What makes a harmonious family villa holiday? I have been collecting candid feedback from serial villa holiday organisers to answer that very question. So here are 5 top tips from those who have perfected the art of keeping everyone happy on holiday:
1 – Compile a realistic wish list
Before you start choosing your villa, you need to find out exactly what each person in the group would like on their holiday and what is essential. For parents with a toddler, pool security, air conditioning and a flat garden may be essential. Just being within a stroll of a local village may be top of the list for others. Some love a lush garden, sea view or cook service, while others may want mod cons and a stylish retreat. Your budget and the location can dictate if your elusive combination of family essentials is a dream or reality. Ask a villa expert for guidance and be sure to manage group expectations accordingly.
2 – Book a cook and groceries
The relief and excitement of arriving at your holiday villa is usually tied up with a desire to relax. You just want your first dip in the pool, to enjoy a welcoming drink and something delicious to eat. You may feel like you have pulled the short straw if you have to get back in the car to navigate your way to a supermarket, shop for groceries, then cook a meal for everyone. So invest in a grocery delivery to include breakfast. Arrange for a local cook to prepare your first evening meal to give you a relaxing start.
3 – Pre-plan activities and services
If you have a local concierge at the villa or you booked through a good villa company, they will be on hand to assist with planning your week. From arranging a special celebration meal to suggesting local activities, guides and restaurants, your concierge is there to help make it happen. Find out what is on offer well in advance to avoid missing out. Early booking is essential for services like villa chefs and boat hire, particularly in the high season.
4 – Say no to the mini-van
Hiring a mini-van to transport your group and luggage to and from the villa may seem like a great idea. You may however find that your holiday home is located up a narrow country track which won’t fit your vehicle. Avoid low slung cars which could be scraped on country roads. Hire at least two smaller cars instead which will fit along the narrow streets of the local historic centre and make it up the steep driveway. Most prefer to have the option of breaking into smaller groups during the day to enable them to explore different sights at their own pace, then join together in the evening. If you only have one vehicle, then you risk limiting the available options. It will feel like you are part of an organised tour or worse, you become everyone’s chauffeur. Unless a local car hire company has been recommended to you, for competitive car rental prices, go through a comparison site like Rental cars. Go for cars available through well known car hire companies like Hertz, Avis or Europcar as they tend to be more reliable.
5 – Know your bedrooms
Diffuse family tension by knowing what kind of bedrooms to expect and where they are situated in the villa. Assign them to each guest in advance. It sounds obvious but careful planning will ensure harmony before you even get there. Just because a villa sleeps up to 14, it doesn’t mean that it will be comfortable for your particular combination of couples, singles, elderly grandparents and children. Bedrooms in annexes are often more simply furnished than those in the main house. They are often unsuitable for those who appreciate luxury or for the person who paid for the holiday. Some bedrooms are set up for children and situated next to a room for parents, so it is best to assign them before the group arrives. You really don’t want to be the one in the bunk bed while your friends or an elderly relative languishes in the master suite which you had your eye on.
If you are searching for your ideal villa, particularly in France or Italy, let Rachel guide you so you can avoid hours of online research. Contact Rachel for more information.