COVID-19 FAQs

Dear Guest, 

As a small family-owned business, people were at the heart of everything we did, and providing clients with professional, helpful advice on booking their large holiday home was something we took enormous pride in and loved doing. 

Sadly, we've had to cease offering a marketing and bookings administration service to property owners following significant loss of income due to a very difficult year of trading.  As we specialise in marketing large holiday homes in Scotland we (and the owners of the properties we market) have been uniquely exposed to the economic effects of this virus.  The ever changing guidelines and regulations around travel and meeting in groups has resulted in ongoing uncertainty in this sector for months.  After almost 16 years of working to grow the business we are devastated to have been put in the position of having to give our property owners notice and to close our doors. 

Whilst we are in the process of winding the business down we will be forwarding all new enquiries directly onto the property owner so you can speak to them and book any future holiday directly. We will leave this page running until further notice to help owners and guests alike seek clarification on the most frequently asked questions we have had to field on behalf of the owners up until now.  Booking have always been a direct contract between the owner and their guest, not Scotts Castle Holidays. We have merely been acting as an intermediary between the owner and his/her guest. 

We'd like to thank all our loyal customers who have supported us over the years and are just very sad that we'll not be around to see your holiday through to the end. 

With best wishes during these difficult times

Harriet & Mathew Filewood, Partners

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What will happen to my booking? 

If you have an existing booking, don't worry.  Your booking is secure.  The only change will be that you'll be communicating directly with the owner rather than via us.  We will already have been in touch with you and the owner about your booking.  You are also already in receipt of the contact details of the property owner with whom your booking contract was made so have all the information you need contractually and administratively speaking.  

Can I make a new booking? 

Not via us you can't. We can no longer afford to offer owners a bookings administration service, which encompassed helping you with your holiday booking. However, whilst our site is still live, you'd be welcome to submit an enquiry via the property page which will be sent directly to the relevant owner to respond to.  Any booking you confirm directly with the owner will be on their booking & payment terms.  We are no longer updating the property listing so the pricing, availability and descriptions may become out of date and we cannot take any responsibility for any potential misrepresentation on that basis.   It is incumbent on yourself and the owner having been in touch with each other to clarify exactly what's being offered. This may mean reviewing the owners private website or listing to double check images, property descriptions etc. 

Can I speak to someone about my booking? 

Sadly we're no longer able to make or receive customer calls.  Our free customer service & concierge support facility to guests has had to be shut down due to lack of funds & staff. 

You may liaise directly with the owner (whose details you have already been provided) regarding your booking or you can send in a query by email which will be forwarded to the owner for response. 

If you're uncertain about your booking due to covid we ask that you first check your question hasn't been answered in the FAQ's below.  It's likely the owner will have no better understanding over how covid might affect your future booking than you do as the guidelines and rules are changing regularly, so this is the best place for you to start.  

Who is my booking contract with? 

The booking contract you entered into when confirming your booking was made with the property owner.  This is a legally binding contract between yourself and the owner and is called the Booking Conditions.  When we confirmed your booking we did so on behalf of the owner but were not party to this booking contract.  All terms associated with the booking are outlined in the Booking Conditions. 

What has happened to the money I paid you for my booking?

All monies you paid via Scotts Castle Holidays have been passed onto the property owner with whom your legal contract is with. We are no longer in receipt of any funds belonging to yourself or the property owner having shut down the property owners' client account.  Future refunds will need to be made directly by the owner to yourself as outlined in the Booking Conditions.  Scotts Castle Holidays can no longer provide this service as we are no longer offering it to owners.   

For the purpose of transparency the owner was contracted to pay Scotts Castle Holidays commission on the gross rental, payable for each booking introduction and due at the point your booking was confirmed. This fee covered the cost of marketing and advertising their property as well as introductions made to them in the form of a confirmed booking.  All funds Scotts Castle Holidays received from you and held in the owners account was paid across to the owner when we terminated our service agreement with them, net of any monies the owner owed Scotts Castle Holidays.  The owner was provided with a final invoice outlining the monies you had paid, less what they'd already been paid, less anything we were owed. 

If you still have monies outstanding to the owner you are responsible for paying him/her directly as we are no longer providing a service to collect those monies on his/her behalf. 

I have just seen an announcement that affects my holiday, what should I do?

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 the owner of the property has been made aware. In these circumstances, the owner will work quickly to ensure all options are available to you as soon as possible. Please bear with them, when this occurs.  They will likely need to take advice before being able to answer any contractual queries.  The rule of thumb will be; 

-  If the owner has to cancel your holiday due to a specific legal requirement to do so, he/she will contact you.

-  If government guidance or legislation in your region/country/household affects your own situation, you will need to contact the owner.

If I have made a booking and my holiday home is legally unavailable how will I know?

If your chosen holiday property is legally unavailable, the owner will contact you via email and/or phone.  You do not need to contact the owner until this has happened. 

What is the current legislation/guidance?

Below are links to the relevant government sites with information on the current legislation/guidance per region:

Here for England

Here for Scotland

Here for Wales

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

Option 1: Inform the owner you still intend to take the holiday as planned 

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). Keep the owner informed of your intentions, including changes to guest lists. Please ensure you record your booking reference number & surname in the subject header of your email which will help the owner keep a record of your communication in one place. 

Option 2: Transfer your booking to a later date

You may be able to transfer your booking to a later date if you wish to do so by asking the property owner. Depending on their own circumstances, owners are offering different levels of flexibility so it's best to check with them first to see what they can and can't offer.  

Option 3: Cancel your booking

If the owner cannot lawfully give you access to the property you have booked, you will have the option of cancelling your booking and receiving a refund as per the Booking Conditions. Please refer to the Booking Conditions - Owner Cancellation clause to understand your rights. 

If you wish to cancel a holiday, any refund will be applicable as per the current Booking Conditions.  Please refer to the Booking Conditions - Client Cancellation clause to understand your rights. 

I want to cancel my holiday due to covid - what are my rights to a refund? 

It is important to note unless the owner of the property actively cancels your booking you are not entitled to a refund of any sort.   

The cancellation terms were made very clear on the website and in the Booking Conditions that it is the responsibility of the guest booking the property to mitigate any form of financial loss by taking out their own cancellation cover.  Where guests have not taken out insurance, or have taken out insurance but the insurer will not cover your loss, it is unlikely the owner will wish to step in to do so either.  

If you are looking for compensation, your first port of call should be the company you took cancellation cover out with. Any refund or transfer agreed will be entirely at the owners discretion.  

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 them from hosting your group or 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 on the day of your holiday the legislation prohibits the holiday home owner from making their property available for use, the owner is liable to you for repayment of all monies you have paid.  All refunds will be paid directly by the owner to you as Scotts Castle Holidays will already have paid over any monies being held on account for your holiday booking. You must contact the owner directly. 

2. If the legislation changes and owners are allowed to accept your group into their home the following terms would apply: 

        a. If the house is re-let you get the deposit back as per the Client Cancellation terms in the Booking Conditions

        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.  

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 the owner better understands 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 government reviews on current policies 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 or make further changes the standard booking conditions apply.  This is the booking contract between yourself and the owner. Scotts Castle Holidays is not party to this contract. 

My balance is due now, what happens?

Your final payment is due eight weeks (56 days) before a holiday commences. You will need to remember to contact the owner on the due date to arrange payment.  It is your responsibility to ensure this payment is made on time. 

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?

From the day you entered into a booking agreement with the owner, the owners property has been unavailable which has excluded other parties from being able to book it.  The deposit you've paid is the agreement you've made with the owner to accept full responsibility for paying for the period booked in full.  It is a form of guarantee as the owner has in good faith blocked off all ability for anyone else to book that same period because it's been promised to you.  

If you feel you can no longer take the property as originally planned and wish to terminate your agreement with the owner, a longer notice period provides the owner with a better chance of re-letting dates.  In so doing, no-one loses out as you get refunded and the owners income is replaced by the new booking.  This is why owners want to collect balance payments at least two months ahead of your arrival. It avoids last minute non-payment of a holiday where a re-let becomes very unlikely.  This is why owners do not accept any financial liability for refunding the cost of cancelled holidays, unless by law they are required to. 

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 the owner is able to re-let the dates. 

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

The property you booked was let on an exclusive use basis up to the maximum occupancy advertised.  It is neither a hotel or B&B where bookings are charged on a per person or per room basis.  A self-catered property is booked as a whole, regardless of how many choose to occupy it.  This means the rate will remain the same whether the house is fully or partially occupied, unless a lower occupancy discount has been advertised.  

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 the property and where relevant, ensure 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?

Your property will have been cleaned with covid in mind.  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 they'll appreciate your patience and understanding if your travel plans may need a little adjusting to allow for some disruption to their 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. 

Useful Links

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

Who do I contact at Scotts Castle Holidays to ask a question that cannot be answered above? 

You can email me c/o the [email protected] address and I'll do my best to help answer any query or concern you might have.  Scotts Castle Holidays has been my life for 16 years and even at the end, I'll aim to be as genuinely helpful as possible. Please be aware my response time may take anywhere from 24 - 76 hours depending on the volume of queries I'm handling on any given day. 

Best wishes

Harriet Filewood


Cancellation or Transfer Request form

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