So you have decided to plan a villa holiday. Where do you start the villa search? Online of course. Just doing a Google search for holiday villas will throw up thousands of results, even if you are specific about the location. So here are my tips to help you save time, refine your search and find your ideal holiday villa:

Choose your destination

If you already know where you want to stay, move onto number 2 below. Although the world is your oyster, you need to start by choosing two or three locations in order to focus and save time. If you prefer flying from a regional airport, your choice may be driven by the destination of direct flights. Is sun and heat is a requirement, then Google the weather report in your particular destination for the last 3 years for a clearer picture.

Identify your requirements

This may well dictate the location too. Your budget may not stretch to a villa in upmarket destinations such as St Tropez or Capri but you may find somewhere ideal nearby for less. Location wise do you want to be in or near a town with a buzz or in a remote hideaway? A villa located in the hills a short drive from the beach may well have more space and a larger garden than a smaller villa on the coast so you should think about how flexible you can be. Good villa websites will help you choose a destination, location and villa style using filters when you search for a villa. If in doubt, call a villa expert to advise you about each destination. It will really help you focus on how to find your ideal villa.

Choose your dates wisely

You probably have a budget and date for your holiday in mind. Villa rental prices in France and Italy are highest in the sunny months of July and August, when the majority of guests want to stay there. Bookings tend to run from Saturday to Saturday for weekly lets only, although some owners are flexible off season. Sometimes the first week of July and the last week of August are cheaper. Generally the best months for renting are May, June, September and October when the weather is still good (particularly in the south), the prices are lower and there are less crowds.

Ask your friends

Guidance from trusted friends will definitely help you to find your ideal holiday villa. Contact your friends who go on villa holidays as they may be able to recommend a fabulous villa which they have actually stayed in. Although what suits your friends may not be your cup of tea, at least it will help you to decide what you don’t want. Bear in mind that the best villas will always have a high percentage of returning and recommended guests.

Ask a villa specialist

If your network can’t recommend anywhere and you are looking for somewhere special, booking through a reputable villa company or independent villa finder is the way to go, particularly for those who are time poor and risk averse. Good villa companies inspect villas in beautiful locations and hand pick the best in order to make sure you have no nasty surprises. They help villa owners find the right kind of guests for their particular villas so they will only offer you the villas which truly suit you. Call them for their recommendations and narrow the search further. Villa listing sites are a useful tool for finding last minute bargains but there is a risk that it may not work out as anticipated. Without a double checking mechanism or professional travel association standards in place, you may end up booking a villa which does not actually match the photos and description, or even worse – it may not exist.

Google Satellite

Once you have a villa in mind, check the exact location using Google Earth, Google Maps and the satellite image. You can then get a realistic picture of drive times, nearby buildings, the walk to the beach/village and the surrounding area.

Check on extra costs

Air conditioning, pool heating, electricity, final cleaning and cots can be treated as extra costs which are paid for locally. Check these before you book to ensure they are included in your rental budget.

Book early

This may not always be possible but if you already know your dates for next year then book it now. It gives you more choice and you can book better value flights.

For assistance sourcing your dream villa, contact Rachel to find out more about her Villa Finding Service.