Located in the small Andalusian town of Alhaurín, in the province of Málaga, you will find Morten Håkelien’s holiday apartment ‘Apartment Alhaurín Golf’. Nestled at the foothills of impressive mountains and just a few kilometers from the beaches on the Costa del Sol, it’s the perfect place for guests to combine a relaxing break with a beach holiday.
In the conversation with Morten we find out what it takes to be a successful vacation homeowner, why he decided to transition from Spain-Holiday to Bookiply and how Bookiply has transformed his vacation rental business in Málaga.
Morten Håkelien is originally from Norway and has lived in Denmark for 21 years. He and his wife Lis, with whom he has been together since 2003, both love having a vacation rental in Málaga, where they can escape to for short breaks throughout the year. Morten’s hobbies include golf, football and cooking, which he can all enjoy when visiting Spain.
Initially, Morten bought his vacation rental in Málaga as a holiday home for him and his family but always with the idea in mind that the property would make for a great holiday rental business. Back in the summer of 2007, Morten began listing his apartment with Spain-Holiday and was among some of the first listings on the site. ‘Apartment Alhaurín Golf’ had been advertised on the Spanish-based holiday rental platform for 15 years until the merger with Bookiply in 2021.
Family holidays, nature escapes, golf trips and beach breaks…
‘Apartment Alhaurín Golf’ is a vacation rental in Málaga ideal for families, nature lovers, golf enthusiasts and beach goers. Set in a tranquil apartment complex, guests can enjoy the peaceful surroundings, mountain views and perhaps a round of golf.
“The typical tourists we get in the area are families. There are also, of course, golfers, but generally we receive families and those more interested in nature and little peace and quiet…It’s quite different from the guests visiting the towns along the Costa del Sol, which are slightly more lively.”
With its spacious living and kitchen area, a double bedroom and a twin bedroom, the apartment is ideal for families. It provides the perfect setting for guests to relax, read a book and dine outside on the private terrace. From the terrace there is direct access to the shared outside area where guests are invited to soak up the sun and take refreshing dips in the swimming pool.
Just a stone’s throw from the traditional Andalusian town of Alhaurín, holidaymakers can get a taste of authentic life in this part of Spain. Morten also encourages his guests to rent a car so they can further explore the area by taking a trip into the mountains and discovering the beaches along the coast.
“You have the best of both worlds really…you have the mountains behind the apartment and the beaches a few kilometres away. Due to the location of the property we are a bit out from the main hubs of Malaga. I feel it’s better for guests to rent a car so you are not just in one place, you can jump in the car and see the area.”
Better service, more bookings than ever, and less time spent handling operations
When Spain-Holiday joined the Holidu Group in the summer of 2021, Morten was enthusiastic to try something new. He was first contacted by an Account Manager in August who set up a meeting with him to introduce Bookiply.
“I was contacted by an Account Manager who gave me a really nice introduction to Bookiply…I have been contacted by many vacation rental companies before, but I’ve never listed with anyone else. The presentation I received was really good and they went through the Bookiply product really well.”
After being with Spain-Holiday for 15 years, a different approach to vacation rentals was an exciting prospect to him. Knowing that people he had been in contact with for years at Spain-Holiday would continue to be friendly faces at Bookiply was a great comfort to him.
“We felt safe with Spain-Holiday, and we had been with them for a long time but it was time to try something new and move over to Bookiply…and with familiar faces from Spain-Holiday at Bookiply, it was like we were all moving together in this new chapter.”
Morten has been most impressed by the personal service he receives at Bookiply, with a dedicated Account Manager who he can contact at any time. This helps with the management of his vacation rental and saves him a lot of time.
“It’s great that there is a person behind the product that you can have direct contact with easily. It’s not like with bigger companies, which feel almost like a call center, and you are lucky if you get through to speak to someone…if I have any issues, I can contact my Account Manager and I know everything will be taken care of, which saves me a lot of time because I am busy with my normal job and day-to-day life here in Denmark.”
Transitioning from Spain-Holiday to Bookiply, Morten found the whole process pleasant and easy.
“It was very nice and easy for me, I mean, it just happened. My vacation rental was already active on Spain-Holiday before the merger took place – so it was a very smooth transfer for us.”
Morten only started working with Bookiply in August 2021 and already received more bookings in the first month compared to a similar time period with Spain-Holiday. He also expressed that he has had a better experience with the product overall, and it has saved him a lot of time and administrative work.
“I received five bookings within one month of listing with Bookiply, which in a short period of time, was more than with Spain-Holiday….We transitioned from a subscription with Spain-Holiday to a commission model with Bookiply, but I used to have to track the payments myself. Now it’s much easier, everything is done through the Bookiply App, and this means much less administrative work for me.”
“Before, with Spain-Holiday, there was a lot of back and forth with payments from guests. It is all round a much simpler process now with Bookiply, but I like that I am still in touch with the guests and can control which vacation rental platforms my listing shows on.”
Not only has Morten had a great experience with the product, but he was really impressed with Bookiply’s professional photo service.
“You know, as a vacation rental homeowner, you have other things to do than take photos of your property, so the professional photography package is a great added extra.”
Special prices to adapt to the seasonality of vacation rentals
Morten attributes his success in having many returning guests, as well as guests staying for longer periods of time, to adapting his pricing in order to reflect the guest and the season, especially during the winter.
“You really need to have special prices in the wintertime. We have couples that rent year after year. There is great comfort knowing that your property is being looked after and heated in the winter months when you cannot get there yourself…Also for regular returning guests, it’s good to be able to offer them special prices. You know they enjoy staying at your home, and it’s comforting too because you know they will respect your property.”
Morten’s tips for new hosts
Morten would encourage new vacation rental hosts to communicate openly with guests and give them as much information as they need.
“The secret to giving guests the best experience in your vacation rental is to have open communication and to answer guests’ questions quickly and honestly to create trust. When guests are booking your property they have often saved their money for this holiday, so you want to make sure they will have a great stay and they know what they will get when they arrive at your holiday home.”
Morten would recommend vacation home owners to rent out their property when they are not using it themselves.
“Combining the ownership of a holiday home with renting it out for vacation rentals when we do not use it ourselves has always worked very well. It means we can cover the costs of owning a second property whilst we are not using it.”
Morten and his family enjoy staying at the property throughout the year, but he always ensures guests get first priority on bookings.
“Having an apartment in Spain is the perfect leisure place for us. We like to be outdoors a lot and enjoy the sunshine with golf. It’s also the perfect location for the beach and many good places to eat.”
If you fancy a vacation in Málaga, you can book ‘Apartment Alhaurín Golf’ here. Enjoy your stay!
You can find more of our homeowner stories, featuring expert tips for homeowners and great anecdotes, on our blog.