Reasons to Book Direct

05Feb

How can you be sure you are getting the best holiday deals? Even in the age of online booking with price comparison sites it can be hard to know what truly the best way is to find that perfect holiday home. From considering location and facilities to budget, there is a lot to think about! Sometimes, to ensure you have the most seamless experience as possible, it is best to go straight to the source and book direct. We have put together a few good reasons why booking direct is best.

#BookDirect cut out the middle man and save

The best reason to book direct is the money you will save! Many online holiday booking sites like Booking.com, AirBnB, Trip Adviser, HomeAway and so on add fees to your booking total. This can amount to a lot of ££££££’s. Imagine what you can do with the money you save – a vineyard tour, extra spends for the market days, a visit to Chateau? The list is endless.

Because of the cost of using the big sites, some of the best holiday homes can’t be found on the major websites. By limiting your search to these websites, you might be missing out on the best accommodation for your family or group.

However, while online travel operators and comparison sites are useful to see what accommodation is available for your chosen destination, when you cut out the middle man, you cut out the commission and fees they charge! Many holiday rentals have a “best price guarantee” for booking direct, so it’s always worth having a look to see if there’s a better deal available and booking direct.

#BookDirect to build that relationship and tap into great local knowledge

Not everything in life, or in holidays, comes down to money. There are a wide range of benefits to booking direct that can’t be summed up on a receipt. A direct exchange between buyer and seller inevitably results in a closer connection and builds that worthwhile relationship.

Owners have intimate knowledge about the destination and accommodation, they know the property and the area better than anyone and can help you plan a better holiday experience, optimising dates and budgets to suit your needs.

They can send you to the best activities, restaurants, and local sights.

When booking a holiday accommodation, peace of mind is vitally important.

Want to know if there is a water-park, a hot-tub, a supermarket close by? Want to know where the best markets are and on what days? Want help to book your excursions?  When you book direct, you can find out many of these important questions and more before you commit to booking.

From events and activities to special rates to onsite services, with direct communication with owners, you get the insider knowledge and the best offers!

#BookDirect – accommodating your special and travel needs

Travellers with special needs and requests can work directly with the owner in a much more personal way to give you assurances before you commit to booking and to help you create a guaranteed amazing holiday experience.

If your trip doesn’t turn out exactly as you planned and you need to change dates or even cancel your accommodation outright, you will often find that holiday rentals are far more accommodating with direct bookers. Booking through a comparison site may leave you at the mercy of their terms and conditions, which are designed to protect their commission. Whereas booking direct can often have far more favourable conditions, especially if you’re a valued loyal customer.

Return guests are truly welcome, owners love to welcome you back again and often reward your loyalty with special discounts and offers.

It’s easy!  #BookDirect gets better results, better value and a better holiday!

Now you are here, look around our website and see what we have to offer. In short, we have 4 gites, 3 are fully accessible as is our pool, soft play room, games room and sensory room and our grounds. We pride ourselves on doing what we can to meet your needs so you have the holiday you deserve. although you can book direct online, we are happy to chat with you by phone or email anytime through the process. We look forward to hearing from you.

Want to meet a legend in disability sport?

26Jan

Domaine du Sourire caught up with Danny Furey, retired Scottish Paralympian. Scottish born Danny competed in the 1988 Seoul Olympics and was selected for the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992.   

Danny and his wife Liz, photo courtesy Uphill Trust
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2.jpg
that smile! sightseeing in Seoul photo courtesy of Disability Sport, Fife

Impressions on meeting this inspirational man are his wonderful sense of humour, indomitable Christian spirit and genuine humility. Danny has communication challenges, but this does not inhibit him being great company, his great-nephew Daniel said of him “he is the type of guy you could sit and listen to for hours! He has filled his life with so many adventures, the stories never run dry.”  You cannot walk away untouched by this man whose smile is infectious and whose heart almost explodes with a care for others.

Danny told me he was born in June 1950 in Dundee, the youngest of three. Danny went on to say:

“I was born with Cerebral Palsy as a result of the rhesus syndrome which then was called the blue baby syndrome. I lived, some didn’t. Some are physically impaired, whereas some have mental problems, and yet some have both. I lived at home for the first 5 years then it was suggested that I go to a special school in Edinburgh where I boarded until I was 16 years old getting home for the school holidays, it was tremendous strain on my family especially mum & dad.”

What drew you into wheelchair racing?

“I never thought of entering wheelchair athletics until I was 31 or32.  I can’t remember exactly what drew me to competitive racing because my first love was football in sports, which was out for me.  Although now they have wheelchair football and wheelchair rugby which, with my competitiveness, would have been a bit dangerous. Had these sports come earlier I might not have been here to tell the tale!”

As Danny has said he began competitive wheelchair racing in the early 1980’s, in the days before special racing chairs or Paralympic Games.

He raced for 10 years, becoming known as one of the world’s finest foot-pushing wheelchair racers of the time before being selected for the Seoul Olympics in 1988 and the Barcelona Paralympic Games in 1992.

Danny wearing his “tartan trews”

Twenty-nine Scottish athletes were selected for the GB team for the Paralympic Games in 1988. Over four thousand competitors from sixty-one nations took part and for the first time Paralympians accessed the same stadia and were supported by the same officials as the Olympians of 1988. I asked Danny:

What did it feel like to be selected to represent your country at the Seoul Olympics?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 5.png
 1988: Danny at Seoul Olympics

“Depends on what you mean by country, I gained a lot from my Scotland selection but didn’t fancy the British set up. It was an honour to be selected for GB, but the experience taught me from the organisation of the BPA it didn’t really inspire unity among the different disability groups that were represented.” 

Richard Brickley MBE – President Disability Sport Fife told me “I was in Seoul in South Korea in 1988 with Danny. It was his finest hour and the last occasion when foot pushing wheelchair athletes competed at the Paralympic Games. Danny’s greatest rivals were Danish, Irish and American. The great Dane, as he was known, was the world champion. Danny was the most likely athlete to defeat him over 200 metres. Danny pushed forward and the Great Dane pushed backwards. The result of the race is irrelevant but my memory of these two amazing athletes at full speed never deviating from their lanes will remain with me forever. The crowd in the packed stadium in Seoul were on their feet. One of the great moments in Para Athletics.

In each direction travelling for team GB must have been a gruelling journey for athletes and support staff alike. I asked Danny:

Danny, how did you manage the challenges of travelling to a foreign country?

“Quite well, but there were some of us that suffered a lot of jet lag including me. My body clock was all over the place. I was waking up at 3am thinking it was time to get up and dressed, then having to reverse the whole process. That’s just one of the issues I felt personally. Our wheelchairs and the stuff that we needed for training with came about two days after we arrived. I remember we were told not to eat anything like beef burgers because they might be cat or dog, and they told us if a policeman said stop, he would mean it by showing us his gun!”

What Danny hasn’t said is that for many of the team it was a demanding journey of moving and handling in the most confined of spaces. For all the team, Seoul was a steep learning curve. So, I asked Danny if he felt travelling had improved.

Do you think transport and services for people with disabilities has improved?

“Mainland Britain and Northern Ireland could do with some improvement particularly with public transport. It seems that public buildings are catching up, but some structures need access improvement even for some ambulant. I feel those with mental health issues and the visually impaired are most catered for but there is room for improvement here too.”

poor design makes this entrance inaccessible
A little thought could go a long way!

Danny does not believe in sitting back waiting for others to take action, either. In an unfortunate incident Danny got stuck in a church toilet in 2014. While struggling with his wheelchair he fell and got stuck, waiting 20 minutes before someone came to help.

He told Dundee’s Evening Telegraph in 2014, “I’ve never been one to sit around and wait for others to do things, so I decided to take the matter into my own hands.”

Staging a sponsored wheelchair run around Dundee, he raised more than £1,000 to hire an architect to draw up plans for new toilets. Despite dreadful weather on the day – pouring rain with thunder and lightning – unwavering, Danny completed his wheelchair marathon. He said he was “determined to do it regardless.”

What would be the top thing you would like to see improved in services for disability?

“More training in the caring side and more awareness what caring for people with disabilities requires, not treating everyone with the same brush remembering that disability comes with many varied and different caring needs.”

Danny believes that it’s not just able-bodied people who need to work to improve services, he went on to say:

“Disabled people need to learn that sometimes things will still be out of reach and able-bodied people are not at their beck & call.”

What are your most prominent challenges and how do you overcome them?

“Accepting the way that I need more support, sometimes it seems as if everything is being stripped away but I guess that’s goes for all people whether they’re disabled or not. This is where my faith makes me able to cope, as a Christian I find strength in knowing that Jesus is always with me and no matter what comes up I find peace when I lean on Him. Many times, in the hurly burly of life I don’t think that God hears me but in my heart of hearts I know that He’s just a prayer away. Someday, I know that I will know what my life has been all about.”

Having begun fundraising for new toilets for his church in 2014, Danny has gone on to raise funds for other charities, one being the Uphill Trust a small Scottish charity founded in January 2015 to support the development of Uphill Junior School, located in Uganda. I asked Danny,

I hear you still do some wheelchair racing, why is it important to you to do these charity races?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 8.jpg
photo courtesy the Uphill Trust

“Children. Especially children who don’t have much of a chance in life. In places like Uganda they have less of a chance because their dreams have been shattered before they dream them.”

He went on to correct me,

 “I don’t race any more, I just do little marathons around Dundee accompanied by my wife Liz who has started doing them as well.”

These “little marathons” are at least 10K!

Completing a marathon. Photo courtesy the Uphill Trust
All done, still smiling after completing a 10K marathon. photo courtesy Uphill Trust

What keeps you motivated?

“It’s nothing to do with doing the right thing, it’s more that more needs to happen.”

He continued:

“And knowing that no matter what comes up, no matter what’s been taken away, I will always have Jesus. Friends mean a lot, but I’d better put your Auntie, who just happens to be my wife Elizabeth”, and he continued, laughing, as he said “she bullies me continually (that’s not true, – well not all the time!)”

 

How fast is Danny going? Liz can’t keep up. Photo courtesy the Uphill Trust

Danny Furey, an amazing gentleman whose friendliness is evident to all who meet him; an outstanding sportsman and a legend in disability sport whose contribution to Dundee, Scotland and Great Britain is significant. It hasn’t stopped there, of course, his impact is reaching across the world to Uganda and elsewhere. Richard Brickley told me this little snippet, which sums up uncle Danny so well (for he is my uncle!) “Danny will also be remembered as one of the first high performance Para athletes to compete in very fetching coloured tights. Now everybody does. A real trailblazer in so many ways.”

Thank you, Danny, for taking the time to let Domaine du Sourire and our readers have a little window into your life and to be inspired by you.

Domaine du Sourire is an accessible holiday complex owned by Jackie and Terry Grant.  Their dream that people with disabilities can have a memorable holiday led them to Domaine du Sourire an inclusive place to cater for guests of all abilities. Jackie and Terry always enjoyed their many holidays across the world and they wanted to have a place that would give guests everything they felt a self-catering holiday complex should have.

We have 4 gites, a heated swimming pool with a ramp for wheelchair access, games room, soft play room and sensory room. Our sensory garden is being given a makeover this year,” Jackie told me.

Visit our website for more detail of our wonderful holiday gites and to subscribe to receive notification of all our great blogs as they are published.

www.domainedusourire.com

written by Amanda Mair

Our Guests – POPSY charity small group holiday at Domaine du Sourire

29Jun

Woohoo, we survived our very first guests. A group booking filling all 4 of our gites. It was a challenging but wonderful experience which has inspired us right at the outset of our journey.

POPSY (parents of partially sighted youngsters) is a support group for parents and carers of youngsters who are blind, have ‘special needs’ and with life-limiting conditions. It was set up by Tymandra, mum to Arwen Poppy who has a “special” syndrome ‘Warburg Micro Syndrome’, an extremely rare genetic condition (only 1 in 230 million people in the world diagnosed so far). Tymandra says she set up the group to keep herself positive and as an attempt to empower others who may feel out of control or are not sure what to do next and who feel alone.
Tymandra tirelessly works hard to support families of children who are blind, have special needs or life limiting conditions as well as fundraising for and organising day trips, activities and holidays for families.

5 families and 2 bus drivers arrived on a Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining so they wasted no time in offloading their belongings, which believe me were extensive, and headed straight for the cool azure blue shimmering waters of the newly installed “heated” pool.

As they were splashing around and having the time of their lives I received a phone call from my friend in the neighbouring region of Charente to say a storm was heading our way. No sooner had I set the phone down and headed towards the pool to let the newly arrived guests know when the storm suddenly appeared out of nowhere and it really hit us. Parasols blew into the water, pool toys upped and away. As our guests quickly scampered to the safety of their dry and comfortable gites we sorted the pool and things getting well and truly soaked but thankfully managed to avoid being struck by lightning.

What a start to their week and what a start to our new life in “sunny” France.

 

Thankfully the sun did return, and our guests had some lovely outings including Brantôme, Oradour-sur-Glane and Aubterre-sur-Dronne.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This group’s holiday and outings would not have been possible without the amazing JUMBALANCE a cross between a bus and ambulance. How the drivers, Brendan and Gary, managed to manoeuvre it along the, sometimes, very tight track roads in the Dordogne and through the tiny narrow streets of the French villages amazes me.  This amazing bus provides accessibility to people who may not otherwise be able travel. Visit their website and support them in this amazing job they do. www.jumbulance.org.uk

A full programme was organised with morning and afternoon activities as well as evening entertainment, we even managed to bag a celebrity to do the disco nights, we were thankful to Dawn Camilli one of the Candy Stripes (@frenchcandies- look them up on Facebook and Instagram) singers who lent us the lights and DJ’d for us. On rainy mornings the group were able to take advantage of the “games” room which converted to an activity hall by day and a disco by night. Activities included an art workshop and craft making. We arranged patisserie tasting, fromage tasting and a wine taster as well as Cognac v Armagnac, Cidre v Calvados and Fizz v Champagne evenings. We included a walking trip to a local dairy with ice cream tasting.

Disco Divas dancing the night away

Cidre or Calvados? a little tasting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French knitting with granny wendy

Lets do this inside it’s a bit chilly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last day for this group was truly amazing as it was a special boy’s 9th birthday, he enjoyed a pool party, then some scrummy goodies and a fabulous cake baked by our local boulangerie and finished off with a BBQ. The sun shone marvellously that day and a fantastic time was had by all.

 

 

POPSY – Domaine du Sourire just can’t wait until you’re back again next year!

POPSY is a small charity that deserves support –you can help by sponsoring- sponsor forms are available.
Or if you would like to make a donation, please get in touch: popsycharity@hotmail.co.uk or via Facebook.
Check out their website at www.popsy.org.uk

At Domaine du Sourire we aim to make your holiday as fun and as welcoming as possible. We can work with you to arrange packages for groups. Whether your group booking is for a holiday or retreat we endeavour to be as accommodating as possible to suit your needs. We can accommodate creative writing, artists, wellbeing, business or church/spiritual groups as well as groups of family or friends just wanting a great holiday together. Whatever your needs are chat to us and we can work out a programme of activity with you. And if you are not a group don’t worry each Gite is self-contained; individuals and families, alike, are welcome.

The property: what is unique about Domaine du Sourire # 1

06Jun

It’s time to answer that question that you are no doubt asking as you are searching for that perfect place to holiday, “Why Domaine du Sourire?”

What is it that is unique about these gites compared to all the others?

We are in an ideal location, we have magnificent views, Jackie and Terry live on site and are friendly hosts. So far so good but so the same as many others in the region (apart for Jackie and Terry who are unique!)

So, what is different at Domaine du Sourire?

I believe what is unique at Domaine du Sourire is the space Jackie and Terry have created so you can experience the best time of your lives whether you have a disability or not. It is their passion to ensure that the needs of a disabled child or adult are met as well as the needs of other family members.

One of the biggest differences is the accessibility for people with disabilities. Three of the 4 gites are fully wheelchair accessible, fitted with wet-rooms and specialist equipment is available or can be hired.

Even the swimming pool has a ramp which enables wheelchair users to safely and easily enter the water and have as much fun as others.

 

Holidays are fun, busy and noisy and fun, busy and noisy. Sometimes a different environment is much needed. The sensory room provides that often needed space to relax and reduce anxiety and stress in a safe place when it gets all too much.

At Domaine du Sourire Jackie and Terry recognise the world is changing and families or individuals who face disability deserve the same opportunities and they are proud that they provide that opportunity at Domaine du Sourire.

What makes Domaine du Sourire unique? The passion and commitment to ensure you have the best holiday experience whatever your ability. Jackie has said, “You are what makes us unique, each and every guest.”