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Coronavirus FAQs

Last Updated: Wednesday 23rd September 4pm

Please note: We are currently experiencing large volumes of inbound calls and emails. Before contacting us please ensure you have read all of the relevant information below and please accept our apologies for any delay in replying to your query.

We understand that customers may have some questions or queries they wish to ask before they make a booking at the current time or have questions about their upcoming booking.

You can find information about individual properties on the property details pages themselves and below we have provided some frequently asked questions that should help to guide you with any queries you may have. We hope that this information will be helpful, and it includes the information our agents will be able to give you if you do contact us.

This page is kept up to date as frequently as possible, but please accept our apologies for any delays in updating this information following any government announcements as they happen.

General

Yes, you can make a booking with us for a holiday at any time in the future now that holidays can take place across all of the UK’s devolved regions. Please read the rest of the information below for any questions you may want answered prior to making a booking.

During normal times, bookings are confirmed within 24 hours. However, due to the current volume of enquiries, this is currently taking us a little longer than it would normally. Please bear with us during this time as we work through all bookings as quickly as we can and we will get back to you as soon as possible. All bookings due to depart within 7 days are checked with the owner before confirmation.

Our team are currently working extremely hard to get back to all of our customers about each and every query received as quickly as possible. We appreciate that in these times you would like a quicker response than normal. Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of enquiries, we apologise that this isn’t possible at the moment. Our team are working as hard as they can to get back to everyone and will do so in departure date order.

Guests travelling from different countries may be subject to different laws and guidance within their own country, or at times, different laws or guidance when they enter the UK.

Guests should ensure they have checked the travel restrictions from their own government in their location before deciding to book. Once a booking has been made, it may not be possible to change it in the future should travel laws and regulations between countries change.

As the government is constantly changing and adapting the laws and guidance that could affect customers’ holidays it is very likely that changes may be announced on the news before we have been made aware. In these circumstances, our team will work quickly to ensure all options are available to you as soon as possible.

If it is a legal restriction at the holiday property, we will contact you.

If it is government guidance that affects your own situation, you will need to contact us.

We will review our policies as and when needed in line with any government advice as it is issued.

Insurance

If you have purchased insurance through holidaycottages.co.uk or another of The Travel Chapter brands, your insurance is provided by Towergate. Your insurance documents were provided to you at the time of booking.

If you purchased travel insurance through holidaycottages.co.uk before 17th March 2020, then you should be covered if: you are diagnosed as having coronavirus, or you are required to self-isolate, or if you or a member of your household has contracted the illness, provided that the holiday date coincides with the period of self-isolation and you obtain a case reference from NHS111, please see further information online. Please contact Towergate to discuss your circumstances further.

Policies purchased after Monday 17th March 2020 will not cover claims relating to coronavirus.

If you transfer your booking using our Special Customer Amendments Policy, please note we have been informed that Towergate will allow the policy to be transferred to the amended booking, but that it will not cover any future claim relating to coronavirus.

For policies purchased before 1st January 2020 contact: [email protected]

For policies purchased on or after 1st January 2020 contact: [email protected]

If the government impose a legal restriction that means the holiday home is not available

Customers can book with confidence and know that if you are unable to travel because a property is unavailable due to government restrictions, you will have options to amend your booking as needed.

If the property is closed due to law, guests will have the option of a transfer to a future date at the same property; a voucher for the full amount they have paid; or a cash refund. We would encourage all guests to transfer their holidays if they can to ensure that they still get the holiday they wish for in the future and the property owner still receives the booking they had expected to receive.

If your chosen holiday property is legally unavailable, we will contact you via email. You do not need to contact us until this has happened. Our teams will be unable to help you until we have contacted you.

Any bookings affected in this way will be contacted by us via email.

This email will set out all of the options you have as well as the instructions on how to amend your booking.

If you select the “amend booking” button in your account prior to receiving this email, it is possible that you will not see all of the options available to you.

If the government impose a legal restriction on the guest that means they cannot travel

If it is impossible for a guest to travel to the holiday property due to a legal requirement, a guest will have the following options available to them: A transfer to future dates at the same property or a cash refund of the amount the guest has paid.

If a guest wishes to transfer their holiday to a date in the future, they can do so by logging in to their online customer account and selecting the “amend booking” option.

If the guest cannot travel for these reasons and they do not wish to amend their dates, they should contact our Customer Services Team as soon as possible and explain the situation and the reason why you are unable to travel.

We encourage all guests to act quickly regarding their booking if they wish to make any changes to ensure that our team and the Property Owner can do their best to facilitate any requests.

Following the recent announcements from all three governments across the UK regarding parties of over 6, we have set out below all of the options that are available to you if your booking is departing up until the 31st October 2020 and it is affected by the new legal restrictions.

If your booking departs on or after the 1st November, we will be in touch in due course to set out your options.

As you may have seen, there are slightly different approaches in England, Scotland and Wales, particularly whether children count towards the 6 person limit and how many households can gather together. We would recommend that before deciding to take one of the options below you carefully read the relevant guidance which can be found:

Our current understanding is the following:

Once you have reviewed your position, please let us know what you intend to do by following the instructions under the options below.

Your Options

All of the options below are available from logging in to your online customer account and selecting the Amend Booking button against the relevant booking.

Option 1: Inform us your booking can still go ahead
You may still be able to travel if your booking complies with the legislation in the devolved country you are travelling to or your party size now fits within the limit (some guests have amended their party size to be compliant). You can inform us that this is the case by selecting the first option from within your online customer account.

Option 2: Transfer your booking to a later date
You will be able to transfer your booking to a later date if you wish to do so, select the transfer option, read the instructions and select the new dates from the calendar.

Our team will process this as quickly as we can and get back to you once this is confirmed.

Option 3: Take a voucher for the full amount you have paid
You can opt to take a voucher for the full amount you have paid. If you wish to do this, please select the option from within your online customer account and the voucher will be credited to your account within 24 hours.

Option 4: Cancel your booking for a full refund
If none of the above options are suitable and you can't lawfully travel, you will have the option to cancel your booking and receive a refund for the full amount you have paid. You can do this by selecting the option from within your online customer account.

The government plans to review this policy and we will review our approach to this in line with any changes that they make.

If a government restriction is put in place that may affect some of our customers bookings, we may, at times, ask you to confirm that your party is compliant and legally able to travel (For example, the “rule of 6”).

If you confirm to us that your party is okay to travel (either at the time of booking, or retrospectively for bookings made before government restrictions are put in place), it will then mean you are confirming your party plan to travel with awareness of the current legal position and you will not have the other options available to you unless that legal position changes.

Working examples:

  1. A guest with 7 people on their booking who confirm their booking can go ahead due to their party being from one household will not be able to cancel and obtain a full refund closer to the holiday date if they simply change their mind.

  2. A guest with 7 people on their booking who confirm their booking can go ahead due to their party being from one household, but are later subject to different lockdown measures that mean they cannot legally travel will have all of the options available to them again that are relevant to that new legal restriction.

If there is a legal requirement which would not allow customers to travel or any other legal restriction which would prevent them from going on holiday, we will be in touch with you setting out your options and next steps to amend your booking.

You will then be able to amend your booking from within your customer account.

If the government issue guidance that means guests do not wish to travel

If the government publish guidance that may mean some guests feel they cannot, or they do not wish to travel to a holiday home. In these situations as the property is available and because the guest is not restricted from travelling by law the guest can request a transfer of their booking to a later date (possible through selecting the "amend booking" option in your online customer account.) Please Note: A transfer will be allowed at the discretion of the property owner.

If a guest wishes to cancel their booking due to government guidance, they will cancel in line with our standard booking terms.

If the booking is due to depart at any point during 2020 and the property is re-let, we will subsequently refund the customer the full amount that they have paid on their booking (up to the maximum amount that the property has re-let for). Please see our Coronavirus Cancellation Re-Let Policy for more information.

If customers do not wish to travel they should act quickly to request a transfer or cancel their booking in order to ensure they have the best opportunity for a transfer to be accepted or for a re-let of the property to take place.

If a customer does not wish to travel and cancels their booking due to government guidance or any other reason, a full refund will only be possible if a customer cancels and the property is subsequently re-let to another customer.

If this happens, we will refund guests the full amount they have paid (up to the maximum the property has re-let for). Please see our Coronavirus Cancellation Re-Let Policy for more information.

Payments and balance collection

Customers can pay their outstanding balance by logging into their online customer account. Due to the volume of enquiries we’re currently receiving we would appreciate it if all customers could make this payment online.

The VAT changes announced on the 8th July by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak reduce the VAT rate for certain goods and services in the hospitality and tourism sector. (This includes a reduction in the rate of VAT for VAT registered accommodation businesses.)

All of our properties are independently owned and the overwhelming majority of these are below the VAT threshold so customers would pay no VAT on these properties regardless of the new rules.

Our prices are constantly monitored to ensure they remain competitive in the market, therefore prices are set regardless of the rate of VAT and regardless of the registered status of the property owner.

The VAT changes will therefore not directly affect the price of any holidays and the prices published on our website and agreed to by the customer at the time of booking remain final.

If a guest has transferred their booking to a more expensive date at the same property, they will be required to pay the difference in price for the new week. If the guest has transferred to a less expensive date, the difference will be refunded to the guest on their original payment method.

Our team are working hard to process all payments as quickly as possible. Any refunds due to legal restrictions should be paid within 10 working days of the cancellation taking place.

Any refunds due to guests due to our re-let policy will be paid no later than 14 days after the holiday was due to depart.

Amendments and cancellations of bookings

If you are unable to, or do not wish to travel for any reason, it may be possible to amend your booking to a different date in the future. You can request a transfer of your dates by logging in to your online customer account and selecting the amend booking button and scrolling to the bottom of the page.

Our Transfer Team will then work to try and arrange this with the owner of the property for you and will be in touch in due course to let you know the outcome. We are working through transfer requests in departure date order, so please do allow for a delay if your request is for a booking further in the future.

While most transfer requests can be approved, there are occasions where in working with the Property Owner this is not possible for various reasons. If this is the case, our team will be in touch to inform you of your new options.

If a customer has chosen to transfer their booking, we will allow 24 hours in which to make changes to this transfer if they wish to. Once this period has passed, it is not possible to change the resolution of the booking and the agreed new date will be final. Please contact our customer services team if you need to do this.

If a guest has chosen to take a voucher with us instead of cancelling their holiday, we very much appreciate this decision and look forward to welcoming you on your holiday once you decide to book it again with us.

However, we do understand that for some customers, situations may have changed and customers who decided they wanted a voucher at the time, may now wish to have a refund. Unlike a transfer, which cannot be changed, as a new booking has not been created as long as the voucher has not yet been redeemed, a customer can exchange this for a cash refund. If you wish to do this, please contact our Customer Services Team via the Contact Us page.

We are working through any transfer requests in holiday date departure order as quickly as we can. For all transfer requests, we work with the Property Owner to facilitate this before confirming with the guests.

Due to the high volume of demand for our Customer Services team we may take a little longer to respond to you than we would normally like. However, you should find out if your transfer request has been successful within 10 working days.

Guests can see in the above sections the different rules that apply depending on why a guest cancels their booking.

However, if you cannot travel due to your circumstances or no longer wish to travel you can cancel your booking by logging into your online customer account and selecting the “amend booking” option.

As per our standard booking terms, guest’s deposits and the booking fees are non-refundable.

However, due to ongoing uncertainty and the and continual changes to government guidance around coronavirus, if a guest cancels their booking that was due to depart in this period for any reason and the property is re-let, we will refund the guest the money they have paid up to the maximum amount we re-let the property for. Please see our new Coronavirus Customer Re-Let Policy for more information.

Please login to your online customer account and select the “amend booking” option for more information.

Under normal circumstances as per our booking terms, a customer’s deposit is non-refundable. However, due to the changing government guidance and the uncertainty that coronavirus has caused for customers, if a customer wishes to cancel their booking due to depart in 2020 for any reason, they will be eligible for a refund if the property is re-let. Please see our new Coronavirus Customer Re-Let Policy for more information.

Customers who had bookings due to depart in the past who still need to resolve their situation should contact our Customer Services Team using the Contact Us page on our website.

If you wish to cancel your booking you can do so by logging in to your online customer account. Additional information regarding your specific circumstances will be available to you from within these pages.

Before you go and at the property

All arrival information is available in a customer’s account once they have paid their balance in full. Our team will also send this arrival information to you automatically via email prior to your stay.

The safety of our guests, owners, housekeepers and the local communities are of paramount importance to us. Because of this, some of our owners have adapted their arrival times to allow for a new cleaning regime to take place. If this is the case, you will receive this information prior to your stay.

Once a guest has paid in full they will be given the Property Owner’s or Caretakers details. It will then be possible to make contact with the Property Owner to ask any questions and get the latest information about your upcoming stay.

All of our properties are already cleaned to a high standard and in light of the current situation we have been working closely with our owners to ensure they are ready to re-open, including providing detailed cleaning guidance (using risk assessments and cleaning checklists developed by the Professional Association of Self Caterers), and encouraging owners to implement changeovers and key collections processes that minimise contact. You will be provided with your cottage owners contact details in advance of the stay so that you can ask any further specific questions.

We sincerely hope that does not happen but in the, hopefully, very unlikely event it does please ensure you follow the appropriate Government advice. Please note this may be different depending on the country you are staying in. The UK government guidance for holiday homes in England can be found here. You will see that if you or a member of your party falls ill at a property, you should self-isolate and request a test. If you are confirmed to have Covid-19 you should return home if you can. When contacting the NHS please specifically mention that you are staying in a holiday home. If you are advised by NHS to remain at the property, we will work with the owner to facilitate this as best we can and you will be required to pay the rates due for an additional stay and any other costs that relate to the additional stay.

Shops, attractions, pubs and other establishments are always subject to changes in their opening times and availability. It is not possible for anyone to predict the availability of such amenities and customers should always check directly with particular businesses if these are crucial to their holiday plans.

We know that customers want to do their best to help the local communities that they are visiting whilst they are on holiday. That is why we have put together our Responsible Holidays Charter where you can find ideas from us on how to holiday responsibly and sustainably with additional information in light of coronavirus.

The Travel Chapter Limited, trading as holidaycottages.co.uk | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210