Because I spend my entire working life in hotels around the world (some nice, some not), I tend to prefer renting apartments or villas when I go on holiday. Recently, I’ve been traumatised by the lack of thought and sense of style which have gone into a number of holiday lets (don’t talk to me about Spain!) When I go to live abroad in a house, I want a little bit of luxurious living that I don’t normally get at home. That’s part of the essence of my holiday – wanting to live in a nicer environment for a week or two.
We applied that theory with some success to our apartment in Nice, and got some fabulous feedback – we were convinced we’d managed to get our little space right. And now we want to do it again, on a larger scale. We want to take whichever property we fall in love with (with any luck, in April) and transform it into a must-go-to holiday destination in its own right. I know, it’s a VERY ambitious plan, but I want something to strive for over the next 10 years. I don’t want to be done with the property after 4 years, as we have with every other one we’ve lived in.
We’ve looked at the holiday properties we’ve visited over the last 15 years, in the UK, France, Spain & South Africa (we like to keep a narrow time zone!), and I think, for me, the most outstanding in terms of quality of accommodation, and service, is The Watermill in Suffolk (http://www.thewatermillsuffolk.co.uk/). This will definitely be a continual driving inspiration for us as we set up our new guest cottages.
As for further inspiration, this website (http://www.sawdays.co.uk/) was recently featured in The Times top 50 travel websites, and I would love to be able to create a property worthy of being featured on here. And, if we decide to sell some time down the line, I hope to be able to place it among this list: http://www.lafitescholfield.com/find-country-homes-for-sale-in-south-west-france.html. How many bright sparks have noticed that each photo on that site is taken in sunshine, and most can be seen with blue skies? Compare that to the majority of properties on the standard French agents’ websites. At the France Show recently, I heard an agent joking to someone else that all you need to sell a house is blue skies and blue shutters! I felt he was being flippant – that the buyer is too shallow to be interested in anything else. Fool!! I tell you – I’m definitely going to wait for blue skies before taking marketing photos!