Our Journey of Renovating a Village in the Italian Alps

Our restaurant

Hi, I am Jennie - Owner at Locanda degli elfi albergo
Hi, I am Jennie – Owner at Locanda degli elfi albergo

My name is Jennie and I live in one of the least densely populated areas of Italy. Our guesthouse is located in the Maura Valley at the edge of the Italian Alps in Piedmont.

Click here to visit our guesthouse in Piedmont Italy on Vacations-Abroad.com

I used to be a manager in a small textile company with my own office in Edinburgh and I traveled worldwide visiting clients and attending meetings. Unfortunately, during this time I fell ill with a cancer but at the time I thought I was just too stressed and suffered from jet lag.

Our restaurant
Our restaurant

So I decided to come here to Pret Canosio to be close to my parents and open a bed and breakfast.  My parents had a house located in the village and I used to go trekking in the Maira valley with my father.  So I am very familiar with all the hiking trails and sites in this area.  It was very comforting to see my father looking out the window and smile at me as I went hiking through the Maira Valley. At that time the b/b was very small so we bought another ruined house and renovated that one too, creating a small, cozy restaurant.  Little by little we purchased other abandoned buildings within the village and began renovating every house ourselves we purchased all with our own savings.  It was a big effort, but this area  attracts our passion and holds us here.

Hiking Trails
Hiking Trails

This area is relatively undeveloped compared to the rest of Italy. We are located in the western part of the Cottian Alpes along the border of France and Italy.  The main activies in this area are hiking and skiing.

It is the people who come and stay really give back to us , so our passion has kept developing!

Thank you for this opportunity! Jennie

Lounge area
Lounge Area

Meet the Owners of Borgo Santa Maria Holiday Apartments in Tuscany

Owners of Arezzo Holiday Apartments in Tuscany Italy
Anna and Giorgio, Owners

Click link for availability and rates for Borgo Santa Maria in Valle

View Arezzo Vacation Apartments Flats in Tuscany Italy
Relax while enjoying the view

My wife and I have been working  in marketing and tourism for all of our lives in Padua, where we had a base for many years.  To get out of the hustle and bustle, we decided moving to Tuscany was ideal for us.  Because we had friends in the area, we knew the region quite well from past visits and knew we wanted some place central and reasonably close to Highway A1.

We did not know the medieval village of Laterina before we moved here, but we knew Arezzo quite well, which is only about 9 miles  away.  The area’s central location, proximity to main art cities and preserved culture made our decision to locate here much easier.

Aerial View Arezzo Vacation Holiday Apartment Flats Tuscany Italy
Aerial view of Borgo Santa Maria

Finding the house we wanted was not an easy task and changing it into a charming and pleasant holiday home proved even more difficult.  However, with hard work and dedication, we succeeded.  In fact, we love our location so much, we live here year-round!

Although sometimes tiring, our work is very rewarding.  We love it, thanks to the many people we’ve met during the years.  Whether it’s those who kept coming back, kept in touch or asked for our advice when choosing another area, our guests are what makes what we do special.

Kitchen in Arezzo Holiday Flats in Tuscany, Italy
Full kitchen for home cooked meals

We like to say that our vacation home is “Managed by the owner” and “By professionals,” knowing very well the meaning of both sentences.  It is very difficult to do what we are doing without professionalism, but owning the property helps us to put more love in what we do.

– Giorgio Marcato

Click here to contact Borgo Santa Maria in Valle.  You may also click each picture below to get a closer look at the property.

Meet Colin and Emi Richards, Owners of Carasuchi Villa Holiday Rental in Tagaytay Philippines

Carasuchi Villa Owners Tagaytay Philippines
Carasuchi Villa Owners, Colin & Emi

Click here for availability or to inquire about the Carasuchi Villa in Tagaytay.

My name is Colin and my wife, Emi, and I are are pleased to share our home with you!   First, here is a little about ourselves…

Between Emi and I, we have a combined 55 years of experience in the international Real Estate business.  Emi is Filipina and ran a Real Estate business in Kuwait, and afterwards, managed a beauty salon and spa.  I worked for HALLIBURTON and was responsible for all construction projects and Real Estate for the Middle East and Africa.

Carasuchi Villa Holiday Rental Tagaytay Philippines Pool
Enjoy the backyard with your friends and family!

Five years ago, Emi and I were married in the Philippines.  Because of Tagaytay’s excellent climate, we came here for our honeymoon.  We found the land for our home by happy accident and decided to buy it.  Since purchasing, it has blossomed into a beautiful, 3,500 sq. meter home with a pool, mini golf course and lots of fruit trees.

When it came time to retire, I had to decide between living in Asia or England.  I am originally from the UK, but since I had spent the last 35 years working overseas, the thought of retiring in Asia was very attractive go me.  Since Emi had a large family in the Philippines (5 children and 7 grandchildren) that was the obvious choice.  Now, here we are!

Carasuchi Villa Holiday Rental Tagaytay Philippines

One thing that makes our home unique is its location away from the ‘touristy’ Tagaytay.  We are located in a very quiet and clean place which is not a sub division, but along side the local people – The way we like it.  At our property, you’ll get to experience Tagaytay as a traveler, but live in the comfort of a peaceful home.  Through talking amongst other ex-pats, we have learned some of the area’s best places to visit.  For instance, we are located only 90 minutes from Makati, which is perfect for when we need it!

Carasuchi Villa Tagaytay Philippines Vacation Rental
Carasuchi Villa Living Room

If you like this home or if you will be in Tagaytay soon, you may be interested to know we recently formed the company, EMR Real Estate and Property Services, here in Tagaytay.  We will be developing other land and will open a new Salon and Spa next month.

Hope to see you sometime in Tagaytay!

Colin & Emi Richards

Click here for availability or to inquire about the Carasuchi Villa in Tagaytay.  See more of this property on its Facebook Page or in the gallery below.

Converting An Ugly Duckling Into a 5-Star Clearwater Beach Vacation Home

Clearwater Beach vacation rental owners
Owners: Dick Groff and Beverly B. Allemann

Years ago, while vacationing in Clearwater Beach, Florida, we bought this property for its coastal location: Merely a 1-2 minute stroll to the Gulf of Mexico and Clearwater Beach!  At the time, we owned a Bed and Breakfast in Pennsylvania, which became Travelers Magazine’s “INN of the Month” in June, 1998.  After remodeling in 2002, we thought of doing another Bed and Breakfast at “Sea Shells.”  It grew from an, “Ugly duckling to the beauty of today,” but we were unable to get the proper licensing to continue.

Clearwater Beach Vacation Home Front
Perfect beach house for the whole family

As years went by, our grandchildren went to college, graduated, and now have their own full-time careers, thus, little vacation time.  So, we decided to share our family vacation home and it has become a very successful “weekly-monthly” rental and vacation choice for many.  Visitors welcome!

Clearwater Beach Florida Vacation Home Hot Tub
Relax in the Hot Tub

You can see more of this Clearwater Beach Vacation Home by clicking on the pictures below.

Owners: Dick Groff and Beverly B. Allemann

Click here to contact.

Renovating an Abandoned Winery and Monastery in Languedoc Southern France by Frederic Ledent

Frederic Ledent, Owner of Le Domain de Monteils
Frederic Ledent, Owner of Le Domain de Monteils

At the age of 20, I was already saving my money with the aim of one day realizing a gite de charm (vacation home).  For years, I had been fascinated by architecture, renovation, and interior design. After my first experience managing a small family gite near Uzes, I decided during Christmas 2006 to proceed to the next stage with a friend.

Soon, we began  searching for a large property where I could develop several high-end gites. Over the next 3 years, we carefully inspected multiple properties based on our criteria that the properties for sale must be located in the eastern half of Languedoc-Roussillon.  We visited more than 60 properties!  Above all, we wanted an absolutely quiet place, panoramic view, ancient stone buildings with a lot of charm, and a central location with regard to the most famous landscapes and places of interest of the South of France including the Camargue, the National park of Cevennes, historic cities of Provence, and Languedoc.

We wanted to make between 5 and 8 large gites for 2 persons each so we looked for a property which had the potential.   At least 500 livable sq. meters were needed, and especially every accommodation had to provide a private protected terrace or a garden.  The state of the buildings had no importance because we were ready to make a complete renovation.  We sometimes visited ruins where a lot of imagination was needed to conceive our project.  There were also some other criteria which were important for us, like the distance from the shops, a good bakery nearby, internet ADSL,  and of course, we had to feel a real coup de coeur for the place.  Then, it happened.

Inside during renovations at Le Domain de Monteils in Languedoc, France
Much work to be done!

Summer of 2010: we found a converted 9th century religious priory , surrounded by the vineyards of an 18th century wine estate.  The Domaine de Monteils looks like a small hamlet with several separated houses, nested in the middle of a Mediterranean park of 5 hectares. During our first visit, we fell in love at once with the place and I believe that we would have bought this little paradise even if it had been necessary to modify our project.  Then we realized that all our criteria of search were gathered – incredible!

The fateful day finally arrived and we were given the keys in September of last year.  We were faced with renewing 1 800 sq. meters of buildings.  The thought was very frightening, especially when you don’t work in the building industry. We decided to renew only a part of it and do the rest later.  Nevertheless, the challenge was very impressive and almost impracticable because we had to build the 4 first gites in only 6 months in order to welcome our first visitors in July, 2011.  Even though all the members of our families helped us as well as some people from the village, I still wonder how we did it!  Not only we were very warmed welcomed in this village of Carnas, but many inhabitants liked our project and there were volunteers to lend a helping hand.  First, we worked with an architect to make the plans.  We wanted our gites to be very atypical in a design still.  The renovation work began in February.  It was necessary to manage a very strict schedule for the craftsmen who came to make the work that we could not do ourselves: Masonry, roofing, plumbing and electricity.  Moreover, these craftsmen also kindly proposed to help us (free of charge) with the final touches after the initial work was finished.

Installing the Jacuzzi, Le Domain de Monteils
Friends and neighbors helping

Fortunately, we already knew how to make a stone floor, wooden parquet, paint, and to make any sort of do-it-yourself projects, which helped us a lot. The wooden terraces appeared toward the end of the project, just in time to settle spas.  The swimming pool was fitted with a large brand new terrace. The park, which had become the real jungle, was transformed into an attractive plant labyrinth. The renovation work ended only 3 weeks before the opening, and the rooms were still empty.  We worked night and day to finish everything in time: settle kitchens, install furniture, buy all the dishes, the linen.  Above all, we wanted to do what pleased us most: hang on our paintings and place our antique or design objects of decoration in accordance with every gite.  Saturday, July 02, 2011 at 8 am the morning we were still in a hurry for the last purchases and making sure there were flowers on tables and a bottle of champagne in every refrigerator.  Phew everything was finally ready!

Domaine Monteils garden and pool, Languedoc France Holiday Home
Domaine Monteils garden and pool

A surreal, quiet atmosphere reigned in the last minutes while we waited for our first visitors. We felt like we were not able to be as much of perfectionists as we would have wanted, but we were pleased to welcome visitors from all horizons as if they were invited members of our family.  After all, they were as delighted as we were to spend a holiday in the sunny south of France!

The gallery below has additional pictures of this gorgeous property in South France.  Click on pictures to enlarge.

To see this specific property on Vacations-Abroad.com and to contact Frederic Ledent, you can click his listing: Sommieres Apartment Rental in Languedoc, France.

You can also visit the website for gite Languedoc provence.

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