up for next year.

With so many great events scheduled for 2014 – Shakespeare’s 450th birthday celebrations in Stratford-upon-Avon, the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles and Brazil’s 2014 FIFA World Cup – now’s the time to capitalise on event tourism and make this your best rental year ever!

Why we visit our holiday home out of season

Rowena discusses her Swiss Franc mortgage

Holiday homeowner, Rowena, tells us how the out of season visit to her property was for more than just a holiday.

We’ve just returned from a week’s visit to our holiday home in Cyprus, and what a wonderful time of year to visit. Unfortunately, the week we picked happened to be the coldest weather of the season, with snow falling on the mountains.

Typically, it’s back to glorious sunny days again now that we’re home! However, we were still able to get a couple of days of sunshine, catch up with neighbours and visit the tourist places that we’ve never seemed to have time to do on previous trips.

The benefits of a winter visit

I think it’s important to visit your own home at different times of the year so you are able to prepare your house for all seasons and also be able to give your guests information on what they can expect during that season, what the weather is typically like and what they can see and do.

As a result of our visit we bought an electric heater for the evenings to keep the home nice and warm. It’s surprising how quickly the temperature can drop once the sun comes down. You can blast hot air through the air conditioning units but this is an expensive way to heat the house. We also made sure there were plenty of fleecy blankets to keep people warm at night.

Cyprus at Christmas

A gallery for all seasons

We took some photos so we can show people what our home is like in the winter season. We also made a few home improvements, something we try and do every visit. We brought out with us a new hairdryer and extra games for the playstation, checked the fly screens, which were fitted earlier in the year and changed both the shower curtains. We bought a new lamp and cushions for the lounge and gave the kitchen a deep clean ready for the new season.

Mixing work with pleasure

The most fun we had was seeing Cyprus in December with all the Christmas lights, including the village of Anarita where we are located. We also managed to enjoy some quality time with our neighbours, including a Christmas party, and Stewart and Ann who manage our property so well throughout the year.

All in all a very successful trip – my only wish was that we could have stayed longer!

All the best!


Update to capital gains tax in France

Get up to date with capital gains tax

Thinking about selling your French holiday home? If so, make sure you’re up to date with the new capital gains tax rules first.

From this autumn, the tax is being applied to property sales of second homes in France unless you’ve owned your place for 22 years or more (reduced from 30 years).

There’s no change to the period of exemption from social charges – if you’ve owned your second home for 30 years, social charges don’t apply.

Supplementary capital gains tax, meanwhile, will continue to apply on gains over €50,000 (£41,943).

But if you sell your French property before 31 August 2014, you’ll qualify for a 25% discount on capital gains tax, social charges and supplementary capital gains tax.

Head to French-Property.com to read the full article and see a useful sample calculation of the charges.

The content of this blog is intended only to provide a summary of matters of interest. It is not intended to be legal advice.

How eco-friendly is your holiday home?

Consider investing in solar panels

How green is your property? Holidaymakers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious with some even choosing their accommodation based on its sustainability credentials, so making your holiday home more environmentally friendly (and letting people know about it) could be a great way of securing more bookings.

To mark Green Tourism Week (4–10 November) we’d love to hear what you’re doing to reduce the impact of your holiday home. Have you got any tips for other homeowners? Has going green saved you money? Let us know in the comments box below.

Meanwhile, here are some ideas to get you started.

Quick wins

  • Buy A-rating appliances
    When buying appliances, choose those with energy-saving ratings (‘A+’, ‘A++’ and ‘A+++’ in the European Union) and opt for low wattage light bulbs.
  • Recharge
    Buy rechargeable batteries and a charger. Make sure spare (and recharged!) batteries are available.
  • Switch off
    Buy a standby saver for televisions, DVDs and other equipment with standby lights.

Longer term investments

  • Insulate your home as thoroughly as possible
    Get expert advice on wall, loft and floor insulation, and make your doors and windows draught proof.
  • Make the most of the sunshine
    Install solar panels or solar photovoltaics (although you should check planning permission requirements first). Although the initial outlay is expensive, the investment soon pays for itself and saves you money on electricity bills.

Guest engagement

  • Provide a green manual
    Include a ‘green’ manual in your welcome pack for guests suggesting ways they can save energy.
  • Keep it local
    Source as much as possible locally. Find good organic outlets and restaurants in your area and recommend them to guests, and include locally sourced produce in your welcome hamper.
  • Encourage recycling
    Find out about local recycling services and make your guests aware of them too. Provide a recycling bin or containers to make it as easy as possible.

Five easy ways to refresh your listing before peak booking season

Refresh your listing to maximise your bookings

With Christmas fast approaching and peak booking season just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to update your advert.

Here are our five top tips to get you started, but what are yours? Please share them with us by posting a comment at the bottom of this post.

1) Make your summary stand out from the crowd
Your summary is what appears on our search results pages. It’s there to draw guests in and encourage them to click through to your main advert listing, so you might want to re-work it. Highlight any unique selling points, particularly seasonal ones, and remember that to boost the possibilities of your property appearing in search engine rankings, you should keep the text and captions in your ad factual rather than descriptive.

2) Highlight your discounts
If you’ve decided to offer last minute or early bird discounts, make sure they’re highlighted in your summary as well as in your main description. Or to make a statement with your discount, purchase a deal through your account and it will appear on your listing for three weeks and your listing will also be featured on our deals page.

3) Perfect your pictures
Updating your photos can be a great way of refreshing your advert. Remember, always bear your target market in mind and update your lead photo during the year. If you’re aiming to appeal to those dreaming of summer sun after Christmas, for example, choose a sunny image or a photo of your swimming pool.

4) Update your features
Have you added any new features to your property recently? If so, make sure you’ve included them in your advert so your property appears in the right search filters for holidaymakers. Similarly, if certain items are no longer available remove them from your listing to avoid disappointment and complaints.

5) Check your pricing
Guests can’t book and pay if you haven’t set your prices, so make sure they’ve been specified on your advert right through until the end of 2014. If you’re not changing your prices, you’ll still need to update your price table to put 2014 dates against the prices. Otherwise the guest won’t know what you’re charging.

Managing our holiday home from a distance

Rowena - image with house

Rowena tells us about her on-site management team that help her to manage her holiday home in Cyprus from the UK.

The thought of something going wrong with your property is a big concern for many overseas property homeowners, especially when you live far away. I don’t know what we’d do without Stewart and Ann, our on-site management team. They live at the resort where we have our holiday home and provide an invaluable service. They give us peace of mind that our property is well looked after and take care of emergencies when needed.

During the winter, Cyprus can experience heavy rainfall and a common problem is damp in houses. Unfortunately our house is no exception! Last year Stewart reported a problem with damp indoors. The damage was promptly sealed, filled, sanded and painted in the hope it wouldn’t happen again. But on one of Stewart’s recent weekly rounds he noticed more damp and we realised we needed to take action to stop the problem reoccurring and causing lasting damage.

The ever-helpful Stewart sourced a reliable builder and we were quoted 250 euros to fix the problem once and for all. Not cheap, but worth the investment in our minds, so we went ahead with the work. Now the problem is resolved and hopefully fixed for the long term.

Without having someone on-site to spot the problem, help find a cost-effective solution and oversee the repair works, we would have had to travel over to take charge, costing us even more money. That’s why it’s a good idea for holiday home owners who live far away from their properties to find someone reliable nearby – a neighbour, a friend or a management company – who can deal with issues as they arise. Because they always do in some shape or form!

Do you work with someone on-site? Have they ever had to assist with issues at your property?

All the best!


Marketing your holiday home on Facebook


Facebook is one of the world’s most popular social networks and is often seen as one of the most accessible ones, used by every generation. Not only is it great for keeping in touch with friends, it’s also well suited to spreading the word about your holiday home.

To market your holiday home on Facebook, you can either post updates and photos onto your own Facebook profile, or you can set up a dedicated ‘fan page’. You’ll be able to add a page when logged into Facebook. People who are interested in finding out more about your home won’t need to send you a friend request; they can simply become a fan of your page. Find out more about Facebook pages: http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php

You’ll be able to add a description to your profile so be sure to list your Holiday Lettings quicklink here. Take photos whenever you visit the property and upload these to your profile so they are available for your contacts to see.

Join us on Facebook – we talk about holiday home rental best practice, new and unusual homes on the site and the best deals of the day.

As with Twitter, make sure you regularly use these sites and continue to expand your contacts. You don’t have to talk about your holiday home all the time, but maintaining an active presence means more people will visit your page and be reminded of your business.

Social networking sites often have groups for people with a shared interest. Search for groups related to your holiday home (such as its location, general travel, your target market (skiers, young families or pet owners, etc), join them and join in the discussion.