This villa is of a very high standard including the lakeside position and high quality of amenities provided. We had a wonderful relaxing family experience in this well-appointed villa. However, while we were able to enjoy the luxurious environment, the feeling of occupying a space that was rather reluctantly offered for payment was never very far away. Every single item in the kitchen is carefully labelled which was one of the first unsettling indicators of an unpleasant, vigilant, unwelcome message. I found myself anxious about the white rugs in the bathroom, and moved them out of the way to protect them from normal splash and falling hairs from brushing. We ignored this feeling of being in a rather unwelcome space for the most part. Being a close family, we enjoyed each other’s company and settled into the space we tried to make our own as much as possible while musing over the motivation of the owners to rent out their beautiful home, reluctantly it seemed. We had the feeling that perhaps the owners had to generate an income which forced them to tolerate what they seem to experience as rather unwelcome intruders into their home. The message that rental ‘guests’ could not be trusted to look after the place was conveyed in the writ large words ‘treating our home as you would your own’ which was written in the ‘house rules book’. This evoked another unsettling indictor of reluctance and indeed resentment by the owners perhaps for having to rent their beautiful property which they convey they bought for their retirement.
There were a number of problems which emerged during the week and for the most part dealt with efficiently by the owner. We arrived on Sunday evening and discovered the pool was cold. This was disappointing as we expected a ‘heated pool’ as advertised. Our disappointment was compounded by the contrast in our experience the previous week in a beautiful gated resort and equally beautiful penthouse apartment with a comfortably warm pool. With some reluctance on both the Manager Jana’s part and the owner Margaret, the pool was enabled to be heated, which took some time. However, we discovered when our deposit was returned that we paid a hefty price for a heated pool. On the second day Monday, our son was lying on the lounger and it collapsed, jolting his head backwards and giving him a fright! Luckily, he wasn’t injured. Interestingly, I took a photo of the collapsed lounger and sent it to the owner, as I had an anxious thought that we might be accused of damaging the lounger. Since we have never had such an experience of anxiety in rented holiday accommodation anywhere in the world before, we reasoned our anxiety must have been induced by the unpleasant tone of messages conveyed in the ‘house-rules book’ and in the ‘rental agreement contract’ we regrettably signed. The lounger was replaced 2 days later. It was curious to note that it seemed important to the owner that the new loungers ‘matched’ existing ones rather than being concerned if my son was hurt. The next day, Tuesday, I apologized to the owner for contacting her again about another problem which was that we had no water. Again, the owner resolved the problem efficiently and although we were without water for a day, we graciously tolerated the situation. As well as there being no water that day, the pool cleaner appeared to have stalled and I had to contact the owner again and while this was resolved efficiently, it was a little disconcerting at the time to note the owner’s conveying of anxiety that her ‘luck with the house is unbelievable’. A few days later, the garage door appeared to stall and could not be closed. We discovered that the door was operated electronically which was never explained in any of the literature provided and it was reasonable to assume the door operated manually. It wasn’t until we were leaving that the Manager Jana informed us that the owner believed we had damaged the door. This was an upsetting accusation and when we clarified this with the owner she said the technician who had fixed the door ‘suspected that the force of an end of a kayak had buckled the door’. Our explanation of manually operating the door without realising it operated electronically was accepted by the owner. However, given the owner had not sought an explanation from us a few days earlier but instead harboured the belief we had damaged the door, this experience left us with a very unpleasant feeling as, unbeknown to us, we had been accused of something we did not do and presumably would have received a ‘bill for damages’ following departure. This feeling at the end of our stay in this beautifully presented villa, compounded our cumulative feeling that ‘rental guests’ were at best disingenuously tolerated and at worst resented. The electrical switches frustratingly tripped frequently while we cooked and we were told ‘this hasn’t happened in 5 years’! Such was our resignation about what seemed to be the ‘bad luck’ of the house referred to by the owner, we didn’t even let her know that the television signal was so poor we stopped watching it! We also didn’t mention to her that the pool was infested with bugs for an entire day making it impossible to swim until we spent time and effort cleaning the pool. A few days later the female pool cleaner attended the villa on a routine day to clean the pool and told us the pool lacked chlorine! While our unease during the rental of this property made it unlikely we would ever return and, disappointing though this was, we put it down to ‘bad luck’ and moved on from the experience in our minds. However, upon realising we were subjected to financial ruthlessness in relation to the withholding of our deposit, our sense of having experienced bad luck rapidly became an experience of upset and distress. We paid $1200 deposit which is excessive in itself but nonetheless we regrettably agreed to pay this. The deposit which was eventually returned to us beyond the rental agreement contract of 14 days, was $775. Apart from credit card costs which we inevitably incurred, an additional $249.84 was deducted from the deposit - $184 for electrical usage and $50 for ‘unscheduled delayed check-out’ – 2 hrs. Nowhere in the ‘house-rules book’ nor in the literature provided did it mention a specific check-out time - 12.00 noon is standard for such rental. We were told this information was on the website and that we should have read it. It is not reasonable to expect anyone to refer to the website details after payment has been made and detailed information is provided by the owner. We attempted to convey our shock and disappointment at the charges and appealed to the owner to at least negotiate a reduction of these costs given the difficulties which were on-going throughout the week. We were told we were ‘nasty’. We wish to convey we have never been so badly treated anywhere we have stayed in any rental apartment throughout the world. Prospective ‘rental guests’ for ‘Serenity’s Edge’ need to be prepared to feel unease at the very least about being in a barely disguised unwelcome space with the fear of putting a foot wrong and at worst, poorly treated.
Finally, the rental involves a considerable number of front-loaded charges which we clearly agreed to by signing the rental agreement. Thus, in addition to the considerable Rental Fee, ($2000 per week) there is a per guest charge of $175 per person staying, $300 for exit cleaning, an 11% Florida Tax, a booking fee for $130 for the company we booked through and rather extraordinarily $300 dollars for the website in addition to a costly rental. Total cost we paid $4527 minus $775. Our message is Renter be aware and wary. To be charged for electricity in addition to the high cost of the rental and expected to be out of the Villa by 10am on day of departure is simply sharp practice and leaves one far from the edge of serenity.
Stayed with family - Would not recommend to friends and family