Renting a villa in Florida for the first time can be a daunting undertaking. Compared to a hotel, where you just book and turn up, there are a lot more questions that a holidaymaker wants to ask before paying a deposit for a villa. Here are some of the most common that we have had for our Tuscan Ridge villa in the past year, grouped into categories.
For general hints and tips during your holiday, visit our Florida vacation hints and tips link.
Rental Process FAQ
More details on the vacation rental process can be found in this link. A short summary of typical questions can be found below.
Do I need a deposit, how do I pay you, and what is the schedule?
Usually a 20% or £200 non-refundable deposit (whichever is the larger) is required to secure your dates. Final payment is two months before your arrival date. Once final payment has been made there are no refunds allowed.
What payment methods do you accept?
Payment options are cheque (spelled check in the U.S), bank transfer (U.S. or UK), PayPal, or through one of the rental sites we operate from whereby a credit or debit card can be used. If a PayPal fee occurs, usually through any funding that is not a bank account, then this will be added to your final amount. PayPal allows for a credit card payment and the current fee is roughly 5% for this (correct as of April 2014).
Once I arrive, how do I gain entry and use your villa, does it matter what time I arrive or check-out?
We will send you a key box code to get the keys for our villa. This has a key for the villa and a key for the security safe inside it. Once inside the villa there is our owners’ manual, and a management company manual for you to read, full of tips and advice and instructions. We also send you details of the wireless password before you arrive. You must arrive after 4pm, but it does not matter what time after.
Check-out is 10am. We advise that all your packing is done the night before – Donna and I have never managed to get close to a 10am check-out so we always book a late check-out (additional charge) or an extra day where we stay. Much more relaxing!
Why do I need a security deposit when renting a villa?
A security deposit covers a certain amount of breakages. After our home is inspected by our management company and the ‘all clear’ is given, we return this security deposit to you.
What happens if something goes wrong?
We have a management company that acts as your first point of call should something go wrong in the villa. Depending on the nature of the incident they have an emergency number that is available 24×7. Their contact numbers are in the villa manual provided in our villa. Note that pool heating issues are not considered an emergency.
Our party is too big – can you find another villa nearby for the rest of our family?
We will try our best for you, and have done this in the past for other guests. We have friends in the community, contacts and emails of other owners in the community, and also our management company can help to find you a villa nearby.
What if I have a special request?
Ask away! We’ve bought a Christmas Tree for a potential guest before, so nothing will surprise us. If you have a special request we can consult with out management company and sort something out for you.
Our Tuscan Ridge Villa FAQ
What do you provide for me in the villa?
We provide all linen, towels, a bin liner in each bin and a toilet roll in each bathroom. Since this is a self-catering villa you need to bring along washing powder and softener, dishwasher tablets, and a few more toilet rolls.
We also provide free wireless internet and high definition cable, plus free national phone calls so you can sort out your theme park bookings for free.
We pay for a general clean of the villa at the end of your stay, but we do ask that all trash / rubbish is removed and that the villa is left in a tidy state when you leave. An untidy villa will incur an extra charge for additional cleaning.
Does the villa have air conditioning and heating?
Yes, the villa is fully air conditioned and heated depending on the temperature inside. We have recently installed a pre-programmed thermostat that is based on USA government energy recommended temperatures. You are welcome to change the thermostat to a minimum cooling temperature of 75F or a maximum heating temperature of 72F during your stay, however the pre-programmed temperatures will reset at their designated points of the day.
We ask that guests do not leave the air conditioning on all day when the villa is empty, because the pre-set temperatures should ensure that when the guests return in the late afternoon the villa is already cooling down. We also ask that all doors and windows are shut whenever the heating or cooling system is on.
Abuse of the system will cause damage and possibly freezing to the units, and any damage caused by this will be taken out of the security deposit. When the air conditioning is used intelligently this will never occur, it will result in lower utility bills (some of our electricity bills have hit $500 a month), and will make sure the villa is extremely comfortable for all guests.
What safety features does the villa have?
All main rooms have wired smoke detectors. There is also a carbon monoxide detector at the villa. The pool has a security fence around it to keep children safe, and this must be kept secure at all times to comply with Florida state law. There is also a security safe for you to use. The Tuscan Ridge community is not gated however there is a good mix of resident / non-residents in the community and it is very quiet so it is one of the best non-gated communities to stay in. Gated communities let guests in, so often they do not offer any greater security than Tuscan Ridge.
Do I need to sort out the bins?
Yes, this is a self-catering villa so you need to make sure your own rubbish is collected on the collection days. Refuse and recycling instructions are given in our manual in the villa.
Can I bring my pets to the villa?
Unfortunately our general policy is no pets allowed. This ensures that the villa is in great condition for everyone who stays in Tuscan Ridge, and that allergy sufferers can stay in our home without issues. Contact us if you think you have an exceptional case.
Pool and Spa / Jacuzzi FAQ
How long does the pool take to heat, how hot is it?
From ambient temperature the pool usually takes up to 24 hours to get up to temperature, which is set to 86F or 30C. In temperatures of less than 65F we cannot guarantee how long it will take because a heat pump becomes less efficient in these conditions. The pool is heated normally from 8am to 8pm. In our experience, we have heated the pool to 86F in a 48 hour duration in January when the temperatures fell to 55F in the day.
Note: 86-88F is not bath temperature – it is a leisure pool temperature designed for comfortable swim and play and it may well feel cool when you first get in. A hot bath is about 110-115F which is slightly higher than our spa / hot tub. Water temperatures feel very different to air temperatures, even at 80F a pool would feel far too cold to get in to.
Once up to temperature and by using our pool blanket the pool gets back up to temperature in the morning after an hour or so. Our spa is set to 100F or 38C and only when the spa jets are turned on the spa heats up to this temperature. You can check whether the pool heat is working by placing your hand over the jets – they should feel slightly warm to the touch if it is getting up to temperature.
What about pool heat when it’s cold in winter – does it work?
The heat pump technology that serves the pool and spa does not work as well when it gets in the 60F range. Even the spa will take a lot longer to heat, but this circulates once on, and should gradually warm up to temperature.
When do I need pool heat?
When renting a villa we recommend that a south facing pool requires heating when the outside temperature is not continually above 90F in the day. This link illustrates that mid June to mid September usually do not require any heating, although to guarantee a nice pool we would recommend that almost all months should have some supplemental heating and if you heat the pool then you get the spa heating included – 100F!
How does the Spa work?
Normally the spa circulates water at the same temperature as the pool. When the spa jets are activated in the lanai area (via our dials under the lanai), the pool circulation stops and only the water in the spa is circulated around the pool heat pump in a closed circuit. This allows the spa to get up to a higher temperature – if the pool water was circulated it would never get to temperature. Once the jets stop, the pool circuit is opened again and the normal pool heating resumes. The spa circuit can be turned on at any time of day or night whereas the pool is not heated at night. You can tell if the valve is working because the water stops flowing out of the waterfall in the spa to the pool.
What is so special about a south facing pool? Does it matter?
If you really like the science behind this, visit our more detailed south facing pool benefits blog entry. Anyone who has rented out or bought a private villa without a south facing pool soon realises that any other orientation has a lot less sun exposure during the day. A north facing pool may get absolutely no sun on some days. This soon becomes an issue in the winter months when you have a cold outside pool until the sun hits it at, for example at midday. Renting a villa without a south facing pool will see you only use the pool during the middle 3 or 4 hours of the day, which restricts the holiday fun. In the mornings it is fantastic to be able to step out onto the lanai area and have breakfast and an orange juice in the morning sun. The pool heats up quickly, especially with a pool blanket, and stays warmer for longer in the evenings. You can use it before going out to the parks or golf, or in the evenings when it is still warm. North facing pools are especially bad, and often the outside area gathers mould and feels very dark unless the owners regularly keep it maintained.
Is the pool area safe for children?
We provide a 4′ security fence around the pool and it is mandatory that this is kept secure at all times, whether you are renting a villa in Florida or not. This complies with Florida state law. It is the responsibility of the renter to make sure the pool fence is always secure since other people could access the pool area for maintenance. Children should be supervised at all times when in the pool area, and we recommend all villa doors onto the pool area are kept shut and locked when the pool lanai area is not in use. Anyone renting a villa should always check that the pool has adequate safety features.
Is the pool cleaned when we are there?
Yes, the pool is checked on a weekly basis for your safety. There may be a short period after chemicals are added when you cannot use the pool. You must allow the maintenance people in to the pool area to clean and maintain the pool. Please also try to keep the pool and the pool deck clean – especially free of sun tan lotion which can tend to make the pool deck very slippery.