Our Dream Holiday Rental – I don’t think so!

August 28, 2012
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I used to refuse to leave the UK in the summer holidays. I could not see the point. The weather was good here and the roads generally clear, making trips to Wales or staying in London a real pleasure. Why head for the sun when it’s sunny at home … well that’s what I used to think.

In the past few years the weather has meant a quick dose of vitamin D has been well worth the slog to budget airline airports.  We stay in the freezing north most of the summer but do now head to the sun for seven gloriously days of blue sky, beaches, pools and friends.

Having rented out our cottage in Brittany for years I usually book direct with the owners and so far have had some great experiences, never been disappointed. This run of good luck came to an abrupt end last week on our trip to Sardinia.

If I showed you this picture from the owner’s website, you would be full of envy:

Pool on the website:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The reality was more like this:

The tiles were loose and peeling:

Yes, it was filthy dirty with a fish pond like algae growing on the surface. Apparently the filter had broken down whilst we were there, but that did not explain the fact that it was lethal with broken and peeling glass mosaic tiles cutting our feet to shreds from day one.  In fact since nobody had warned us of the dangers, our first swim was met with screams and curses. The razor sharp tiles causing some of these lovely little injuries (sorry for the gory details, but my boys do love seeing blood):

Shredded feet:

Bloodied knees:

Gashed toes:

You might also think that if a villa is advertised as air conditioned and you were paying £3,000 a week for it, the cost of the electricity would be included? Well no, not in this case. Once we got there we were told that the electricity allowance did not actually allow for you to use the AC!  We would have had to pay an extra charge (even though we were careful only to use it from late at night until the early morning). We also asked for a mid-week clean and were told we could arrange this locally. Once there it turned out to be an extra 90Euro per visit. Guess what – I did the cleaning (with a little help from my boys).

There were several other minor points, just little things really, or maybe not? A four bedroom villa, listed with three double bedrooms and a bunk bedroom is just about right for the three couples and two children I was taking out. When one of the double bedrooms turns out to be down a steep set of cellar steps you begin to worry a little. It’s true the website did not mention the fact that this room has extensive, delightful sea views, in fact the text was quite clear not to mention anything much about the bedroom other than it had a double bed (wrong), TV (correct there was a very old TV dumped down there), games console (Hmmm  – I think an Atari dating from 1980 and definitely not working). There was no mention of a view or of any air conditioning.  It was steamy hot and was delightfully furnished with two narrow single camp beds with a few dumped items which really gave it the look of a (yes you’ve guessed) cellar. Funny that they did not mention bedroom four was just that; a converted cellar.

The ceiling high window of bedroom 4:

The ‘Double bed’ of bedroom 4:

Finer details of the sad state of the villa may just be splitting hairs, but if you think you are booking a luxury villa would you consider having decent bedding, towels, plump pillows (2 per person), a chair in the bedrooms, a waste paper basket, hooks or somewhere to hang your clothes all too demanding? Maybe I’m fussy, but none of the rooms had any furniture other than a bed and a chest of drawers. There were 3 bedside lamps in the entire house, there were no guest soaps and I would guess that the bedding and towels were 20 years old and pretty ugly at that.

One thing that was incredible was the cleaning on arrival. We arrived to find the house immaculate and well ordered.  The caretaker was lovely and so friendly we left him 6 bottles of wine. The garden, though much smaller than the images on the website portrayed, was lovely and the view great. So yes, we did have a fantastic holiday but somehow I just feel a little tinsy winsy bit ripped off.

My landlady does not seem concerned with my comments or photo evidence.  I’ve not asked for a refund and not threatened to post any negative comments. But here’s my great dilemma. What to do? I contacted the owner on arrival and she responded three days later getting me 5 more pillow cases, but no great excuse or apologies about the various other issues raised. Obviously I have paid the whole amount up front so have little reason to expect her to issue a refund. There is of course the website and I could post a negative review but I don’t really want her to lose out on future trade.

What I would really like her to do is take the matter seriously and not ignore the problem. I hate poor customer service and whilst I know things can go wrong at times, we always do our best to put them right. So what’s it to be:  should I name and shame or just accept she’s having a tough time and will put things right for the future in the hope she does not let down other holiday makers in the future? Somehow I doubt she will, but despite the awful villa the pool man was gorgeous and we had a fantastic holiday with lovely friends.  So maybe I should just move on and hope for better luck next time?

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6 Responses to Our Dream Holiday Rental – I don’t think so!

  1. Kathryn on August 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    It sounds like you don’t have much faith in the owner taking the issues seriously. In that case I think I’d feel more responsible for future visitors who will suffer the same fate & perhaps worse in terms of pool injuries.

  2. Kate Matthews on August 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Reading this reminded me of some of the holidays I went on with my parents when I was younger. Our first foreign holiday we went with a reputable tour operator but our apartment was dark, dingy and distinctly full of ants! It was round the corner and across the road from the apartments pictured in the brochure. Interestingly my parents didn’t complain and we did have a good holiday but it has made me very keen to check out reviews of the places we take our little girl to.

    Trip Advisor has been a god send in letting us know what other people really think. We don’t necessarily share the same views on customer service and air conditioning as some people but at least we have an idea before we book somewhere and before we go. You can also name and shame if you need to. I wouldn’t be worried about posting a bad review because it might make the owners stop and think about the service they are providing and put it right for the future.

    Nowhere is perfect but we were lucky this July to stay in a wooden lodge in Cornwall and then be told, when we arrived, that we had been upgraded to a hot tub! It was very nice in the evenings.

  3. Laura Tenison on August 30, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Thanks for the feedback and advice Kate … My parents brought us up to never complain but I think you are right Trip Advisor is possibly the best place to go! If I’d read all the reviews on our villa I would not have booked so possibly my fault for rushing all the time and not doing my research.

  4. Louise Bennett on August 31, 2012 at 5:06 am

    The owner was misleading and due to your lack of comforts and injuries, I would be hugely disappointed as this owner quite frankly doesn’t give a hoot.

    Your holiday was saved by good friends and families not the customer service of the owner. Does he or she deserve your polite nature! Nope, name and shame and save a less fortunate family from wasting their hard earned annual leave on a converted cellar with no fire exit.

    Please post on trip adviser so we can all avoid.

    • Laura Tenison on September 11, 2012 at 9:36 am

      wow … thanks for the response and yes, maybe its time to go and post that review.

  5. Abi Gray on September 2, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    That is an awful lot of money so I think you definitely need to name and shame. That sort of money is too much to spend on somewhere that isn’t up to scratch. And the fact that you had children that were injured due to a lack of care and attention to the swimming pool is just awful. I would be fuming. I’m glad you had a nice time despite the issues though.

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