Posts filed under ‘Picking a Villa’
Even if you have rented a villa in the past, you probably have questions about costs and how they might compare to a hotel stay. Here are some points to consider:
One of the many things that sets villa rentals apart from hotels stays is the savings for groups. The more people staying in a property, the greater the savings per person. Average mid-level price ranges for small rentals (2 people/1 bedroom) are $1,000-$2500 per week. A medium-size rental (4-6 people/2-3 bedrooms) is $2500-$4000 per week. A large rental (8+ people/4+ bedrooms) is $4,000-$8000 per week, depending on the quality of the property and the season.
The weekly rental price of a countryside villa varies according to season. However, the rental prices of city apartments may not fluctuate as much. Although the price/season breakdowns vary according to property, here is a general guide:
- High season is generally July and August (although, June and September are sometimes included), the three Christmas weeks, and the two Easter weeks. During these periods, prices are highest and crowds are largest.
- Mid-season, or shoulder season, is generally June and September. This is a good time to travel because the weather is warm, but not yet hot.
- Low-mid-season, or low-shoulder season, is generally late April through May, and again in late September to late October. This is a good time to travel, thanks to milder weather, fewer tourists, and lower prices.
- Low season is generally January to the end of April (except during Easter), and late October to Christmas. Prices are at their lowest during this period, though conversely, due to cold weather, heating costs (which are usually extra) must be factored in. See below for more details on heating.
With very few exceptions, all linens and bath towels are included in the rental price. In some cases, utilities (such as gas and electricity, but excluding air-conditioning and heating) are included in the price.
What’s NOT Included
With some exceptions, air-conditioning, heating, gas, and electricity are metered according to consumption and are not included in the rental price. This is because energy costs in Europe are much higher than in the United States. In particular, the laws governing the use of heating are restrictive in the interest of energy conservation. For example, in Italy heating is generally only allowed from the 1st of November until the 1st of April, although this can vary. If your property has a working fireplace, it will be stated in the description whether you need to request and pay for firewood.
Most of our properties are privately owned, so the provisions in the house will vary according to owner. Some villas are well-stocked with basics such as salt & pepper, dish soap, bath soap, paper towels, and toilet paper, while others provide the bare minimum. It’s always a good idea to pack a few small spices, and then plan to stop at a grocery store en route to your villa on Saturday (since smaller stores are usually closed on Sunday).
A Final Cleaning fee applies to most of our villas. This amount covers the cost of cleaning following your departure. Usually, this amount, in addition to any stated extra charges not included in the rental rate, is deducted from the security deposit (paid in Euros upon arrival), which is returned to you upon departure. The total amount of both the security deposit and the final cleaning fee will be specified at the time of booking.
What Savings Can I Expect?
Unlike hotel rooms, all properties are equipped with a furnished kitchen and amenities such as a stove and/or oven and refrigerator. This makes it possible to store groceries and prepare meals both simple and elaborate, therefore eliminating the added expense and hassle of eating out for three meals a day! Calculate that this also includes incidentals, like snacks and drinks. Imagine the pleasure of enjoying a good bottle of wine and local meats and cheeses on your private terrace at the end of a long day of sightseeing! While of course a similar experience could be had at a local bar or café, you’d pay twice the amount (even three times in a touristy locale), and there would be no gorgeous vista or sunset to admire—let alone privacy and space.
If you’re traveling with children, the convenience factor of a villa is extremely appealing. Not only do you have the ease of a kitchen for quick, inexpensive meal preparation and snack storage, but you have the added bonus of ample room for young ones to run around and expend some of that boundless kid energy. Villa rentals provide a degree of flexibility that hotel rooms do not! In this case you may not save a calculable amount, but you certainly gain peace of mind and sanity–which, as only a parent knows, are priceless.
The Blue Flag is an eco-label awarded to the cleanest, safest beaches with good environmental track records. Owned and run by the non-profit organization Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), the Blue Flag campaign supports sustainable development at beaches and marinas, monitoring standards in water quality, education, environmental management, and public safety in 41 countries across Europe.
Here are some of our favorite Italian award-winning beaches and marinas in Tuscany (Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, and Viareggio) and Campania (Positano)…plus villa picks nearby:
Tuscany – Blue Flag Beaches in Forte dei Marmi, Pietrasanta, and Viareggio
About the area: If you avoid the August crowds, Forte dei Marmi (or simply “Forte”) is a fashionable, low-profile beach town with a beautiful Blue Flag beach and enticing shops located approximately 1.5 hours NW of Florence. It’s chic, but understated. The beach is accessible via bathing clubs; Alaide and Capri are family-run. Bike rentals are available at Cicli Maggi, a bike shop founded in 1916. It’s a pleasurable spin to nearby Pietrasanta (the medieval town; 3 km inland) and Marina di Pietrasanta (the port), where you can sample renowned biscotti at Fortini and visit marble sculptors’ studios. Viareggio, also a Blue Flag award-winner in 2010, is the main center on the northern Italian riviera. Although very crowded in August (like all beaches in Italy!), it has a beautiful port and historic center, as well as convenient train service to all of Italy’s major cities. Here, sample one of our favorite Versilian specialities: cecina, a chickpea pancake.
Villa picks in Tuscany:
Casa Pietrasanta offers a lush countryside setting with easy access to Pietrasanta (3 km), Forte dei Marmi (10 km), and Viareggio (12 km). It sleeps 6-7, has a swimming pool, and is furnished in an elegant, rustic style.
Villa Maria is a spacious villa for 6-8 people with pool 3 km from the beach in Viareggio, 13 km to Forte Marmi, and 9 km to Pietrasanta. It’s also 1 km from the village of Piano di Mommio, which offers a good selection of services, and is only 20 km from the beautiful walled city of Lucca.
Campania – Blue Flag Beaches in Positano
About the area: Positano is one of the jewels of the Amalfi Coast. It’s an unbelievably picturesque fishing village and has a Blue Flag beach (Spiaggia Grande; pebbled) and port. There are many charming outdoor cafés and narrow, cobbled alleys and endless staircases to meander. Typical fare highlights all types of seafood and local produce such as lemons, peppers, and tomatoes. Don’t miss the anchovies with mint and garlic! Other popular beaches include Fornilla, La Porta, and Arienzo. There’s also an incredible trail that starts in the mountains above Positano called Il Sentiero degli Dei (Trail of the Gods). It follows a high ridge and ends in Vietri sul Mare, east of Positano.
Villa Picks in Campania:
Brezza di Mare is a charming one-bedroom villa in the village of Montepertuso—a 10-minute shuttle bus ride to Positano. It has a large, private terrace with views of the sea.
Casa Luna is a 2-bedroom apartment within walking distance of Positano. It has a garden terrace, fragrant with jasmine, that overlooks the sea and village.
La Ferme de la Dronne is a beautifully restored 17th century chateau situated right on the Dronne river in the Aquitaine region. It’s ideal for a large group (sleeps 14) or meeting, especially after April 2011 when L’Orangerie, a newly refurbished meeting room constructed in the chateau’s original swimming pool, will be complete. Also new for 2011: A private riverside beach! The wine center of Saint Emilion is just 45 minutes away.
New large apartment near the Champs Elysees! Located on the 2nd floor of a 19th century Haussmann building, Le Serin is 1800 luxurious square feet and sleeps 5-6. Minimum rental is 5 days. The Champs Elysees is a just a short walk away. Discounted until November 30th, 2010!
Granato is a 2-bedroom apartment in Palazzo dell’Arno, a restored 19th century building in the San Niccolo section of Florence. It’s ideal for 2 couples because it combines 2 one-bedroom apartments, creating 2 independent suites (each with kitchenette) with a shared balcony. We also like that the minimum stay is 3 days, making it a convenient option if you plan to travel elsewhere.
Some villas really do have it all: access to town on foot, views, historic charm, and all the creature comforts and amenities one could hope to find. Antica Rocca, near Orvieto in Umbria, is one such place. “It was furnished like an elegant private home, and so well equipped with everything we could possibly need!” writes a customer of his October stay.
Thinking about seeing Turkey in 2011? We have a newly remodeled villa in Alacati, an ancient Aegean town on the west coast. This semi-detached house, called Ladybird, sleeps four and is steps away from restaurants, shops, and a fantastic Saturday covered market. The beach is 2 km away, including a wind/kite surfing center. Nearby day trips include Izmir and Ephesus. Per day/per person rates are as low as $30 in early spring.
Have you seen this week’s newsletter? More deals for 2011 in Rome and the Amalfi Coast—plus insider tips on all featured villas from Barbara, our veteran travel advisor. Book by November 15th and get 25% off any week in 2011.
If the reduced-price villas under the “specials” tab aren’t enough for you…
It’s easy to pull up the cheapest properties in any region on RentVillas.com (simply search by price). The villas in the Great Value category, however, offer the best of all worlds: great location, plenty of amenities, and fantastic price. No bare bones here.
Poggio Antico, for example, isn’t our absolute cheapest Tuscan villa for six – but it’s definitely one of the best values. Consistently rated 5 stars by our clients (there are 63 reviews) , it’s all the best of the Tuscan villa experience wrapped up in one ideal package! Furnished like a private home rather than a rental, Poggio Antico has a swimming pool, classic Tuscan views, olive groves, owners who speak fluent English… and a castle about 500 meters away.
There are 50 other villas listed along with Poggio Antico in “Great Values,” spanning all sizes and all locations. Check them out! We’ll be continually updating, too. So if nothing catches your eye today, check back later for more!
If you don’t know what you’re looking for, picking “THE” villa can be a nerve-wracking experience. In essence, it will be the foundation of your trip, so picking a property you’ll be happy with is important! But how do you know, when you’ve never been there?
Answering the following questions will help order your thoughts and give focus to your search.
What do you see when you imagine yourself stepping out the front door of your villa? Are you surrounded by rolling vineyards, a verdant forest, or craggy sea cliffs? If more than one setting would make you happy, that’s fine! It will give your travel advisor some flexibility when he or she is recommending villas you might like.
2. Surrounding area
What do you want to find in the area nearby your villa? Some visitors want easy access to a grocery store; others want to be miles from nowhere. Perhaps you’d like a leisurely walk into town or down to the beach. Or maybe you want to be in the center of all the action?
How do you expect to get around the area? Are you comfortable driving a car, or will you be using public transportation?
Beyond sightseeing, what activities would you like to arrange? Do you want to go hiking, biking, or horseback riding? Or maybe you prefer to eat at a different fine restaurant every night and visit local wineries.
Does anyone in your party have physical limitations? This is a very important point – not just with regard to obvious physical disabilities, but also general fitness. The Amalfi Coast, for example, is nearly verticle, and visitors must be prepared to climb many steps every day.
5. Room Assignments
Consider your companions. Would some people be willing to share a bathroom, or does each couple need their own en suite? Are there any teenagers who might be content on a sofa bed?
Are there certain items you just can’t live with out? For example, a dishwasher or a washing machine? Also think about which areas of the house are most important. Will your group want to have a big kitchen where they can all have cooking lessons together? Or maybe you want to spend your afternoons around a nice big pool.
Having at least a few of these questions answered before you talk to a travel advisor will speed up the process considerably. Finally, remember to ask the other members of your group for input! You want a villa rental everyone can enjoy.