Spring has sprung, summer has come and many people are now making plans for a December getaway - and trying to book their holiday accommodation.
This has been a really tough year for most people, and those who can take time off are really looking forward to a break at the end of the year,” says Gerhard Kotzé, MD of the RealNet estate agency group.
Popular holiday towns all along the coast are expecting a bumper season as people who have been living and working at home since April urgently seek a change of scenery, even if it’s just for a few days, and many tourism and holiday rental offices are already reporting that they are fully-booked for December and well into January.
The fact that the schools are only closing on 15 December this year is adding to the pressure on peak-season accommodation and on top of that, many international destinations are still closed to South Africans, while many property owners have converted their short-term holiday accommodation to longer-term letting over the past few months.
Consequently, consumers need to be especially careful when making holiday bookings this year. There are unfortunately lots of unscrupulous individuals out there just waiting to scam people who are desperate to find holiday accommodation at a reasonable price. Most of these people will aim to get you to pay a deposit for a holiday flat or house that doesn’t exist or that is not theirs to rent out, but others will use a bait-and-switch technique to get you to book and pay for horrible accommodation that is nothing like the photos they used in their advertisements.
However, the following guidelines should help you to find your ideal holiday accommodation – and avoid the swindlers:
Start early. Many well-known accommodation establishments and resorts offer early booking discounts so that they can be sure of a full-house well ahead of the holiday season. This could bring them within your budget and will certainly lessen the chance of having to deal with a fly-by-night ‘landlord’ because you’ve left your booking to the last minute.
Book through big-brand companies. If you are looking for a holiday house or flat, it really is best to book through a well-known and reputable agency that has a local operation with a portfolio of holiday properties. This should ensure that any deposit you pay is safe, that you get the property you expect in a good and clean condition, and that the handover is efficient and professional.
Be as specific as possible about what you want, and what sort of holiday you are planning. Do you envisage staying right on the beach, or a short walk away? Are you planning on fishing, surfing, sailing, diving or swimming? If you’re heading for the mountains, is it to go hiking or biking or just to rest and look at beautiful views? Is this an adult-only or family holiday and if the latter, how old are your children? Do you plan to self-cater or would you like a place with an on-site restaurant or coffee shop? How close do you want to be to the local shops, banks, and entertainment venues? Do you need DSTV and good internet and cellphone connections? Will you be renting a vehicle and will you need parking? All these details will help your agent identify the best available options for you.