We’re asked a lot of questions!
Below are those most frequently asked and we’ve grouped them to make it easier to find what you need (Tip: use Ctrl F on your keyboard then search for your keyword).
At the end of the page, for a bit of fun, we’ve also included some questions that are not frequently asked but which have caused some mirth in the office…!
1) MAKING A BOOKING
Q. Can I book online?
A. Yes for a small selection of properties (where you see the Instant Book icon).
We genuinely do actually prefer to talk with you before confirming a booking but, we appreciate that some properties need little explanation and it’s convenient for you to make a booking online in your own time. (N.B. Even if we’ve confirmed a booking with you over the phone or on email, the process of finalising the booking is always done online).
Q. How do I confirm a booking with you?
A. Either call or email us to give us the go-ahead. We will then email you a link to your online booking form and payment instructions. Your form and payment need to be returned as soon as possible.
Q. Can you put a property on hold for me?
Yes. We can hold a property for you for 48 hours whilst you confer with friends/family or investigate your travel options. At peak times it may only be possible to hold a property for 24 hours.
Q. Is my contract with you or the owner?
Since we are acting as an agent you are in contract with the owner/supplier of the accommodation. Payments are made to us and these monies are passed over to the owner/supplier minus our commission.
Q. When do you send me the arrivals information?
A few weeks ahead of your arrival we will send you an email with your instructions for arriving at the property and your local point of contact. We email these instructions as we’ve found that, these days, people prefer to have the information to hand on their phone.
Q. Can I cancel my booking?
A. We recognise that the best laid plans do not always come to fruition and if you need to cancel then you will just need to tell us in writing. Payments are non-refundable so we advise you have some travel insurance in place to cover this eventuality.
Q. Do you have a ‘cooling off’ period?
Q. I don’t know exactly who’s coming on the holiday – can I tell you later?
A. Yes that’s no problem and we know that teenagers & young adults are difficult to pin down in advance! Just let us know when you pay your balance and be sure not to exceed the capacity of the house at any time.
2) PRICES & PAYMENTS
Q. Is my money safe?
A. Yes, we are members of ABTA (Member P7076) which means your money is protected in the event of our financial failure.
Q. What if the property supplier goes bust?
A. Forward bookings will transfer to the new owner. It has happened only 2 or 3 times in 15 years - the management company of a complex/holiday park has gone into administration. In that event, the new owner or administrator wants the rental income to continue and forward bookings remain unaffected.
Q. Do I pay you or the owner?
A. Payments are always made to us. We then transfer a payment to the owner/supplier.
Q. Does the price on the website include special offers?
A. Whenever you do a date search on the website your quote will include any applicable special offers. If you’re just browsing the website looking at the calendar on a property page or the results of a search where no dates have been selected, you will only see the ‘from/to’ price which does not include special offers. There is also an Offers page on the website – you’ll find it featured prominently on the Home Page.
Q. Can I pay in Euros?
A. Yes. We have many clients from the Eurozone and we accept bank transfers in Euros.
Q. Can I pay by PayPal?
A. Yes we are happy to arrange this for you – we will send you a PayPal invoice.
Q. Do you charge for bank transfers?
A. There is no charge from us and we prefer to receive payments this way. For international bank transfers it’s possible that your bank will levy a transaction fee.
Q. Are your prices in Sterling or Euros?
A. Our contract prices are in Sterling. However, if you prefer to pay in Euros we can provide you with a Euro price for your holiday.
Q. What exchange rate do you use for payments in Euros?
A. We will normally apply the market rate of the day +2 basis points
Q. How much do I need to pay on reservation?
A. The standard rate is 25%. However, it can be more or less depending on the owner/supplier and any promotions applicable.
Q. When is the balance due?
A. 8 weeks before the holiday. If you are booking your holiday within 12 weeks of the start date then we require the full payment on reservation.
Q. Can I share the payments with other people in my group?
A. Yes, just ask them to quote the booking reference on their bank transfer. All payments should be settled in the required timeframe.
Q. Will the price change between the time of booking and the time of the holiday?
A. No, the price is set at the time of booking.
Q. What is the booking fee for?
A. It’s to help cover the cost of our ABTA membership. As a booking agent we do not have to provide any form of financial protection but we firmly believe it’s a service that all holiday companies should provide. Indeed, even if you are not booking with us, we recommend you only do so with an ABTA member. As they say, Book With Confidence.
Q. What is your fee for paying on a card?
A. It varies according to the volume of card payments we put through each month. As a result, it ranges from around 1.75% at busy times to around 2.75% at quieter times. We only pass on the amount we are charged. Despite what you read/hear in the press, the card processors charge very high fees for card payment services and we never recover the full amount. Of course, as of 13 January 2018 card surcharges will be abolished completely and we – and all SMEs – will be facing an enormous bill!
Q. Why do you charge for debit cards?
A. Sadly we are charged the same % fee for debit cards as we are for credit cards! No card payment provider has ever explained to us why this is considered necessary. But, they are financial giants and we are a small independent. It’s a battle we cannot win. All card charges will be a thing of the past as of 13 January 2018.
Q. Are there any other ‘extras’ I need to be aware of?
A. No. Aside from the booking fee, any other supplements, be they compulsory or optional, are highlighted on the property description so that you know at the time of booking.
Q. Is the price for the whole house?
A. Yes, prices are for exclusive rental of the entire property, not per person. Sometimes it is possible to secure a reduced rate for smaller groups outside of the summer season – ask us.
Q. Do your prices include ferry/flights?
A. Sorry, no, we only arrange the holiday rental.
3) SECURITY DEPOSITS
Q. How much is the security deposit?
A. It varies from one property to another according to several factors (size, standard of equipment/furnishings, whether it’s a family home, etc). Deposits can range from around £250 but can be as high as £2500. They are set by the owner but we do encourage owners to keep the amount sensible and appropriate. You can see the amount on the relevant property page on our website.
Q. What is the security deposit for?
A. To protect the owner in the event of accidental breakages/damages. Most breakages are minor (glasses, crockery, etc) and they are written off by owners as ‘part of parcel’ of renting. Very occasionally a more serious breakage might occur (e.g. a pool liner is ripped or a window is broken) or the property needs more cleaning after the guest’s departure than is the norm – it does occasionally happen. The security deposit will cover such events. Travel insurance – including liability for damage to 3rd party property – is recommended in case the cost of repair exceeds the security deposit lodged.
Q. How do I pay the security deposit?
A. It’s either lodged with us on your credit card or it’s provided directly to the owner/supplier either in advance or on arrival. Full details will be provided in your Arrivals Pack which is issued a few weeks in advance of your holiday.
Q. When do you return my security deposit?
A. When we hold the deposit on behalf of the owner, you are not actually making a payment to us. We simply hold your card details securely in the event of a problem and, as such, there is nothing to return. You will be asked to give us authority to charge your card up to the specified amount in the event of accidental breakage/damage occurring during your stay. Your card details are destroyed within a maximum of 4 weeks of your holiday departure. If the owner makes us aware of a problem then we will notify you as soon as possible to discuss it with you. Where the deposit is administered by the owner/supplier this is mostly done on arrival and will be a pre-authorisation on your credit card (the same as when you check-in to a hotel). A small number of owners require the deposit in advance of your holiday and this could be in the form of a bank transfer (returned within 14 days of your stay) or a cheque (destroyed or returned to you).
Q. Do I need to have travel insurance?
A. Yes you do, to cover you for those unforeseen eventualities that lead to cancellation. It is not a legal requirement but we strongly recommend clients have insurance cover including liability for 3rd party property. In our 15 years of trading we can recall a couple of occasions where a guest has accidentally caused property damage in excess of the sum covered by their security deposit. They were very relieved to know they had insurance cover to take care of it. On the Travel page of our website you will see a couple of recommended insurance companies.
4) PROPERTY FEATURES
Q. Does the property have air-con?
A. Not many properties do – the Atlantic tends to keep a lid on the highest temperatures. You can see the properties that do have air-con by selecting that feature in the Advanced Search options on the Find My Holiday page. Fans are often available in the property or can be arranged for you.
Q. Are fans provided?
A. See above
Q. Can you provide catering services?
Some villas offer a catering package with the rental. We are able to provide an in-villa chef at many of our villas including all of those in the Hossegor and Moliets Plage areas. Also, in these two areas, we can provide a delicious Welcome Meal for your arrival night that simply needs heating up – ask us for details.
Q. Can you provide childcare?
A. Some housekeepers are available for babysitting but not formal childcare. Best to invite your parents along!
Q. Is the swimming pool security protected?
A. Yes. It’s the law in France that all swimming pools are protected by an alarm/cover/fence or some combination of these. On the property description you will see which method is used.
Some clients require the physical security of a cover/fence and you can filter results on this basis using the Advanced Search.
Q. Can you walk to shops/restaurants from the villa?
A. That all depends on where you’re staying! We know this is an important part of the holiday for many people and you can select this feature in the Advanced Search option.
On every property description you will see – in the LOCATION section – how far the property is to the nearest boulangerie and restaurant.
Q. Can any of your properties host weddings or events/celebrations?
A. Yes. Over the years we’ve helped arrange weddings at a handful of properties in our collection. We have access to wedding planners in south west France who can help you organise your perfect event. Also, there are plenty of ‘special occasion’ properties that are ideal for a big anniversary/birthday event or even a small corporate event. Catering services are available.
Q. Is there a hair dryer at the property?
A. Typically no. Best to bring one with you.
Q. Will the property be wheelchair-friendly?
A. It very much depends on the property. We’ve visited every property and in the description – IN OUR OPINION – there is commentary on its suitability for guests with reduced mobility. Please call us if you have any queries/concerns.
Q. Is the property safe for young children?
A. Again, it depends on the property and we’ve learned that what is considered ‘unsafe’ by some parents is neither here nor there to other parents. We make every effort in our descriptions to be clear & honest and we highlight anything which we feel could influence your decision. In the description – IN OUR OPINION – there is commentary on the property’s suitability for younger kids. Please call us if you have any specific questions.
Q. Is there a cot / high chair at the property?
A. Most independent properties have a cot/high chair available free of charge. A few owners charge a supplement (against our better judgement!) which is paid locally. Please let us know in advance if you need a cot/high chair. At holiday parks/complexes these items are available for hire and must be pre-booked (pay on arrival).
Q. Could the owner change the bedroom configuration for our group?
A. This is very rarely possible. There is no time to change it back during the changeover. Please check the property description carefully to be sure the configuration suits you.
Q. Why is the property’s name different to its real name?
A. Sometimes we prefer to rename a property to something more evocative and reflective of its character or location. Also, lots of French rental homes have the same name so we need to come up with something different to distinguish them in our collection!
Q. Do the owners live at the property or on-site?
A. Only in a handful of cases and this is very clearly highlighted in the property description – IN OUR OPINION.
5) TRAVEL SERVICES
Q. Can you book ferries / flights / car hire for me?
A. Sorry, no. As we’re not a tour operator or travel agent we can’t book these services for you. It’s very easy to do so independently and our Travel page provides useful signposts for these services.
Q. Can you recommend a good stopover hotel?
A. Yes, we can. Over the years many guests have broken up their journey south with a stop-over. Again, our Travel page lists a few ideas for you.
Q. Can you book an airport transfer for me?
A. We can direct you to local companies who offer this service so that you can book direct. At some of our luxury villas you will have access to a concierge service who can arrange this for you.
6) CLEANING & HOUSEKEEPING
Q. Do I have to do any cleaning pre-departure?
A. Even when there is an exit clean provided, guests are still politely asked to help out with a few, standard pre-departure tasks and this will be explained in your Arrivals Instructions. If an exit clean is not included or available, you will be expected to leave the property in the condition you found it.
Q. Will a cleaner/housekeeper come in during the week?
A. It depends on the property. Some villas include a mid-stay clean and linen change whilst others do not. There is usually a cleaner/housekeeper who can come in if you need it – you pay locally for these services.
Q. Is linen and bathroom towels provided?
A. Yes, always. In some villas your linen & towels are changed mid-stay if you are staying for a fortnight. Check the property description for details.
Q. Do you provide pool towels?
A. This is not standard but a small number of villas do. Check the property description for details.
Q. Do you provide beach towels?
A. This is not standard but a small number of villas do. Check the property description for details.
7) ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Q. Can I arrive on Sunday?
A. Yes. Whilst the vast majority of properties operate on a Saturday changeover in summer it’s still possible to arrive on a Sunday but bear in mind you will lose a night. You’ll need to let us know on reservation so that we can plan for your arrival.
Q. What time is check-in?
A. It does vary from one property to another depending on several factors but the standard check-in time is 5pm. We know this is later than most people would ideally like but properties do take a lot of time to prepare and often there is more than 1 property for the local property management team to get ready and only a small window to do all of this work.
Q. Can I arrive at the property earlier than 5pm?
A. Sometimes this can be arranged and it’s easier to do so when your arrival is not preceded by another guest’s departure. In larger houses it really isn’t possible to be ready for new guests much before 5pm, sorry. Some owners are amenable to luggage being dropped off at the property earlier than 5pm but please respect the maintenance team who will be flat out preparing the house/pool/gardens for you. For properties on a holiday park/resort the arrival time rules are pretty strict.
Q. What time do I have to leave the property?
A. By 10am. Again this is so that property can be prepared for the next guest, usually arriving the same day as your departure. The 10am departure time is there to ensure every guest’s arrival – including yours - is trouble-free. If there is no-one arriving the same day as you’re leaving then, yes, some flexibility is of course possible.
Q. Will there be a welcome basket at the property?
At all of our individual properties (i.e. those not on a holiday resort/park/complex) there will always be a basic welcome pack. The contents vary from one owner to another.
Q. Will someone meet me at the property?
A. Not necessarily. Changeover day is incredibly intensive particularly in the summer months. Some local property managers look after several properties and so they can’t be everywhere at the same time. You will always have clear instructions on how to access your property and the manager/owner/owner’s representative will pop round to meet you during your stay.
Q. Do you have a local contact I can call if there’s a problem?
A. Yes, absolutely. You will always have an immediate local point of contact at your property. This will be the house manager/owner/reception staff. Then you also have the contact details of our Area Manager in south west France.
Q. Do I need to bring our own washing-up liquid / dishwasher tablets / condiments / toiletries etc?
A. There is nearly always a continuous supply of kitchen items but there’s no guarantee and as such we recommend bringing a supply of these items. Toilet roll is always provided but not toiletries.
Q. Do you do long lets?
A. Yes we can do this. Call us with your requirements and we will send you some suggestions. Bear in mind energy costs are quite expensive in France so winter lets are not as cheap as you’d hoped!
Q. Can you recommend a good local restaurant?
A. Yes we can! Even if we haven’t eaten there ourselves we will invariably know someone who has. Restaurant recommendations are often provided in the property and your local contact will be pleased to advise you too.
Q. Do you visit the properties on your website?
A. Yes we do and we love this part of our job! In fact we turn down most places we see because we wouldn’t feel comfortable sending a friend there – that’s our benchmark. It’s integral to what we offer you – visited, vetted, voila!
Q. Can you arrange surf school?
A. We have a preferred surf school partner serving our Hossegor/Seignosse/Capbreton properties and they give our clients 10% discount as well as excellent tuition. At other resorts we can usually recommend 2 or 3 surf schools. We will provide the details for you to book direct.
Q. Can you hire bikes locally?
A. Yes! The cycling infrastructure on the south west coast is brilliant. It really is a fabulous way to explore the area and enjoy some family time. Again, we have a preferred partner serving our Hossegor/Seignosse/Capbreton properties. They give AA clients a discount and will do a drop-off at your villa. We will provide the details for you to book direct.
Q. Can you organise a chef for me?
A. Yes. In the vast majority of properties this will be possible but subject to availability. The chefs are snapped up quickly so we advise booking it in at or near your point of reservation. In particular, we have two fantastic chefs serving our Hossegor and Moliets properties.
Q. What’s the weather like in Aquitaine?
Sunny and warm of course! Generally speaking it’s warm all year round and in summer the temperatures typically reach 25-30 degrees by the afternoon. It can get hotter but on the south west coast you tend not to get the endless dry heat of Provence. In fact, we find that families, particularly those with younger kids, prefer the favourable climate of the south west coast – the Atlantic breeze tends to moderate temperatures. The further inland you go, the hotter it gets. (NB Just be warned that if you call and ask Justin this Q. you might be stuck on the phone for quite a while; as a Geography grad he’s a deep well of very interesting European weather statistics and will be only to pleased to share with you his knowledge of advection fog and the föhn effect.)
Q. Do you own the properties on your website?
No, we don’t. We act as agents for owners of holiday properties.
Q. Is it safe for my kids to go surfing?
A. Yes, the south west coast is brilliant for surfing and body-boarding but whether it’s Cornwall, Aquitaine or anywhere else you should observe the flags and respect the conditions of the day. All of the main beaches are life-guarded during French school summer holidays.
Q. I’ve heard about the lakes in Aquitaine – can you swim in them?
A. Absolutely! The lakes are a wonderful bonus and we’re not talking deep, black, freezing cold water either! The Great Lakes lie just a short distance inland from the coast and have beautiful sandy beaches and warm, shallow water. In fact the water is so shallow that you can often walk out 50 metres and still only be knee-deep! They are brilliant for kids. The lakes are also sufficiently vast to enjoy a variety of water sports.
Q. Will there be mosquitoes?
A. You’d think the combination of lakes and pine forests would be ideal for mosquitoes but no-one ever seems to mention it as a problem. Maybe it’s the sea air that keeps them at bay.
Q. Can I bring my pet dog?
A. This is possible at many of our villas – you can select this criterion in the Advanced Search. At most holiday parks/villa complexes there is a supplementary charge to be paid locally. If in doubt, give us a call.
Q. Does the owner/housekeeper speak English?
A. Some do, some don’t! But, don’t worry, a bit of French vocab will get you through most situations and you could download an app in advance.
Q. Will you put me on your database and email me newsletters?
A. Yes if you make a booking or an enquiry with us we will add you to our mailing database. We don’t send out very many mailings – perhaps 1 every 6 weeks – and we only choose a relevant segment of the database each time, depending on what the message is. If it’s wishing you Bonne Année we’ll probably send it to all clients! You always have the option to unsubscribe and as of May 2018 we will only be mailing people who have actively told us they want us to do so (it’s all part of the new – and long overdue - European Data Protection legislation).
Q. Can I leave feedback on the holiday?
Yes please! We encourage you to share your thoughts on your holiday property & destination and what you thought of our service - we use the independent review company feefo for this purpose. We know that it’s not possible these days to do/buy anything without being asked to leave a review. But we do think a holiday is a very important purchase and sharing your feedback is massively helpful to owners, other guests and to us.
Q. How do I make a complaint?
A. Naturally we sincerely hope this will not cross your mind. Very very occasionally something unexpected happens and in these circumstances you should call the local contact and our Area Manager if you need to. You should also consult the Terms and Conditions of your booking.
9) NOT SO FAQs
Every season brings something new! Here’s just a few of our favourites to share with you…
Q. Would the owner mind if I invite some friends over for a party?
Q. Can you arrange a paddling pool in the garden for when we arrive as our kids will be hot and tired.
A. Hmmm. What would you say to this request?
Q. Can I see the sea from the garden?
A. No. The property is 200km from the coast.
Q. Is my dog allowed in the pool?
A. Only if it's wearing trunks. Actually, it’s a straight ‘no’.
Q. Can I bring my cat?
A. Please don’t.