Meet Martin – Owner of a 2 Bedroom Gite in South West France

2 bedroom gite in France

Meet Martin, owner of a 2 bedroom traditional gite in the Lot et Garonne region of France. No doubt it, this gite has everything going for it. But, what sets it apart (at least for me), are the views, both day and night…

“Occupying an elevated position Valmar affords our guests views that they often tell us are ‘stunning’”

AND…

“have a glass (or two) of your favourite tipple by the pool and do some star gazing, the skies in this part of the world are so clear and give you another ‘amazing view’”

2 bedroom gite in France

1) Tell us a little about your gite.

Valmar Gite is a two bedroom home with pool, sleeping 2 – 4 guests in comfort and is situated in the countryside of the dept of Lot et Garonne, in South West France, close to the bastide town of Villeneuve-sur-lot. Valmar nestles quietly on the side of a hill in just under an acre of private grounds. It is the only Gite within the grounds, so no sharing the pool or amenities with guests of neighbouring properties. Occupying an elevated position Valmar affords our guests views that they often tell us are ‘stunning’.

2) What made you buy the gite? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

Having holidayed in several regions of France, we fell in love with the laid-back feeling of the South West. The climate is hot enough in the summer for a good tan, but unlike further south, which is a bit too arid for us, it is really quite green and reminds us of the English countryside back home.

We initially intended going down the ‘buy a ruin and refurbish’ route, but ended up buying a beautiful plot of land and commissioning a local french builder to create a home in very traditional style, but with ‘all mod cons’.

2 bedroom gite in France

3) What’s the best thing about this part of France? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

What we like about the Lot et Garonne is that visitors really do have the best of both worlds. You won’t be involved in the mass hustle and bustle of tourism, in fact rush hour traffic tends to consist of more than one tractor bimbling along the country lane at any one time. The area is very tranquil, but there is a fantastic amount to see and do locally, whether it’s canoeing, boat trips, waterskiing (or other watersports on the nearby river Lot), a family trip to the waterpark, ‘Walibi Aquitaine’, and mountain biking around local trails. Or, or for the less energetic, sightseeing Chateux, the National Water Lilly gardens, or a visit to some of the most beautiful and historic Bastide towns in France. There really is a great choice for all the family.

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. To help get our guests holiday off to the best possible start we like to try and take some of the stress out of their journey to Valmar. With this in mind we put together a ‘Valmar Information Pack’, which consists of door to door directions from their arrival airport/ferry port to Valmar, a complimentary map of the local area to help them find their way around easily and a ‘Martins top tips for driving in France’ leaflet, that I devised myself.

2. Guests then find a Welcome pack on their arrival, consisting of basic provisions to tide them over until they visit the local shops, including a bottle of wine, tea, coffee, milk etc.

3. If we become aware that a special occasion falls due during their stay, a complimentary bottle of bubbly is the order of the day.

2 bedroom gite in France

5) If a guest had just one day staying in your gite what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

Turn left (or right) out of the gates at Valmar and take yourself for a brisk walk along the lane. Listen to the local hoopoe birds sing, you might be lucky enough to see a wild roebuck and then back for a breakfast of fresh bread or croissant and locally made jam, with fresh coffee.

If you’re a family group, head off down to the river and enjoy some canoeing, or a boat trip, or alternatively visit an ancient Chateaux. Have a spot of lunch on the promenade at Villeneuve and then, in the afternoon, back to the pool at Valmar. For your evening meal go to ‘La Source’, our favourite local restaurant and watch the sun set over the river.

When you arrive back at Valmar have a glass (or two) of your favourite tipple by the pool and do some star gazing, the skies in this part of the world are so clear and give you another ‘amazing view’.

To rent the two bedroom gite from Martin, please contact him through the above links.

Meet Julie – Owner of 2 Traditional Gites With 2 Fishing Lakes

Fishing gite in France

Meet Julie, owner of 2 traditional gites in France, either a one bedroom gite or a two bedroom gite depending on your needs. These gites remind me of the 3 months my wife and I spent in a French gite many years ago (trying to escape the rat race!). Rural, peaceful, a feeling of getting away from it all, yet being close enough to the modern world when you need it…!

“The most common feedback from our customers is how calm and tranquil it is here. Sitting by the lakes you feel you are miles from anywhere, yet you can nip to the shops or out for dinner in an instant!”

1) Tell us a little about your fishing gites.

Our property is a complex of two traditional gites (a barn conversion), set in mature gardens of 2.5 hectares with two fishing lakes. We are in a rural peaceful hamlet, surrounded by Apple orchards, yet only 2 kilometres from a town with a supermarket, bars and restaurants and all the amenities.

2) What made you buy the gites? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

A series of tragic circumstances, including being in Thailand when the Boxing Day Tsunami occurred, caused us to re-evaluate life. We felt unbelievably lucky to be alive, and that the lives we had were worth more than waiting for redundancy from an IT career, and trying to drum up ceramic tiling business in a deepening recession. We realised we didn’t need material things to make us happy, we had our health and each other. In 2008 we started a 4 year adventure in our motor-home, working the summers on campsites, and seeking out the sun in France and Spain in the winters. Each time we travelled through France, particularly the Poitou-Charentes, we felt like we had come home. We finally decided to start a property search in 2011, and the number 1 MUST HAVE was a fishing lake! We weren’t looking for a gite business, because we felt it was a market that was fairly well saturated, but when we saw the property and lakes, and realised it had an established reputation with French customers, we felt we had the opportunity to improve on it.

3) What’s the best thing about this part of France? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

We are situated in the Gatine with its rolling countryside – which reminds us of West Sussex, where we lived in the UK. Not only is the countryside very pretty, with plenty of places to walk, cycle, fish or bird-watch, but within an hour’s drive in any direction you will find tourist attractions such as Futuroscope, Puy de Fou, Pescalis, and La Rochelle. The most common feedback from our customers is how calm and tranquil it is here. Sitting by the lakes you feel you are miles from anywhere, yet you can nip to the shops or out for dinner in an instant!

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. Give them space! Not just the feeling of space in the garden or by the lakes – but to be on hand without crowding them.

2. High maintenance! Not only are the gites spotlessly clean and comfortable, but the land and lakes are kept tidy, but natural. We have worked on leisure sites accredited with awards from the David Bellamy’s conservation scheme – and we apply what we have learned to our land. Although the trees and grass are well maintained, we intentionally leave areas uncut to encourage wildlife. We have banks of wild flowers to attract bees and butterflies, and natural wood piles to attract insects, which in turn attract different varieties of bird.

3. Excellent family fishing! We do not aim to compete with the ‘monster carp’ fishing venues found all over France – but to anglers of any age who simply like catching good specimen fish – either of our lakes will give a good day’s catch.

5) If a guest had just one day staying in one of your gites what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

Relax! Enjoy the peace and tranquillity, have a barbecue, or perhaps a picnic under the shade of the walnut tree overlooking the lake.

To rent either of the one or two bedroom fishing gites from Julie, please use the contact details on the above links.

Meet Heidi – Owner of a 5 Bedroom Holiday Cottage on the Ring of Kerry

Holiday Cottage Ring of Kerry

Meet Heidi, owner of a holiday cottage on the Ring of Kerry. For those familiar with our “Meet the Owner” series we usually start with a quote lifted from the interview, call it a snapshot of the interview’s theme. But, somehow, no single part of the interview could capture the total essence. So, instead of a single quote, I’m trying something different and selecting a series of words and phrases from the interview that might sum up the experience from waking to sleeping! Hope it works…

“Watching the sun come up over Kenmare Bay; 90 acres overlooking the sea; rugged coastline; wildflowers; green; connection to the country; hiking trails; reward yourself with a pint; lunch in one of the local pubs; casual; gather around the dining room table for a game of cards; great friends; family; cozy rooms; fall asleep to the sound of the sea!”

1) Tell us a little about your cottage.

It is a 5 bedroom, 3 bath two story stone house built on 90 acres overlooking the sea. It has everything you need including a full kitchen with microwave, oven, gas stove and dishwasher, a mudroom with a washer and dryer, satellite TV, dvd, wifi, gas BBQ, outdoor seating, and loads of room to spread out in. Perfect for a family trip!

2) What made you buy the cottage? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

My husband inherited the 90 acre farm from his father and in 2001 we decided that we wanted to build our own holiday home on it. There were a few reasons for this. First, we were living in London at the time and spending a lot of time in Ireland and really wanted a place of our own to stay instead of imposing on relatives. Secondly, when our kids came along we wanted them to have a connection to the country and people that half of their family is from. We have been going there every summer since they were born and not only do they know every inch of the place, but have also made great friends that they look forward to seeing every year. Lastly, we knew that eventually we wanted to spend half of the year in Ireland when we retire so we figured why wait until then to build when we can enjoy it now as well!

3) What’s the best thing about this part of Ireland? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

All of the above actually. The scenery in southern Kerry is truly breathtaking. The rugged coastline, the wildflowers, the different shades of green, and the views of the sea are really not to be missed! The pace of life in Caherdaniel is very casual. Spring and fall are quite peaceful with few tourists around, a great advantage if you are not held to school schedules. Summer, like most beach towns really comes to life with people coming from all over the world to take in the sights, beaches, golfing, hiking, cycling, or just enjoying the laid back atmosphere of our village. The locals in and around our village are very charming and helpful. Many of them own the local restaurants, pubs, and shops that you can visit while you are there. Lastly, our area has something for everyone. Beaches, hiking, cycling, fishing, horseback riding, snorkeling, kayaking, sightseeing, shopping, and the list goes on!

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

It’s hard to pick out anything specific, but…

1. For people coming from countries where they do not use 220 voltage we have a charging station for electronics using 120 volts and adapters for their use so that they don’t have to worry about bringing all of that with them. We also have several hairdryers so no worries about adapters for them, not to mention taking up space in their luggage!

2. We have a welcome book with all of the local information including where to eat, get a pint, shop, swim, sightsee, etc and a welcome snack so that guests don’t have to run to the market as soon as they get there.

3. One of our newest additions to the house are two kayaks that our guests are free to use. Paddling out into the sea is a wonderful way to see the coastline from a different perspective.

5) If a guest had just one day staying in your cottage what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

Start the day with your cup of coffee either sitting in the bay window or out on the patio watching the sun come up over Kenmare Bay. Then, if you are a golfer head over to one of the 6 golf courses within a 40 minute drive, play a round and reward yourself with a pint after. If some of your party are not golfers, they can go on a hike from one village to another on one of the many hiking trails in the Kerry Way system and stop for lunch in one of the local pubs when they finish. Later, you can all meet at one of the many beaches to spend the afternoon swimming, kayaking, or lazing with a book, then head up to the house for an evening cocktail or cup of tea out on the patio. Later, go to one of our local restaurants for dinner or stay home and make yourself a feast, then sit by the fire and enjoy a movie or gather around the dining room table for a game of cards. When it’s time for lights out, head to one of our cozy rooms to sleep with the windows open and fall asleep to the sound of the sea.

Meet Kent – Owner of a Retreat in Arizona

Private Retreat in Arizona

Meet Kent, owner of a private retreat in Arizona. Some people buy a holiday home as an investment, others to use as a weekend getaway. But, in Kent, we have the emotional connection, a dream to restore something old and rundown to its former glory. I love stories like this one…

“The opportunity to bring the Hacienda faithfully back its original Mexican Colonial stature was the dream of a lifetime.”

1) Tell us a little about your retreat.

La Casita Bed and Breakfast Retreat at Hacienda Rincon de la Loma is an intimate single “casita” guesthouse on the 7 acre grounds of our mission style Mexican Hacienda. The main Hacienda was inspired by the original owner’s childhood home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. As our sole guests, this adult only property, offers a unique blend of privacy balanced with the level of attentiveness you desire. As a full bed and breakfast your hosts and owners, Kent & Nancy Driesbock, take great pleasure in sharing their love of cooking Mexican cuisine each morning and offer, as an add-on, a personally prepared gourmet Mexican dinner on the Hacienda’s Veranda one evening during your stay.

2) What made you buy your Arizona retreat? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

Emotional for sure, on two levels. We are lovers of all things associated with Mexican Colonial heritage. Purchasing this property gave us the ability to live each day surrounded by this style of living and its wonderful heritage. When we purchased the property it had sadly fallen into a terrible state of disrepair. On another emotional level, the opportunity to bring the Hacienda faithfully back its original Mexican Colonial stature was the dream of a lifetime. After two years of full time renovation we felt it would be special to share it with others. Hence, we decided to offer the Casita guesthouse as a Bed and Breakfast. We love allowing others to experience our dream.

3) What’s the best thing about this part of the world? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

Southern Arizona offers visitors a remarkably diverse experience. Located in the spectacular Sonoran Desert visitors have the opportunity to explore the natural wonders of the desert, revisit our “wild west” history in the nearby towns of Tombstone and Bisbee, golf on over 25 courses within 50 miles, or experience our Mexican Colonial heritage by touring our historical missions. Ten minutes away is the Tubac Art Colony with its many galleries, shops and fine eating establishments. If it is just relaxation you are in search of, the cobalt blue Mexican tiled pool right outside your casita offers views from the Hacienda that are the perfect retreat.

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. As our only guests, we take great pleasure in adapting to a pace you desire.

2. We love sharing our knowledge of southern Arizona to assure that your stay with us is an experience of a lifetime.

3. We value chatting each morning over a unique Mexican breakfast as it is our desire to treat our guests as friends. In the afternoons, if you should desire, join us for a glass of Arizona wine or Mexican beer with tortilla chips and freshly made salsa. We love to hear about that day’s experiences.

5) If a guest had just one day staying in your retreat what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

After a day of visiting the Tubac Art Colony and nearby historical Missions, take a relaxing dip in the pool and later in the evening join us for a gourmet Mexican dinner on the Hacienda Veranda as the sun sets in the west over the Tumacacori Mountains.

To rent this private retreat in Arizona from Kent, please use the contact details on the above links.

Meet Barbara – Owner of a Private Villa in Bali

Meet Barbara, owner of a private villa in Bali. Originally both from Europe, Barbara and her husband (having lived in SE Asia for over a decade) now call Bali home. They fell in love with the island, and in particular with the artistic centre of Ubud, its rice terraces and jungle clad hills and gorges. Frequent travellers and keen cooks, they are passionate about the area and are keen to share their insider knowledge of Ubud – a place whose name denotes it as a centre of spiritual healing…

“It was a dream to have a beautiful place amidst the beauty of Bali and especially “where Bali has remained Bali”. And to share this pleasure with other people.”

1) Tell us a little about your villa.

Bali Jiwa Villa nestles where “Bali has remainded Bali”: Fifteen minutes north of Ubud (the cultural heart of Bali), in the middle of lush green ricefields, loads of nature around. Beautiful, quiet, luxurious place, private infinity pool, view of ricefields and mountains beyond, perfect service. Authentic people, sweet country life. Away from the hustle and bustle. Furnishing: Contemporary, yet also Balinese style. Lots of love to details…

2) What made you buy your villa in Bali? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

It was a dream to have a beautiful place amidst the beauty of Bali and especially “where Bali has remained Bali”. And to share this pleasure with other people.

3) What’s the best thing about this part of Bali? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

That it is still authentic, the ricefields, the old temples, the beauty and authenticity of the people. That it is away from the hustle and bustle. That stressed and overworked people can relax in, and enjoy, a very peaceful stay amidst fantastic nature…

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. We provide privacy (a quiet and peaceful place amidst nature) and a private infinity pool.

2. We pride ourselves in providing perfect service, it’ll be a place where you’ll feel spoiled.

3. Lots of love to details. As a guest put it: “I think it was the finishing touches that really made Bali Jiwa Villas that extra bit special – the furnishings are quality and generous…”

5) If a guest had just one day staying in your villa what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

Relax at the pool, have a little walk around (in the traditional Balinese village and through the sunkissed ricefields) and enjoy a “3 course (homemade at its best) set-menu” for dinner, served in your private Villa!

To rent this private villa in Bali from Barbara, please use the contact details in the above link.

Meet Debby – Owner of a 3 Bedroom Villa in Provence

Meet Debby, owner of a 3 bedroom villa in Provence. Come on, who can resist Provence? Try this: Close your eyes and imagine the typical Provencal scene. The beautiful scenery, the warm sun, the wonderful food. Then read Debby’s words and you’ll realise what you imagined really is there. Then go and book a stay in this most romantic of regions!

“The wisteria in April, the poppies in May and June, the lavender and sunflowers in the summer and the lush vineyards with the ripe grapes in late August and September. The Luberon is just beautiful with perched hill top villages, pretty cobbled streets and fabulous cafes and restaurants in which to while away the time.”

1) Tell us a little about your villa.

Our house in Pont Royal was completed in January 2008 – when we signed for it in September 2006 we only had the plans and the building site to go by but we knew by the location that we would have beautiful views from the garden and having seen some of the other properties in the Domaine designed by the same architect we knew we were buying a good quality property. Our house is semi-detached, built in a typical Provencal style with shuttered windows and typical Provencal fixtures and fittings. The ground floor is open plan and spacious with french doors leading onto the large wraparound terrace and pretty private garden. Three good sized bedrooms upstairs, the master with en-suite and a large family bathroom. We have kept the interior bright and clean with white walls, tiled floors and white voile curtains – we hope our guests find it easy to relax and make themselves at home. As the Domaine of Pont Royal is gated with 24 hour security we have the added bonus of knowing that the property is well protected and we also have the services of our wonderful house manager who has 30 years of experience looking after clients and guests within Pont Royal.

2) What made you buy your villa in Provence? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

Quite simply we had been holidaying in Pont Royal for about five years, staying in a villa owned by friends – we loved the area, the climate, the food and the people and when we visited in summer 2006 and saw the crane in the distance that indicated building work we had to go and investigate and fell in love with the look of the proposed development of Le Hameau des Trois Collines – we came home to Belfast but couldn’t stop thinking about the possibility of owning a little house in our favourite part of the world – so we returned and took the plunge and haven’t regretted it since. Our house is primarily our family home in Provence and with our four children now grown up and spreading their wings it is the perfect place to get together and spend time as a family away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. We love to hear from our guests who have had a wonderful time and enjoy sharing our little place in the sun with others.

3) What’s the best thing about this part of France? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

Of course living in Ireland we love the climate of Provence and enjoy escaping to the sun whenever we can. However Provence can also have extremes of temperature and we have enjoyed a couple of snowy weekends in January when the landscape has been stunning. There are favourite things about every part of the year – the wisteria in April, the poppies in May and June, the lavender and sunflowers in the summer and the lush vineyards with the ripe grapes in late August and September. The Luberon is just beautiful with perched hill top villages, pretty cobbled streets and fabulous cafes and restaurants in which to while away the time … we love to just get out and explore and aim to visit at least one new place with every trip we make – we really feel that we have only just scratched the surface so far. The wonderful cities of Aix and Avignon are close by and with so much history at hand there is never time to get bored. The people of Provence are so friendly and willing to help us with our rudimentary French which is hopefully improving as the years go by … we have made friends for life with our neighbours from all over Europe and the locals who love us to bring crumpets, oxo cubes and jelly whenever we visit.

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. We try to make our house a home from home so we provide a vast selection of dvds, games and specialist books about the area – including expensive “coffee table” type books and regional cook books.

2. All our guests arrive to a welcome pack with a local bottle of rose wine and of course they have the services of our house manager who is on call 24 hours a day at no extra cost to our visitors.

3. A personally written guest manual with tips and ideas that we have garnered over the years.

5) If a guest had just one day staying in your villa what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

After an early morning dip in one of our two beautiful pools I would suggest breakfast on the terrace in the morning sun, then collect the shopping basket and head to a market in the Luberon(there is one close by on every day of the week) – there I would suggest they buy a spit roasted chicken and ask for a tub of the potatoes cooked below the chickens, a green salad and tomatoes, a baguette, local cheese and some fresh fruit … after a wander around the market and the village and a simple lunch at a pretty cafe, head back to the villa to while away the late afternoon in the garden or by the pool knowing that dinner for the evening has been taken care of. In the early evening enjoy an aperitif before serving your roasted chicken, potatoes and salad followed by fruit and relax with a glass of something special and enjoy the spectacular view of the moon peeping over the mountains and eventually rising into the night sky accompanied by the wonderful sounds of beautiful Provence.

To rent this 3 bedroom villa in Provence from Debby, please use the contact details found in the above link.

Meet Wendy – Owner of a 2 Bedroom Cottage in Twin Lakes

Meet Wendy, owner of a 2 bedroom cottage in Twin Lakes, Idaho. This is true waterfront living: Peace, tranquility, nature, escape! And it’s clear that Wendy is one of those owners who actually uses her vacation rental so you can be sure it’s going to have everything you need…

“We try to provide our guests with amenities that we would like to have while on vacation: A large selection of family movies, all towels, linens, cooking supplies, and more. We even have a notebook filled with things to do in the area, local restaurants, etc… You only need to pack your clothes and food!”

1) Tell us a little about your cottage in Twin Lakes.

Our cottage is right on the channel that connects the two lakes called Twin Lakes. It feels like you are away from it all yet it’s a 5-7 minute drive to the grocery store or the golf course! We love to hear about our guests having fun watching the local moose or all the ducks and geese on the channel. Many like to come to visit the Silverwood Theme Park along with the Boulder Beach Water Park that is located only 13 miles away, it’s definitely fun for the kids.

2) What made you buy your cottage in Twin Lakes? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

We chose this home because of it’s location as well as the amenities that were important to us. It’s not far to 3 great cities for lots of activity choices, restaurants, not to mention Silverwood Theme Park. For our family having two bedrooms and two bathrooms, a laundry room, and being right on the water were big attractions that led us to choose this home over others for sale.

3) What’s the best thing about this part of North Idaho? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

We really love all the choices we have when we vacation here ourselves. There are lots of outdoor activities such as hiking, boating, biking, golfing and fishing, to name a few! We love the ability to go out to a nice restaurant if we want to and, of course, the grocery store is handy to get hotdogs and s’more supplies to cook over the fire pit in the evenings. We have also enjoyed touring a silver mine and the local Buck Knife factory. All this said, we haven’t explored all that there is to do and look forward to more exploring ourselves!

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. We try to provide our guests with amenities that we would like to have while on vacation: A large selection of family movies, all towels, linens, cooking supplies, and more. We even have a notebook filled with things to do in the area, local restaurants, etc. You only need to pack your clothes and food!

2. A lot of our guests enjoy the use of our row boat and canoe that we provide free of charge.

3. Cleanliness is definitely a major concern to us when we vacation, so we do our best to provide a place where our guests will be comfortable and enjoy staying in.

5) If a guest had just one day staying in your cottage what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

Have a leisurely breakfast in the dining room overlooking the lake and then enjoy your second cup of coffee or tea. Grab a book and go down to the new deck right on the waterfront while your kids play in the water or stretch out on their towels. For lunch have a BBQ on the deck next to the house and then, in the afternoon, take the canoe out on the water and explore the lakes and enjoy the beautiful scenery of North Idaho. In the evening take a drive to Coeur d’Alene and choose from one of the great restaurants they have. Grab some graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows on the way back to enjoy your dessert around the fire pit while enjoying the sight and sounds of the lake at night.

Meet Sri – Owner of 4 Luxury Villas near Disney

Meet Sri, owner of a 6 bedroom villa near Disney. Sri’s first vacation rental experience was as a renter. And it was an awful first experience. So much so that Sri decided to buy his own vacation homes and address the very issues that he encountered as a renter…

“The whole experience of renting our first vacation home turned to be a fiasco. From that experience we decided to buy and rent vacation homes to provide the service and experience that vacationers demand and deserve.”

1) Tell us a little about your villas.

Emerald Island Resort where all our villas are located is a prestigious resort in Kissimmee with its close proximity to Disney World and easy access to shops and restaurants. Our villas boast luxury interiors, garages converted fully to either air-conditioned games-rooms and/or professional theater rooms.

2) What made you buy your Disney villas? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

Buying our first vacation home erupted from an emotional experience that did not go well when we rented our first vacation home in Orlando area. After being told that our vacation home would be within minutes from Disney, we quickly realized that it was nowhere close to Disney World. We were also thoroughly let down in several ways and the whole experience of renting our first vacation home turned to be a fiasco. From that experience we decided to buy and rent vacation homes to provide the service and experience that vacationers demand and deserve. Over the next several years we bought a 3 bedroom condo, two 6 bedroom villas and a 7 bedroom villa.

3) What’s the best thing about the area in which your villas are located? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

Emerald Island Resort, where our villas are located, has a special appeal with its tropical surroundings in the middle of Florida. Our villas offer easy access to all the Disney World, Sea World and all other attractions of Florida yet provide a secure and relaxing atmosphere.

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. We pride ourselves to be always available on phone and email to our potential and registered guests. We want to make them completely comfortable to rent from us, as well as remember the entire experience as a memorable one for all the right reasons.

2. We offer complementary welcome pack items such as coffee, tea and a bottle of wine to our guests. Completely furnished to highest standards, our villas offer BBQ grills and phone calls at no extra cost to our guests.

3. Our luxury villas offer flat screen TVs in all living areas and all bedrooms. Our villas are equipped with ResortLocks that ensure each guest to have unique their private access codes that are not shared with anyone else.

5) If a guest had just one day staying in any of your villas what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

Honestly, I can’t recommend any vacation home in the Disney area for one day as each of the several attractions take at least one week for an experience of lifetime.

However, if you only have one day to spend, I would probably encourage you to start early with morning work-out at the resort gym, followed by a cup of coffee in the nice lanai area of the villa. Get the best of the sunshine by the south-facing pool and spa of our villas. Head to one of the half-day attractions in Orlando such as Gatorland and grab a good meal in one of the local restaurants without breaking the bank. A game of pool or a movie on the 100” theater of our villa with family will get you energized for more fun in the Florida sun by the pool. Fire-up that grill for a mouth watering steak or whatever appeals to your taste buds complemented by a glass of wine offered by us with our complements. Sure, it is just one day, but it sure will be remembered by the entire family for years to come!

To rent this 6 bedroom villa near Disney from Sri, please use the contact details in the above link.

Meet Liz – Owner of a 3 Bedroom Villa in the South of France

Meet Liz, owner of a 3 bedroom villa in the South of France. I don’t know about you, but a holiday home with a killer view usually clinches it for me; there’s nothing quite like sitting with a glass of wine and gazing off into the distance…

“From the balcony you can see the Alberes Hills, the Pyrenees and across the plain of Roussillon for miles – Perpignan and the sea at Canet in the distance. From the twin bedroom the view is of the Alberes, the ancient tower in the historic part of Laroque and again across the plain – even to the sea at St Cyprien.”

1) Tell us a little about your villa.

We bought our villa in Laroque des Alberes in the Roussillon part of the South of France, near to the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees, in May 2007. It has three bedrooms and its own pool and is located in a quiet residential area on the edge of the old Catalan village of Laroque des Alberes. Since we bought it we’ve been constantly making improvements. Our major works were to improve the layout downstairs, refit the kitchen, install the swimming pool and most recently to install air-conditioning.

2) What made you buy your villa? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

We had rented many properties for holidays in the Alps and along the Mediterranean coast of France, three of those in the Pyrenees Orientales department, at Thuir, Villelongue-dels-Monts and in Laroque des Alberes. We decided that we loved this area and would like to buy somewhere of our own here. After viewing several properties we fell in love with this house – its light, bright and spacious and with wonderful views. From the balcony you can see the Alberes Hills, the Pyrenees and across the plain of Roussillon for miles – Perpignan and the sea at Canet in the distance. From the twin bedroom the view is of the Alberes, the ancient tower in the historic part of Laroque and again across the plain – even to the sea at St Cyprien.

Laroque Holiday Villa

3) What’s the best thing about this part of France? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

For us the region has everything! Great scenery – mountains, hills and the Mediterranean landscape nearer the coast. Great climate – hot, sunny and dry summer and mild spring and autumn, and fantastic light which has inspired artists hence the abundance of art galleries, museums and studios. History – the religious wars of the Middle Ages have left many monasteries, castles and forts, and later tensions between parts of Spain and France – the kings of Majorca had a palace in Perpignan and this region of North Catalonia still has many links to the Southern Catalans in Spain. Fantastic beaches – miles of (free) clean sandy beaches for sunbathing or safe bathing (most have blue flag awards). A great choice of local restaurants, both in the coastal resorts and the inland villages, offering regional and international food at prices to suit all budgets… And, for the more active, sailing, diving and other watersports at the coast, hill-walking and mountain biking in the hills – even skiing in winter only an hour’s drive away.

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. We’ve equipped the kitchen with everything we needed, so you won’t find yourself struggling to cook a meal with only a kettle, two pans and a wooden spoon! From the coffee machine to the gadgets for pitting olives and stoning cherries, another for cracking lobster claws for those Mediterranean dishes you want to experiment with, through a blender or a bottle chilling sleeve – and yes, we do have a kettle and a toaster too!

2. Broadband wifi is provided, so just bring your laptop and you can check up on the weather forecast, find maps and catch up on your emails, even stay in touch with the office if necessary, in comfort.

3. We’ve installed reversible air-conditioning in the living room and all the bedrooms, so no matter how hot it is outside the house can be kept cool and comfortable (and equally cosy in the cooler winter months).

I know that’s already 3 things, but I’d really also like to mention here our friendly multi-lingual local caretakers who make sure the house is prepared and pristine for guests’ arrival, meet guests and can offer local advice, and make sure that everything runs smoothly.

5) If a guest had just one day staying in your villa what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

As there’s so much to do in the area this would very much depend on the guest’s specific interests and could be tailored to bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, water sports, art galleries, historic sites or just relaxing on the beach or enjoying the scenery.

But, for a quick taster, I would suggest an early morning walk into and around the centre of the old village of Laroque to take in its tower, church and fascinating narrow old streets, and on the way back pick up freshly baked baguettes and cakes from one of the two village bakeries, and then enjoy breakfast on our sunny terrace overlooking our pool.

Then into the car for a drive along the pretty coast, stopping off for a swim if the fancy took you, then on to Collioure for a walk to explore the old town, visiting the galleries, the Chateau Royal, browsing the shops, or relaxing with a drink or a cake in a beachside bar or cafe and watching the world go by. Lunch either in Collioure or back in the car for a short drive to Argeles sur Mer, with lunch in one of the restaurants overlooking the port or the beach.

Then either an afternoon relaxing or building sandcastles on the beach at Argeles or a drive along the coast to enjoy the nature reserve and bird watching at the lagoons at St Cyprien before returning to the villa in Laroque for swimming and relaxing around the private swimming pool, and then getting ready to go out for an evening meal in the village. The La Cueva restaurant is highly recommended and has a nice outdoor terrace for summer evenings as well as an atmospheric dining room. The Cafe des Artistes is more informal with bistro-type meals, a large outdoor terrace under the trees and regularly has live music, or one of the other restaurants in the village. No need to take the car as its only a short walk back to the villa.

To rent this 3 bedroom villa in the Roussillon region from Liz, please use the contact details in the above link.

Meet Natascha – Owner of an Organic Lavender Farm in Italy

Meet Natascha, owner of an organic lavender farm in Italy. We all have dreams don’t we? The difference is that not all of us follow them. Not Natascha! Here is someone who followed through and made the dream a reality…

“Since I was little I had this dream to live in Italy, because my father is Italian. As an adult I became more realistic and forgot about it, until I started travelling to Italy again and my partner started to share my dream… When we saw this place we decided immediately that this was our dream house.”

1) Tell us a little about your property.

We have 2 houses near the border between Piedmont and Liguria, one new for us and an old farmhouse the we have renovated completely and divided into 4 cosy self-catering apartments with private entrances. Each of them has its own outdoor terrace of balcony where guests can eat outside. And then there’s the land around it. We have 50 acres of woods and meadows and lavender fields!

2) What made you buy your holiday home? Was it financial, emotional, a connection with the area, or something else?

Since I was little I had this dream to live in Italy, because my father is Italian. As an adult I became more realistic and forgot about it, until I started travelling to Italy again and my partner started to share my dream. Then we started to look for our dream place. We wanted something remote, but with a lot of possibilies for day trips and easily reachable for guests – because we knew we wanted to have an agriturismo – and with enough land to become a farmer. When we saw this place we decided immediately that this was our dream house and it only became better after the renovations.

3) What’s the best thing about Piedmont, the area in which your holiday home is located? Is it the scenery, the pace of life, the locals, the activities, etc?

There are lots of possibilities for all kinds of trips: A day at the beach; a wine tasting experience; a walk in the hills; a trip to the city of Genova or Turin; exploring little villages with the car; the mountainbike or on foot; the list is endless! But what our guests enjoy the most is the peace and quiet of the Piedmont countryside in our garden on the sun terrace, in the shadow of a tree, in the jacuzzi,…

4) What are the 3 special touches you add to enhance the guest experience?

1. We’re (almost) always available for our guests, we help them book a restaurant, plan their trips, etc
2. The jacuzzi
3. The outdoor kitchen with gas barbecue

5) If a guest had just one day staying on your lavender farm what would you recommend they do for the perfect experience?

Start with a breakfast on your terrace and move to the sun terrace. Then go for a little walk in the hills (there’s a short walk of just over an hour starting at the agriturismo) and climb the medieval tower to enjoy the view (we have the keys). Afterwards you relax in the hot tub with view on the lavender fields.

If you find the courage to leave our garden, take the car and explore the little villages, countryside and vineyards in the neighboorhood until you end up in Acqui Terme, a very charming thermal city. When you arrive there around 5 p.m you’re just in time for the aperitivo hour. Enjoy a glass of wine accompanied by all kinds of goodies.

Buy fresh products in the local shops to cook in your apartment (or our outdoor kitchen with gas barbecue grill) and watch the sunset with a good glass of Piedmontese wine. And, if you prefer to eat out, there are a lot of typical restaurants you can choose from in the local area (less than 15 minute drive).