Belvilla, a company that rents out holiday homes, has received numerous complaints in recent years for ruining vacations and providing poor service. A recent example involves Kristel Wouters and her family, who booked a two-week stay in a castle estate in Tuscany for around 13,000 euros. nonetheless, upon arrival, they found out that the building and domain were already occupied, the property was dirty, there was no running water or electricity, and vermin droppings were found throughout the house. The communication with Belvilla has been unresponsive, leaving the families waiting for an answer for over a month. This incident is not isolated, as Testaankoop, a consumer organization, reports receiving numerous public complaints about Belvilla’s poor communication, service, and delayed refunds. The affected families can claim their money back based on Belvilla’s terms and conditions, but seeking compensation or taking legal action may prove more challenging since Belvilla is a Dutch company with its headquarters in Switzerland. Despite the company’s questionable track record, the rental price for the castle estate on the Belvilla website suddenly dropped by 200 euros per night. Additionally, negative reviews of the property, known as Maiano Castle, have been surfacing, describing rodent infestations and unsatisfactory conditions.
Belvilla, the company that rents out holiday homes and which ensured that the holiday of the family of Kristel Wouters and three other families from Kalmthout and Essen fell into the water, is no stranger. Test purchase has received hundreds of complaints in recent years. Also striking: on the Belvilla website, the rental price has suddenly dropped by 200 euros per night. “Years ago it was breathtaking, now rodents are king.”
LOOK. When the van Kristel family arrived, the building and the domain turned out to be completely occupied
Kristel Wouters and her family went to Tuscany with three other families in mid-July. They would spend two weeks on a castle estate. Cost: about 13,000 euros. When they arrived, the building and the domain turned out to be completely occupied. It was dirty, there was no running water or electricity, there was a dirty and empty swimming pool and vermin droppings were everywhere in the house.
The communication with Belvilla was also anything but smooth. A month later, the families are still waiting for an answer. According to Testaankoop, nonetheless, this is not new. “At the moment we cannot put an exact number on it, but our website contains an awful lot of public complaints,” says Ortwyn Huysmans of Testaankoop. “And that only concerns the public complaints. There are also many complaints that we have not made public. It always comes down to the same thing: poor communication, poor service, a very long wait for money.”
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A bit of positive news: the four affected families can claim their money back. “I once went looking for Belvilla’s general terms and conditions,” the spokesperson continues. “The most recent I find dates from 2021. It clearly states that money can be claimed back. In principle, this is always possible if the house absolutely does not correspond to how it is described on the internet. The best thing is that you send emails because then you have proof. Taking screenshots of the numbers you call and how long calls have lasted is always an added value.”
Belvilla is Dutch but has its headquarters in Switzerland. That makes it more difficult to go to court
Affected families could also claim compensation. “Imagine that – and they did – they still had to drive a lot of kilometers and incur other extra costs, then that is certainly possible. But it is of course no guarantee that you will get it. You could also go to court. That is quite easy if you have rented through a European company. But in this case it is more difficult, because Belvilla is Dutch but has its head office in Switzerland.”
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Our editors contacted Belvilla on Thursday and Friday. They sent an e-mail, among other things, but received a standard reply. “Dear guest, we have received your email in positive order. Unfortunately, we cannot immediately give you a definitive answer because we want to investigate the matter thoroughly. This takes some time and we would like to ask you to take this into account.”
“It is striking that the price to rent the castle domain has suddenly been reduced by 200 euros. When we looked on the website on Thursday, it still cost 821 euros per night (for a maximum of 20 people). On Friday that was suddenly only 621 euros.”
A investigation on Google also yields something. It brings us to reviews about the domain in question that are there ‘Maiano Castle’ is called. A few years ago the domain must have looked breathtaking and positive comments can be found, but those of the past year have all been damning. “There was a very serious rodent infestation in part of the property. The only guest brave enough to use one of the rooms in that part of the property had to slide a towel under her bedroom door to prevent the rodents from entering the room at night. Every morning there was a large amount of rodent excrement on the towel,” says one of the reactions.
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