Who is Essenza and how do you operate:
Essenza Escapes is a UK based agent who specialises in offering luxury rental villa and hotel accommodation in Italy. Alongside this we also offer highly curated concierge services to our discerning client base. Essenza does not own the properties it represents but it is an authorised agent with delegated powers from both private owners and large international hotel groups such as Belmond and Rosewood to sell their products. Essenza only offers vacations in Italy and is an expert in Italy.
How do you differ from Airbnb & VRBO:
Unlike listing sites where anyone can upload images and details, we only list properties that are known to us, introduced to us by other owners, or are new relationships which undergo a thorough review.
We enter into a strict contractual relationship with all our owners which means that you are protected from random cancellations and from misrepresentation of the villa, grounds or its staff.
We undertake a rolling program of inspections which ensure that we have visited our properties and have validated the information you see in our listing. We use our expertise and judgement to best match villas to clients and we do not simply use owners' descriptions which may be biased, superlative or lack the ability to benchmark their product against others.
How does the booking process work:
As part of our contractual relationship with owners, we are given access to their online calendars and can quote availability. Once you choose to proceed, we will firstly block the dates you have selected (this is called 'to place an option') and this means the owner cannot sell those dates to anyone else for the duration of the option. We will then ask you to sign a Booking Form and agree to our Terms and Conditions. We will also ask for a deposit of 30% to 50% of the rental value. This deposit level is set by the villa manager or owner and is usually non refundable. The balance is usually due 65 to 90 days prior to your stay and that too, is non refundable. As soon as we receive the deposit and the balance we pay the owners.
We have found the same villa on another site and it's called by a different name:
Many owners and managers distribute their properties through multiple agents who all choose to name the properties in different ways. We name properties after the closest village or town to assist guests with the precise location. The pricing on our site may differ a little to other sites too. This is because we try to build in all extras that we know our guests value such as daily housekeeping, basic kitchen and laundry products on arrival, most utilities etc. If you are unsure about the pricing difference please ask us, we can explain this to you.
What restrictions are there with villa rentals:
In peak season many villa owners require a minimum 7 night stay, usually with arrivals and departures on a Saturday. For many large villas, it simply isn't economical to permit shorter stays. Also stays that cross a weekend 'eat' into two weeks and it may be difficult to find other guests who want the villa for the remaining days. The exception to this are hotel resort villas but they are priced at a significant premium over private villas, sometimes twice the nightly cost. We do offer some villas with more flexible arrangements and off season many owners are willing to consider shorter stays of 4 days or more.
What happens if I can't travel:
Since amounts paid are non refundable we recommend you take out travel insurance to protect you and the rest of your group in the event you cannot travel.
As soon as you know you cannot travel you should contact us so we can explain the cancellation policy. Once you have cancelled a booking it cannot be reinstated.
If you tell us early enough that you cannot travel on the booked dates, we will ask the owner if they will allow a rescheduling. This is at their discretion. From experience many owners will permit this with sufficient notice (8 months- 1 year). The closer to the arrival date, the less likely this will be permitted because the owners are unlikely to be able to re- rent their villa.
Do you offer travel insurance:
We don't offer travel insurance but can provide some links to companies online that do.
Do you offer a concierge service:
Yes we offer a comprehensive concierge service. Everyone who books with Essenza is allocated a Concierge Manager who can create and tailor an itinerary that suits all your needs. We can arrange a Zoom call to introduce ourselves, learn about you and what is important, and based upon that make appropriate suggestions. We work with many families with young children, teens and seniors. To ensure you can relax during your stay, all our homes offer daily housekeeping and chef services. We can help arrange drivers, hire cars, airport transfers, private guides and excursions. We also offer different levels of concierge packages which suit different groups and families.
Do your homes accept pets:
Many of our homes accept pets. Please ask us about this, it usually requires pre-approval and there may be a cleaning supplement to pay.
Do your homes accept wedding and events:
Many of our homes will accept wedding and events. All properties impose a guest maximum. Please ask us about this. There may be an event fee to pay in addition to the cost of the rental villa and frequently owners will require a wet weather contingency plan.
What responsibilites accrue with renting a villa:
You should take care to read the Terms and Conditions carefully, some of the main obligations (but not all) are
- to abide by maximum capacity rules, if you exceed these or present with more guests than we are expecting you may be refused entry or asked to leave
-refrain from creating any damage and if you do, to ensure you pay to cover the costs associated with this, or we can withhold the breakages deposit amount to your credit card. Always ensure you return furniture to its correct place and flag any wear and tear or damage to the villa managers as soon as it occurs
- external suppliers (e.g chefs) are not permitted unless booked through Essenza or the owner
- in urban areas there may be noise restrictions after a certain time and prohibition on parties. Please ensure you ask about this upon booking
- you may be asked to sign house rules that govern how to use the property during your stay including rules around recycling, closing sun umbrellas or shutters in high wind, turning off air conditioning etc
What happens after I have booked:
Within 14 days of booking you will be appointed an Essenza Concierge Manager to work with you on your trip. You will also receive an email from us with your credentials to the Essenza Travel App which stores your booking details and will be the store of all itinerary planning. Finally you will also receive an email that provides indicative timeframes on when to start planning. After this you will receive regular updates from us including reminders for payments and upcoming deadlines.
I have heard of online scamming, how can I protect myself:
Legitimate agents such as Essenza will always ensure you have all the assurances you require prior to proceeding with booking and payment. Therefore you should never feel rushed.
If you are in any doubt about the legitimacy of an online agent you should:
- ask to see their Booking terms and contract
- ask to be introduced directly to the villa manager
- always check out credentials online
- ask whether they will accept credit cards and are permitted to operate through secure platforms such as Stripe
- ask for client testimonials and a reference