A stunning range of holiday properties is available to rent for a summer spell next to the sea in Europe
SPRING is in the air in Europe and it is time to dream about the perfect summer retreat. The traditional Mediterranean resorts top most wish lists. But new destinations, including Croatia and Montenegro, are growing in popularity, offering equally stunning scenery, often better value, and quieter beaches.
“The Mediterranean has seen a resurgence this year with excellent value. Greece and Spain have been highlighted as the best destinations to make your money go further,” says Francis Torilla, managing director at villa specialist CV Travel.
Joanna Wild, managing director of Thomas Cook’s retail network, says: “Many of our customers, in particular families and groups, value the independence a villa holiday brings and book early to guarantee a favourite villa.”
Menorca and the Algarve were the top sellers, but Corfu, Crete and Zante were attracting more interest, Wild said.
There’s a bewildering array of options for those looking for a villa, including companies that offer rental-only or package deals with flights and car hire. There are websites that put you in touch with owners, such as homeaway.co.uk, ownersdirect.co.uk or more destination-specific websites such as spain-holiday.com.
Many websites have vetting processes but, if you do decide to book directly with an owner, make sure you do a bit of extra research.
Erica Chang, regional director for homeaway.co.uk, says: “When booking, we suggest you read guest reviews for the properties you like and get in touch with the owners to find out more. If you make a booking, it is wise to request a rental agreement from the owner that covers payment, cancellation policies and house rules.”
Reputable companies such as homeaway. co. uk and holidaylet- tings.co.uk also have secure payment systems to assist you when handing over cash – be cautious about sending money by wire transfer or bank draft. Remember that holidays with individually booked elements are not protected in the way that packages are.
Corfu is a justifiably popular spot, especially among families.
This year, CV Travel (cvtravel.co.uk) has several new properties, including three villas overlooking picturesque St Stephano. Eftihia sleeps six, has its own pool and the beach is just five minutes away. A week’s rental from June 3 costs £1 585 (R21 730).
As the mercury rises, so do the prices, peaking between the end of July and the end of August. Shoulder seasons – May, early June and September – often offer ideal weather and better value.
New for this year, Freelance Holidays (freelance-holidays.co.uk) has added Menorca to its portfolio of Mediterranean islands.
The Thinking Traveller is one of the go-to agents for villas in the Italian regions of Sicily and Puglia, and has launched into Greece with Think Ionian Islands (thinkionion islands.com).
It has 17 villas on the picturesque islands of Lefkada and Meganissi.
The new Cool Rental Guide (coolrentalguide.com) has a host of out- of- the- ordinary properties to rent across the Med.
The Healthy Holiday Company ( thehealthyholidaycompany. com) has launched its Healthy Villa concept. Guests can arrange bespoke experiences – daily fitness classes, healthy meals, hiking, morning yoga – in locations including Ibiza, Mallorca and Sicily.
The Côte d’Azur appeals for lots of reasons, not least its stylish resorts. In the Roquebrune-CapMartin area, Villa Egerton (villaegerton.com) will be available to rent for the first time in May. The Belle Epoque villa once hosted Coco Chanel and could be yours for a hefty 45 000 (R531 347) a week for up to 14 guests.
Near St Tropez, Anglo French Properties (anglofrenchproperties. com) has introduced Le Mas de Faucon. The stunning Provençal-style villa in the hills just outside Cogolin sleeps 10. A week in July or August costs £ 6 890 ( R94 449). Balfour France (balfourfrance.com) has properties starting at £2 670 (R36 600) a week.
Simpson Travel’s (simpsontravel.com) Turkish selection includes Waterfront Cottage, on the Bozburun peninsula near Sogut. It sleeps two and has a pool. In May, it’s £850 (about R11 700) a person for seven nights’ rental, car hire and return flights from London.
Exclusive Escapes’ ( exclusive escapes.co.uk) new Turkish properties include townhouses on the Kas peninsula. Seven nights at the Island Villas, on Meis, cost from £900 (R12 337) a person based on 10 sharing, with return flights to Dalaman from the UK, 4x4 hire, a welcome hamper and maid service.
Croatia and Montenegro are enjoying increased attention. On Croatia’s Istrian coast, Lucia is a pretty four-bedroomed stone house near the fortified hill town of Motovun, known for its annual film festival (July 27-31; motovunfilm festival.com). It sleeps eight and costs from £1 450 (R19 876) a week in June with Vintage Travel (vintagetravel.co.uk). James Villa Holidays ( jamesvillas. co. uk) also has properties in Croatia.
The Budva Riviera is a spectacular seaside stretch of Montenegro, with the restored fishermen’s village of Sveti Stefan.
Explore Montenegro (montenegroholidays.com) has the Crna Gora villa, a two-bed property with a pool in a scenic hillside setting. A week from June 16 costs £426 (R5 839) a person, including return flights from Gatwick to Tivat.
Casetta Bianca, from Coastline Villas (coastline.co.uk), is a twobedroomed pad on Corsica with direct access from garden to beach. The house has a pool and views across Porto Vecchio Bay. Rental starts at £635 (R8 704) a person, based on four sharing in September, which includes flights from Heathrow and car hire. Corsican Places (0845 330 2113; corsica.co.uk) also has an extensive collection of villas and apartments.
In Tuscany, quiet beaches are the norm. Tombolino Bolgheri is a historic villa set in verdant grounds near the bucket- and- spade- style resort of Marina di Bibbona. There are several properties on the estate, including the Casa de Pineta, which sleeps six, and Orangerie, which sleeps four. Beach access is along a 100m private path. Both cost 2 200 (R26 000) a week in June, July and August through Trust & Travel (trustandtravel.com).
At Monte Argentario, a scenic crag jutting into the Med, La Maddalena is a farmhouse with fabulous views and a pool. It sleeps six and costs £4 868 (R66 000) a week in peak season – through Tuscany Now (tuscanynow.com).
Many companies offer chefs, nannies and shopping services. – The Independent
SCENIC: Sveti Stefan is a small islet and hotel resort in Montenegro.
BLISS: Peaceful holiday resorts line the south coast of Menorca and a string of quiet fishing villages are along the island’s rougher northern shore.