One of the challenges of project managing the restoration of a holiday villa and then equipping it – is to keep, not only the owners, but also all future holiday makers, firmly at the forefront of your mind while making choices and decisions.
Outdoors spaces are important, and a shaded area for dining, an outdoors kitchen with gas rings, sink and barbecue and, space permitting, another shaded area for lounging, all add to the desirability of the rental. A pool is pretty much essential.
The market, in Puglia, is awash though with little tiny trulli or small villas where the outside is heavenly, but the interior relies on the fact that guests are going to be living outdoors – fine in the summer, if the weather is perfect, but limiting for rentals outside peak periods.
One of the factors which made me encourage my clients to buy Ville Delle Ginestre was the roominess and the features inside – open fireplaces (in this case 2) are a bonus, also at least one bathtub (for English guests with children).
While decorating, and furnishing, the inside of the villa it is important to steer away from strong colour or design statements, which may deter future guests from booking. In this case, the owner designed the interior, I simply suggested suppliers and sourced products, and I think the final result avoids the bland and beige in favour of the personal and quirky, without the likelihood of putting off future guests in droves..
When I was designing the exterior, I wanted to create enough distinct areas to give larger groups the opportunity to relax together, but also to have a quiet spot for some time alone. The dining area, with a gazebo for shade, has space for 12 people round the table, but also room to add another table if desired. Outside the guest apartment there is a little table for two, a further table and chairs on the overlooking the view from the main terrace, and on a separate terrace there is a large umbrella sheltering a sofa and two arm chairs, with room to add further chairs if desired. On one of the shady terraces which border the drive there is a single hammock for contemplating the garden and the views over the terrace in solitary splendour!
When it comes to furnishing and equipping a holiday villa there are definite does and don’ts. In an area, like Puglia, where there is a lot of competition for rentals there are certain must haves:
1) There should be enough seating, including pool loungers, for the maximum number of guests your property sleeps. Sounds obvious, but the internet is full of holiday villas claiming to sleep 8, for example, with a table and four chairs, a single sofa, or only two pool loungers.
2) Similarly – can you actually cook and serve a meal for the maximum number of guests, with the crockery, cutlery and pots and pans provided? Would you want to? Italian villa owners are big culprits here – assuming that people will go out to eat and providing inadequate and scratched up pans. In an ideal world, the kitchen should be equipped for people who actually want to cook – decent knives, a variety of serving dishes and so on. Adults don’t really want plastic glasses and plates outside, or to drink good wine out of tumblers – just buy job lots of cheap and identical Ikea glasses and replace as necessary. Don’t forget also that English and American guests appreciate a microwave, electric kettle and toaster – which baffles the Italians!
3) Bed linens and towels (with the exception of beach towels) should be 100% cotton and white. Easier to launder (you can stain remove if you need to), more hygienic (hotter wash) and reassuring to guests. I am sure I am not alone at feeling somewhat squeamish faced with dark coloured linen I know has been used by hundreds of guests before me. Use a laundry service if necessary, but I think sheets should be ironed – whatever you do at home, hotel style crisply ironed sheets are always a plus in a holiday rental.
4) Providing pool/beach towels is an added convenience for guests but also ensures that your pristine white fluffy towels don’t end up in the pool, or at the beach (which they will otherwise)
Above all, think about who is going to be staying there and what they may enjoy. Little touches make all the difference. Think about places you have stayed. What did you like/dislike about your holiday villa, what would have improved your experience?
My situation is slightly unusual in that I project manage work on, and supervise the booking of, other people’s houses, not my own. For this reason, I always make sure that I stay in each villa at least a couple of nights, to experience the property as guests will.
Staying at Ville Delle Ginestre was certainly no great hardship! It enabled me to tweak a couple of things (for example moving the drinks fridge from the TV room to the outdoors kitchen to keep drinks cold and to avoid going back into the house to get more wine or water, getting the plumber to increase the pressure on one of the water heaters and so on).
It also gave me a feeling of great satisfaction. Despite the fact that I was ‘working’ and that to me the villa has been a never-ending list of things to be done it was a deeply relaxing experience. In between doing odd jobs, I lay on the grass under the walnut tree adjacent to the pool enjoying the dappled shade and watching the butterflies flit from flower to flower. Floating around in the pool I realised that it had been a really good choice opting for a salt rather than chlorine pool – it makes a huge difference. Having a solar heated outdoors shower also proved to have been a great idea – much nicer washing your hair outdoors while looking out over olive trees.
On another break I was truly comfortable sitting with my legs up on the sofa under the umbrella and, later on, watching the sunset from the main terrace, with a glass of chilled Prosecco to hand, was blissful.. All this place needs now, I thought, is a hammock…. So now, of course, there is one…..
For before and after pictures see previous article
To enquire about booking Ville Delle Ginestre or for help buying, restoring, or renting out your villa in Puglia email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0039 3337911030