Is it me or does anyone else feel that 2020 is racing towards 2021 at great speed?
It is now a full 12 months since we opened our cave rentals, Cueves de La Paz (Caves of Peace), to guests. What a year that’s been!
Before we arrived in Spain we lived in Cyprus for 11 years where we had a modern rental property so we came here with a good basic knowledge to start us off – or so we thought! I knew the first year, (and probably the next two after that), would be a steep learning curve. We now know that the knowledge and wisdom we had gained in Cyprus was kind of useless to us here in caveland Spain.
Location – The apartment in Cyprus was close to several lovely beaches and had 180 degree sea views. It was located within a holiday hotspot. The apartment had two large bedrooms with spectacular views. Guests had use of a shared gym suan and a large shared pool with changing room, (being only a small apartment block the pool was often private). It was contemporary designed with a roomy feel. We were continually booked with UK guests looking for 7 to 14 days holiday accommodation each year.
Here in Spain, our cave rentals offer a completely different holiday. Caves provide quite an unusual experience, (you need to sleep in a cave to find out why). We have tried to keep a traditional Spanish feel to the interiors whilst adding all mod cons. As the caves are within the Altiplano area of the Granada province, the location has a completely different feel and provides a contrasting type of holiday. The area is not particularly a holiday hotspot especially for the UK market as Benidorm or Malaga may be…I could go on but I think you get my drift!
Advertising – In Cyprus we received all our bookings from Owners Direct but here in Spain this particular site appears to be fruitless (again, perhaps targeting the wrong holiday market). After trying several other companies we are finding that Booking.com gives us the majority of our bookings together with our own private advertising on facebook and blogs.
Amenities – In Cyprus the gym was very popular and was a booking incentive for many of our guests but not here in Spain. The cave gym has been ‘played with’ for a few minutes but not actually used as a gym. Guests were amused but not excited by the equipment. So, we have now decided to relocate the equipment to our own home, I’m not saying it will get any more use now but all the good intentions are there.
The swimming pool in Cyrus was well used by most of our guest for 6-7 months of the year. So, we have considered adding a swimming pool within the large garden area. However, with the diverse weather we have here on the Altiplano we feel that the weeks in the summer where the pool would be utilised to its full potential does not justify the cost of installation and upkeep and would not increase our sales to take theses costs into consideration. Instead we advertise the local village swimming pool which is minutes away and is one of the best in the area but, again due to the cool nights, it is only open from the end of June to the end of August.
Language – One of the main challenges we face, particularly with our guests is communication as the vast majority are Spanish citizens. We are both attending lessons and can now communicate on a basic level which is ok however, we intend to improve our Spanish with each guest we welcome to our caves. Our guests appear to appreciate that we do try which is great and we are thankful that they in turn try and help us as much as possible when explaining about jacuzzis and gas bottles!
Maintenance – The general repairs to caves can be totally different to houses and apartments for obvious reasons. A cave is a living thing, it needs air circulating around and caves especially need to be lived in. Ongoing maintenance is a must in most properties but without doubt one of the most important jobs when you have caves. This keeps me very busy and I can honestly say that I do not have smooth hands any more! Sorry John but that’s life!
But, the future is looking good – We have most certainly learnt a lot during the last 12 months and I know we have lots more to learn. However, I will say it has been fun (mostly😎). We have received wonderful reviews from our guests during the first year and had the honour of meeting many lovely people. The lovely comments we receive keep us moving forward knowing that we are getting most things right. Hopefully this will continue throughout 2020 as our diary begins to fill in. Watch this space.
For more information about the cave rentals please take a look at http://www.caveholidays.com