This week we are introducing a new spin on our Friday series, meeting some of our holiday homeowners, and finding out what makes them tick. We’ll ask why they chose to buy their rental, and what makes the place they chose to set up a home away from home so special to them. Hopefully we’ll get some funny stories along the way; with a different group of people staying each week, there’s bound to be a laugh or two in there!
To kick off the series, Paula and Barry Grainger introduce us to their cottage in pretty Limeuill, which sits in the Dordogne’s Perigord Noir region. A beautifully rural part of France, it’s an area brimming with vineyards, small villages and medieval towns, alongside the Dordogne river. So without further ado, let’s meet Paula.
How did you decide to buy or own a holiday rental home?
Paula Grainger: Having a change of life crisis. We arrived in the Dordogne nine years ago after selling up our business in Ireland, and decided to invest in a holiday rental home in Sarlat to help supplement our income. We found our two-bedroom cottage first and then a couple of years later our apartment in the centre of Sarlat.
How and why did you choose the location?
PG: By chance really. We had stayed in the Perigord Noir previously and fell in love with the area – and that was in Winter; we were totally besotted by the Summer. Our cottage and apartment complement each other: the apartment being right in the centre of medieval Sarlat surrounded by 15th-century buildings, cobbled streets, a superb market and shops and restaurants; the cottage, located 5km from the centre of Sarlat, is surrounded by countryside and yet near to all the sites and not far from amenities. The cottage is perfect for couples and families and has an enclosed garden, plunge pool and loads of walks. The area is a photographer’s/artist’s dream and caters for every age – for historians, foodies, cyclists, walkers and those who’d like to canoe down the Dordogne river.
What advice would you give people if they are thinking about owning a holiday home?
PG: Location, Location, Location.
Look for a property that is easily manageable if you are not on site to do changeovers, garden and pool maintenance; make a note to find out if there are agencies or people who could do this for you. Think of all your costings: advertising, maintenance, utilities and local taxes.
If you are buying a property where you will live on site, remember that you will be a host 24/7 during the holiday season if renting.
What’s the best /most enjoyable part about renting out your holiday home?
PG: For us, meeting our guests after spending time getting to know them through the reservation process. It’s nice putting a face to a name and then seeing our guests enjoying their holiday and leaving looking relaxed and happy.
What is the most challenging part of renting out your holiday home?
PG: I would say the changeover day, when you have only a small window to get everything ready for the next guests and you hope you have no problems with plumbing or appliances.
How long have you advertised on HomeAway and why did you choose the site?
PG: We have advertised since 2006 when HomeAway was Holiday-Rentals.co.uk. We came across the site by chance along with many others, and signed up to a few – but only had a positive response with Holiday-Rentals.co.uk. The biggest plus was that by marketing your property, spending time and thought on your photos, updating your calendar and getting reviews, you could be put up to the top of your area page. This meant that you made sure your property was good both in reality and on the site.
How have you managed to maximize the performance of your listing?
PG: Throughout the years we have never had a problem with bookings and were nearly always booked out a year beforehand; as I actively enjoyed marketing our properties and getting reviews, it was a real buzz getting enquiries which quickly turned into bookings. This year we upgraded one of our properties to platinum. Upgrading has improved our performance and hopefully we will get the extra bookings to cover the cost.
Have you any wonderful stories of renting out your holiday home?
PG: Plenty of stories over the years: guests who return time and time again and who are now great friends; guests who have honeymooned one year and returned the next year with baby in tow; guests who have cried with happiness that our apartment was just how they imagined; guests who have been there for us when an adverse storm has struck and helped us out; guests who have made our day leaving with relaxed smiles on their faces; and our doggy guests who had to be dragged into the car on the day of departure.
All in all we have had a positive experience renting out our properties, and would not have been able to do it without HomeAway.
Find Le Pied du Bisson, Paula’s holiday rental in Limeuil, for your next holiday in the Dordogne.