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Cottages, Hotels and B&Bs in the Lake District

A Guide to setting up a self catering holiday accommodation business - take on or start up and choosing the right size of holiday property.

A light hearted look at setting up and running a holiday cottage

Setting up and renting out a holiday cottage - continued

Please note the views expressed in this article represent the views of the author and in no way reflect the official view of or Helvellyn Consulting. If you are looking to set up a holiday accommodation business and are in need of guidance, please seek professional assistance.

The right location - Take on or Start up - The right size of property - Equipping your cottage - USPs - Pricing - Agency or self-manage - Advertising - Terms and Conditions - Maintenance - Insurance and accounting - Health and Safety - Grading - Dogs - What to do next.

Take on or start up

If you’re taking on an existing holiday cottage, or cottages, then always check both the figures for occupancy and turnover of the existing owners and also try and understand why they are giving it up. Often it may be that their occupancy and turnover are low because they were happy with it at that level, or they were simply not very good at marketing, or as above maybe they’re just in the wrong location or the décor is all wrong. Also ask for the list of previous guests so you can tell then that the cottage is now under new ownership and get a head start with marketing. Ideally you should also take on their current phone number, email and website, as often these details will be scattered to the four winds of the world wide web and therefore it will take you ages to change them.

Also check that the property is properly registered with the local authorities as a business rather than a house (this varies by area and is likely to depend on the number of weeks it is let out annually). Obviously this is also true if you’re starting up a new holiday cottage business – and beware again that some councils have restrictions on people letting their houses for holiday purposes.

Choosing the right size of property

Size is important – and again the type of business you’re after will drive this (as well as the size of your budget!). As a second homer you just want something that suits you. As a holiday cottage owner you are either going to appeal to the masses, or go for a niche market, in terms of luxury and quality, or size. In our experience the ideal size for someone looking to get maximum occupancy is a cottage that sleeps 4-6 people (in real bedrooms as opposed to sofa beds and blow up mattresses in the kitchen!). This gives you the opportunity to cater for couples (not too big or expensive to be too off putting), families, and also small groups of friends.

If you go down the “cosy cottage for 2” then it is sensible to have a niche angle to market as well (luxury, location, pet friendly etc). If you are catering for the “large group” market then be prepared for many requests for short breaks from groups of friends throughout the year, and difficulties filling whole weeks and mid weeks. Again for the multi-holiday cottage owner this becomes marginally irrelevant as you can have the ideal scenario of properties of different capacities and size which can be marketed individually and collectively, giving you the ability to target everyone from couples to stag parties!

Don’t be afraid to go for a lodge or chalet, or even a caravan rather than a cottage – they are often just as popular, many are on a site with great leisure facilities, and of course they are much much cheaper to buy. Just make sure you check the price of the annual rental and maintenance fee.

The ideal holiday cottage garden would be south-west facing, with good outside furniture, big enough to give the feeling of space, whilst being small enough for you to maintain without a full time gardener, secure for pet owners, and filled with colour all year round! Can you let out a holiday cottage with no garden? Of course you can, but not matter what your location most peoples gut instinct, especially pet owners, is that a garden is essential, even if it rains all week and they never use it! Also remember that that pond or river might look beautiful but is potentially dangerous to young children and will therefore be off putting to some.

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The right location - Take on or Start up - The right size of property - Equipping your cottage - USPs - Pricing - Agency or self-manage - Advertising - Terms and Conditions - Maintenance - Insurance and accounting - Health and Safety - Grading - Dogs - What to do next.

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Self Catering in Cumbria Love Walking in the Lake District and fancy a challenge?  Why not take part in the annual Patterdale Parish Boundary Walk.  All for charity and a great day!