Holiday Rentals - Advice
A holiday is a hard-earned luxury for most of us, so getting all the details just right is crucial. We all want to return from our holiday with tales of sun, sea, suntans and wonderful experiences, not with stories about our holiday from hell! There can be pitfalls to travelling, but if you follow our guide you can make absolutely certain that your holiday will be a dream and not a nightmare.
Where to search
• Holiday letting websites are the obvious choice; there are lots out there and they appear high up on Google searches due to the huge amount of traffic that goes through their sites. The larger sites have thousands and thousands of villas and apartments to choose from, which can be a little daunting, but if you don't mind spending quite a bit of time looking through all the listings then they are a good place to start.
• Another option is to find sites where you can rent directly from the owner. You will often be able to find a bargain but you should be aware that there may not be policies and procedures in place in the event of something going wrong.
• Of course, a tried and tested method is to use a reputable estate agent that specialises in short term or holiday lets. They can usually guarantee some kind of financial protection for the renter and will almost certainly have visited and photographed the holiday lets themselves, so you know that what you see is what you will get. Specialist letting agents will also advise homeowners on how to decorate and stock a property for rental purposes, as well as provide property management services as a part of which they are the key holders taking care of cleaning, stocking and maintenance. An extension of this is the list of concierge services provided by certain agents, which can include making bookings on renters' behalf and organising babysitters, waiters, entertainment and chefs, amongst others.
Will my payment details be safe?
There aren't many holiday home owners that would let you pay cash on arrival, so of course unless they accept bank transfers, you will need to pay via the internet. Here are some tried and tested, safe ways to pay via the internet:
• PayPal: If the agent, company or individual will accept PayPal it's a great way to pay as your payments will be protected in most circumstances.
• Credit card: Your payments are protected when you use a credit card, so if anything were to go wrong there is a very good chance you would get your money back. The same does not apply to most debit cards, but check with your bank to make sure.
• Money transfer: If you are paying large amounts you may prefer to use a money transfer service, especially if the transaction is in a different currency to your own.
Check exchange rates in your home country and in Spain, and shop around to get the best deals. Some banks will give you a great exchange rate while with others you will lose out, so do a little research with your bank, currency exchange companies that often offer the best rates of all and check out any card or PayPal charges you may incur beforehand - you don't want any nasty surprises.
Making travel plans
In advance of booking your holiday villa or apartment you should check out flight availability and prices. Make sure there are connections between your local airport and your destination in Spain (which would be Málaga airport for the Costa de Sol). The next thing to do is to shop around for prices. You can use flight comparison websites to find the best deals or go directly to the airlines themselves to grab a bargain. But make sure you read the small print when it comes to added extras such as taxes, baggage charges etc; the first price that comes up is rarely the final price, so don't get caught out. If you have any additional needs such as disability requirements or additional items to take such as pushchairs, please check with your airline regarding their policies before you book.
Next up is how to get from the airport (Málaga) to your holiday rental. If you are doing it all yourself there won't be a handy coach waiting at the airport for you with a driver who knows exactly where he is going, so what are your options?
• Public transport: Fortunately, the transport links on the Costa del Sol and across Andalucía are very good. There are buses and trains at the airport that will take you all over the coast and from Málaga bus station or train station you can travel to just about anywhere in Andalucía.
• Hire a car: Car hire is highly competitive on the Costa del Sol, so you can come across fabulous deals if you take the time to do some research. Look for online reviews and find the right company for you but do check the small print regarding their insurance or fuel policies, as there may be extra charges that you are not expecting.
• Your letting agent may also provide an airport pickup service that will have a driver waiting to take your bags as you arrive in Málaga, and ready to get you back well in time for your flight.
Check for added extras
Speaking of extra charges; before you book your villa in the sun, make sure you know exactly what you are paying for. Take a close look at the agent, company or individual's payment policies with regards to deposits, final payments and added extras. Policies that can catch people out include:
• Cancellation policies: If the worst happens and you need to cancel your holiday make sure you are aware of deadlines for cancelling and associated reimbursement policies.
• Cleaning fees: You may be expected to pay a returnable cleaning deposit on arrival. This of course won't be returnable if there is any damage. Check the amount and make sure you have enough cash on you when you get there. Some agents prefer a credit card payment, which is refunded after your holiday property has been inspected. Again, it is best to check with the agent, company or individual you are renting from.
• Fees for facilities: Don't assume that everything at your holiday villa is included in the price. You could be charged extra for air conditioning, internet access, cleaning services and more, so inspect the small print.
Peace of mind holiday rentals
When you are booking your holiday rental over the internet you need to be aware of all of the above, so research is important. Of course, it may seem a lot of work responsibility to take on for what is, after all, meant to be a relaxing experience, so if you're not keen on taking it all on yourself the best option remains booking through an experienced, professional agency. They have the know-how and procedures in place to ensure that homeowners and renters alike are looked after. This applies especially to people with special requirements and needs, questions about the properties themselves, their location and the amenities close by. Many rental agents advise homeowners on all aspects of renting out their property, providing detailed information, suggestions and also specialised services such as welcome packs and a long list of additional services. What's more, if you need extra sunbeds or have a problem with the pool pump, the air conditioning or the electricity they normally have a maintenance department and will have someone there to sort it promptly.
If you plan carefully and follow our guide you will enjoy your fabulous Costa del Sol holiday and have an experience to remember - one you will want to repeat again!