Top 5 signposts to a holiday let with year round occupancy potential

Top 5 signposts to a holiday let with year round occupancy potential

10:00 AM, 30th May 2012, About 12 years ago 2

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Down here in sunny East Sussex, certain aspects of property investment are thriving, despite the economic downturn.

Holiday lets are enjoying increased occupancy, spreading far beyond the “peak” season, and out into the shoulder months, producing some significant cash flow for investors.

Here are my top 5 signposts to a holiday let with year round occupancy potential:

1. Within 2 hours drive of a major city.

With the rise of the “stay-cation”, more people are taking shorter weekend breaks throughout the year, not just during peak seasons. As time is at a premium, guests do not want to travel more than two hours on a Friday night to start their weekend. This means that any holiday cottage within a two hour drive of a large city is going to have a steady flow of “long weekenders” throughout the year.

Add to that the soaring cost of fuel, and you can see how arriving at your holiday cottage on a Friday night by 8.00 p.m. to relax and start your weekend is an attractive proposition.

Here on the beautiful East Sussex coast, we are just 1.5 hours from central London, meaning our holiday let owners can tap into the abundant “long weekenders” market. Excellent transport links mean our guests can start their holidays within a couple of hours of leaving their office.

East Sussex is also close to the Channel Tunnel, meaning that guests from Europe can also consider a long weekend break because traveling time is kept to a minimum. (It is recommended to provide a translation function on your holiday cottage website to allow Dutch, French, and German guests to read your website in their own language.)

2. Close to a great beach.

In a recent survey, 52% of holiday makers said that the number one priority for their choice of holiday was to be close to a beach. Families, couples, watersports fanatics, birdwatchers, walkers, and just about everybody loves to be beside the seaside!

East Sussex, for instance, is blessed Camber Sands (pictured below), 7 miles of beautiful sandy beach, with shallow, clear water for little ones to enjoy safely. Camber Sands was recently voted by “Coast” magazine as being one of the top 5 beaches in the U.K.

3. A year round programme of events.

Events bring traffic to an area and provide a ready stream of people interested in renting your holiday cottage.

Rye, in East Sussex, is a tourist hotspot and has something going on in every month of the year … whether it be Christmas markets, a legendary Bonfire parade, a Boar Roast, an Arts Festival, the Rye Triathlon, a famous Raft Race, the Rye Bay Scallop Festival…. the list goes on! It’s also famed as being “1066 Country” and tourists flock to the area to visit the site of the Battle of Hastings and other historic buildings and places.

Walk down picturesque Rye High Street on any day of the year and you will hear Americans, French, Eastern European, German, and Dutch being spoken. It’s a tourist magnet all year round!

Meanwhile, at Camber Sands beach, kite buggy enthusiasts use the beach more in the winter months than in the summer.

With news of the first ever Rye International Jazz Festival taking place in August, there’s even more demand for holiday accommodation on the horizon.

4. Fine dining options.

Holiday lets have definitely needed to go more upmarket in recent times, to cater to a more discerning guest who requires accommodation to the standard of a boutique hotel.

These same guests are interested in fine dining, and will want to book accommodation in an area where there is a choice of high class eateries.

Here in East Sussex, we not only have award-winning restaurants (such as the Landgate Bistro and Webbe’s in Rye), gastro-pubs, deluxe fish and chips, and beach brasseries but we also have many vineyards, such as Carr Taylor Winery, where guests can enjoy wine tasting tours!

5. Weather

We all know the weather in the U.K. can be unpredictable to say the least. However, the South East enjoys more sunshine and less rain than other part of the U.K. thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream.

The highest monthly total of sunshine on record is 384 hours in Eastbourne and Hastings, Sussex, in July 1911.

So, if you are looking for a high-yielding holiday let, the signposts are there to direct you to extended occupancy.  Put yourself in the mind of your potential guests, and if you can see what they want, then you know what to provide and where to provide it to meet their needs. Understanding who your guest is, is the key to what to buy and where to buy it.

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15:02 PM, 8th June 2012, About 12 years ago

Hi Martyn,

Whole-heartedly agree with your five key points for wanting to own and/or let a holiday property down in the wonderful Camber Sands and Rye area.

My investment of 1-4 Coastguard Cottages at Jury's Gap on the easterly tip of Camber Sands, recently purchased from your agency, was certainly based on these factors. I am looking forward to reinstating and refurbishing the building back to it's four original individual cottage dwellings. I think they will provide an ideal second home/holiday investment for someone looking to purchase an entry level-priced holiday property on the beach down on the south east coast.

This row of cottages presented a unique developer's opportunity. 1- 4 Coastguard Cottages were built in 1875 yet the whole building had been so very well preserved. As a London based developer/interior designer, I will update the buildings and add a contemporary seaside finish. But I saw the added opportunity of retaining one of the refurbished cottages for myself. It will be easy to nip down for a weekend to get away from the hustle and bustle of London and at the same time l will benefit from holiday letting income that this coastal property will provide.

Certainly two and three bed holiday rentals are the most popular as they are an ideal size for a family unit and at the same time are not too large to attract the city weekender-couples looking for something different with a bit more space at the weekends. I am also a landlord and realize coastal locations are limited - so you won't find multiple blocks of one bed flats competing against each other in this sector of the market.

Having already successfully holiday let property in Cornwall I have learned that everyone needs a taste of luxury when they go away. So to offer those little extra touches go a long way: from providing an Italian coffee maker; a pair of mountain bikes; a games console with Wi-fi to a Welcome goodies pack - these are some of the things that all discerning folk appreciate.... and many now expect! On top of that of course a stylish designed interior - to call ones own - if only it is for a night or two!

And yes - when the sun shines down on the East Sussex coast - it seems that it is shining harder and longer than anywhere else in the UK. I guess right now it's just on a blip because we were given a four day bank holiday weekend - therefore I am praying the sun shines for the up and coming Olympic celebrations and my refurbishing works just starting down at the coast!

Jane Skynner

15:59 PM, 8th June 2012, About 12 years ago

As the owner of a holiday let cottage down in Camber Sands, I can confirm that these 5 indicators really extend the holiday let season and deliver high net cash flow.

The biggest single factor to me that makes the East Sussex coast so compelling for holiday lets, is the proximity to London. As Martyn states, this means you can tap into the London long weekenders market, which is a wealthy demographic that books weekend breaks year round.

Camber was recently dubbed "Cool Camber" in an article in The Guardian as it attracts the trendy London set. Just look at the cars parked in the Gallivant Beach Brasserie over the weekend and the London families down for a break to know that Camber is on the up.

House prices are surprisingly cheap for the South East too! A small two bed cottage starts from £190K. My advice is to go for proximity to the beach, or, even better, sea views. These attract a premium rental.

You only have to look at the amazing Camber Sands beach to know that it is a natural resource of outstanding beauty. It is breath-taking and attracts many films and photo shoots. Coldplay's video for "Yellow" was filmed there, and also the recent Burberry advertising campaign. Crews often need accommodation too, so another market to tap into.

Jane is right to kit properties out to a high standard as the London market have high standards and a "boutique" style holiday let is what the market in Camber demands.

Camber and holiday lets only have one way to go, and that is up! And, of course, if it is ever empty, you can use if yourself or let family and friends enjoy it.

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