COVID-19 FAQs

New Coronavirus Restrictions in Scotland: 22 September 2020

The Association of Scottish Self-Caterers has obtained legal clarification from the Scottish Government that the bans on visiting other households indoors will NOT extend to self-catering accommodation.  The new restrictions apply to people’s homes, not commercial accommodation businesses. 

Self-catering businesses, like others within the tourism and hospitality sector, remain open to receive visitors if existing guidelines are adhered to. As the First Minister stated in her speech:

“These new restrictions apply to people’s homes – in other words, to private indoor spaces.”

“Rules for meeting other people in public indoor spaces that are subject to strict regulation and guidance, remain the same – you can meet with one other household only and in groups of no more than six people.”

“…We will be working with local authorities to strengthen inspection and enforcement in indoor public places and enforcement action, including closure if necessary, will be taken against shops, pubs, restaurants or other premises that do not ensure compliance."

We advise all our guests to keep up to date with the latest government advice on travel and take this and their own personal circumstances into account before booking and deciding whether to travel. Please note there are differences in guidelines between England, Scotland and Wales so please make sure you refer to the relevant guidance. 

Please check this page as we will be updating it as and when new information comes to light. 

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To our valued customers and home owners 

As a family-owned business, people are at the heart of everything we do, so your safety and health is, and continues to be, our top priority. 

As you know, the situation is changing daily and as a result we have put together a list of FAQ's which might help answer any queries you might have regarding your upcoming holiday or booking a future holiday.  The information provided below will be subject to change in line with governmental policy and/or guidance.  Last updated 14 August 2020

Can I speak to someone about my booking? 

We are a small family run business with staff furloughed and/or working from home without access to the office phone lines. Please submit any enquiry or concern you have by email and we'll respond to you as quickly as we can. 

In the meantime to help answer some of your questions we have provided as much info as possible in the FAQ’s below to help with different scenarios, these contain all the information and instructions we’d be able to give if you were to speak to us directly.

New legislation came into force from Monday 14th September.  What does this mean for group holidays in Scotland? 

Group Size

Scotland will be reducing the numbers of people allowed to meet indoors from 8 to 6.  Children aged 12 and under are not included in the count.  

For example, 10 guests may still enjoy the use of a holiday home in Scotland as long as there are no more than 6 adults in the group and the remaining 4 guests are all aged 12 and under.  The same could apply for 14 guests if 6 were adults and 6 were children aged 12 and under.  

In England the maximum number of people allowed to meet together indoors or outdoors is limited to 6. There is no exception for children, they are included in the count.  

In Wales the maximum number of people allowed to meet together indoors or outdoors is limited to 6. Children aged 12 and under are not included in the count.  

Households

Scotland will be reducing the number of households that can get together from three to two.  This means the total group must not come from more than two households.  A support bubble (two households) is counted as ‘one household’ and they do not have to socially distance from each other.  For more information on bubbles click here. 

What if I've booked a holiday in September or October 2020? 

We have already been in touch with you.  It's important to note you are responsible for ensuring your group does not exceed the legislative requirements, so you will either need to;

a. reduce the numbers in your party to meet the requirements, 

b. submit a transfer request (authorised by the owner)

c. cancel your holiday.  

d. get a credit voucher for the amount previously paid for your booking, to spend on any Scotts Castle Holidays break, to take place before the end of 2021

Owners are prohibited from hosting groups that exceed the legislative requirements as much as you are prohibited from being hosted.  We therefore encourage you to get in touch with your host (either directly or via us) to disclosure the exact make-up of your group in advance.  This will help you both determine the best course of action. 

If an owner is prohibited from hosting a group that exceeds the legislative requirements and a transfer cannot be agreed or accommodated, a full refund will be provided on any monies paid. Refunds will not occur until a week prior to the holiday due date. This is in case the legislation changes releasing the owner from their obligation to refund your monies as you'll be allowed to take the holiday originally booked. 

We appeal to all guests on behalf of the majority of holiday home owners we represent to consider transferring their holiday to another time of year rather than cancel. This supports the livelihoods of holiday home owners, housekeepers and rural local communities.  This niche sector which families and groups rely on to celebrate their special occasions has not been and is not being supported by government - despite having had a devastating impact financially on this industry.  

What if I've booked a holiday in November or December 2020? 

If by October, it looks like the legislation will continue into November and December we will get in touch with you. It is important to note you are responsible for ensuring your group does not exceed the legislative requirements, so if the legislation is not lifted within 1 week of your holiday you will either need to 

a. reduce the numbers in your party to meet the requirements, 

b. submit a transfer request (authorised by the owner)

c. cancel your holiday

d. get a credit voucher for the amount previously paid for your booking, to spend on any Scotts Castle Holidays break, to take place before the end of 2021

Owners are prohibited from hosting groups that exceed the legislative requirements, but will not necessarily be in a position to understand the make-up of your group.  We therefore encourage you to get in touch with your host (either directly or via us) to disclosure the exact make-up of your group in advance.  This will help you both determine the best course of action. 

If an owner is prohibited from hosting a group that exceeds the legislative requirements and a transfer cannot be agreed or accommodated, a full refund will be provided on any monies paid. 

We appeal to all guests on behalf of the majority of holiday home owners we represent to consider transferring their holiday to another time of year rather than cancel. This supports the livelihoods of holiday home owners, housekeepers and rural local communities.  This niche sector which families and groups rely on to celebrate their special occasions has not been and is not being supported by government - despite having had a devastating impact financially on this industry.  

What if I've booked a holiday in 2021 but want to cancel now because of the new legislation that has come in? 

Holiday Home Owners do not get any advance warning of changes made to government guidelines or legislation, and since March have worked hard to ensure they adhere to ever changing goalposts.  This has cost them significant resource yet most have not been supported financially by the government unlike other parts of the hospitality sector.  They, like you are also concerned about uncertainty and financial loss.  

However the Holiday Home Owner is committed to providing the best possible service they can despite these challenges so will generally do everything in their power to address your concerns and requests on a case by case basis, with the limited information they may have at the time to base these decisions on.  

This is particularly relevant to requests for refunds on cancelled bookings that fall outside the legislated period.  As nobody knows how long the legislative period will last - this means owners are less likely to offer to refund a deposit on a booking for holidays commencing in 2021 until much nearer the time when predictions can be made over whether the legislation will still prohibit you from taking the holiday you'd planned.  

Holiday Home Owners are more likely to accept your cancellation on the following terms, however as the contract is between yourself and the owner each one must be handled on a case by case basis: 

1. If the legislation remains in place within 1 week of the holiday a refund is guaranteed as it would appear the holiday home owner will legally not be allowed to accept your group into their home.  

2. If the legislation changes and owners are allowed to accept your group into their home more than 1 week from your holiday the following terms would apply: 

        a. If the house is re-let you get the deposit back

        b. If the house isn’t re-let you lose your deposit and the owner waives the balance liability* OR you take the holiday as originally planned   

*balance payments must be paid on the due date for these terms to take effect (e.g. if you don't pay your balance by the due date, your balance liability will not be waived if later you cancel your booking even though the legislation allows you to use the property as originally booked)

I am travelling from abroad where the travel restrictions are different to the UK. What should I do?

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.

When can I book a large holiday home with a group larger than the current legislation allows? 

In all honesty, we don't know.  It's impossible to predict what further changes to legislation the government will make or when these will be lifted and how that will impact on the large holiday home sector in the UK.  

We strongly advise if you wish to plan a holiday well in advance that you understand the risks associated with doing so, including the non refunding of your deposit unless the owner is prohibited from hosting your group at the point your holiday is due to take place. The standard booking conditions apply to all forward bookings.  

Some owners may ask guests for more personal information regarding the make-up of the group, number of households/bubbles and children's ages prior to accepting future bookings or in the lead up to the holiday. 

What is your Cancellation Policy for holidays booked beyond the current known travel ban? 

For all holidays that fall outside the current known UK travel ban, our standard cancellation terms and conditions apply.  It is a condition of booking clients agree to taking out travel insurance to mitigate financial risk in the event they wish to cancel their holiday.  It is imperative guests check their travel insurance policies for cover under these circumstances. This would be particularly relevant to overseas guests whose government travel restrictions may differ from the UK's in the months ahead.  

If you have not taken out travel insurance for a holiday that falls outside the UK's current travel ban, then you can still request a transfer of holiday dates, free of any administration charges.  Owners are generally flexible with regards to transfer requests.  

Some owners are beginning to offer flexible cancellation terms for all new bookings. These will be published on the individual property owners' listing.  

These are unprecedented times and whilst property owners are trying to be as accommodating as they can, there may be occasions where guests will have to wait until we better understand your and/or the owners position legally with regards to the cancellation of holidays more than 3 weeks in advance of the holiday start date.  This is because reviews occur once every three weeks.  

What terms apply if I have had my booking transferred? 

If following an agreed transfer, clients subsequently wish to cancel their booking, our standard booking conditions apply. 

My balance is due now, what happens?

Your final payment is due eight weeks (56 days) before a holiday commences. You will receive a reminder from us by email on or close to the due by date. If the final amount is not paid on the due date the owner has the right to cancel your booking as per the Booking Conditions.  Under such circumstances all payments you have made towards the holiday will be forfeited and you'll remain liable for payment of all outstanding amounts unless otherwise agreed with the Owner. 

Why?

There’s better chance of being able to re-let dates the more notice given, which is why owners want us to collect the balance payments two months ahead of the holiday. It provides them with the security they will not be let down at the last minute with non payment of the holiday and a last minute cancellation with no time to push the dates back onto the market to secure a re-let.  This is why they do not accept any financial liability for refunding you the cost of your holiday unless by law they are prevented from hosting.  

What happens if one or more members of my group are unable to travel due to illness and we need to cancel the holiday?

If the owner is permitted to honour your booking, any cancellation you or any of your guests need to make for whatever reason which may include not being able to travel to the property for reason of ill-health (including covid) would be considered a client cancellation.  

Client cancellations are non-refundable unless we’re able to re-let the dates. 

In some cases, owners may choose to cancel an upcoming holiday if it appears the make-up of the group may contravene whatever the guidelines might be at that time.  

Will there be a discount on the rate I've paid if the guidelines change and I have to reduce my group numbers? 

Properties you book through us are let on an exclusive use basis up to the maximum occupancy advertised, rather than on a per person basis. This means the rate will remain the same whether the house is fully or partially occupied, unless a lower occupancy discount is advertised on the property listing.  

It is incumbent on the group leader to determine which members in his/her group may or may not be considered suitable in joining them on holiday, based on the current recommendations.  It is also incumbent on the group leader to ensure all guests practice good hygiene whilst staying at one of our properties and where relevant, physical distancing for the safety of the group, the housekeeping team conducting the changeovers and the local community at large. 

What extra measures have been put in place at properties to stop the spread of coronavirus?

All properties we market are already cleaned to a high standard and in light of the current situation property owners have been provided with additional information around changeovers, key collection and cleaning best practice to ensure the safety of their cleaning staff, their guests and those living close by.  These cleaning guidelines for self-catering holidays were drawn up based on advice from agencies such as the HSE (Health and Safety Executive), WHO (World Health Organisation), European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), and Centres for Disease Control (CDC), NIH (National Institutes of Health), Public Health England and the NHS.  

All owners will have conducted a thorough risk assessment prior to re-opening to ensure they have put measures in place to keep their guests, their staff and the local community as safe as possible. In some cases this may mean leaving the property empty for a few days between bookings and in other cases it may mean earlier departure times and later arrival times.  Please be assured all changes that have been made will have been done so with your health and safety in mind. 

Will the Check In/Check Out times be different? 

As our owners are different they will also likely be adopting slightly differing arrival and departure procedures depending on the size of the property, the cleaning team available and location of the property. When we're notified of any changes to existing arrival and departure procedures, we will update the property listing accordingly. Owners are responsible for notifying their guests of any changes directly and we recommend guests get in touch with the key contact a few days prior to their holiday to discuss arrival and departure arrangements.  

Any changes that have been made by the owner will have been done so with your health and safety in mind and we appreciate your patience and understanding if your travel plans may need a little adjusting to allow for some disruption to the original changeover plans. 

Travel Package Holidays

Scotts Castle Holidays do not offer nor arrange any ‘package’ holidays or ‘linked travel arrangements’, both as defined in the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018. 

What happens if a localised travel ban is put in place?

Localised 5 mile travel restrictions and lockdowns have already taken place in Scotland.  Based on these recent events, guests who booked self catering holidays in that region were still allowed to travel to the region from other parts of the UK as long as when in situ they adhered to the travel and/or other localised restrictions during their stay.  

We advise all guests to keep up to date with the latest government advice and take this and their own personal circumstances into account before deciding whether to travel. 

Useful Links

www.gov.uk/government/news/covid-19-essential-travel-guidance


Cancellation or Transfer Request form

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