We get a lot of enquiries these days from people who have a property that they think is right for the Sleeps12 collection. Sometimes it’s a house or cottage that’s already been run as a large group holiday let for months or years, sometimes it’s a newly built or developed property and sometimes, it’s just a collection of old barns waiting for a new lease of life.
Whichever it is, we are very exacting and anything we take on has to be right. Our existing properties are all very carefully selected and we work closely with the owners to ensure that our high standards are maintained; luckily this doesn’t take up much time because they completely understand our ethos and they know that well managed properties means more bookings.
You’re probably aware of the type of things that are synonymous with the Sleeps12 name – not just large group holiday houses in wonderful locations; we are proud to offer much more than that. Our properties have luxuries like indoor swimming pools, hot tubs, games rooms, play areas, saunas, steam rooms and cosy BBQ lodges. That’s the sort of thing that matters because when it comes to large group holidays in the UK what’s important is that everyone in your group is happy and entertained throughout your stay – that means considering all ages and the less able bodied.
So, what do we look for in a property? What does it take for us to like it and want to market it? Well, we have to be sure it will work of course and there’s no one-size-fits-all; as you can see we have all kinds of holiday homes – grand country houses, rambling farmsteads, centuries old cottages, purpose built lodges, and converted farm buildings. We’ve even got a 600 year old chateau in France and a gorgeous imposing town house in Worcester.
The location has to be good. A nice part of the country where there’s plenty to see and do, glorious countryside either on the doorstep or very close by. The majority of our large holiday homes are out in the sticks so they’re surrounded by fields and hills, but we don’t mind taking on something in a town or city, as long as there isn’t an industrial estate or a busy roundabout right outside the window! Take the one in Worcester we have – it’s a lovely house with a big garden, set back from the road, with a park out the back, that’s fine.
The size of the property is important – obviously! Currently, we can accommodate 8-30 people, we can go higher, but certainly no less, and remember that the more you can sleep the higher the rental rates – provided everything else is right. However many people you want to sleep, the rooms should always be of good sizes and ideally, have room for zip and link beds that can be set up as a superking or twins. If the room is particularly big, great, because you can fit in non-permanent optional extra beds which generate a further charge for each additional person, and you’ll have room for toddler beds and cots (which we don’t charge extra for).
Bathrooms are important; guests prefer each room to have en suite facilities, whether it’s a shower room, wet room, or bathroom. Even if not all bedrooms have an en suite, there should in all cases be enough bathrooms for the number of guests, at the most two bedrooms sharing a bathroom.
If a house is going to sleep a certain number of guests you also need to make sure that there’s a big enough lounge to seat them all as they might want to get together to watch a movie, or to catch a big football match. A big room with plenty of comfy seating and room to move around. Guests will definitely want to eat together so a dining table that everyone can comfortably sit round is paramount. No tucking elbows in at the sides, there’s got to be room for everyone to eat and enjoy sociable meal times; as a rule of thumb we advise allowing 2ft per person.
Likewise the kitchen; it has to be big enough to cook for a large group, with ease of movement and sociability, plenty of cupboard space for food, and it must have all the essential facilities – so a big cooker with enough ovens/burners, two dishwashers, certainly two fridges/freezers, and a good idea is to have a separate drinks fridge as well. The kitchen must be well equipped, so more than enough of EVERYTHING – cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, pot and pans – your guests don’t want to spend their holiday washing up! Another thing to consider is that the kitchen should be very close to the dining area (open plan is best), no one wants to be carrying lots of plates of hot food about, and this will certainly make things easier for the professional caterers that our guests often hire to come and cook for them.
If you’ve stayed at a Sleeps12 property you’ll know that we like uncluttered; not too much furniture, not too many knick-knacks or pictures, just the right amount. And those luxuries. The more you have the better and the higher the price you can command. We all know how unreliable the British weather is so year-round use is important. Indoor pools, covered hot tubs, saunas, games rooms, and BBQ lodges are brilliant, but always think about where these things will be and remember that safety comes first. In the event of fine weather, a big outdoor space is a must, a secure garden with room for the kids to run about, a play area, a big patio for barbecues and drinks at sunset, it all matters. Then there are things like parking, lockable sheds to keep all the maintenance gear in, secure cupboards where you can store all the linen and cleaning things, utility space for washer/dryers and recycling/bins, all things to think about.
One thing we’ve noticed that makes a huge difference to the amount of bookings taken is whether or not the property is dog friendly; people love their dogs, there’s no denying it! Dogs are very much part of the family these days and our guests like to be able to take their pets on holiday with them, but we do have dog rules that we insist are adhered to – and it works, so we would always advise that your property is pet friendly.
If you’re thinking of getting in touch you need to be fairly sure your property is going to be right for us; if it’s something you’re developing yourself it’s best to contact us before you’ve got too far, if you haven’t yet started, even better because we’ve got heaps of experience in this field and we can come and see you, give you advice and help with the planning process, so we work together from scratch. Take a look at our portfolio, go through the gallery pics and you’ll get a good idea of what we like; most of all, don’t rush into it, think about it carefully and if you think you really do have something we’d like, get in touch – we’ll look forward to meeting you.