Why it pays to use a specialist to let your Cotswold holiday home

From dealing with guest queries to issues of compliance, planning a house as a holiday home can be very different to a residential home.

By Eleanor Fullalove  |  Published
Bolthole Retreats represents a wide variety of holiday properties, ranging from modern Dutch barns to historic manor houses and chocolate box cottages.

Holiday rental property specialist Bolthole Retreats looks after close to 200 properties across Gloucestershire and the surrounding area, priding itself on charging the lowest commission in the Cotswolds.

Here, SoGlos finds out from managing director Rebekah England why the holiday homeowners it works with can expect to earn at least twice the yield of a standard private home rental and what it takes to make a holiday home more desirable. 

About the expert - Rebekah England from Bolthole Retreats

Rebekah England is managing director of Bolthole Retreats, the leading independent agency for Cotswold holiday rentals, working alongside founder Martin McWilliam.

Aiming to ensure that guests can really make the most of everything the popular tourist destination has to offer while at its properties, the local knowledge of its staff lends itself to creating truly memorable stays.

All of which has helped the Cheltenham-based business to expand its offices, staff and portfolio of properties.

How many properties are on your books?

We exclusively work with more than 175 superb properties in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Herefordshire and Warwickshire.

They range from large country houses to picturesque cottages; style-wise, they vary from striking, modern Dutch barns to elegant, historic manor houses and lots of chocolate box cottages.

We’re delighted to have recently partnered with some fantastic country estates in the Cotswolds, which have several holiday cottages within their grounds.

What do homeowners tend to underestimate when trying to let properties themselves?

Planning a house as a holiday home is very different to a residential home. When guests are on holiday, they enjoy relaxing and spending plenty of time together in the living areas, which must be very comfortable, inviting and social spaces.

Owners also don’t anticipate being available to deal with guest queries or issues 24/7 before or during their stay.

To help deal with everyday questions about properties, we have created 3D tours of all our properties on our website to show guests the layout and facilities of the property even before they arrive.

We also work with a trusted network of housekeeping teams who offer a variety of services and support to owners and guests.

Our experienced content writers also create detailed descriptions of each property, along with expert guidebooks of the local area and walking and cycling guides to help answer many of the questions guests may have.

In addition, we advise those new to holiday letting how to make sure their property appeals to as many guests as possible and how it can be made compliant as a furnished holiday let.

What is the quickest way to make a holiday home more desirable?

To appeal to as many people as possible, try and be as flexible as you can, think about sleeping arrangements and consider being pet friendly. Hot tubs and swimming pools are also incredibly popular, as well as games rooms and tennis courts, but not everyone has the space for these.

Guests are looking for properties which are superior to their own homes, so, for example, they expect the beds to be hotel quality with crisp, beautiful linens.

If you don’t have the space to add a hot tub or more beds, make the most of what is your unique selling point, whether that’s a log burner or a stunning walk on the doorstep. Every house has a USP and we’ll help you capitalise on what yours is.

How are your professional photographers and copywriters ultimately going to improve your clients’ profits?

We work with talented photographers who really understand how to showcase a house as a dream holiday location.

Our marketing team and content writers also create unique, compelling content which maximises the visibility of our website and properties. 

We all live in the Cotswolds and are a small, friendly team that knows the area really well, including the best restaurants, attractions, walks and hidden gems people can enjoy during their stay.

The Cotswolds is an extremely popular holiday destination and at Bolthole Retreats, 40 per cent of our guests are from London and the home counties and around 18 per cent are international visitors, primarily from America, Australia, Germany, and Holland.

Our holiday homeowners can expect to earn at least twice the yield compared to a standard private home rental.

What other benefits are associated with joining Bolthole Retreats?

We are very service focused, for both our owners and guests. We are a local, independent company based in Cheltenham, not a call centre, and really understand the market, pricing according to prime events, such as the Cheltenham Festival and school holidays.

As well as generating direct bookings, we also work with all the major third party advertising platforms, including Airbnb and Booking.com, to achieve a global reach.

We want to support other independent businesses in the Cotswolds, so next to every individual cottage on our website, we also recommend experiences that can be enjoyed nearby. We also partner with  venues to offer exclusive discounts, to help our guests have the best possible holiday while staying at a Bolthole Retreats property.

How are you able to charge the lowest commission in the Cotswolds?

It’s all about being efficient. We write so much content in-house, create 3D tours and produce our own Welcome Guides, so all the information is available to guests on arrival and prior to their stay.

We also keep our staffing streamlined - we are currently an impactful team of nine and embrace new technology, which makes the business run efficiently. This leaves us more time to dedicate to helping our owners maximise their bookings.

Why do people choose to book through Bolthole Retreats specifically?

We make it our mission to only work with owners exclusively; guests can’t find their properties anywhere else.

We also don’t discount stays, so guests always know what they are getting all year round and our owners also know what they will be earning.

It’s always disappointing if you think you might have got something cheaper if you’d waited, so we don’t offer last-minute discounts.

We also provide a fantastic variety of holiday properties to choose from, ranging from our stunning new Designer Retreats collection to romantic thatched cottages.

Can you advise homeowners who are looking to start letting their holiday home?

Yes, whether you are already with an agency, marketing it yourself or just starting out, we are happy to help.

In addition, if you are involved in a new development or planning a building project, we can also advise on layouts, interior design and income projection to help you generate as many bookings as possible and make your new venture a success.

For more information, contact Bolthole Retreats on (01242) 851208.

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