I don’t know about you but choosing a villa to stay in can be an absolute minefield, with no guarantee you are actually going to find the villa as described in the glossy brochure, or ad on the internet. We have stayed in some shockers over the years, and have had varying degrees of success in remedying the situation. Problems with the accommodation can really take the shine off a holiday and leaves you with memories that, whilst making for an amusing story, aren’t really what you want your holiday anecdotes to be consist of.
This is not going to be an issue we face this year, thankfully, as we are off to a villa in Menorca later this month, as part of our year as ambassadors with James Villas. We did have to chose a villa from select locations and the first thing I noticed on their website was this:
To give you a knowledgeable helping hand with every aspect of your stay we have in-resort Villa Managers in the majority of our destinations. We also have a 24hr telephone helpline
Reassuring to know that should we have an issue with the property there is somebody there to help. Not like in previous years when we couldn’t raise one owner for love nor money, even when we had a major issue with electrics. To know that we won’t have any such issue this year is reassuring, even before we leave.
Having rummaged around their websbite looking at different villas in different locations it got me thinking about my top tips for choosing a villa (believe me we have fallen into so many of these pitfalls)
We knew, for instance, that we didn’t want to be in the heart of the town, but wanted to be up in the hills a bit more. So do think long and hard about where you want to be. Some people DO want to be in the centre of it all, the hustle and bustle of a new town can be magical, and it certainly makes it easier to explore on foot, but we wanted some peace and tranquility, with stunning views on this trip so looked very closely at where the villa was located.
Make sure you have configured the bedrooms for the right number of people. Clearly if you have 10 people, but they are five couples you will only need five bedrooms but if two of those people are brother and sister / two singles then you are actually going to need more bedrooms. Similarly are the beds singles / twins / doubles / bunks and how many bathrooms are there? You might not think this is important but we stayed in a villa once that had ten bedrooms but only two loos, which isn’t so good when it could have slept 20.
On every listing on the James Villa website there is a graphic that shows how many the property sleeps, how many bedrooms and how many bathrooms so you can see at a glance if the villa will work for you.
Is the pool shared or communal? Private is obviously great if you want some privacy, but if you have younger children and want to socialise with other families then a communal pool might be better.
Is the villa accessible without a hire car? Or if you are getting a hire car, is there somewhere to park it? Or indeed if you are getting a couple of hire cars can you park both of them? Sometimes there is only parking for one car so it is always worth double checking this. Similarly check if you need gate codes to get onto private drives. Nothing worse than arriving after a long drive to find you can’t get in.
Local restaurants and bars
We thought long and hard about this when booking our villa. Whilst we want to be close to a bar so we can go for a cocktail at sunset and not have to worry about driving home, we would rather not be so close to it that we can hear it at midnight. The same is true for restaurants, double check how far away the nearest one is in case you want a night off from cooking, but equally don’t want to drive after a sangria!
A month ahead of our trip and we already have all the information we need about how to get to the property, how to get the keys, the name of the local villa manager and several phone numbers, should we need them. We also know what time we can have access from so we can plan our departure and arrival days.
Linen / cleaning charges / deposit
Well worth checking if you need to take linen and towels with you, especially if you are only going with hand luggage! And finding out if you need to pay a cleaning fee which can be a sizeable chunk of money on top of the property cost (holiday makers travelling with James Villa don’t have to worry about any of that) .
I can honestly say that this has been the most stress free booking I have ever dealt with, and I am not alone. It is not that we have been treated any differently, I have talked to a lot of people online who have all said the same thing. The information that has already been provided to us (including the nearest ATM / hospital / how the washing machine works) is standard.
It’s the James Villa way