Why we don’t give out or promote the address of the villa
Periodically, I get asked for the specific address of the villa, either by someone curious about booking, or by a guest asking far in advance of their arrival. This always presents a challenge for us… we don’t want to be secretive, about where the villa is… but in a way, we do!
We don’t show the address of our properties on our web site or advertising listings, and we don’t give it out when asked. For the security of our homes and of all of our guests, we never provide the street address until about 10 days prior to a guests arrival. There are a number of reasons for this:
1) Our website provides detailed information about the interior of our Florida home, including photographs, a list of contents, and even a detailed floor plan. It is the equivalent of putting out an online guide for burglars and thieves as to the contents and best means to plan a break-in. With such detailed information available to anyone who wants it, we must take extra steps to insure that the address is kept as confidential as possible. The villa is located in a very safe area, with security cameras at the entrances/exits of the development, but even the safest areas still warrant caution and preventative measures to deter crime.
In 2015, four people were sentenced to long prison terms for breaking into Orlando area vacation rentals, specifically to steal guest’s belongings. In fact, this group actually used online booking calendar information to decide which homes to hit and when! We don’t want to be alarmist, but this is why we take such matters seriously. We do pay attention to these things. We don’t want our guest’s vacations spoiled by criminal activity!
2) We do not want existing guests to have their vacations interrupted by potential guests visiting or snooping around the home. I have at times received calls from people in the Orlando area along the lines of “Yeah, well just give me the address and I’ll go check out the place myself.” We don’t want people “checking-out” our home for any reason, even if their motivations are perfectly innocent. One of the unique features of Breezy Oak Villa is its uncommon degree of privacy. We want to ensure that our present guests are able to enjoy it to the fullest. Our web site provides all of the information that a potential guest should require, along with the assurances and testimonials of many of our past guests that the home is exactly as we present and describe it, or better. We have never had a guest suggest that the information provided was anything less than very accurate.
Just imagine being in your private pool and having some people come wandering around the back of the house, saying “Oh, don’t mind us, we just wanted to have a look around!” We actually had it happen to some of our guests after a couple who actually booked the property six months out decided they wanted to see it for themselves!! We hadn’t provided the address, but they drove around the entire subdivision three times with photos in hand looking in back yards until they thought they had found it. I don’t think this is appropriate, and I don’t think that couple would have appreciated it if their vacation had been interrupted in the same way. Ultimately if someone wants to be so rude, we can’t prevent this, but we sure are not going to make it easy for anyone to bother our guests!
3) Our homes are situated in a unique location, which needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated and understood. We have had to spend many hours dealing with questions asked by guests that arose from their misunderstanding of the area, local streets and highways, etc, and the incorrect information available in systems like Google maps, GPS systems, etc. We have even had guests who were disappointed, frustrated or actually angry because their GPS systems got them hopelessly lost, because they relied on GPS rather than on the detailed maps and information that we provide. We don’t want guests to do a bunch of planning ahead of time, while disregarding our maps and information, only to discover that they have made mistakes or wasted their time by doing so.
4) Due to the unique nature of the NorthEast Polk County area, the ‘official’ address of our home could very easily lead someone to think that it is located roughly 25 miles from where it actually is! We do not want any potential guests, or those who have already booked with us, to be unduly concerned by this.
The last thing we want is a guest to be looking at Google Earth and say “Look at this!! They said that the villa is 15 minutes drive from the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, but the city it is in is 27 miles away!” All of the Google driving times estimates I’ve checked are also incorrect. The automatic routes that show up in Google Maps and on GPS systems are not the best routes to take in any event. We want our guests to benefit from our personal knowledge of the area.
5) We don’t want guests searching for our property online and jumping to conclusions about it based on what they find. In our subdivision, there are a number of copies of our home, built by the same builder, and from the front (depending upon the angle) it can be difficult to tell them apart in photos, particularly if one doesn’t know what details to look for. But the similarities end at the front door. I can confidently state (because I have been in almost all of them) that there are no homes that come close to the quality of finishing, decorating, furnishings, and amenities that our homes provide. Frankly, it becomes almost impossible to believe they were once similar to other homes in the area.
One evening I received a frantic call from a guest, concerned about her reservation! “How can you assure me the house will be available for us when we arrive?” she demanded. I explained that we have never cancelled on a guest or turned anyone away once a reservation was confirmed, however this did not assure her. “But how can you say that if you won’t own the villa anymore?!” she exclaimed. I asked her why she was asking these questions. A similar house to ours in a neighbouring subdivision had been put up for sale, and she had seen it on MLS, and assumed it was our villa! This was an example of a situation where a little bit of a knowledge became a dangerous thing.
6) To ensure that only actual guests are provided the address, it is automatically made available to guests once all of the payments relating to their reservation have been made, including the security deposit. Once all payments have been made, roughly two weeks before the scheduled arrival date, a number of files become available to our guests through their online reservations management page, including maps from the airport to the villa, from the villa to the theme parks, shopping, etc., along with an electronic copy of our home manual (a physical one is situated in the home as well). At that time, three separate emails, along with a fourth follow-up one explaining the contents of the other three are automatically sent to our guests. The address is provided in one of the emails, and the guest’s access codes to the electronic lock on the front door along with their code for the alarm system are sent separately. Someone representing a potential threat would need both of these emails in order to be able to obtain access to the home. Guests are encouraged to print out and keep the information for their reference, but also to take it home with them after they leave and destroy it once home, and not dispose of it in the Orlando area. As mentioned previously, the guests lock access code is deactivated immediately after their check-out time has passed.
As you can see, we take the security of our home and our guests very seriously.
As explained on our web site, our villas are located in a beautiful conservation area called Thousand Oaks, which is located between Loughman, Florida, and an area called Champions Gate, which is near Exit 58 on the I-4. Using this information, anyone can locate the general location of the Villa, but for all of the reasons detailed above, the actual address is not provided too much in advance of a guest’s arrival.
The only exception to this policy is when the existing guest list includes a minor travelling with another family without one of their own legal guardians, and a notarized letter of permission from the parents, along with information on the accommodations for the child, is required by customs and border personnel.
Our guest’s understanding and appreciation of the value of this policy is appreciated. If anyone has any concerns or questions about this, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email.
Note: We actually don’t want to provide too much information in advance! Why? Because we don’t want to take away from our guests that joyous feeling of discovery and pleasure when they first arrive. We want you to enjoy that special moment when you open the door to the villa for the very first time after a long trip; step inside, smell the crisp clean fragrance from having been freshly cleaned top to bottom, feel the comfort of the air conditioning, the quality furniture, and the clean sheets on the beds, and the smile inducing action of sliding open the patio door and stepping out into the enclosed pool area, walking over to the edge and putting your hand in that delicious, clear warm water! There is that magical moment when you realize that you have arrived, everything is just what you hoped for, and you know you’ve made a great decision for your accommodations – and you can relax and begin enjoying your holiday!
We don’t want to kill that moment with too much information. That’s what this blog post is for! 😉