Archive for the ‘Cottage Owners’ Category

Sykes Special- Interview with a Cottage Owner Part 2

Friday, April 25th, 2014
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Today on the Sykes Cottages blog, we’re bringing you an interview with another of our fabulous cottages owners. After the success of our last post, in which we spoke to Stephen Bacon about his holiday cottages in Norfolk, we decided to continue our investigation into the background behind the cottages that we work with and get some insider tips on owning and letting out a holiday cottage from the experts. Today, Megan Graham, who owns a stunning romantic getaway in North Wales, has kindly agreed to talk to us.

Cottage owner and her dog

Megan and her dog, Ben

Thank you for setting aside some time for us! Tell us a bit about yourself, Megan.

I am 55 years old and 8 years ago, I purchased a converted woollen mill in North Wales. Since then, I have spent quite a lot of time (and money) renovating and extending my own cottage as well as converting my holiday let, Watermill Cottage. I have a Rough Collie dog called Ben and thoroughly enjoy taking him on long walks in the hills surrounding the cottage (when I am not working of course!) I am hoping that the holiday let will top up my pension when I retire.

How did you come to own the cottage?

It is located in the grounds of my own cottage, which is a converted woollen mill. Watermill Cottage originally housed part of the mill workings. It had become rather dilapidated over time and I converted it into living accommodation approximately 5 years ago.

Can you tell us a bit more about the area that the cottage is in?

It’s on the banks of the River Wheeler, just outside the village of Afonwen in North Wales. I really enjoy the wildlife, the peace and tranquillity of the area, and the range of walks just outside the front door; the Offa’s Dyke path is within easy walking distance. The cottage also comes with fishing rights and offers guests the opportunity to see badgers which is fascinating as many people have never seen them in their natural environment.

Cottage in North Wales

Megan’s property, Watermill Cottage

What features do you think make your cottage more marketable?

The underfloor heating is a fantastic addition and I always leave a welcome pack for my guests including a complimentary pint of milk and bottle of wine, together with tea, coffee, sugar and guest soap. The cottage also accepts 2 well-behaved dogs which makes it much more marketable to pet owners. There are extensive dog walking opportunities adjacent to the property, where dogs can exercise off their leads in safety. The surrounding area and fishing rights are also great selling points.

What is your favourite part of the property?

The views down to the river and the under floor heating! I am also hoping that the newly refurbished kitchen will be a great asset.

Do you get to spend a lot of time there?

I have never slept in it but I am always in and out of it as it is next door to my own home.

Have you ever had any visits from special guests that have ended in a rewarding experience?

A couple came for their honeymoon and said it was absolutely perfect for them. They really enjoyed the peace and quiet after a hectic wedding day. Another guest was writing a book and had been struggling to make progress, however she said sitting in the window of the cottage and at the picnic table overlooking the river had provided her with inspiration and she was able to write a few chapters during her stay.

Cottage bedroom

The bedroom at Watermill Cottage

Why did you decide to start renting out the cottage?

To supplement my income.

Do you have any advice for people thinking about renting out a holiday cottage?

Always ensure that the cottage is welcoming, spotlessly clean, warm and nicely furnished. I like to include a few extra personal touches such as a welcome pack, slow cooker, iron and ironing board, hair dryer, portable fan heater, OS Maps, walking books and places of interest in local area. Basically, I do my best to try to ensure that the accommodation is as close to hotel standards as possible.

How did you find out about Sykes?

Through my daughter as she is friendly with one of the managers.

How do you find working with Sykes?

They provide excellent service! Everyone is very helpful and accommodating and the joining process was very quick and simple. I also like that working with Sykes means that I don’t get pestered by time wasters!

We’d like to say a big thank you to Megan for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’d like more information about Watermill Cottage or if you want to book a holiday in this delightful property, please visit our website.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

Benefits of Letting Your Property with Sykes Cottages

Thursday, April 17th, 2014
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Whether you’re new to the world of holiday lettings, or you have been renting out properties on your own for years, making the choice of whether or not to join an agency is a big decision. It may come as no surprise that at Sykes Cottages we think that joining a dedicated holiday lettings agency is the best way to go whether you’re a veteran at holiday lettings or you’re just starting out! We work with owners from all lettings related backgrounds; from those who have a number of properties and have been working full time letting out holiday cottages for years, to those whom have just recently got a second property through investing or inheriting. Read on to find out the benefits of joining our other fantastic owners at Sykes Cottages.

Twenty Five Years’ Experience

Some early Sykes Cottages brochures, including hand drawn images of properties.

Whether it is your first time renting out a property, or you have been doing it for years, there can often be a lot to research and a lot to sort out. It’s always great to know that you have help and advice on the other end of the phone should you need it. This is where Sykes Cottages can come in to help; with over twenty five years’ experience working alongside holiday home owners, there is nothing that Sykes Cottages doesn’t know about the world of holiday lets. So you can be safe in the knowledge that there is an experienced and well trained team behind you, making sure that you get as many bookings as you can!

We won’t let you miss a booking

The team here at Sykes Cottages celebrating having made 100,000 bookings for our owners in 2013

If you’re working full time alongside managing your holiday let, or you’re just a busy person, there may be times when you can’t answer the phone or reply to an email enquiry quick enough. A customer may be enquiring to a number of different cottages at once, and if they don’t get a reply you may lose their custom for good. We realise this and at Sykes Cottages we have a friendly, knowledgeable and dedicated reservations team who work from 9am until 9.30pm seven days a week answering enquiries and taking bookings from customers. This gives you piece of mind that even if you’re not available to take a booking, we are!

Personalised, Easy to Find, Property Page

Property shown here is The Dairy. Reference 3700.

Perhaps you’re not the most skilled wordsmith, or your hands are a little shaky with a camera and you’re concerned about how you can describe and photograph your property to present its full potential on a webpage or in a brochure. Well no need to fret as at Sykes Cottages we have a talented editorial team who will create fantastic copy to describe your property and our regional managers will be happy to take photos of your property to show it off in its best light!

We do the marketing for you

Our 2014 selection of holiday brochures

In order to attract potential customers you need to be seen, and with all the varieties of marketing channels available, ensuring you reach potential customers can be timely and costly when doing it alone. At Sykes Cottages, we have a dedicated and talented marketing teams for both online and direct marketing, covering everything from sending out printed brochures to keeping up with social media. We’re not afraid to invest money in our marketing channels and have one of the biggest in-house marketing teams in the industry. We’re always working to ensure that potential customers find us and therefore, find you!

Your cottage stays your cottage

Image via Flickr

At Sykes Cottages we never forget that your cottage is just that; yours. We work together with our owners and whilst giving help and advice we will never tell you what to do and we will always respect your wishes. Whilst we will work hard to ensure we get you bookings, you can still make your own so that family and friends or even your own existing guests can book through you.

Apply for an Owners Information Pack

These are just some of the benefits to joining Sykes Cottages as one of our owners, if you’d like to hear more then why not apply for one of our free owners’ information packs or give us a call on 01244 356695 and someone from our friendly owner care team will help you get the ball rolling with letting your cottage with Sykes!

Leanne Dempsey

By Leanne Dempsey

A lover of reading, eating and shopping Leanne will often be found spending time with her two pugs or snapping away on instagram. A big fan of the city, She likes nothing more than getting away for a weekend break in the UK, her favourite places being London and Bath.

How to make the most of your cottage grounds

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
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With summer just around the corner, the days of relaxing in the garden at weekends are almost within reach. There’s nothing better than dusting off the deck chairs, rooting out your sunglasses and spending some time in your garden and it’s no different when you’re on holiday! Holiday cottages with gardens and patios are really popular with our customers, especially during the summer months, so we’ve put together a few suggestions for cottage owners on how to make the most of their cottage grounds this summer.

Holiday Cottages with Large Grounds

For holiday cottages with lots of outside space, the possibilities are endless. All too often, large grounds can be neglected and lacking in imagination, though they offer the potential to make your cottage really stand out. So here are just a few tips on ways that you can take advantage of your large grounds:

Tennis Courts

Holiday cottage with tennis court in Yorkshire Dales

Groom’s Rooms, Yorkshire Dales, Ref 22462

A tennis court can make a fantastic addition to your holiday cottage if you have plenty of space to spare. Cottages with tennis courts are always in demand in summer, especially after the hype of Wimbledon. Throw in some complimentary rackets and tennis balls and your guests will benefit from having the perfect afternoon activity right on their doorstep.

Swimming Pools

Holiday cottage with swimming pool in Isle of Wight

The Springs, Isle of Wight, Ref 2906

Swimming pools are always included in people’s dream holiday check-lists, making them the perfect feature to help make the most of large grounds and maximise your cottage’s appeal. Children and adults alike will love splashing about in the pool in good weather; you could even provide a few pool games and inflatables to add to their enjoyment!

Holiday Cottages with Smaller Grounds

For holiday cottages that have less space to play with, there are still plenty of ways that you can make your outside areas more appealing. Small, perfectly formed gardens and patios can still be a big selling point for any holiday home and here are just a few of our suggestions to help you make the most of your grounds:

Patio Furniture

Holiday cottage with garden in Northumberland

The Old Farmhouse, Northumberland, Ref 3520

A drab patio or terrace can be instantly spruced up by the addition of some well-chosen patio furniture. Whether it’s a garden bench for reading in the sunshine or a table and chairs for some alfresco dining, it’s always nice to be able to take advantage of good weather when we get it. No one wants to be stuck inside when it’s sunny!

Fire-pits

Holiday cottage in Lake District

22 Thirlmere, Lake District, Ref 22525

Having an outdoor fire-pit is a great way to impress potential holidaymakers. Guests will be able to gather around the fire-pit on summer evenings and chat late into the night whilst enjoying a couple of glasses of wine over the crackling flames. This fashionable addition to your patio will ensure guests have the relaxing holiday that they deserve and will definitely persuade them to return again and again.

Hot Tubs

Holiday cottage with hot tub in Isle of Wight

The Summerhouse, Isle of Wight, Ref 20969

Our cottages with hot tubs are extremely popular and they’re always the first to get booked up, year on year. We get so many enquiries from customers wanting properties with hot tubs so any cottage with one installed is guaranteed to be in high demand. As hot tubs require relatively little outdoor space, they’re ideal for cottages with smaller grounds and will help your guests to have a luxurious holiday experience that they will never forget.

Louise O'Toole

By Louise O'Toole

Louise loves reading, shopping, baking and cosy country pubs with log fires. A nice cup of tea will never be turned down. She has spent many childhood summers on the beach in Cornwall and walking the hills of the Lake District.

How To Create The Perfect Luxury Holiday Home

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
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When you think of luxury self-catering holiday accommodation, what crosses your mind? Lavish interiors brimming with plush furnishings? Contemporary kitchens featuring the latest in culinary wizardry? Extravagant extras such as saunas, swimming pools and hot tubs?  Or fine silken bedspreads offering a wonderfully comfortable place to rest your head?

Whatever your thoughts on luxury holidays, you can expect all of the above and so much more when you rent a luxury holiday cottage with Sykes Cottages. Our luxury holidays offer opulence and comfort at every turn, providing the perfect base for a romantic break or a week of wellbeing.

If you’re a cottage owner who feels their property could do with some je ne sais quoi, then take a look at our hints and tips on how to transform your tired two-star shack into a sumptuous bolthole fit for a queen. We’ve provided guidance on all manner of modifications that you could make to your cottage to give it the wow factor, from little details to grand new additions that’ll help your property stand out from the crowd. Take a look at our guide to getting that elusive touch of luxury below.

Stick to your theme

Southover, Wroxham, ref. 904316

Southover, Wroxham, ref. 904316

Like so many things, consistency is key. From a simple lick of paint to an interior design overhaul, one of the most basic ways to rejuvenate your property and get it looking luxurious is to choose a theme and stick to it. Whether you’re gunning for a lord of the manner style country look, an uber-contemporary woodland hideaway or the look and feel of a charming beach house, the interior of your holiday cottage should consistently carry your design through every room- including the loo. To achieve this, swap out of place furniture for pieces more in keeping with your design scheme and include small details to help bring your rooms to life.

Install a hot tub

The Forestry- 12664

Forestry Cottage, Sandringham, ref. 12664

Ok, this one may not be for the wallet conscious, but if you can afford it, then installing a hot tub can really add some clout to the appeal of your cottage. Hot tubs are one of the most requested extras which our customers ask for when booking their holiday, and more and more cottage owners are opting to install one to meet this demand. A hot tub offers a night out in itself; somewhere to relax and unwind, but also somewhere for your guests to socialise and have fun. Luxury cottages often feature hot tubs on a decked terrace in the garden, whilst others prefer to put the tub alongside the swimming pool, sauna or gymnasium- wherever you choose, we guarantee your guests will love your new addition!

It’s all about quality and detail

Crab Cottage, Chapel St. Leonard’s, ref. 25169

One thing that won’t go unnoticed in a luxury cottage is the quality of your furnishings, fixtures and fittings. By replacing soft furnishings, kitchenware, gadgets and knick-knacks with higher quality items, you’ll already be halfway to creating a luxury home-from-home for your guests.  And it doesn’t stop there! Make your lodgers feel loved by leaving a welcome basket, fresh flowers and a bottle of bubbly in the cottage for their arrival, or pop round and give it to them yourself. A luxury cottage is all about style, detail and substance, so show your guests you’ve got all three by following these simple steps.

Whether you’re a newbie in the world of cottage ownership who’s looking for inspiration, a veteran who’d like to earn their property a couple of extra ticks or just someone having a nosey at these beautiful luxury cottages, we hope this proved both helpful and informative. To find out more about our luxury cottage holidays, click here.

Alternatively, if you have a holiday cottage (be it luxury or not) and are interested in joining Sykes Cottages, visit our Cottage Owners page for further details on what we can offer you.

Jonathan Tuplin

By Jonathan Tuplin

Jonathan is a lover of books, music and good food. Originally from Yorkshire, there's nothing he likes more than a cycle in the country. One of his favourite spots in the UK is Tenby, where he spent many a happy holiday as a child.

How to make your holiday cottage family friendly

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
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Here at Sykes we’re proud to be able to offer a wide array of family friendly accommodation all around the UK and Ireland, however this isn’t just a token label that we apply to all of our cottages. In order for a property to be listed as child friendly our cottage owners have to show a genuine level of dedication in making their properties suitable for younger visitors. However we realise that it is difficult to think of every little thing that parents might need on a cottage break and that’s why we have put our heads together in order to come up with a few helpful pointers in making your cottage more suitable for the whole family. So take a look and see if we’ve managed to think of anything that you might have missed.

Babies and toddlers

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via. Flickr

When it comes to travelling with babies one of the hardest things is figuring out how you’re going to squeeze all the necessaries into the car. That’s why it is always helpful for cottage owners to try and keep a few of the bulkier items in the property for guests to use if and when they need them. Examples of these items include things like cots and high chairs, whilst a stair gate is always welcome in cottages with more than one floor. Then there are other little things, which may not be quite as obvious but will show the guests that you have really put some thought into it. Investing in some plug socket covers and removable corner guards for any sharp edges to keep in the cottage for when they are needed will always be popular with parents.

Children

Millstone, Yorkshire Dales, ref - 897

Millstone, Yorkshire Dales, ref – 897

Let’s be honest when younger kids are around accidents can happen, so why not make sure that there are some plastic plates and cups in the cupboards to prevent any unwanted breakages. Aside from that parents tend to be the most thankful for the things that keep the little ones occupied. A selection of toys, jigsaws and board games are always popular and if there is a decent sized garden at the property you could look at getting in some things for outdoor activities such as racquets and balls for some fun in the warmer months, or if you’re thinking of pushing the boat out you could consider creating an outdoor play area for the kids.

Teenagers

Rushmore Lodge, Kent, ref - 16229

Rushmore Lodge, Kent, ref – 16229

Teenagers are probably the hardest group to cater for. Having said this one thing that is bound to go down well is to make sure that there is a working DVD player at the property along with a selection of films although they can always bring a few favourites from home to watch. A little collection of books also helps, especially if it contains some of the more popular series going around, or you could always think about trying to convert a room into a designated games room as they always prove to be extremely popular with the teenagers.

Hopefully you’ll now have a better idea of what you can do to make your cottage truly family friendly but if you want any help or advice feel free to ring up and we’ll happily answer any questions that you might have.

Jamie Tomkins

By Jamie Tomkins

Jamie is a big fan of long weekend walks with the dog, especially when there is the chance to refuel with lunch in a country pub. Living in Lancaster for three years gave him the perfect opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Lake District.