Simon and Anna Davey, 45 and 40. We come from a catering background, both being qualified chefs who worked on the QE2 serving in the top restaurant for four years, and then went on to run our own award winning restaurant in Bristol for nine years.
Lac de Maison near Poitiers, which consists of our own two-bedroom house, three gîtes, a forth potential gîte, a ruin and several outbuildings. When we bought the properties in September 2009 most of the buildings had been renovated to a lovely standard, but were unfurnished and there was no existing business. So we have furnished and equipped the existing two-, three- and four-bedroom gîtes with the family market in mind. Inside we have provided books, games, toys and loads of baby equipment, externally we have a heated swimming pool, paddling pool, swings, slides, see saw, trampoline, boules, table tennis and bikes for all sizes.
The properties are nestled in the French countryside with stunning scenery and an abundance of wildlife. It's very relaxed and private, yet only a couple of miles from two super little villages with good amenities. There's also great walking and cycling straight from the house, with at least eight routes, which are virtually traffic free. Of course, as chefs we couldn't resist the opportunity to offer catering services - BBQs, picnics, kids meals, three-course dinners served to guests in their gîte, and the ever popular arrival meal – you unpack and we'll bring you a family meal followed by dessert.
The area because we fell in love with the countryside. We moved here for the old clichés of outdoor living, peace and quiet and growing our own veg, and it has certainly not disappointed. We looked at 100s of properties on the internet, but just kept coming back to this one, which ticked so many of the boxes that it was the only one we viewed
and the gamble paid off. The location is great for travel links; Poitiers airport is a 25 minute drive away and it takes less than four hours to drive to Caen or St Malo. We were also very impressed with all the attractions that the area could offer our guests, Poitiers and Parthenay have beautiful medieval quarters, and there are brilliant lake beaches very
nearby with water slides and pedalos.
Slightly further afield is La Rochelle with its spectacular beaches and seafood. And there are the Futuroscope theme park, which offers family fun, and various animal parks, including the firm favourites Monkey Valley and Mouton Village. Our local villages – Benassay and Vasles – are well equipped with bakers, butchers, a chemist, doctor, post office, cafe-bar and convenience store. There are also several good restaurants within a short drive. The locals are friendly and very forgiving of our terrible French, which is thankfully starting to improve due to private lessons. All in all, we could not ask for more in an area to live and are confident that likeminded holidaymakers will feel the same.
We rent out
Our gîtes out from April to October, ranging from £395 per week in low season to £950 per week in high season. We specifically target families and so market the properties via a website called Tots to Travel, which provides a substantial number of bookings, and via our own website. We ask customers to pay a 30 per cent deposit within two weeks of booking. We've already got 19 weeks booked for next season.
The utility bills, property taxes and the cost of maintaining the properties – paint, repairs and so forth. We don't have any staff and therefore do all of our own cleaning, laundry, pool and garden maintenance, as well as the cooking which keeps us pretty busy. We pay Tots to Travel commission for each booking they secure.