Owning and managing a holiday home from a distance is certainly not for the faint hearted!
When we bought Marsh View Cottage, our holiday home in Camber Sands in 2011, we were adamant that we would not hand it over to an agent and then just sit back and forget about it. We do see this happening a lot and our own personal pride and genuine concern for our guests enjoyment of their holiday is paramount to us. For those reasons, we wanted to manage it ourselves and be as hands on as we possibly could be, even though we live some distance away, in another county altogether. When we stay in self catering properties ourselves, I think you can always tell those that have the owners input and are genuinely looked after compared to those where the owner hasn’t visited for some considerable time.
Don’t get me wrong, a good agent is absolutely fantastic if you don’t have the time to manage it for yourselves, and if you find a good agent who is passionate about the area and really cares about the guests too then hang onto them! We do though, strongly believe that ‘forgetting about’ your property and just leaving all the work for someone else is the wrong attitude and certainly not the way to be successful. An owners input is very important to ensure guests have a happy and relaxing stay and want to return.
We provide welcome baskets, mini toiletries and much more. We like to source [and taste test where applicable!] these ourselves and as much as possible we support local businesses. The preserves, baked goods, chocolates etc are all local and the preserves and baked goods are made to order for us. Ordering the goods for the next welcome basket has to be done, sending directions to the next guests, contacting the guests who have just left, emailing our housekeeper any new bookings and arranging for annual boiler checks, PAT testing etc all needs to be done to fit in around guests arriving.
We visit regularly all year round and every autumn and winter we stay ourselves to do essential maintenance – cleaning the white weather boarding [it really does get a battering in the winter, being nestled between the marshes and the sea], painting fences, sheds and internal decoration etc. Also, it is only by staying there ourselves on our working stays, that we get to know anything else we may need to provide.
In all, several hours a day is spent on sending and replying to emails, promotion, sourcing and ordering provisions, shopping for provisions, updating the guest information book and so on. When we visit, it is a 3 hour round trip plus several hours with two of us spent gardening, checking everything works and doing any maintenance, topping up supplies and noting anything that needs replacing/attention next time, visiting Rye to collect new tourism leaflets for the cottage etc. We never visit any less than once a fortnight.
Of course, we couldn’t do it at all without our housekeeping team who are our right arm, and the ladies who make our baked goods and preserves and so on.
We take our business and our guests happiness very seriously and put all our efforts into making it a well run holiday home. Our large number of returning guests and excellent reviews tell us we are getting it right, with some guests booking several breaks a year with us.
As I said at the beginning, it’s certainly not for the faint hearted!