Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Helpful Holidays Takes Top Place in Which? Survey again!

We're absolutely thrilled to have been awarded first place in the Which? travel magazine member survey of holiday cottage and villa companies for the second year in succession achieving a very high score of 91%.

We were awarded five out of five stars in all but one category; this included a top rating for properties matching their descriptions – we were the only company to achieve this.

Which? members were asked to rate any holiday cottage or villa that they had used in the past year on everything from customer service to value for money. The panel of 2,377 members named hundreds of different agencies and listings websites. We achieved the highest score impressing members with our customer service, quality of information, ease of booking and comprehensive range of properties. Our advanced online search facility with 42 handy filter options from pianos to pools also achieved five stars.

Our General Manager Moray Bowater said: “Everyone knows Which? endorsements are truly unbiased and trustworthy. To achieve its members top rating two years in succession is a pleasing recognition of the diligence and attention to detail our team puts into practise with every booking we take. Ultimately, trust is the currency that really counts and earning that of our customers has been our purpose for the last 30 years.”

Lorna Cowan, Editor of Which? Travel, added; "Helpful Holidays has proved to be a continued hit with Which? members after being voted the best holiday cottage company in our annual satisfaction survey for the second year running. Its impressive customer score and maximum five star rating in six out of the seven featured categories, including customer service and ease of booking, shows just how well members rate the company and the cottages it offers.”

We have more than 600 places to stay in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset ranging from romantic retreats for two up to big country houses sleeping a maximum of 48 guests. All the properties are regularly and carefully inspected and star rated by the our own team so we can advise holidaymakers honestly through first-hand experience. Holidaymakers can always speak to someone who has visited any property and get answers to questions the website or brochure might not answer. Many of the places are exceptionally plush and we have a reputation for offering big and beautiful houses.

Every property on has a map showing attractions, activities, events and eateries nearby plus a full and frank description, several images and, in some cases, a video or audio tour; most also have a number of independent reviews by holidaymakers so guests know what to expect and can plan their holidays with confidence.

We're delighted to receive this recognition from Which? - but we'll be sure not to rest on our laurels. We'll be working harder than ever to ensure a third award next year!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Take the Plunge into West Country Life at Fal River Festival

Immerse yourself in Cornish culture with a Castle to Castle Swim. It’s just one of more than 150 events at the 10-day Fal River Festival. 

The celebration of the Fal River showcases every section of life that thrives from Cornish culture, music, arts, food, literature, drama, industry, gardens, sports and history.

Helpful Holidays sponsors a day at the festival, which runs from Friday, May 24 until Sunday, June 2. It is now one of the largest festivals in Cornwall despite it being just eight years old. Organisers promise this year’s festival will be the biggest and most vibrant yet.

Festival director, Dot Peryer, said: “The festival offers something for everyone and a chance to engage with life on the Fal River and discover some its history and heritage.

“The Fal River is Cornwall’s most popular visitor destination and the festival is a chance to really celebrate the places, people, history and culture that are connected by this very Cornish river.”

The festival opens with a Beer Fleet Launch. Visitors can explore the habitat on the Fal River Walk, plunge into the Fal for the Castle To Castle Swim, savour the local delicacies at the Fal Fish Festival and take in specially commissioned performances and events from Falmouth University.

During 2012 around 110,000 people attended events while enjoying over 3,500 pints of beer, lager and cider. 

Day sponsors signed up to support this year’s festival are A&P, Falmouth University, Helpful Holidays, Classic Sailing and Skinners Brewery.

Dot added: “I really want to thank the day sponsors for their commitment to and support of the festival.  We are delighted to have two new sponsors- Falmouth University and Classic Sailing, join our existing sponsors, A&P, Helpful Holidays and Skinners Brewery. 

For more information on the festival visit or search ‘Fal River Festival’ on Facebook, and ‘FalRiverFest’ on Twitter.

Take a look at our holiday cottages in Falmouth and the surrounding area, from portside retreats to family getaways.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Gara Rock: a hidden spot of holiday cottage heaven

Seclusion, restaurant dining, spectacular sea views, landscaped gardens, all wrapped up in the privacy and personal choice you only get with a self-catering holiday. Is that too much to ask?

Gara Rock is just that – a hidden spot of holiday cottage heaven. But, although this new development is well buffered from daily hustle and bustle by country landscapes and sea views, the site on south Devon’s rugged coast has been drawing visitors - including Sir John Betjeman and Margaret Rutherford - to witness its beauty since the early 1900s.

Gara Rock retains all the history and charm of a site that was first a coastguard station, a hotel, then an RAF wartime headquarters and then a hotel once again. The original cottages were transformed into a hotel in the early 1900s when guests had to travel by steam train, paddle steamers and horse and carriage to get to there. Now, it may be easier to reach but it still has no villages or buildings to detract from the scenery.

A mile and a half east along the coast from East Portlemouth, the twelve apartments and five cottages, along with an excellent restaurant and swimming pools, all have staggering panoramic views seaward and towards the wild headlands of Prawle Point and beyond Salcombe Estuary to Bolt Tail.

Coast Group bought the property in 2004, believing it a world class location. It strives to re-establish the important tradition of providing refreshment and a resting place for coastal walkers.

Helpful Holidays lets two holiday cottages and four apartments on the site. Sleeping four and five guests, the properties at Gara Rock have shared use of an excellent on-site restaurant, cafĂ©, indoor and outdoor pools, jacuzzi, sauna, steam room and landscaped gardens.

It’s in a brilliant position to explore the South West Coast Path – which its first inhabitants had a role in developing and which runs alongside the development on the cliff top. There is also a 550 yard footpath giving easy access to the secluded coves of Seacombe Sands and Rickham Beach below for sunbathing, swimming and surfing.

Open daily from 9am until 11pm, the informal, contemporary restaurant has a glazed wall for watching the view all year round, plus a terrace for outdoor dining on warmer days.

To learn more about Gara Rock, go to the website. To see the six properties we have on offer or book a stay, click here or call us on 01647 434063.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Celebrating May in the West Country

May Day is celebrated with style and substance down in the West Country, where ancient traditions still hold strong.

In Cornwall, Padstow’s Obby Osses (see above photo) – two stylised recreations of a horse - are brought out from the winter stable to the sound of a hypnotic folk song. The dance through the narrow streets and around the harbour, which is decorated with flowers and flags for the occasion, is a sight to behold on 1st May.

In Minehead it’s called the Hobby Horse and from 30th April to 4th May, the figure chases children, harasses men and woos the ladies with its vibrant tail of ribbons and ostrich plumes, running to Dunster Castle and around the village.

Brixham Pirate Festival will strive to beat its record of 1,744 suitably dressed buccaneers on 4th and 5th May. Pirate games and rousing sea shanties complete the swashbuckling atmosphere.

Down in St Ives, the Grand Bard and Lord Mayor choose the May Queen, King and followers in a ceremony known as the Pee Whip on 6th May, which includes Maypole dancers and traditional choirs singing and dancing their way through the streets and down to the harbour.

In Devon on the same day, Morris dancers gather in Milbrook, Cawsand and Kingsand for the Black Prince flower boat procession joined by town criers and a flower-decorated boat held aloft on the shoulders of ratings from HMS Raleigh. Wearing red ribbons, flowers and sashes, they form a procession of dancers, musicians and children.

Helston Flora Day is on 8th May and be ready for an early start. The day of dancing begins at 8am with the Hal an Tow and the men’s dance is at midday. Schoolchildren decked out in finery and flowers, women in ball gowns and men in their Morning Dress will surely welcome in the sun in style.

For West Country holiday cottages a short morris dance away from each of these celebrations go to or call our team o01647 433593.