Location: With the range of options available, be clear on what you really want. A restful, secluded beach vacation? Sight-seeing, historical, cultural trip? A place close to a big city, with exciting night-life? Taverns, bars and discos? Shopping? Kids' entertainment? Water sports? Trekking, wildlife? Pick villas that offer proximity to what you want.
Reliability: Always book through reputable agents - don't deal directly with villa owners.
Check credentials: Are they new in the business? Do they have previous experience and a good reputation? A local office to contact in case of problems?
Actual accommodation: How many bedrooms, bathrooms, lounges? TVs, phone, Internet? Is the kitchen stocked with appliances and crockery/cutlery? Is the pool/beach/garden completely private? Don't land up and find a camper-site or motor-home!
Local flavor: Unique lifestyle options like traditional decor, local cuisine, arts and crafts, etc. are what sets apart a villa holiday from a conventional 5-star hotel.
Read reviews and comments: Opt for reputable service providers. One of the biggest hazards of booking online is the problem of SNAD: Significantly Not as Described. Photos, glossy brochures, fake reviews are all common in the business. Discovering when you arrive that the place is ill-maintained has rude staff, dirty loos etc converts your dream holiday into a nightmare.
Certified: Are they certified by ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) ASTA (American) PATA (Pacific) or similar licensing authority to ensure best customer service practices?
Food: Self-catering or chef services? Verify the costing on this. For self-catering, check proximity to supermarkets or stores which stock fresh veg, milk etc. when travelling with kids and seniors. Opt for local produce and cuisine.
Transport: Do they offer transport facilities? Are there convenient car-hires available? Is public transport easily accessed?
Hidden costs: Taxes, utilities costs for electricity, heating, pool-cleaning, baby-sitting, trips to nearby locations, specialty foods, liquor etc. could rack up your final bill considerably.
Scams: There have been cases where villas not owned by the advertiser have been rented out! You may face legal problems, inconvenience or find out that such a property does not even exist when you get there!
Check-in, cancellation, minimum stay: Most providers insist on minimum stay period of a week or so. Week-end getaways may be separately charged. Cancellation charges and check-in timings should be kept in mind when planning trips.
House-keeping/maintenance: Check these and whether there are extra charges for them and whom to contact for assistance.
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