Florida Guide > Accommodation
We're going to Florida, where shall we stay? (Part 3)
After spending two summers in Florida in rental villas that we had booked through a tour operator we decided that for our third villa holiday we would go it alone! Our first experience of villa holidays had been wonderful with a beautiful well equipped, well maintained home our second experience however had not been so good. Although we had booked exactly the same package each year the second home we stayed in was very disappointing, it was clean but very basic and tired looking with only the very bare essentials. This made us realise that it didn’t matter how glowing the descriptions in the brochures were the quality of the home you got all came down to the luck of the draw.
We were not used to building our own packages for foreign holidays and we didn’t own a computer so were not familiar with the internet but we decided to have a go at a DIY holiday package. We found villa for rent ads in magazines and the classified section of various newspapers but it turned out that a work colleague had a friend who owned a villa in Orlando so we got his phone number. We gave the owner a call and the rest as they say is history.
We asked if the home was available for our dates, it was so we asked him to send us some information. He sent us a home made brochure with lots of photographs, along with information about the surrounding area and the theme parks. It was just what we were looking for. I then rang him to ask about the price because although he had included a price list there was no mention of how much “under occupancy supplement” we would have to pay, there were only four of us but his home slept 8 and we had always had to pay this supplement in the past. When he said the price was for the home for up to 8 people and there were no supplements we booked on the spot.
We paid our deposit and got a receipt by return post, in the months before our holiday we phoned the owner a couple of times to ask various questions such as “is there a hairdryer or should we take our own” and he was always happy to chat. After we paid the balance of the rental money plus a refundable security deposit he sent us directions to his home and detailed instructions of how to collect the keys and use the security alarm. When we arrived the home was lovely, just like the photographs. There were lots of little extras that made the house feel special and we felt we were really going home at the end of each day. We were so pleased with the whole experience that as soon as we got home we booked to go back! We stayed in that house for several years until we eventually decided to take the plunge and buy our own place.
We definitely felt we got a much better level of service from the owner than we could have ever hoped for from a tour operator, we even used to get phone calls when we were at the villa asking if we were OK and if everything was to our liking. We used our experience from dealing with that owner as a template for how we would operate our home. Of course we now have the benefit of the internet which has made advertising our home and contact with our guests so much easier but the principles are still the same in that we offer a friendly, personal service to help guests get exactly what they want from their holiday.
Author: Steve and Julie Roach
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