Handy hint if you happen to forget your corkscrew – as long as you’re wearing a good stout pair of English brogues!
Thank you to old friend Stephen Cronk, now producing some stunning Provencal wines at Mirabeau Wine
The Champagne corks are still probably popping for the owners and shareholders of Owners Direct / HomeAway following their big-money sale to Expedia, though the picture is somewhat less rosy for property owners, according to reviews of the site posted on ratings site Trust Pilot. Out of 262 reviews, Owners Direct managed to get the minimum 1/5 rating from almost 80% of reviewers – or when calculated based out of ten, a stunning 0.6 / 10!! And if you care to delve deeper into how these figures break down, you’ll find that the majority of recent reviews are firmly in the 1 star bracket.
There are a number of reasons for Owners Direct’s demise – negative publicity of scams operating via the site, advertising fees that have just gone up and up, slow response times to service requests, penalties for not responding to enquiries promptly or not keeping your calendar up-to-date…the list goes on. The biggest factor emerging from the reviews on TrustPilot though are that it’s no longer really “direct”!
In the very early days you had a direct email link, then a form to fill in – both of which went directly to the owner, showing the sender’s email address, which the owner could then reply to via their email software. Fast-forward to today, and all that has changed – yes, the customer does still fill in a form, but the owner never sees their email address, as this is disguised, forcing correspondence to take place through the Owners Direct Dashboard; if the owner does respond by replying to the email, their email address is also disguised, so all communication is taking place in this sort of Owners Direct virtual reality. And woe betide you if you do want to give the customer your phone number or email address to contact you directly (pertinent word that) – the system will strip that out, as you’re ‘being naughty’.
Since a fair number of their advertisers advertise on a commission-only basis, it’s fairly easy to see why Owners Direct do it this way – they want their cash! Which does seem fair enough, except when it puts barriers in the way of making or taking a booking.
Do they really care? Well, I suspect not, yet. Everyone in the HomeAway group will have made their money (for a second time!), so they’re probably not unduly worried about declining visitor numbers and declining revenues, but one would expect Expedia will care somewhat more. They are in a bit of a sticky position though, as financial projections for the HomeAway business did allegedly assume a continuation of both the subscription-based and commission-only models, so it would be difficult for them to abandon either. And if the rumours are correct about them imposing a booking fee in 2016 on the person booking a property (which will presumably alienate the other side of their customer base, the rental customer), their bookings are likely to fall, putting further pressure on revenues.
OK, so we’re not saying we’re the only alternative to Owners Direct, but we are, and always will be, resolutely about direct advertising. We also firmly believe in good, friendly, personal service – we like to get to know our owners, the majority of whom have advertised with us for many years. And we also won’t change you anything unless you feel that the advertising is working for you – we offer a free 3 month trial, at the end of which we’ll send you stats showing how well it’s gone, and if it’s not up to scratch, we’ll give you another 3 months for free.
We will not
Interested? Sign up for our free 3 month trial here
Christmas and New Year might have been a bit of a wash-out for many resorts this year, but the great news is that it’s now snowing BIGTIME in the French Alps! Unfortunately in a lot of cases this new snow is falling on a pretty thin base, so the above summary of snow depths from J2Ski should prove useful if you’re trying to decide where to go.
Having just returned from Sainte Foy Tarentaise ourselves, where we also skied Les Arcs, we can confirm that the conditions are now pretty good, as they seem to be generally in the Tarentaise.
Chamonix however remains firmly at the top of the pile, as in fact it was over Christmas and New Year, reporting a very welcome 3m snow depth currently, with another 9cms on the way soon.
Long may it continue!!!!
If you fancy getting away for a New Year Break, there’s still time, with holiday cottages still available across the country for short breaks or longer…
Oak Cottage (pictured above) is a stylish three bedroom cottage just outside the pretty village of Ingleton in The Yorkshire Dales. Ideal for all large groups – families or groups of friends – it has a large open plan lounge with a window with a view from wall to wall, floor to ceiling overlooking the beauty of the dales. A log burning stove for the cooler nights and a private patio for the warmer evenings. There is a large family room that sleeps 3 (double and single) with an ensuite shower room, another twin room and a third bedroom which sleeps 3. Details at New Year Cottages Yorkshire Dales
Or, if you can’t spare a whole week, why not consider lovely Beudy Gwyn, shown above? Located half way between St. Davids and Fishguard in the hamlet of Penparc on the St. Davids Peninsula, this non-smoking cottage is close to the centre of the best stretch of the Pembrokeshire coast – that part that is north east of St Davids. Situated within the protected Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, is has extensive sea views from the good sized garden laid almost exclusively to lawn, and in particular stunning views of the cliffs around Strumble Head.
This extremely spacious and tastefully appointed cottage has 3 bedrooms and is great for families or a group of friends gathering for a New Year Celebration. The price for 3 nights from Wednesday 30th December has been reduced from £400 to £315, or if you can do a whole week, 7 nights from Tuesday 29th December costs just £575 – a saving of 25% on the usual £765. Visit Beudy Gwyn West Wales for details.
If these two cottages don’t appeal, just visit our New Year Cottages page, where you’ll find some great deals – on great cottages!
We’re delighted to announce the latest addition to our selection of Large Group Accommodation, Visit Britain 5 Star rated Yew Tree Farm at Reagill, set in its own historic sculpture garden in the unspoilt Eden Valley, close to The Lake District National Park. This stunning pet-friendly holiday home benefits from 7 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, and is furnished and equipped to the highest standards to provide luxury self catering accommodation for up to 15 people.
The ground floor is fitted with underfloor heating throughout, and is almost entirely finished in stone flags. The spacious Dining Room has a cosy log fire and two very large dining tables to seat up to 16 people together. A door leads to the Living Room, again with a log fire, together with sofas and armchairs to seat 15 people.
The Kitchen also leads off the Dining Room, and as you might expect, it is beautifully equipped, with Full height fridge and full height freezer, twin electric Smeg range cooker, combi microwave, dishwasher and ample storage space; a Utility Room houses a Washing machine, dryer, spare fridge and freezer, drying rack and large sink. Also on the Ground Floor is one of the bedrooms, with King size bed, sofa and small kitchenette with kettle, microwave and extra set of crockery; this benefits from an en-suite shower room with WC, wash hand basin and heated towel rail.
The 6 further bedrooms are on the first floor – 2 Master Bedrooms with Super-King sized beds and en-suite bathrooms, Bedroom 3 with Super King zip-and-link bed (can be made into twin) and en-suite bathroom with shower over bath, WC and sink, Bedroom 4 with Standard double bed and en-suite bathroom with shower over bath, WC and sink. Bedroom 5 has twin beds, and shares a bathroom with Bedroom 6, which has a Bunk-bed with standard double mattress below and single above.
Prices for Yew Tree Farm start at £1,850 per week in Low Season, rising to £2,200 in High Season; Weekends and Short Breaks are available from £1,500. For more details, visit Yew Tree Farm
Other Large Group Accommodation: Large Group Accommodation