Advantages Price, Accomodation & Service
Disadvantages Charter Flights!
|Where did you book|
|How often have you booked through them|
|Value for Money|
|How good were the guides?||Not applicable|
|How satisfied were you with the Hotel/Appartement||Very satisfied|
|Quality of the tour in general||Not applicable|
A long time a go we toyed with the idea of going away and booking a private villa, but decided it was probably going to be too expensive.Then one rainy summer’s afternoon, some surfing brought up James Villas website. We put in a few figures and realised that for 4 people, we could have a very nice villa in October for less than £350 each.
After chatting with some friends we decided to bite the bullet and book. We didn’t have the brochure, because we did it all on-line. After agreeing the dates between us (and where we wanted to go) we narrowed it down to a shortlist. Because the website seems to basically have live data it only shows you villas which are available so there’s no need to have a ‘reserve’ list.Booking: credit card surcharge or 2% on top of the agreed price (I could have used my switch card and avoid this, but I hadn’t the money to pay for everyone all at once without going overdrawn!).
The staff were friendly and each one has a direct extension so you always deal with the same person (I needed to confirm special meal requests).The tickets arrived about 3 weeks before we departed, with all the associated tags, vouchers, maps and directions.
Getting There:We were booked on a JMC charter flight to Faro Airport. The price of these tickets was about £80 return (pp) all in so they worked out cheaper than many low cost airlines. The plane was probably the most unpleasant part of the journey, being cramped and full of loud tourists!
Faro airport was painless and light and airy. If you are a smoker, buy the cigarettes in the arrival hall to keep you going, because it can be hard to find places which sell them.The car hire collection was a bit fraught, as the company James Villas has organised didn’t appear to have a desk in the airport. A quick test of the Portuguese phrase book later, it transpired our car hire company was outside on the benches! After a long wait to see the lady (sitting in the sun-shine) with a load of other holiday-makers (not all from James Villas) we got to sign the forms. It was a while before our hire car turned up (and it is hot sat outside), but they had upgraded it to a larger size.
After finding our way out of the airport, and getting hopelessly lost, we found the town that was to be our home for the week. At first glance it seems a mixture of horrid tower blocks and unfinished roads. We followed our directions, which led around the edge of town and down a road which turned from tarmac, to gravel, to sand!We pulled over next to a large house to get our bearings. Turns out, this large house was our villa!
The VillaI don’t think there’s anything nicer in the world when you expect one thing and get something much better, but this is the only way I can describe our accommodation.
Set out, literally, in the middle of no-where, our villa was surrounded by a large ornamental fence and stood on about an acre of land. Off the drive way we had a few orange and lemon trees and a smattering of tropical plants.We found the keys, where promised, and let ourselves in. The shutters were all closed and the house was dark, but very cool. Personally, all I wanted to do was see the pool and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I was trying to get the patio doors shutters open to have a look! I wasn’t disappointed, the pool was described as “large”, but “very, very large” probably would be more accurate. The water was crystal clear (if a little cold). I was swimming within about 5 minutes of seeing it!
The rest of the house was very nice; having 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms there was plenty of space. The kitchen was basic (not having a microwave), but had most things you needed. We never used the large dining room, but the upstairs terrace areas gave a great view and were a peaceful heaven at night.The James Villas rep came when I was in the pool (and everyone else was in bed), and pushed a note through the door with a phone number if we needed to contact her. To be honest, we never did, because we couldn’t find any problems!
The owners came twice while we were there to cut the grass, clean the pool (and test the water) and tidy the garden. They kept a low profile, but made a wonderful job of keeping the place nice.Tips:
The pool is very deep (about 8” at the deep end) and has a hell of a slope on it between that and the shallow end. This was great for me, but those non swimmers and young kids may have found it a bit daunting.Buy a detailed map, some of these villas are down very small tracks
If it says “car essential” in the description, then it normally means the middle of no-where and you’ll have to use you car for everything (including trips to the local dustbins!).In Summary:
Our holiday was so great with James Villas; we are going back this year. In fact, in two weeks time. I hope I haven’t jinxed it by writing this opinion, but if we have the same experience this time around, I’ll be very, very happy.*** UPDATE 27/10/03 ***
Well, we completed our second holiday with James Villas and this one lived up to all the experiences of the last one; great villa – awful charter flight.This time we stayed in a 4 bedroom villa in the mountains just north of Nerja, Cost Del Sol, Spain. The house was again stunning (even though this villa was far more modern) and in an isolated setting. The pool was freezing and again the depths weren’t marked but we had 3 (yes, 3) barbeques to choose from as well as 4 bathrooms between us.
The flights with Britannia managed to exceed last years JMC’s flight in terms of cramped awfulness (I’ll write a separate Op on this) but our overall experience was still great.If you are thinking about a different sort of holiday, I cannot recommend James Villas highly enough.
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