The Open Secret of the Value of Booking a Luxury Bali Villa

So you are considering a vacation on the wonderful paradise island of Bali which has more than one-thousand temples, that’s why it’s called the ‘Island of the Gods’. Great. Bali is a joy to behold, but there are some pitfalls for travellers relating to what sort of accommodation they choose.

If you are like 70% of the tourists who go to Bali, your next thought will likely be ‘which hotel should I stay at’. You have made your first mistake, which could make your holiday more expensive than it should be.

Yes, Bali has hundreds, if not thousands, of hotels, so many, in fact, that the Indonesian Government is attempting to implement a ban on any more hotel developments. The problem is, there are now so many hotels, mostly around the capital Denpasar, that the industry is suffering – too many rooms even though Bali’s visitor numbers continue to grow each year. If the number of southern Bali hotels continues to grow at its current rate, it will inevitably put many players out of business.

Denpasar and southern Bali to a lesser extent, now has so many hotels, too often they are jammed ‘shoulder to shoulder’ against each other, mostly in the busy, loud and traffic clogged central city areas. Denpasar has become so crowded that when it once took 30 minutes to get from Ngurah Rai airport to a city hotel, it can now take up to 2 hours. The Bali government has built new expressways which will hopefully ease this congestion.

There is an alternative form of accommodation available in Bali, which is routinely taken up by about 16.5% of visitors. This alternative is the luxury Bali villa and there are an estimated 10,000 of them scattered across this beautiful island. Luxury villa accommodation in Bali is not the first thought of travellers, perhaps because the hoteliers are so good at marketing and spending big dollars on promoting their businesses.

You may be thinking that the nightly rental rate for a luxury villa in Bali is beyond your vacation budget, but you may be wrong because you probably don’t have all the facts. The open secret is that, if you make a group booking to stay in a private Bali villa, with its wonderful privacy, peace and space, you could likely save hundreds of dollars you would otherwise spend on the hotel holiday model.

You see, the key to saving your hard-earned holiday dollars is to make a group booking at a deluxe Bali villa. This is the open secret of Bali villas. Most of these impressive houses, which are generally built by private owners, can sleep up to eight people or more. This means you can share the cost of the nightly rental charge amongst your group.

Let’s look at an example. A private Bali villa, that I know quite well, located on the absolute beachfront, about 8 kilometres east of Singaraja, on the north coast, currently charges US$340.00 per night. Wow, I can hear you saying, that’s expensive. But, if you pulled together a group of friends or family to share the cost, each person would only be paying US$42.50 per head, per night, certainly a budget rate in anyone’s language.

And remember, what you pay for a hotel room is just that, one hotel room, unless you splash out and rent a suite, but that’s a very expensive alternative. However they dress it up, hotels usually base their business model on booking rooms with a double bed, en suite bathroom, a chair and, if you are lucky, a table. Oh, and they will definitely have a bar fridge, with every item scrupulously catalogued and charged to you, at high convenience rates, which will balloon your hotel expense.

When you chose a luxury Bali villa for your paradise holiday, you get heaps of space. Usually four, or more, bedrooms with their own en-suite, ample living space, including two living areas, plus even private patios for each room in some case. Oh, and then there’s the private swimming pools that are almost standard for private Bali villas. Most have the swimming pool just a few steps away from their main living area. If you’ve even booked a hotel room right next to the pool, you’ll know how much extra they will usually charge you for this. And, it can be a mixed blessing, because at hotels, everyone can use the pool, which can mean unwanted company, noise, crowds, screaming, splashing – you get the picture.

Of course, if you book a deluxe Bali villa you have your own private swimming pool, accessible only to people who have rented the villa, unless they want to invite special guests to join them. And, if you are into friendly, personalized service, you can’t beat what Bali villas have to offer. The Balinese people are among the friendliest, warm, sincere and lovely group of people you are ever likely to meet. Just check the guest testimonials on the many villa sites and you will see many glowing references to the top quality service that Bali villa helpers offer to their guests. Often, guests comment on the friendly relationships they develop with their luxury Bali villa helpers, way beyond any service experience that hotels can offer.

Of course, hotels have their staff too, usually busy with dealing with many guests at a time, but most sophisticated Bali villas have their own villa manager, who is fluent in English and bahasa Indonesia, plus likely in other languages too. The villa manager is employed to make sure that whatever issue arises for you on your holiday, they will promptly deal with it. If you commit to a luxury holiday in a private villa in Bali, you can expect to become on first name terms with your villa manager and with the other helpers in the villa. It’s now unusual for some villas to have up to four or five helpers, so you can expect to receive a standard of service that is way beyond what many hotels can offer.

Having local Bali people employed as villa helpers ensures that guests receive all the very latest and knowledgeable information about local attractions and must see locations. Often, the local Balinese helpers and the villa manager will know of great places to visit that are not even listed in the popular tourist manuals. After all, they live there and know their own backyard.

Many Bali villas are built by their owners to be a home-away-from-home, so they put their heart and soul into the design to make sure they are as comfortable as possible. The decor and atmosphere of many villas is therefore diverse and varied, reflecting the local Balinese culture and that of the owners of the villa. Unfortunately, many hotels, particularly the multi-national ones, are built with profit in mind and can look the same, whatever country they occupy.

If you are an eco-tourist, then the obvious choice for you is to stay in a well appointed Bali villa because many of them are built in particularly beautiful and environmentally appealing locations. To build any villa requires the permission of the local village and they generally welcome the employment opportunities that well-appointed Bali villas offer.

So, you have the choice of thousands of well-appointed and cleverly located Bali villas, in which to stay for a really authentic Bali experience. No matter how well hotels are marketed, they simply cannot offer the same cultural integration and atmosphere of a large holiday house.

The actual choice you have is between one hotel room, or a whole Bali house and the many advantages this offers. If you haven’t yet enjoyed the Bali villa experience, do yourself a favour and take up this opportunity the next time you holiday on the Island of the Gods. Ask anyone who has stayed in a luxury Bali villa and you will discover why they enjoyed it so much.

Letting Your Holiday Villa in France – Spain and Portugal – Should You Bother With An Agent

Owners of villas in France, Spain and the Algarve use agents for two main reasons: firstly they don’t know how to market their house, and secondly, they worry about damage to their house. Agents can help with both of those things to some extent, but are they worth the commission? The answer is it depends.

Marketing is more than just advertising. The villa rental market in Europe is now very price sensitive, at all levels. Customers do their research and know precisely what a villa is worth. Set your pricing too high and your house will stand empty: set it too low and you will be full by March and wish you had asked more. A good agent can tell you what it is worth and has a lot of data on which to base that advice. But do your research and you will know what your villa is worth as well. If you are confident in your ability to do that then you can save yourself a commission.

You might need help describing your villa to the best effect. For example, your views might be stunning, but sadly that is not worth much in the market these days – to some customers ‘stunning views’ sounds like something that people say when they can’t think of anything else to say. In an oversupplied marketplace you need to make a house stand out.

Choice of tenants is the area where agents can really add a lot. Letting your pride and joy to strangers can be scary to the uninitiated. Established agencies have long lists of happy customers who come back year after year, and whom they know often personally. If you are going to let strangers stay in your house then it is comforting to know that at least they are friends of friends.

The position of agents in the market used to be controlled by marketing media. Press advertising and publishing brochures is expensive, and in the pre-Internet world it was prohibitive for individual owners. The Internet has changed the villa rentals industry for good by making marketing accessible to non-tech-savvy owners: all you need to do is make a website (most children can do that bit) and open and AdWords account: bid 50p a click for a very specific keyword that the most qualified leads will be searching on, and you will probably do OK. But probably is not good enough for some people: if your holiday villa budgeting is dependent on holiday lettings (unwise but sometimes necessary) then you need to be sure that some professional person will take responsibility for it.

If you do decide to use an agent, you can go one of two ways. Either you will make an exclusive deal with an agent who is prepared to commit to a certain number of weeks per year, or you will operate on an ad hoc basis, typically with more than one agent offering your house. Agents who are prepared to risk the former and few and far between, and the few that are around will typically offer much less than the house is worth, but it is also the worry-free option. Probably the best of both worlds is to use agents and offer yourself: that way you acquire the judgment you need and still have somebody to complain at when it all goes wrong.

Experience a Vacation As Though You Were Just Home by Staying in Western Algarve Villas

There are so many beautiful places in the world. However, it seems so many people are attracted to a good amount of sunshine and picturesque scenery and there seems no better place where they can see such than Algarve. It is the southernmost region of Portugal and is also the southwestern tip of mainland Europe. The climate is affected by the warm breezes from the Atlantic. Compared to any other places in Europe, Algarve has more sunshine. It enjoys around three hundred days of sunshine and summer has virtually clear skies. Most of the tourists come to the place in summer during which the population of the region more than doubles. They usually make reservations earlier to avoid hassles. A lot of the good holiday houses are already taken by the summer.

Algarve has some of the best spots in the world and Western Algarve is not an exception because the place is filled with bountiful gifts from nature such as breathtaking scenery, picturesque hills, and spectacular beaches. These are the perfect spots for vacationers to unwind and relax from work.

There is no problem regarding finding a place to stay because there are a lot of vacation homes in this part of the region. All of them offer a nice and fine place to stay. Villas in Western Algarve give vacationers the opportunity to live in the place for a week or a month and to check out different key places in the region. Villas allow tourists to feel at home even if they are a hundred miles away. The amenities and services offered by the owners of the villas allow superb relaxation and vacation. You don’t have to worry about your stay. Villa owners allow you to enjoy luxury services like laundry and home cleaning while you stay. These are generally part of the services offered by vacation home owners.

Vacation homes in Algarve are not like ordinary huts or cottages because they are dainty and luxurious. They were built with careful architecture and you can actually see a mixture of different architecture in Algarve. Some have modern structural touches while others have traditional European house architecture. But basically all of the houses are properly furnished and they have all the facilities you need. Furniture you find at home is all found in fine villas. With the things villas have, you can cook food, watch television, play movies, and listen to music. You are really just like staying at home in a paradise.

Villas are scattered all over Algarve in different places. Some are situated farther inland while some are near the coasts. In choosing where to stay in western Algarve, you have to find out where the villa is situated. Beach villas are great if you want to see the shores and enjoy warm waters and waves. But if you are into hiking and hill climbing then villas inland can be your choice. Also, villas may either be near or far from the urban spots, some are even hundreds of miles away from cities and going for urban shopping may take quite a while. If you don’t like this experience, you can always opt for vacation houses near the city. Cities usually have hotels and lodges if you want to be at the heart of urban centers in Algarve.

One of the key cities in Western Algarve is Silves, which is rich in cultural heritage and tradition. There are fine accommodations in this city. Lagos is another key city where you can also see the traditional life of Portugal. Soak yourself in the culture of Algarve and find out their fine delicacies and festivities. And if you are having trouble finding a place to stay, Western-Algarve villas will always be around to offer you fine vacation homes at a reasonable cost.

Cyprus Villas with Private Pool An Ultimate Luxury

We all know that Cyprus is a beautiful island situated in the south of Turkey. It lies amidst the Mediterranean Sea and is one of the most popular haunts of tourists from all over the world. Cyprus is the legendary homeland of the goddess of love and beauty-‘Aphrodite’.

Villa houses in Cyprus are typical holiday accommodations, famous for their traditional outlook combined with modern amenities. They are perfect holiday homes to spend your vacation on the island. Cyprus Villas with private pool are the perfect luxury homes. These lovely apartments have all the prevailing facilities like central heating, air-conditioners, patio, a lovely pool and ultra-modern kitchen, albeit for a reasonable price.

When you have the luxury of getting up at your own sweet time, and doing what you want, that is the ideal dream vacation and this is exactly what Cyprus villas offer on a silver platter. Cyprus Villas with private pool arena is the ultimate choice in spending a deluxe holiday. This wonderful Island paradise will motivate you to come year after year to experience its magical ambience and exotic lifestyle, with a convenient villa as your base for pleasurable activities.

As these lovely villas abound all over the Island, they are relatively cheaper to rent and spend your Cyprus dream vacation. Some villas comprise of four to five customary houses with fully furnished rooms. The relaxing comfort of affordable Cyprus villas with private pool is a treat for any vacationing people.

On the top of it, a barbeque arena further adds to your pleasure. You can literally cool out in the pool watching the beautiful sunset, after a busy day of fun and frolic. A villa with a private pool gives you a chance to enjoy to the fullest, be it an anniversary holiday with romantic moments or a family visit for enjoyment with kids. You can also have a pool party for the vacation with guests and have the best time to enjoy.

There are many wonderful options to choose from different kinds of villas with varying on luxuries and prices. There is an option available for the luxury sea front villa, modest sea-facing villas, coral bay beach ones and plush private bedroom villas with a private pool. Some of these pool villas are comfortably placed near Airport roads, and popular bar and restaurant areas like the Sea Caves villas. Others are Coral Bay villas and they are very close to the beaches letting you also have the pleasure of sunbath along with the beach and pool bath. Basically, Kato Paphos villas and Pervolia villas offer housing facilities with an inbuilt swimming arena.

With all these facilities around, Cyprus villas with private pool is the perfect holiday abode- ‘a home away from home’. You can explore the Island coast at your own leisure, or just chill in the swimming pool with a few warm drinks. Families with kids and youngsters will enjoy the most, as children love such recreational vacations. Villas with pools are a perfect pleasure.

You go out on a holiday for pleasure and fulfillment; it means freedom from mundane duties and cares. But, those who are particular about food habits, or cannot sustain outdoor food, can easily cook their own meal at the villa in their own private plush kitchens. These villas offer tranquil and peaceful atmosphere with a great hospitality. Many of the villas are second homes for the locals, who have built them for investment purposes.

The villas having swimming area along with lovely garden give you more homely feeling than any hotel or lodging. Be sure to respect the owner’s feelings and try not to litter the villa when you bid adieu to the wondrous Mediterranean Island and enjoy it to your fullest.

Investing Money Into Luxury Real Estate Properties – Villas and Penthouses Located in Mallorca

Is real estate in Mallorca – a more secure option than the banking system?

The answer to this question is yes. Houses, penthouses or a luxury villa for sale in Mallorca is definitely a much safer and wiser financial investment than properties in many other locations of Europe.

In the current economic climate, it has become obvious that people are more and more nervous about where to place their savings. A vast majority of people have simply lost all confidence in the banking system, with negative equity on houses, apartments, penthouses and properties across the western world, and the crash and instability of the stock market; many are wondering exactly what to do with their hard earned cash. In today´s troubled times, selecting and buying a villa or any type of luxury real estate in Mallorca could be a solution to this problem.

Mallorca is somewhat insular to the financial troubles that have rocked the world in these last few years – yes, it is true that the sale prices of houses, apartments, penthouses and properties in Mallorca did take a dip in value and the market definitely stagnated a little. However, even with the severity of Spain and Europe´s financial crisis, Mallorca´s luxury properties and high end real estate market did not suffer to the same extent as other popular areas of Europe. Now, as we start to see a recovery in several countries across Europe, we are once again seeing a high level of activity in the luxury and villa sector of Mallorca´s real estate market. There are many reasons for the general stability and advanced recovery in the sale prices of Mallorca´s luxury properties.

Why are properties for sale in Mallorca a wiser way to invest?

Firstly, building regulations in Mallorca are incredibly strict and well regulated. Planning application restrictions for the construction of a villa, houses and properties of any kind are well governed and limited. This restriction means that there is always only a select number of properties and luxury villas, penthouses, apartments and houses available for sale on the market. This factor rules that supply of luxury properties rarely exceeds the demand and is therefore reflected in the sale prices of any available properties.

Secondly Mallorca is a beautiful and much loved situation for buying a house for holidaying or as a permanent home and residence. Not only is Mallorca beautiful, scenic and varied in culture and facilities, but Mallorca also offers an unprecedented level of safety, with incredibly low crime rates and family orientated environments for all nationalities to enjoy. Few people visit Mallorca without falling in love with its charms, and this unceasing popularity ensures that the real estate market is buoyant, with purchasers of all nationalities seeking out properties for sale. This variety of nationalities creates demands for all types of houses and apartments across Mallorca – the more affluent buyers always seek luxury apartments and penthouses in exclusive communities or seek out an exclusive villa for sale or for rent. This variation in nationalities also provides a vast variety of economic status between any potential purchasers of properties. When one nation has a failing economy, another is doing fine and so there is usually always at least always one nationality of purchasers looking to spend money on properties for sale in Mallorca.

Finally, Mallorca has a label for being prestigious and sought after. Choosing to buy a villa for sale in Mallorca comes with a certain high level of esteem. Mallorca is known for being playground of the elite, rich and famous, with many celebrities endorsing the island as a holiday destination or opting to buy luxury houses, penthouses and apartments in exclusive locations across the Island. This type of image is always appealing to potential purchasers.

Unique Mallorca is a real estate agent located in El Toro, Puerto Adriano offering luxury houses for sale in Mallorca. In our website you will find an array of houses, apartments and penthouses to suit any taste or budget as well as information about property services for both rentals and sales.

Paxos & Villas for a Tranquil Holiday With Olive Grove Surroundings

The beauty of Paxos is hard to explore through words. You cannot describe the scenic beauty of this island without planning the trip to this Greek Island. The smallest Island of Ionian Islands has become the favorite destination of tourists who love to spend their time in tranquility. You have several breathtaking views which can bring you out from the hustle-bustle of urban life. Stroll on the white shingle beaches, gazing at picturesque landscapes, feel the serenity of calm sea water, and amble around the olive groves; are just fantabulous.

But what, if you need a place to stay with comfort, where you can’t feel isolated from the nature’s beautiful surroundings and can enjoy the peaceful life as well. Paxos can also make the desire of such a tranquil place possible with its villa culture. You will hardly find hotels and resorts in this Island. Tourists also prefer to book villas and houses instead of hotels to enjoy the vacation at best in serenity. And the best part of these rentals; they can enrich your experience with Greek cultural characteristics.

Local properties have a very good value in Paxos!

They are also perched at very attention-grabbing locations. Almost every villa house is positioned near beaches or generally need 15 minutes of walk from villages to reach at. You can also please your eyes, seeing the aura of beach right from your rented place. Terrace, garden, and kitchen are a few amenities. You can feel the Greek culture through exterior and interior of these rentals.

These villa apartments are furnished and decorated traditionally with wooden beams, local stones etc. White washed walls, traditional stoneware, stone flooring, and lots of other Greek touch can be found in these accommodations. You can enjoy the self-made food, and can also go outside for dinner as these places are very close from the beaches. So, you can enjoy the food at Taverna nearby your stay.

You can also enjoy strolling through olive groves as these accommodations have olive grove surrounding. You can spend quality time and enjoy the beautiful view right from your rented place’s garden, because the location of almost every villa house is very close to the beaches. You can also find the same serenity of beaches while relaxing at your rentals as they are engineered with keeping the visitors’ comfort in mind.

Why don’t you plan a trip to this Island, where you can find peace of mind?

One of the reasons of this peaceful and restful life over here is the transportation. There is no airport; you will have to come by ferry from Corfu. And, the population of this Island is just about 2500 who live in its three main villages – Loggos, Lakka and Gaios. Hence, selective crowd of tourists makes this place their destination for vacation.

Uniqueness and tranquility of Paxos make this Island the best pick for honeymoon couples. So, if you want to please your beloved and want to spend some quality time with her, then you can book stone house for holiday and can experience the Greek culture with natural beauty of olive groves, shingle beach, and crystal clear calm sea water in the serenity. Hence, selective crowd of tourists makes this place their destination for vacation.

Very Important Tips to Help You Decide Whether You Should Buy a Florida Private Rental Villa

Listed below are some very helpful and extremely important tips if you are considering purchasing a Florida private rental villa or Disney rental house.

Before my wife and I became Florida villa owners, we spent many months investigating if and where we should buy an investment property. Should the villa have a pool and / or spa, should it be close to Disney World, how many bedrooms and bathrooms should it have ? How will I obtain a mortgage and what type of mortgage is best? These are just a small sample of the many questions that you will need answered before taking that final step of buying your dream Florida villa.

Florida is extremely well known for its large and beautifully designed properties, year round sunshine, many attractions, exquisite beaches and inexpensive lifestyle. We wanted a holiday home that we could enjoy with our family and also rent out to help cover the cost of the mortgage.

After many months of trawling the internet, speaking to various property companies and existing Florida villa owners we were ready to purchase our very own Disney World rental home. We needed to select a good development area, choose our own plot and decide on the style of the property to be built. We eventually decided on a single storey home in Kissimmee. Once it was completed, it was everything we dreamed it would be.

You have already taken the first step toward purchasing your home by reading this article. Though buying a property in Florida is relatively uncomplicated we still hear many stories of people who have had problems in one way or another.

Please don’t forget that the experience of buying your Florida villa should be pleasurable and exciting. From visiting the various developments, choosing the plot and house that is right for you to finally making the purchase.

Location, location, location

The next step to buying your home requires some ground work to be done by yourself prior to arriving in Florida. Firstly decide where you want to buy. Do you want the villa to be close to Orlando’s many theme and water park attractions or do you prefer to be near the beaches? If you prefer the beaches, do you prefer the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Coast. Whichever you decide, as with all investment properties location is very important. Once you have decided on your location, you must decide the type of property, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, pool, etc. Do you want to be on a small development or larger resort development, do you want a gated or non gated community.

And last but not least what is your budget.

Do You Need To Rent Your Property ?

This is a very important question as it will determine where you can buy. Only certain communities in Orlando are zoned for STR (Short Term Rental). Please do not accept any verbal guarantees from salespeople regarding STR without checking in the covenants and restrictions of the developer.

One of the most important decisions you will make is choosing the development which suits your needs best. Remember not all developments allow short term rental and if you intend to rent your property this is the single most important item you must consider.

Remember the developers’ agent is acting on behalf of the builder, and is bound by law to obtain the best possible deal for the builder, not for you. Some builders and management companies offer guaranteed rental programs. These include a minimum income for an agreed period (usually 12 months) or alternatively, a minimum number of weeks booked for the year. What you are not told however is what the income will be for those weeks or what the agent will rent your property out for (for example, you may receive £350 per week but the agent is renting it out for £450 per week).

We strongly advise that if you decide not to secure rentals for the property yourself, then you thoroughly investigate any proposals presented to you from Management Companies / Letting Agents.

Our advice is that if you have the time, you market the villa yourself. This allows you to maximise your income and makes it easier to reach that magical break even point of income versus expenditure. If we are being honest this can be quite time consuming but well worth the effort when the bookings start to come in. If you go down this route you will have to consider the costs involved in marketing your villa. Costs could include newspaper / magazine advertising, creating your own website, listing your villa on other websites and other incidentals like business cards, flyers etc.

Inspection Trips

We would highly recommend you look at the possibility of an inspection trip. This can be purely for the purpose of choosing your dream home or can be combined with a holiday / vacation.

While there are benefits to both scenarios if you have limited time available and are there, purely with the inspection of properties in mind, then you are more focussed on the job in hand. However, we would recommend an absolute minimum of 4 days for an inspection visit. You will need to meet up with the Realtor to view several villas and communities, spend a few sleepless nights deciding on which property to purchase, sign contracts with the builders, pay the deposit, choose the colour of the house etc. Decide on the shape and size of the pool and type of pool tiles, open a bank account and look at some of the furniture packages that are available. A very hectic but rewarding few days.

Alternatively If you can spare more time, it will give you extra opportunities to view a few more developments over a longer period, then take a few days to contemplate and narrow your choice down to a couple of villas before finally viewing your favourites again.

You will also have more time to investigate the local area and amenities such as shops, restaurants, banks and supermarkets to satisfy yourself the area has what you and your guests will be happy with.

Its now time to make your final decision. Should you buy a new home or a resale.

Should you decide to have your dream home newly built, you will then sign a contract with your chosen builder, leave your deposit and if you haven’t already done so open a bank account and arrange a mortgage quotation.

If you decide to purchase a resale home, then under Florida law, all that is required for a legally binding sales contract is a signed written agreement plus good faith deposit. It is therefore possible to ‘Exchange Contracts’ straight away with a Seller and virtually eliminate any possibility of your chosen property being sold elsewhere. Most written Sales contracts are conditional and you will have ample time to arrange financing, survey the property and approve legal work. If your loan is denied or the house does not pass inspection, you may withdraw without penalty. There can be any number of conditions in the contract but essentially all elements of the sale should be in writing to avoid dispute.

We would highly recommend that you use the services of a state registered realtor whether you are buying new or resale. In the U.K. we use estate agents who are normally employed by the house owner to find a buyer for their property. They then work with both the buyer and seller to agree a deal that is suitable to both. The downfall of this system is that the estate agent may withhold information about the buyer or seller which may be beneficial to the other despite the seller paying their fee. In Florida the realtor you choose can only work on your behalf and is legally bound to act in your best interest disclosing information such as – is the property worth the asking price – are there similar properties available at a better price – are there any known future developments that may affect the value of the property.

Mortgages

Many British citizens who buy a holiday home in Florida, are unsure whether to arrange a US or UK mortgage.

Most US mortgages enable you to lock into a fixed rate mortgage for up to 30 years. In our opinion, this is the best way forward as you will always know what your monthly mortgage outgoings will be – there will not be any interest rate increases. The only drawback is that exchange rate fluctuations will affect how many dollars you get to the £ when you transfer money over to your US bank account. However, if you keep an eye on the rates and transfer money at the correct time, these fluctuations will not have a significant effect on your expenditure.

A UK mortgage can be arranged through several companies dealing with homes in Florida and usually offer variable rate mortgages closely linked to our own bank base rate – usually around 1.5% above base rate. They do offer a fixed rate but usually for a maximum of 3 years. The issue with this type of mortgage is that your repayments are always subject to interest rate increases. Remember that if your mortgage payments increase, you cannot increase your weekly rental prices. The upside is that your repayments are not subject to exchange rate fluctuations.

Management

Once you have purchased your Florida vacation villa, whether you intend to use it for your own personal use, or for short term rental purposes, you will most definitely need to employ the services of a reputable management company to look after your investment. In this section our aim is to advise you on the do’s and don’ts of management in Florida.

Which Type Of Management Company Should I Choose ?

The simple answer to the question above is really down to individual circumstances. In Orlando there are literally hundreds of management companies offering their services to villa owners. They vary from the very large companies with hundreds of homes on their books to the small husband and wife teams with just a few homes. Our advice, is that you look into which type of Management Company suits your personal needs and aspirations for your villa, speak to at least 3 companies and make you final decision from there. If possible obtain recommendations from current villa owners who deal with the proposed Management Company.

What Should I Expect From My Management Company ?

Lawn maintenance, villa cleaning and inspection, pool maintenance, villa maintenance, pest control and perhaps bill payment facility.

Dealing With Licencing Issues

All Florida vacation villa owners who intend to rent their villa for short term rental purposes must be properly licensed with Department of Regulation, divisions of hotels and restaurants and a Florida state agency. Before the licence is issued the property will be inspected by a Florida state agency, this will cost in the region of $150 for a single family home.

Taxes

In addition to the property taxes that every homeowner has to pay, an additional tax based on the gross rents received must be collected for any rentals of 180 days or less. This is made up of 5 or 6% Tourist Development or Resort Tax plus 6 to 7% State of Florida Sales Tax.

Therefore, a total of around 11% to 13% of gross rentals received is to be paid in State and County Taxes. Normally these taxes are charged on top of the rents and paid by the tenants – much the same as would take place with a hotel or motel. However, for our homes, we include the taxes within the price we quote so that the potential guest does not receive any nasty surprises when the final rental cost is calculated.

Taxes that are collected from rental income must be submitted to the appropriate agencies on a monthly basis by the 20th of the following month, in compliance with the law. In other words, rental income received in August must be paid by the 20th of September. By paying these taxes, you are assured that you are properly registered for State and County Tax. It is the responsibility of the owner to declare the rental income achieved on Owner Bookings and to pay the relevant tourist tax. If your Management Company has made bookings on your behalf and taken the rental income, then it is their responsibility to ensure all taxes are paid to the relevant authorities. However, you need to check this happens as any default on payment is YOUR responsibility. For this reason, my wife and I pay all taxes for our properties – once again enabling us to keep strict control of our finances.

Luxury Villas in Thailand

Thailand has, over the past few years, seen a large increase in the number of private villas available for holiday rent. Here we investigate the villa market, and make our recommendations as to how to find and book a villa, and where to stay on your next holiday.

These alternatives to hotel or resort accommodation often offer exceptional quality and high standards, but a number of very second rate properties are also broadly advertised on the internet and in some cases offer no more than a room in a tired condominium in a poor location: it is important for the holidaymaker to know how to find an appropriate villa, and to understand the pricing structures generally in place, in order to be sure of securing an enjoyable, clean and properly serviced villa at the right price.

It is perfectly possible to rent your own villa in Thailand for your holiday and to enjoy not only superior accommodation, but also a plethora of services, at rates that in fact make such a holiday the sensible alternative to booking a room – or indeed, for those with friends and family, a number of rooms – in a resort.

Why Thailand?

Thailand is a perfect destination for those who wish to rent their own house or villa, for a number of reasons:

– the Thais are widely recognized as a welcoming, smiling people

– The kingdom’s cuisine is world-renowned; whilst most visitors will know the famous dishes such as Tom Yam Kung, the variety of cuisines and regional specialties is great, and even a serious glutton would have trouble trying to experience the exhaustive array of Thai food dishes in just one stay.

– Thailand is a shopper’s paradise, offering unique silks, handcrafted furniture and a plethora of exotic items at a fraction of the cost of such goods in the West. Clothes, leather goods and decorative items are often at the top of the visitor’s shopping list.

– Thailand offers exceptional value for money: even five star hotels cost a fraction of what they do not only in the West but even in other Asian capitals such as Hong Kong or Singapore.

– Thailand welcomes millions of visitors to its shores annually, and personal safety is generally excellent. Any reported crimes tend to be minor, involving jewellery scams and the like, but the more experienced traveler is hardly likely to fall for these. Most visitors will feel infinitely safer in Thailand than they ever would in equivalent capitals such as London, Paris, New York etc.

Which Thai region should I visit?

The visitor to Thailand today is spoiled for choice, with villas available throughout the kingdom.For shorter stays, we would recommend a single destination stay, so that you can avoid the hassles of travelling and fully explore your chosen location. For longer stays, why not combine a stay in two very different locations, allowing you a greater exposure to the country and its diversity, whilst taking advantage of its inexpensive domestic travel networks? (see below)

Thailand is generally divided into four main regions.

Bangkok and the central Plains

Bangkok is a sprawling metropolis which, despite its famous gridlocked traffic and teeming streets, offers a great variety of things to do and to discover, to those with patience and a will to explore. The restaurants in Bangkok are second to none, whether you seek Thai or foreign cuisines, and its weekend and other markets deserve to be explored, as do many of its lesser know temples. A cruise on the Chaophraya river – perhaps by privately chartered long-tail boat – is an excellent way of seeing much of the city without being reduced to tears by the traffic.

The North

The North of the country is home to cities such as Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. With tropical jungles and hills, the North attracts those looking to go trekking or seek out places of natural beauty. Do try to avoid the larger cities, as tourism is so developed here that you run the risk of simply being “processed” through a number of popular elephant camps and well-trodden hill tribe treks…

The Northeast

The Northeast is the largest region of the kingdom, yet has been largely untouched by tourism. The Northeast (or isan) is the rice-bowl of the country, and is predominantly agricultural, producing rice, sugarcane, tapioca, eucalyptus and, increasingly, rubber. Major centres include Khon Kaen and Udon Thani, and the mighty Mekong river twists along this region’s borders. The people here are perhaps the most open and fun-loving in the country, perhaps because their lives are based on village traditions where overt consumerism has been much slower to advance than in the other booming parts of the nation. Travel to the Northeast is recommended for those looking for a unique experience, to get away from the tourist crowds, and to immerse themselves in something new.

The South

The south of Thailand is renowned for its famous beaches and seaside resorts, such as Phuket, Krabi and Koh Samui. Some of the country’s most expensive holiday villas are found here. Travellers should be aware of the security issues in the south of the country and avoid journeys to the southernmost provinces: your local government’s website will post updated advisories with travel recommendations and warnings.

The vacation villa market

Holiday villas in Thailand tend to fall into one of two categories. They are either privately owned, self-contained homes, or villa units forming part of a resort complex. These are quite different propositions!

Resort Villas

The resort-centred villa essentially comprises a resort’s superior room inventory, and will be priced accordingly. In many cases, these villas will have been professionally designed by the hotel designer itself, and then sold to a third party buyer, who in turn joins the letting pool operated by the developer to provide a return on investment on the villa buyer’s acquisition.

The advantage here is that the villa occupants will generally be able to avail themselves of the additional facilities or services provided by the resort, albeit at resort prices. The disadvantage is that, for those seeking a more genuine experience, they will find themselves simply a guests within a resort complex, and considered as additional – if well-paying “keys”.

Private stand-alone villas

Private villas are generally second homes owned by individuals, located on an individually-held land plot.

These may be rented “as is”, with the guests picking up the keys at the start of the trip and returning them at the end, either with or without a cleaning or security deposit. Alternatively, the villa may have its own staff, generally living off property but available throughout your stay to take care of cleaning, laundry, cooking or local visits etc.

Whether you choose a resort villa or privately held property, you should expect to pay a partial deposit at the time of booking, either by credit card guarantee or by a wire transfer.

Tried and Tested

We tried a number of villa vacations in Thailand, and below highlight one resort villa and one private villa – each offering an exceptional holiday but altogether different experiences.

Green Gecko, Northeast Thailand

Green Gecko is a privately owned villa located on a large country estate, surrounded by woodlands, plantations and rice paddies in the heart of Thailand’s rural northeast, near a town called Udon Thani. Free airport transfers were arranged from the airport, which is accessible via a 50 minute flight from Bangkok on Thai Airways, or budget airlines Nok Air or Air Asia.

In contrast to more mainstream locations, our stay here allowed us to discover and experience the real Thailand, off the beaten tourist track.

The villa’s architecture was traditionally Thai: an impressive wooden staircase led up to the raised and enclosed wooden deck, where our delightful private swimming pool was located, with bucolic views of the surrounding countryside and the evening sunsets. The steeply pitched roofs made of terracotta tiles gave the house an almost temple like appearance. A raised and covered “sala” here offered protection from the strong midday sun and became our favourite spot, with its views over the pool.

Accessible from the deck in two separate buildings were the two bedrooms (each air-conditioned), as well as the living and dining room and kitchens. The master bedroom had a sturdy teak four-poster, king sized bed, with a cotton duvet and feather pillows, a large adjoining bathroom and WC and an outside garden shower. The second bedroom had a queen sized four poster, again with a spacious adjoining bathroom / WC.

The main air-conditioned building housed a dining room with a dining table and seating for six, a living room with comfortable sofas and views onto the pool deck, and a sunken area decorated with futons for lounging in front of the large screen LCD television (complete with a separate high-end home theatre system and international satellite channels). Leading off from this area (behind sliding wooden panels) was an additional WC, and a fully equipped Western kitchen (with built in microwave, oven etc), that in turn led out to a stainless steel Thai kitchen.

We must confess that this all looked very user-friendly, but that we never used the kitchens – with the exception of helping ourselves to a few iced beers from the refrigerator! As the owner is a former chef, he prepares all his guests’ meals throughout their stay, varying the spiciness or composition of these to his guests’ tastes. We were delighted to be shown around the gardens to collect a number of herbs and spices, which we were then shown how to spirit into deliciously fresh and tangy Northeastern dishes. We tried the classics too: Thai food certainly is mouth-watering, and staying at a villa like this where all meals are prepared for you, by a chef who is willing to share his secrets, was a boon!

We spent a good deal of time just lazing by the pool in complete privacy, but also enjoyed a number of excursions with our hosts to experience some of the sights and sounds of the Northeast. These included a spectacular trip in a small wooden boat, across a lake that was fundamentally a vast expanse of pink lotus flowers, interrupted only by the occasional fisherman or wallowing water buffalo (marriage propositioners, take note!) We also visited a local museum that seemed to denominate Thailand as the home of the bronze age, and a number of rowdy, colourful local festivals and wet markets, as well as silk and cobra farms. But our lasting impression was one of rural simplicity and ever-friendly locals, keen to ensure we enjoyed our stay and sample an unending variety of indigenous foods and drinks!

Which Is a Better Option When You Buy a New House – Apartments or Villas?

While purchasing a house, one question that arises in the mind of the buyer is what type of house to purchase – an apartment or a villa? Different people will give you different reasons and suggestions. But, it is best for the individual to decide what he must buy. Here are some major points that will help you to decide which kind of a structure is preferable for you.

Advantages of Owning an Apartment over a Villa

• Apartments having a large number of houses attract a large number of businesses to be set up nearby, which results in quicker area development. This in turn results in rise in the value of the property.

• Big apartments have built-in facilities like clubhouse, swimming pool and gymnasium. This leads to having a healthy and active life for all age groups, which is a must in the current high stress life that everyone is living.

• In case of any problems to be solved, all the members of the apartment stand together and the association formed takes care of handling the problem, which helps in a quicker and reliable solution, unlike in villas where one has to deal with every problem alone.

• Taking out the garbage is done on a regular basis as compared to that in the case of villas. Hence, cleanliness is maintained well.

• Apartments in high rises provide better ventilation and sunlight, which is very essential for the body to receive.

• If you own an apartment and you need to shift elsewhere, the association or your neighbours might help you to sell or rent out the apartment which will lessen your efforts.

• If you are staying in a city where you don’t have any friends or relatives nearby or if you are a senior citizen with no supportive family, it’s always better to live in an apartment, considering your security and any kind of help required during emergencies. Even if you are a nuclear family and both husband and wife are working, an apartment is a better choice. Your house as well as your children, if any, is more secure in an apartment. This also serves the case when you need to travel to some other city for a few days.

Advantages of Owning a Villa over an Apartment

• The biggest advantage in owning a villa is that you can design the structure and interior of your house as per your choice and needs, which is a drawback for those living in apartments. You can even modify your house as you wish in the future in case you want to stay with the latest trend or if you have a growth in the family, which is not possible if you live in an apartment.

• Since the land of your villa belongs solely to you, you can renovate or demolish and rebuild you property at any time you want. In the case of an apartment, you need to get an agreement from all the members of the society and take legal permission from the association to take such a step.

• Unlike an apartment, you get the maximum amount of privacy you need in a villa. You get the kind of environment you need to live. If you live in an apartment, you have to adjust your way of living with the neighbours around to some extent. If you are a person who prefers a silent living and you have noisy neighbours around, it may cause lots of problems for you. On the other hand, if you are one who believes in parties and socializing a lot and you have a silent and boring neighbourhood, it might get difficult for you to adjust with them.

• At the apartments, you need to pay regular monthly maintenance to the owners’ association whether you use the amenities or not and the maintenance charges keep increasing year after year. While living in villas, you don’t need to pay the maintenance bills for the amenities that you do not use.

What we can conclude from the above points is that both apartments and villas have their own pros and cons. It cannot be judged that one is better than the other. The choice entirely depends on the individual’s preference and circumstances. Whether you plan to purchase an apartment or a villa, Adisesh Green City is here to help you take the first step to build your dream home.

Italian Property – Ten Beautiful Places to Buy or Rent a House in Italy

Anyone who publishes a list, for example a Top 10 list,, should answer a couple of good questions: why that number and why those items were chosen.In this case, answering the first question is easy. Obviously the choice of a number is always arbitrary and ten is a very small number for a task like this, but it is so well referenced from so remote time, that I can go straight to use it. On the contrary, the second question deserves some more explanation. All the places below have been chosen thinking about a foreigner who wants to find a home for leisure in Italy. I cared to avoid cities. I also avoided places so famous to be almost impossible, such as Cortina d’Ampezzo, Portofino, Chianti region, Amalfi, Capri and so on. Everyone already knows these places, so adding them to the list would be of no help to the reader. I have selected the ten places below having in mind these two simple objectives: they had to be affordable (no stellar prices) and, on the whole, representative of the most typical aspects of Italian territory. I hope to have accomplished this task at least in part. My true opinion is that every selection of this kind should be taken with a bit of scepticism. Far from being definitive, it is just intended to arouse interest and stimulate further exploration..

Finally, here is the list of the sites. The indications of price you find in each description are dated 1sthalf 2010.

Val Aurina – Alto Adige
Cannobio – Lake Maggiore, Piedmont
Riviera del Brenta – Veneto
Varigotti – West Liguria Riviera
Suvereto – Tuscany
Todi – Umbria
Nemi – Castelli Romani, Lazio
Castellaneta Marina – Puglia
Cabras – Sardinia
Pantelleria – Sicily

Val Aurina – Alto Adige

Alto Adige (or South Tyrol), the region of the Dolomite mountains, has belonged to Italy since 1919, after the end of World War I. Most of the people speak German, and a small minority speak the traditional language called Ladino. They are, the most ancient inhabitants of the valleys around the Sella Group,Val Aurina is the most northern valley in Italy: it begins in Campo Tures and expands to the borders with Austria. It is not as famous as Gardena and Badia Valleys and perhaps it does not welcome visitors with equally breathtaking scenery, but it offers a good advantage: moderate prices combined with full year touristic facilities. In the winter, you can enjoy two well- equipped areas for alpine skiing and two wonderful plateaus for cross-country skiing. In the summer, there are a wide range of walks and trips of varying difficulty. The landscape is a never- ending green expansion of meadows dotted with yellow and lilac alpine flowers and rows of towering conifers. In Campo Tures, the most popular and expensive site in the valley, prices are usually lower than 4.000 euro / sqm. It is important to keep in mind that in Alto Adige real estate market is subject to a special regulation which favours residential buyers: there are few houses for not residents so you must be patient and quick to make a decision when a property is available. If you are thinking about purchasing a country house or a maso (a traditional farm surrounded by trees and pasture) be ready to face a nearly impossible mission.

Cannobio – Lake Maggiore

Situated on the Piedmont side in the high part of Lake Maggiore, Cannobio is the last Italian city before the Swiss border. On the road from Vernabia to Cannobio, the charm of the lake constantly merges with the alpine landscape: you can see peacks higher than 3,000 meters literally rising from the water (Monte Rosa is no more than 50 km far away). On the left side of the road, the valleys degrading to the lake hide small villages keeping their traditions untouched. The original core of Cannobio, today called the “Borgo”, is made of narrow streets surrounded by tall buildings, with the purpose to make it easier to defend the city from the enemies coming from the lake. The walk on the lakefront from the southern point called “Amore” (Love) towards the beach (“Lido”), provides a view on the multicoloured row of buildings overlooking the lake; most of them date back to 18thand 19thcentury. The porticos are home to little shops and cafés. In the summer, the beach is crowded with people sunbathing or swimming in the chilly waters of the lake. The inland Cannobina valley, populated by characteristic villages offers enjoyable trips towards the Val Grande National Park, the largest wild area in Central Europe. The medieval hamlet of Carmime Superiore is remarkable with its gem of 14thcentury, the church of San Gottardo The price of a home ranges from 3,000 to 4,000 euros /sqm depending on the status and the position (the Borgo and lake-front are the most expensive zones). The prices for a country house in Cannobina valley are lower.

Riviera del Brenta -Veneto.

The Brenta Riviera is the area between Padua and Venice along river Brenta. This area is strongly characterized by the course of the river: from 16th to 18th century the rich Venetians were competing to build the most luxurious villas on the green banks of the Brenta. The classic forms of villa Foscari, in Malcontenta – designed by Palladio – and villa Soranzo in Fiesso, the baroque style villa Widmann in Mira and villa Pisani in Stra – sumptuous residence of the powerful Pisani family – are only some examples of the many magnificent buildings of that golden age. The best Venetian sculptors and painters were called to decorate the villas and the gardens. The proximity to Venice and Padua and the transport facility provided by the river, joined with the beauty of landscape and relaxing quiet of the rural environment, made this land eligible both for commerce and leisure. These special features are substantially lasting even today. The ten little towns overlooking the Brenta Riviera (the larger Mira, Dolo, Stra as the smaller Fossò, Vigonovo, Fiesso) provide good services and speedy links to Venice and Padua and are surrounded by the greenery of a gentle landscape. You can find terraced or independent houses with a garden as well as country houses: the prices are around 2.000 euros per sqm. Demanding people can look for an ancient home or a “barchessa”, a historical Venetian rural building annexed to the villa. Not easy, not cheap, but not an impossible wish.

Varigotti – West Liguria Riviera

Varigotti is a small village in the municipality of Finale Ligure, 40 km west of Savona, on the West Riviera (“Riviera Ligure di Ponente”). It is not famous as its renowned counterparts on the East Riviera: sites as Portofino, Santa Margherita, Tellaro. However it lies on one of the most pristine stretch of the Liguria coast. Saraceni Bay, the beach east of Varigotti, dominated by the rocks, away from any building, is among the most beautiful in Italy. The strategic and repaired position of the site was appreciated from an ancient time.Probably, before year 1000 the Turkish (called Saraceni in the local language) established here a fixed base, taking advantage of the natural harbour of the bay. The influence of Arabic architecture can still be gathered in some houses of the old hamlet, showing details unusual to Liguria buildings. The old hamlet is located between the Aurelia road and the beach and it is doubtless the most valuable part of Varigotti. The houses in front of the sea (once upon owned by the fishermen) form a coloured curtain on the sand beach and often the sea water comes to lap the walls. The overlooking Punta Crena hill, with the ancient watchtower, dominates the village as a big cetacean. The inland consists of wild highlands covered by typical Mediterranean greenery and steep rock peaks, appreciated by climbers for training.A house in the old hamlet will cost no less than 7,000 Euros / sqm, even more if it is located on the sea-front. On the interior, good solutions can be found at a much lower price, often with spectacular views. Just take into consideration the difficulty of parking on the coast during the summer season.

Suvereto – Tuscany

The hill where the medieval village of Suvereto lies, in Cornia Valley, half a way between the two cities of Livorno and Grosseto at the border with the vast plain of Maremma, is dotted by cork oaks woods (here called “suvere”, from which the name of “Suvereto”). Around Suvereto, the corks oaks are mixed with olives and vines, the typical trees of Mediterranean landscape and along the slopes of the hill you find everywhere small producers of oil and wine. The typical wine produced is a quality red wine made from blending of the local Sangiovese grapes with international Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah. Don’t forget we are next to the vineyards of Bolgheri, wich offer their internationally renowned wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. The climate is mild, you can walk through the corks and spy the deep blue of the wonderful Baratti Gulf. As many Italian villages set on the hills, Suvereto has mostly retained its medieval appearance. Inside the ancient walls, the narrow streets paved with stones describe a circular path around the old 13thCentury castle (now being restored), on the top of the hill. Half of the 3,000 residents live in the village, the remaining part live in farmhouses or in the other small villages of the municipality (San Lorenzo, Montioni, Forni, Prata, Belvedere). The price for a terraced house in Suvereto goes from 2,000 to 3,000 Euros / sqm. There is a good selection of farmhouses (here called “casali”), with more or less large extension of around land: in this case, expect paying a minimum of 500,000 euros.

Todi – Umbria

Todi enjoyed its moment of fame in 1992, when University of Kentucky professor Richard S. Levine chose it as the model sustainable city. Then, it was considered “the world’s most livable city”. Really, if you come here and walk around the city or travel the road to Orvieto through the green gentle slopes, you get the impression that things and nature have a harmonious balance. It is the same harmony that Bramante infused in the volumes of “Santa Maria della Consolazione” church, outside the walls, or that you can find at the heart of the city, on “Piazza del Popolo” (People Square), bounded at the opposite sides by the medieval buildings of the Cathedral and the Priori Palace. Todi was founded in 8thcentury BC with the name of “Tutere” (Border) because it was at the border with the Etruscan kingdom. In 18thcentury a historian counted 365 castles, villas and fortified places in its municipality, so he wrote that Todi could boast to have one different castle for every day of the year. Nowadays, the 37 remaining castles spread on the hills constitute the villages of Todi municipality, one of the largest in Umbria. The prices for a whole farmhouse on the hills or a flat inside the Todi walls or in a restored cottage are quite appealing (from 1,000 to 2,000 euros / sqm) and good solutions are not lacking.

Nemi – Castelli Romani, Lazio

Castelli Romani (literally: Roman Castles) are the historical villages on the slopes of Alban Hills (Colli Albani), a few kilometres south-east of Rome and Fiumicino airport. The volcanic origin of Colli Albani is testified by the two big craters on the top of the hills, now home to two picturesque lakes (Lago Albano and Lago Nemi). During the centuries, Colli Albani have always been a peaceful retreat for Rome rich residents (for example, Castelgandolfo hosts a magnificent papal residence): many of their ancient villas and palaces can still be admired all around the area. Nowadays, Castelli Romani are a favourite destination for the Sunday trips of Rome inhabitants, and are well-known for their genuine products, such as white wines (Frascati is the most famous), strawberries, peaches and fish from the lakes. Nemi, hidden on the top of the hill, overlooking the lake, is the smallest of Castelli Romani and goes famous for its delicious strawberries. The village is dominated by the big tower of Ruspoli Palace. The legend says that here is the root of the Roman Empire: Romolo, the first Roman King, is the son of a Vestal Priestess, Rea Silva, probably resident in Nemus Arcinum, the village which today is Nemi. Flats and country houses are on sale at about 3.000 euro/sqm.

Castellaneta Marina – Puglia

The village of Castellaneta Marina, in the municipality of Castellaneta, was founded in the 60s after the drainage of the area, with a purely touristic purpose. In fact, it is mostly composed by villas fully immersed in the pinewood. It is curious that the names of the streets mention the Moon geography and the American and Russian spacemen, recalling the space voyages from the period of its foundation. The dunes behind the beach (more and more rare on the Italian coast due to urbanization) are covered by a typical low shrubbery. Despite the strong tourism, the long sandy coast is still largely uncontaminated and the sea is warm and clean. Behind the beach and the pinewood the vast Metaponto Plane lies, home to ancient colonies of Magna Graecia (the archaeological area is near Metaponto, where Greek philosopher Pythagoras is said to have lived). On the coast, residences, resorts and sea establishments alternate with stretches of public sea (the nearby Riva dei Tessali hosts one of the best golf courses in Italy). On the interior, distant about 20 km away, the city of Castellaneta, perched on the crest of a mountain, overlooks a spectacular canyon more than 100 meters high. With the old white town and the baroque buildings, this gem well worth a visit. You can find a good house surrounded by the aromas of Castellaneta Marina pinewood at a not daunting price: 2,000 – 3,000 Euros / sqm.

Cabras – Sardinia

Far from the splendor of luxurious Costa Smeralda, on the Sardinia west coast, Sinis peninsula and Oristano Gulf are an area of great natural and scenic interest, already known by Punic and Phoenician many centuries BC. Punic probably founded the village of Tharros, in the southern promontory of Sinis peninsula, before 1000 BC, and exploited the fertile ground and the sheltered bay. Cabras was founded in 12thcentury by the residents of Tharros who were escaping from North-African pirates invasions. It lies on the shore of the largest pool of brackish water in Italy (“Stagno di Cabras”) one of the largest in Europe, natural habitat of pink flamingos and other typical water birds. The coast of Sinis peninsula is uninhabited for large stretches and it is home to beaches of great beauty, quiet and not crowded. The most famous, “Is Arutas” beach, several hundred meters long, looks white shining because of the sand consisting of small white and pink rounded quartz grains. “San Giovanni di Sinis” beach, next to Tahrros ruins, overlooked by an ancient watchtower, is long four km and is characterized by the high accumulations of sand caused by the west wind. From Capo Mannu, on the northern side of the peninsula, you can reach the uninhabited “Mal di Ventre” Island (literally: stomach ache, but the Italian name is a corruption of local name Maluentu, i.e. bad wind), a flat extension of Mediterranean vegetation and charming coves. The Sinis peninsula has not yet had a full tourist development and house prices in Cabras are low (from 1,000 to 1,500 Euros / sqm), but the most interesting solutions are outside the town, and prices increase with proximity to sea.

Pantelleria – Sicily

Half way between Sicily and Africa coast, Pantelleria Island is one of the most southern spot of Italy. It is the largest of minor Sicily islands, with a population of about 7,000. Here, the Mediterranean reveals its strongest colours and its harshest nature: the strong character of the island has fascinated celebrities such as Sting and Madonna. The coasts of lava rock are high and jagged (a trip by boat is mandatory): the famous elephant trunk – an arch of rock ending in the sea – is the symbol of the island. The inland is characterized by a variety of wild caper (fragrant Pantelleria Capers, now mainly cultivated) and vineyards of Muscat and “Zibibbo” grapes which give the fine delicious “Passito di Pantelleria”. Citrus trees were imported by Arabs, who carefully protected them from winds by high drywalls. The island, known as “Child of Wind” by the ancient Arabic inhabitants, is the residual of a big volcanic crater surrounded by 24 smaller ones. Their activity is still visible in the many thermal sources, natural saunas and steam flowing from the stones, which are a kind of free open SPA. The “Specchio di Venere” (Venus Mirror) is a small lake springing from an underground sulphurous source, where you can take a regenerating bath. Because of the dry climate and volcanic origin, drinking water is a rare good on the whole island: it is distributed weekly by trucks bringing it to the various districts. The typical house of Pantelleria is called “Dammuso” and has an Arabic origin. It is a cubic farm building made of lava stones with round arch openings to counter the heat and a white dome roof to collect the rainwater. Dammusos are the most requested and most expensive homes on the island. You can find a Dammuso (even ancient) in an idyllic position, with a garden enclosed by high circular drywalls at the starting price of 4,000 euros / sqm. For a terraced house, the price is about 2,500 euros / sqm.