As we navigate our way through the Covid-19 crisis, it’s widely understood that renting a villa provides a private space, protection and security that a hotel-based vacation simply cannot compare with.
As a family or small group of friends who have been isolating together that makes it a positive and entirely appropriate way to enjoy a holiday in a safe environment. A place that you can call your own.
Only last week, it looked unlikely that UK travellers would be able to enjoy a summer holiday overseas. Today it seems things are changing daily as our government unveils new plans and approaches to travel.
Now more than ever, considering a villa for a relaxing week or two in the sun, makes complete sense.
Here are a few reasons why:
A private villa with your own pool offers a safe space for families and friends isolating in the sun.
All the usual airlines including EasyJet, Jet2, Ryan Air & British Airways are open for bookings.
Currently the cost of flights are very reasonable indeed.
UK Government is now positively considering open skies and no isolation for July & August. More news will be released soon.
The Algarve, parts of Spain and the Islands are ahead of the UK and now safely opening up restaurants, beaches and other facilities.
On per person basis, renting a villa is surprisingly cost effective.
Although, things are moving very quickly, there is still availability in some exceptional villas for July, August, September & October.
If you’d like to discuss options and availability, call us now on 01625 581102
As we move into 2020, it’s impossible to escape news about global warming and its effect on our planet.
If cancelling your holiday plans and staying home simply isn’t an option but you still want to do ‘the right thing’ wherever possible to reduce your impact, what steps can you take?
Here’ we’ve put together a list of a few of actions you can take. Whilst you are unlikely to change the world on your own, if everyone committed to these small things, the change would be very significant.
Fly direct wherever possible instead of connecting indirect services which is far less efficient. Although it is rarely the least expensive way to do things, Flying direct reduces your impact in many ways.
Choose Your Airline Carefully
Make your choice of airline a deliberate and considered one. A little online research will give you a very good idea which ones are leading the way in environmentally sustainable travel.
When flying, more weight means more fuel. So the lighter you travel, the more you reduce your carbon footprint.
Drink Without Plastic
When you are travelling, grabbing a quick coffee or even a drink of water lead to a plastic cup, bottle or straw. Check first and make a clear choice to use the café that uses real cups or sells glass bottles. And always say no to straws, if they are plastic.
Choose A Beer From Near
This one is so easily overlooked but the impact is significant. Buy beer or other drinks at the bar that are brewed or distilled as locally as possible.
It’s so easy to automatically go for the brands we know and recognize, even if they have been shipped in form the other side of the world. When you think about it, sitting on a beach in the Caribbean drinking beer that was brewed in Belgium just can’t make any environmental sense.
Reusable Water Bottles
When you go out to the beach or on any other trip or adventure, take reusable water bottles.
Steel Bottles are increasingly easy to find and are both light and durable.
Providing the tap water is drinkable, fill them up and leave them in the fridge overnight before you leave and you’ll enjoy ice cold water.
Buy locally grown produce wherever you can, you’ll be keeping the carbon footprint low and supporting the local economy. When you visit the local shop or supermarket, carefully select products according to their packaging, steering away from anything cocooned in plastic.
Always take your own bags when you go shopping. Drop a couple of ‘bags for life’ into your suitcase before you leave home and you will be well prepared.
As well as carrying the shopping home, you will find they are very handy for carrying towels, books, snack and toys down to the beach too.
Keep It Local
Aside from buying locally grown food, try to support the local community in any way you can. If you hire a guide or book any activities or adventures, reassure yourself on their connection and commitment to the local community before you commit.
Use public Transport
Think about ditching the hire car and hopping on the bus or train. In most places, public transport is far more reliable and affordable than in the UK. Plus getting on a bus or train with the locals is a great way to get to know the real country and its people.
Eat More Plants
A vegan diet is high on the list of ways to reduce your personal environmental impact. But changing your diet completely may not be entirely necessary or part of your holiday plans. Shifting the balance of your meals so they have less meat and more fruit and vegetables than unusual, will still make a difference. You could even try the occasional ‘vegan night’.
Who knows? You may enjoy it so much that you decide to become a full-time vegan.
One of the burning questions which has to be answered early in the holiday planning process is whether to opt for the lavish decadence of a hotel or the tranquil relaxation of luxury villa. Here, we look at the pros and cons of both options and see how they compare.
Choosing to stay in a luxury villa can often be a more affordable option than opting for a hotel which offers the same standard of accommodation/facilities. And the larger the party, the more the overall affordability mounts up.
Also, a villa holiday is usually free from hidden additional costs unlike a hotel bill which, at the end of a busy trip, rarely comes without a list of unexpected additional costs.
A villa will usually prove to be a more flexible option for you and your party.
You will be able to choose when to eat, when to use the pool and when to keep the noise down. When to eat outside and when to eat in.
This flexibility can be particularly appealing when there are children or teenagers in your group. Staying in your own villa, it is much easier to allow children to simply ‘be children’. They can play, run-around, laugh, make noise and all without fear of upsetting other guests.
You can set your own rules on noise, bed times and when it is acceptable to use the pool.
Swimming after sunset, in a pool twinkling with under water lighting is a truly wonderful experience, for both adults and children. But sadly, not an experience you will often be allowed to enjoy in a hotel pool.
Privacy & Tranquillity
In your own villa, you can be yourself, without worrying what others think. You will find it far easier to find the peace and relaxation you are looking for without having to get up early to lay your towels over a fight for a sunbed or bundle up all the children’s toys and carry them back to your room several times a day.
Okay, it is wonderful to not have to cook, wash up or wait-on for a change, which can be a major draw for certain members of the family/group. However, a villa provides more flexibility than most hotels when it comes to meal times and often even more choice of meals.
Healthier and lighter meals can be easier to access/prepare in your own villa and a finding a mid-afternoon snack or late-night treat for the kids is much more straightforward.
Of course, the burden of cooking and washing up can be reduced on a villa holiday by sharing the workload and by taking advantage of external catering options, particularly for any celebratory meals or events.
It is true, a luxury hotel is likely to give you access to great facilities like a pool, gym, sauna etc. However, if you know precisely what facilities you are looking for, you should be able to find something that suits you and your group perfectly in a carefully chosen villa.
From tennis courts and a gym to a games room and a home-cinema, there are villas available with all kinds of amazing facilities. And of course, when you find the perfect villa, with just the right facilities for you, you won’t have to share them with other guests. So you won’t find yourselves having to book the tennis court in advance or waiting for a turn on the treadmill.
For most of our villas, we have sourced gyms, golf, tennis, sorts training, yoga, sup, surfing which offer even better than the hotels offer.
Often hotel facilities are often small, crowded, badly equipped, poorly maintained or simply worn out due to their high levels of daily usage.
Never underestimate the impact of simple facilities like a washing machine which can significantly contribute to making a villa stand out over a hotel. When holidaying with children, a washing machine is worth its weight in gold and can significantly reduce the amount of clothing you need to pack as well as taking the drama out of any unforeseen spillage or accident.
If you have toddlers or small children in your party, a villa will often provide better facilities. Highchairs, Cots and stair gates. Check out our ‘Baby Comes Too’ offer to find out more about this all-important provision for families.
Whether you need Wifi access for work, to stream movies for the children, to keep teenagers in touch with their friends, or just to research each new-day’s adventure whilst you are on your holiday, it’s hard to argue against its importance these days.
There was a time when booking a hotel would guarantee you WiFi, whereas a villa was unlikely to be WiFi enabled. Those days are well and truly gone.
Although it is always important to check carefully before you book, the vast majority of villas have very good WiFi access and, once again, as you won’t have to share it with hundreds of other data-hungry holiday makers, the bandwidth is all yours.
With a little planning it’s possible to make any flight much more bearable. Here are afew tips to help you make the most of your next flight.
Choose your seat carefully.
On many flights it is possible to reserve your seat, on others you may have to quietly ‘assert yourself’ to get the spot you need. It is important however, to know what seat you are aiming for.
If you are particularly tall, seats by the emergency exits or bulkheads usually have quite a bit more legroom. It is always best to check they are not reserved first.
If you can’t get one of those, an aisle seat with allow you more opportunity to stretch your legs or to easily get out of your seat.
If you are content to stay put and want to make sure you are simply not disturbed, a window seat is the ideal choice.
If you want to ensure you get the best service, go for a seat right at the back where it should be easier to catch the attention of the cabin staff as they go about their duties.
If you are unhappy with your seat, wait for take-off then scan the plane for empty seats and empty rows. A polite word with the cabin crew, and you may find yourself stretched out across a row of unused seats.
Be kind to yourself
Take along a few essentials to keep you feeling at your best on the flight.
Simple luxuries can make a big difference on a plane journey. Miniature versions of the following easily can be packed into your hand luggage and can be incredibly revitalising on a long flight (or during an airport delay). Lip balm, moisturiser, face wipes, eye drops (particularly soothing for dry and tired eyes), and of course a mini toothbrush and toothpaste.
When it comes to travel pillows, there are plenty of options these days. Buy one in advance and test it out at home to make sure it works for you. Look for something that folds or deflates so it is easy to pack and carry and one that supports your neck while you sleep. But Avoid plastic or any material that will leave you sweaty and sticky. It’s worth investing in something durable that will stand the rigour of multiple trips.
When you find one that works, treasure it and take it everywhere. It will become your favourite travel companion.
Prepare To be Entertained
Think carefully about your personal in-flight entertainment. Prepare things in advance. Download movies, tv-shows or box-sets to watch, podcasts, music or books to listen to (or even books to read).
If you’ve thought it through carefully, you’ll be looking forward to the moment you can sit back and get stuck in to the first page or episode and you will drift away in your own world for the entire flight.
But make sure those batteries are fully charged and that you packed your headphones, or you may be in for a disappointment.
Bring your own
Airline food is rarely exciting or inspiring, so think about packing yourself a few healthy snacks or treats to keep you going.
Kick your shoes off
Don’t let your feet get hot and swollen in tight shoes. Take your shoes off and get comfy. You can always pack a spare pair or warm socks to slip on to keep your feet warm on a long fight.
Never Dress To Impress
Don’t worry about looking stylish or smart. Just go for the content-and-comfortable look.
Make sure you always dress for comfort. Loose clothing will always be much more comfortable, so select loose and stretchy clothes. And always make sure you have an extra wooly jumper to pull on in case it gets cold.
Lay Off The Booze
Whilst it is tempting to knock back a glass of wine to relax you or help you nod off, the brutal truth is that it will only result in you becoming dehydrated, tired and more irritable. And on a long-haul flight you will have to endure the ensuing hangover at some point.
The air inside and aircraft is lower in humidity than normal. Normal humidity is between 30% and 60% percent, while inside an airplane, it can drop to less than 20%. During longer flights, cabin humidity can dip even lower. This can lead to dry eyes, ears nose and throat and often to headaches. Drinking coffee, tea, sugary drinks or alcohol (see above) can mike you more dehydrated and amplify this effect. There is also evidence that suggests de-hydration increases the effects of jet lag.
So stick to water and make sure you drink plenty of it.
Consider relaxing in an airport lounge before or between flights so that you are at your best before you climb aboard the plane. There are quite a few apps available now which allow you to buy lounge-time straight form your phone. We particularly like ‘Lounge Buddy’ which is listed in our Top Six Travel Apps article.
In light of recent fraudulent villa scams hitting headlines, specialist villa rental company Villa Retreats share their expert tips on how to avoid fraudulent bookings.
Villa rental fraud is expected to reach record levels this summer, with a 39% increase in villa fraud across key holiday destinations such as Spain.
Simon Rowland, Managing Director at Villa Retreats warns holidaymakers to stay vigilant when booking online: “Unfortunately there are criminals out there looking to scam holidaymakers. The best course of action is to stay vigilant: always ask for personal recommendations, speak to the owners on the phone, ask for further information, check on Google Maps, and take other sensible precautions.
Ultimately, the best way to stay safe is to book with a reputable company, one that is ATOL and ABTA protected, and one that is going to ensure your holiday is the best it can be, which is what we offer at Villa Retreats.”
Police and officials are powerless to close down fraudulent sites, which means that the best defence is knowing what to look for and knowing the signs of a fraudulent company.
We have listed our advice on how to avoid being fooled by the fraudsters below. But first, If you haven’t seen ITV’s feature on the growing problem of villa fraud, check it out here.
Use ATOL and ABTA protected companies
One of the best ways to stay safe is to ensure that your holiday is either ATOL or ABTA protected. Both of these offer travel protection, including being covered if the company goes into administration, or if the holiday has been mis-sold.
ATOL-protected holidays are designed for package holidays that include flights, while ABTA protection only covers holidays that involve rail, cruise, or self-drive. When staying in a luxury villa where you’re likely to be flying to your destination but self-driving once you’re there, it’s a good idea to check out both forms of protection. In addition, ABTA also offers legal protection, which means the company is “making sure that you get the holiday you paid for”.
This is one of many reasons, you can be safest booking through a villa agency who represent a number of villas – rather than booking from independent villa owners, as these companies will typically be ABTA and ATOL protected.
Ensure site is https encrypted
Ensure you are using a secure booking site, by checking it is https encrypted – which you can see by looking at the URL. If a site is HTTPS encrypted, this means that any information you input in the site is shared securely, and it is more difficult for a third party to get hold of any of your details – including your bank account details.
If you’re concerned, ring the owner / agency
Fraudulent companies can easily take photos and information about a villa they don’t own, list them on villa rental sites, take a booking, and then disappear with the
money. If you have any doubts at all, make sure to give the villa owners a call. Any reputable listing will have a number listed – a landline is more secure than a mobile – allowing you to ask the owners any number of questions about the property and the area, and assess how knowledgeable they seem to be. Again, booking through an agency can provide the most reliable and knowledgeable customer service, to ensure you that your booking is secure.
Read up on reviews
Before booking anything, make sure to check out the reviews online. All legitimate properties will have reviews, whether that’s on the rental site, TripAdvisor, or social media – and these won’t all be five-star, perfect reviews either. Lack of reviews, all negative reviews and undetailed 5* star reviews can all raise suspicion. A genuine, good quality property is likely to have a large number of detailed reviews highlighting the pros and cons of the property. If you’re booking through a villa rental company, rather than an independent property, you can also take assurance by reading up on the company as a whole on their social media channels, website and press coverage. Of course, you can also take the review process offline by asking friends and family for recommendations too.
How long has it been advertised?
If you are booking via a site which lists numerous properties from different suppliers, the date which the advertiser joined the villa rental website will typically be shown. Choose a company which has been advertising on the website for a long time, as this is more likely to be genuine, as fraudulent companies will take down the ads as soon as they’ve had someone “book” to avoid getting caught.
Use Google Maps
Google Maps can be very useful in trying to assess how legitimate a property is. Not only can it be used to confirm the location of the villa matches up with the address provided by the company, but the Street View tool can be used to check the villa is the same one as is shown in the online images.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is
Luxury villas are expensive, and although there is always the possibility of finding cheap deals for a holiday, savings such as 40% during peak season don’t exist. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: fraudulent third parties will advertise a villa at a low price to increase their chances of people booking with them.
Use a secure online payment method
Avoid using wired money transfer sites, as these are often untraceable. Also, avoid transferring money direct from your bank account to another bank account – as this doesn’t provide any confirmation that the money is in exchange for a product. Instead, PayPal offers secure payment methods, while credit cards are also one of the safest methods of payment, and provide greater security than debit cards.
Triple check the agreement / contract
When booking an expensive holiday, ensure to check over the full agreement before signing. Make sure that if something does go wrong with your booking there is a guarantee in the agreement which covers you for this. Reputable companies should also have their full T&Cs, booking conditions and FAQs listed on their website to ensure you are clear on all conditions of your booking and what you are covered for.
Be wary of extortionate security deposits
Luxury villas are expensive to maintain, upkeep, and repair, so it makes sense that the owners will also ask for a security deposit in case anything does get damaged or broken.
However, this should be only circa £1000 and if its more than this you need to check carefully. If it the security deposit is too high be sure to question this.
The best way to stay safe when booking a villa holiday is to book via a reputable villa rental agency, where you can take assurance in being ABTA and ATOL protected, pay using a secure online method and read up on reviews, social media posts and news articles about the company, to ensure your booking is safe and secure.
Villa Retreats is a luxury villa rental company, offering outstanding customer service combined with a personal knowledge of every single one of the villas they have on offer. Fully ATOL and ABTA protected, and first founded in 1991, the company has villas all over the world, including Mallorca (where they offer the Casa Amor villa, as seen in ITV2’s Love Island), Andalucía, Thailand, Morocco, Antigua, and Sardinia and St. Tropez – both of which are brand-new destinations on offer for 2019.
We all love warmth the sun. But no one loves it more than children. The fun and games that the combination of sunshine, sand and water allow, make for many of our best childhood memories. But how do you make sure you children stay protected from the sun ‘s harmful rays whilst still enjoying those long sunny day on the beach or by the pool?
Below are a few basic pointers to remember whilst you are on your next holiday.
Avoid the midday sun, when the sun is at its strongest. Make it time for a long lunch indoors or simply reading time or a game under the shade of some nearby trees or parasol.
Make use of any shade that is near to you. If you are going somewhere more exposed, like beach, take something to shade under with you, like a parasol or golf umbrella. Many beaches have parasols for hire, or often for sale in nearby shops.
If the kids are reading, resting eating or playing a game that can be done in the shade, encourage them to move under the trees, parasol or wherever else there is shade.
Cover every area of exposed skin with high factor sunscreen. Remember to include everywhere. Some of the commonly forgotten areas are ears, tops of feet and back of the knees. If they are in the water, re-apply the sunscreen every time they come out. At the slightest sign of the skin reddening, get them to pop on a loose-fitting t-shirt or if they are going back in the water a lycra ‘rash vest’ which will block out far more of the sun.
The sun can be very harmful to the eyes and often the damage isn’t apparent until later in life, so encourage children to wear sunglasses. Let them choose their own, so they are more likely to wear them but always insist on sunglasses marked as ‘Category 3’ which will provide adequate protection.
A sun hat can offer great protection from the sun and shield the eyes from glare too. A wide brim or peak will provide more shade and for younger children, a chinstrap will keep it in place for longer. For older children, like with their sunglasses, allow them to choose their own, so they are more comfortable wearing it.
Kids love to play in the sun. Chances are, while you are reading or relaxing, they will be charging around, swimming, digging, jumping and running in the sand. That is hot work. Which means they will sweat and can become dehydrated very quickly. And because they are having so much fun, they will simply forget to drink.So it’s up to you to remind them. Take them regular water and make sure they drink it.
Although these are all handy tips to help keep you children safe form the harmful rays of the sun, there are many more measures you can take but the main point is to use common sense at all times. With common sense and parental vigilance, your children should be able to have enjoy a fantastic holiday in the sun, without having to endure sunburn or suffer lasting skin damage.
Don’t forget, parents with children younger than five years can make the most of our ‘Baby Comes Too’ offer which is available on selected villas across our portfolio. With this offer, you’ll be able to make use of free high chair and cot hire as well as receiving this free Soltan family essential suncare package worth over £22.
(Offer applies to bookings made before the end of July 2019 where one or more children are under 5 years of age. Terms & Conditions Apply)
No, we aren’t suggesting that you enter politics, only to spend five years shouting at David Cameron across the despatch box, ending in inglorious defeat. Believe it or not, we’re talking about our excellent selection of villa rentals in Ibiza here at Villa Retreats.