Frequently Asked Questions
How Do Vacation Rentals Work?
Glad you asked. We actually have an entire (kind of long-winded) answer to that available here.
Have you seen the properties in your portfolio?
We have indeed. If it’s on our website, then we’ve visited the property and in most cases have taken the photos* you see on each page. We travel abroad at least twice a year to visit, inspect and meet with the owners of our properties to discuss client feedback and see about changes or upgrades that might be needed after a busy travel season. Our first-person understanding of each vacation rental property ensures that we can help you book the absolute best for your holiday.
*Sometimes properties are booked and unable to be viewed or photographed on our various visits, or we may be scheduled to visit in the next month or two and so list it in preparation of being able to see it prior to booking guests there. In these cases, properties HAVE been visited by our local property managers and we make a note of this on the property page and in our conversations with you as you are making your vacation rental selection. With regard to the photos, if we’ve not yet snapped our own photos, or ours pale laughably in comparison to the owner photos (happens occasionally, especially when the owner is a professional photographer!), we will use theirs with permission, in addition to or instead of our own pics.
How do I know you are a legitimate company? There aren’t many reviews for you online.
Well, I suppose you have to take our word for it, when it comes right down to it. We are happy to provide references for you to contact, from past clients and from vendors whom we work with around the world. We are a legitimate Corporation registered in the State of Oregon since February 2011 and prior to that operated as a Sole Proprietorship in the same state. We’ve never had a complaint registered against us with the Better Business Bureau or any similar entities, and we’re actually sort of proud that there are not a lot of reviews in the usual online hotspots at this point because as tends to be the case, happy travelers may not take the time to login to a forum to write about their experience with a particular company, but an UNHAPPY traveler will absolutely do so (we should know, as consumers we do it all the time!).
Much of our clientele comes from repeat business and returning customers fond of their favorite booking agent, in addition to great word of mouth, and print advertising. Our full online portfolio and internet presence is just beginning to take root. Hopefully our offline reputation and rolodex (ha ha! don’t judge) full of happy travelers will follow us nicely into the universe of the world wide web.
Why do so many properties rent from Saturday to Saturday? What if I want to book different arrival and departure days?
London and other city properties do not require Saturday-to-Saturday rentals, however most other properties throughout Europe do. This ensures that the most number of travelers can be accommodated, with a standardized system for arrival and departure days. If you are arriving on a Sunday, we suggest booking the week anyway. If you are arriving on a Monday and staying for 12 days, we might suggest renting two full weeks, depending on the circumstances – it really depends on the property and on your group.
Sometimes off-dates can be booked in the low season, but it varies by property. Feel free to enquire about your needs and we’ll see what we can do, but it’s best to assume Saturday arrival and departures across the board (again, except in London, Paris, Edinburgh, Dublin and other major cities).
Why Are There Different Rates For Different Seasons? How Do I Know What Counts As High or Low Season?
Major cities generally have a single rate for the entire year, sometimes with a higher rate during holidays or major events (like the London Olympics in 2012!). Vacation rentals throughout the rest of Europe, however, tend to ascribe to the seasonal rates structure, with a High, Mid and Low season breakdown. We’ve written in much more detail about travel seasons here but the short answer follows the general rules of thumb that: High Season includes the summer months as well as Christmas, New Year & Easter (and sometimes Bank Holidays); Mid Season are the shoulder months on either side of the summer, when weather is fairly mild and crowds are fewer – usually part of April, all of May and most of September and October. Low Season is considered the colder, darker months, when days are shorter and weather is unpredictable.
Tell me about the Rental Rates? Why aren’t your prices listed in US Dollars?
We list property prices in the currency the country where the property is located. Our prices are the owners prices, with no hidden fees or add ons for a client to book with us.
Because our clients are international and come to us from all over the world, we are able to invoice and accept payment in multiple currencies (Dollar, Euro, Pound). When you settle on a property to book, the total due (50% or full balance depending on how close to your travel dates you book) will be calculated in your payment currency, for example US Dollars, on the day of your booking at that days exchange rate.
Trying to compare prices with an agency that lists in dollars? Obviously exchange rates vary daily (by the minute, really), but a general rule of thumb to figure out the price in US Dollars is to muliply the Euro price by 1.4 or 1.5 and the GBP price by 1.6 or 1.7 to find out the (very approximate) dollar amount. Or, give us a call, send an email or submit an enquiry and we’ll be glad to give you the amount in dollars for any properties that interest you.
What is included in the rental price?
Each property is different, and specific inclusions or extras are listed on each of our property pages. In general, prices include cleaning on arrival and departure, weekly linen change, and use of all equipment (kitchen, laundry facilities, etc). Heat and electricity are often charged separately and this is noted on each property description page. We’ve written a (once again, rather wordy) guide with ore information about what to expect from a vacation rental property.
I don’t know what kind of property I want. Aren’t castles old, musty, damp and drafty?
You have come to the right place. That is exactly why we visit each property we recommend to you – first hand knowledge of a place, coupled with a list of your ideal trip needs means we can find you the best rental for your holiday. All castles are old, yes. Some of them are a little musty. But most of those available for self-catering or serviced rental have been elegantly renovated and much care has been paid to ensuring a comfortable accommodation. That being said, a luxury Manor House in a Georgian style will be a much different holiday that a stone-walled castle, and there are negatives and positives for each property type. Of course Elegant Retreats tends to include properties in our catalog where the list of pros far outweighs anything that might stack up in the cons column. Give us a call, send an email, or an inquiry about your properties of interest. We’ll give it you straight!
You said my chosen property was available on Monday, but it was no longer available when I called you back on Thursday. Why wasn’t it removed from circulation while I considered it?
Availability changes so quickly with vacation rental houses. Our booking agents keep in close contact with each other and with our owners to make sure that all travelers interested in each property can be accommodated, but it really is a first-come, first-served situation. If you want to make sure that a certain property is available while you are finalizing your travel plans, you can place a 72-hour hold on a property while deciding. However, if you wait a few days to reply to us once we’ve gotten back to you with availability, we simply cannot guarantee that a requested property will still be available for your dates. We will do our best though!
Who writes this stuff? Why are you so long-winded? Can’t you tell me these things in shorter sentences?
The owner of Elegant Retreats International writes most, if not all of the copy on the website. She’s very excited to share as much information with you as possible. And she clearly needs an editor. We’re looking into it.
Okay, I’ve decided what I want to book. Now what?
Great! Let us know immediately and we will:
reconfirm availability for your final dates
hold the property
send you a confirmation
have our bookkeeper send you an invoice.
You will then:
confirm we have booked the right dates at the right property as listed on the confirmation
send us the payment due (50% if trip dates are more than 60 days in the future, 100% if 60 days for fewer)
send us your signed booking contract, the Rental Agreement, with a list of all the people in your rental group
give us credit card details for security deposit if applicable to your property
We will send you a receipt for payment, and once your booking has been paid in full we’ll send you contact information and property directions for your property.
Can Elegant Retreats help me with additional travel services like car rentals or airline ticketing?
Generally, yes, particularly with car hire, trains, ferries, airport transfer or hiring private drivers. We don’t often book airfare, but sometimes your booking agent can be of assistance with this, or will refer you to a reputable and knowledgeable travel agent to book flights for your destination(s). See our Additional Travel Services for more information.
What about additional services at my rented property or in the area?
Absolutely. Chefs or in-home catering? Babysitting? Boat tours? Guided walks, tours or historical programs? Wine-tasting, cooking lessons? Just let us know what you are interested in arranging for your stay, and we’ll help to make it happen.
We have someone in our travel group with limited mobility. Can special arrangements be made to accommodate their needs?
It is important that you let us know ahead of time if there is someone in your party with special needs or limited mobility. Fully accessible rentals are hard to come by in Europe, much more so than in the United States. We have an accessibility notice on each property description page, and will do our best to help you find the most suitable and appropriate property for your group (ground floor bedrooms, accessible showers, etc). Most owners are more than happy to accommodate special needs (threshold ramp, reserved parking, etc) with advanced notice.
How will I find my vacation property?
We’ll send you detailed Directions, with local contacts and arrival instructions. We send this out after payment and the signed booking agreement have been returned to our offices.
What time can I arrive? When do I have to leave?
Each property is different, but in general arrivals are after 3:00pm, often 4pm or as late as 5pm. Departure is usually no later than 10:00am to accommodate cleaning for the next renters. We try to note the particular arrival & departure time details on each property page, and this information also be on your Directions page.
Can I bring my pet?
Very very doubtful. In most cases, no, but every so often there is an owner who welcomes pets, but it is rare, rare, rare. When in doubt, the answer is no. If it is imperative that you bring along a furry member of your family, let us know ahead of time and we’ll suggest options for properties that might accommodate your request.
Is there air conditioning at the property?
Very very doubtful. In most cases, no, but every so often there is a property that has decided to include air conditioning. Check the property description pages under “Amenities” – AC would be listed there if a feature of the apartment or home. Remember that for places requiring additional charges for heat and/or electricity, this can become very very expensive if you aren’t careful.
Will I need adapters for my electronic equipment?
Almost universally, yes. Magellen’s sells quality travel accessories such as adapters. Let us know if you have questions about this.
Is there a telephone at the property? How about internet?
It really varies by property. Check the description page, or if either of these are must-haves for your rental, let us know and we’ll make sure to offer options that will accommodate your needs.
What do I do if there is a problem while I am staying at my vacation rental home?
If something goes wrong with the appliances, plumbing, or any other feature of your home, please contact the local representative (owner, owner’s representative, key-holder, whomever is listed on your Directions page) immediately. If the problem isn’t rectified for some reason, let us know as soon as possible. We will do what we can to make sure that the issue is addressed. Please do not wait until you depart or return to inform us or the owner of a problem as nothing can be done after the fact.
What if I have a complaint about my property?
Same as above: If there is a problem during your stay, notify the owner or the local representative immediately, and let us know as well. Our entire goal of business is to make sure that there are no surprises or disappointments for your holiday, so if something goes wrong, you must let us know so that attempts can be made to resolve the issue.
What if I just don’t like it?
We would be very surprised if, after reading our detailed descriptions, viewing the photos, and talking with your booking agent about the property, you are unprepared for what you’ll find on arrival. Our properties represent the best of the best in a given area and we take great care to provide extremely detailed information and images so that what you see on our site is what you’ll get on arrival. Unless something has drastically changed since our last visit, in which case of course we must be informed right away (and incidentally, this is an extremely rare circumstance). If you feel this is the case, send us an email or leave a message on our emergency after hours reporting line. Again, if you wait until your departure to report a dissatisfaction, there is little if anything we can do for you after the fact, so do let us know right away.
Send us an email, submit an inquiry, or give us a call. We tend to be a bit more succinct by phone, anyway.
Thanks for your interest in Elegant Retreats. We will do our best for you.
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Call Toll Free: 1-800-971-3245
Call Direct: 1-503-746-9598