Our Bench - New Forest Accessible Accommodation

Coronavirus Update

We are open to Holiday Guests     

This page includes:

We hold a number of certificates for your reassurance including AA COVID Confident accreditation for our accommodation, Visit England Good to Go, Infection Control Training Certificate and Staying Covoid-19 secure.

COvid-19 Update

We are very much aware that Covid-19 is a worry for some of our guests, since March 2020 - we have done everything we can to ensure that the cottages are ready for you arrival, we have been open to holiday makers as soon as restrictions allowed, and we have always had a comprehensive cleaning routine. As hosts we are double vaccinated for your piece of mind, and are regularily testing.

What to Expect at Our Bench

Before you arrive

Guests booking direct automatically get sent a Welcome document prior to arrival, and we are asking guests only stay if they are fit and well. We have a key lock entry system - we do let the cottages air as much as possible prior to your arrival - you thet feel cold as the heating is turned down whilst the windows and doors are open.

  • We really appreciate guests who take a Covid Test before they choose to travel, as it is a great way to keep our community safe - and they are now available for every one in England free of charge. We have found this handy link - nhs.uk/gettested - and they can post one to you - we are ensuring that our team has tested negative before entering the cottages on changeover day, for your peace of mind.
  • We will be asking all guests for their name, address and contact details (phone number) - we legally have to retain up to 21 days after your stay, in case of an outbreak. If you have visitors or carers we ask that they log in with the NHS Track and Trace, there is the facility to log in by your cottage door, although this is optional.
  • We will continue to follow guidance, and we will react on any news - locally or nationally as required, and we expect our guests to do the same.
  • We will keep washing our hands and encouraging guests to maintain good hygiene practices.
  • We will be asking guests to be considerate of others, so please maintain spaces between other cottages and santise before using communal areas.
  • We are delighted to hear many of our guests have been vaccinated, we would still appreciate them to follow the guidance, as not everyone in the local community has been.
  • We will be wearing a mask where the situation dictates it - if you would like us to wear one then please just ask.
  • We encourage all guests to read the current guidelines on Covid-19 - they can can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/Coronavirus.  
  • If you breach any of the current guidelines applicable in our area during your stay, or our terms and conditions we will be asking you to leave.
When you arrive

We have always offered a key lock entry - so it is essential now that you make sure you have your key code, we have added hand gel nearby ready for you to use. Please let us know when you have arrived, and we will still pop by and say hello - but we will be respecting social distancing - we will wear masks on request (for some we know this is a barrier to communication) and we will happily answer any questions about your stay. 

The cottages will be cleaned ready for you, the beds made up - there will be the homely touches that make our holiday cottages a home away from home. We have considered carefully whether to include information on the local area, personal touches like plants, soft furnishings etc and we have done research on what we think guests would like - you are coming for a holiday, and over the years our guests have clearly said that is what they value.                 

During your stay

During you stay if you show any sign of infection whilst staying with us, get tested immediately and return home as soon as possible and notify us of the potential risk - as you could be putting other guests and ourselves at risk. This is as per the Government guidelines. If you are unable to return home you are liable to any costs of emergency accommodation, tthis could include the costs of extending your stay and could be the costs occurred by the arriving guests as their holiday would be cancelled. 

We appreciate guests whom are able to take lateral flow tests and are able to feel reassured they have had a negative result before coming on holiday - and again whilst they are away.

If you have any visitors / carers then please ask them to scan in with the NHS Track and Trace code ready by your door - this records the results for each 24 hour period, so please check in daily.           

If any guidelines change during your stay, and we become aware of them, then we will be contacting you and may request you leave early depending on the information received. We appreciate your understanding and co-operation at this unprecedented time.

In all properties we have included extra soap and cleaning supplies. There is a basic first aid kit.  We recommend that you bring hand sanitizer with you, and take it out and about with you - particularly if you are planning on enjoying some walks in the forest or coastal picnics - as there are some lovely accessible walks that have gate latches that you would need to touch to keep the ponies out.

If you are staying in Little Bench or Bench Cottage please be aware of social distancing when using your front door, the shared laundry area and garden.  There are lots of reminders around the cottages and as you enter along with hand gel available for any visitors, and the neighbouring guests may not be vaccincated.

When you depart

We ask now that you send us a text on departure - letting us know that you have vacated the property, we will ask that you turn the heating down, and open all the windows that are not visible from the road, then lock up as normal and leave your key in the key safe. This is to ensure the property is aired fully before the next set of guests, and to help reduce any risks to ourselves, by sending us a text - we can ensure we can pop along as soon as we can.

We ask that you wipe down all surfaces on departure to reduce the risks for ourselves, in addition to our standard terms where we have always requested you leave the cottage as you would like to find it.

If you become ill or anyone if your party does with suspected Covid-19 within 48 hours of your departure, it is your duty of care to let us know, as soon as possible.  

Cleaning between guests.

Guests whom have stayed with us before will know that the cottages have always been cleaned ready for your arrival. We have always cleaned the cottages thoroughly, ready for the next guests. This has always included comprehensively cleaning of kitchens and bathrooms, wiping all cupboards, vacuuming and floor washing as well as cleaning and tidying any shared spaces.

We are happy to share our risk assessment, based on guidelines provided by the Professional Association of Self-caterers.

Due to the additional work - lawns may not be mowed and gardening maintained on changeover days so we may be doing this during your stay, but we will be maintaining social distancing as we work.

NHS Test and Trace

We ask for contact detail of all guests staying overnight in the cottages for Test and Trace details - from 24th September 2020, we understand that everyone can use the Covid-19 app - there will be a QR code to scan as you enter your holiday cottage - it keeps you logged in for 24 hours - so we advise logging in daily, and if you have any visitors (no more than 8 in totally are allowed in our terms and conditions)  or carers then they must log in too - so they be contacted if necessary - the app and further information can be downloaded here: https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/   If for any reason they are unable to log in, you must keep a record of their contact details for 21 days in case they need to be reached. This applies to everyone over the age of 16.

What is Open for us to do?

Is the New Forest Open

The New Forest is following the same guidelines as the rest of the England - at times various businesses may have to close due to staffing issues - we always advice checking ahead, visiting their web site and booking a visit as some places are limited numbers and some local restaurants are very popular this year.

Booking Update

Questions regarding our holiday as restrictions have changed since booking.

Everybody booking direct with us ticked a box on booking saying that they agreed our holiday terms and conditions and acknowledged that they were advised to take out travel insurance. We are a small business - we have huge ongoing costs, that need to be covered to ensure that we are able to offer accessible holidays to our clients - we totally understand that you may be shielding, or a higher risk group - we are doing everything we can to ensure our accommodation is as safe as possible, but all our guests have chosen to book with us because of the enhance facilities that we offer. We would love to be able to refund everyone if their situation changes, but we can't afford to do that unless we relet ... with as much notice as possible - and your help, sharing our accommodation with your friends and colleagues - we will try and relet - we are also offering potential guests the opportunity to join a waiting list or possibly stay for a last minute weekend or mid week break. 

We have paid our deposit and are unsure whether we can not attended

We appreciate as much notice as possible that you have changed you mind, and that circumstances have changed. Please get in touch as soon as possible, we can suggest offering you a full refund if we are able to relet (with more than 8 weeks notice) at this stage, we can offer the booking for sell - and honor your credit if you choose to rebook the same dates closer to the arrival day. If you choose instead not to pay the balance - then the booking is automatically canceled.

We have fully paid for our holiday direct with Our Bench

Fantastic - we are delighted you booked direct for the best prices. If you have fully paid directly with us and your circumstances change then a reminder of our cancellation policy

  • Cancellation made between 8 weeks and day of arrival date,  and if we are able to relet – we will refund your balance minus your £200 deposit. It is not our policy to return the deposit as we have costs that would have already occurred. - £200 Deposit Retained.   If you are unable to travel then contact your insurance company. We recommend in our terms and conditions that you take out travel insurance. We remain open and are able to accommodate people for work or essential needs even in a higher Tier so if you need to cancel please give us as much notice as possible.

  • Postponements due to Covid-19  - up to 12 hours prior to arrival date –  with up to date evidence that you have had to isolate because of symptoms (we will need to see this)  we will issue credit on request on our booking system for the balance of your holiday minus the deposit – this has to be used within 6 months of your arrival day for the same named guests and can be used towards the balance of a new booking – once you have paid a new deposit. All holiday deposits are non refundable. - £200 Deposit Retained. Balance – credit note for a holiday commencing within 6 months of arrival day, valid with us only. (this is only an option if you booked before the 6th July 2021 - after this date this is something you need to ensure you have holiday insurance as Covid is a known risk)

  • NOTE: Suitable Evidence is Isolation note available through NHS111 Online a notification from the NHS test and track service, as detailed in the workplace guidance. We will need your 16 digit number and date of birth to validate your postponement.

    For example if you holiday was £895 plus a £75 cleaning retainer…  you feel you may have symptoms of Covid-19 the day before your holiday commences and call and let us know, we will hold your cleaning retainer, and credit your account for £695 – which must be used within 6 months of your arrival day, towards the balance of another holiday – a new deposit for new dates is still payable. If the six months pass and you are unable to rebook – let us know and we will return the cleaning retainer.

  • Tested positive with Covid-19 -after 6th July 2021 - Covid-19 is a known risk and you were advised to take out holiday insurance on booking. If we are able to rebook your holiday we will be able to refund as per our terms and conditions, if we are unable to rebook we will look at each case on a case by case basis, but it is up to your insurance company to cover your loss. We will ask to see your NHS vaccine pass so that we can see you have tried to reduce the risk and are double vaccinated. We do recommend reducing your risk before coming on holiday.
Please note our terms and conditions have been updated for all bookings made direct with us.

Our booking is through a 3rd party - OTA

We have booked through a 3rd party agent - we have to deal with that company direct and the terms they have set. Please note if you are unable to attend once you have paid your balance then this is considered a cancellation and no refund will be given.

New Bookings

You are able to book contact free through our website. We no longer take direct bookings from OTA's through our web site - they need to book via phone or email. This is the only way to book as your terms are not the same as the ones for Direct Bookings, the bookings on the agency are often less flexible.

If you are coming to stay from outside the UK then please check the UK Government Website to see if any restrictions are in place, that may affect your travel. The latest advice is here: Travel to England

Last Minute Booking / Waiting List

We are delighted to receive last minute bookings - if the week is available and you are fit and well to travel - we would love to see you. Our web site holds the most up to date information - but you are welcome to call us - we are updating with cancellations, hold a waiting list for key dates in case people do cancel - so if you have any questions then please email us: cottages@ourbench.co.uk or give us a call on 0775 1064167    

Additional Questions and Answers

When will the Restrictions change

We do not know when the restrictions will be updated - we find out whenever there is a new Government announcement. All we ask is that all guests make sure that they are at all times following the latest UK Guidance / Law regarding holidays, if you are not you are possibly putting us at risk, and are not fulfilling your contract, and in return we will do all we can to follow and implement the latest guidance as soon as we can.

We ask that you remember your duty of care to ourselves, our community and our other guests. If you are traveling in breach of this guidance / law and we have to shut down then you will be liable for any cancellations & loss of income that may occur.

Restrictions can change at any point and we will be following guidance that is in place on arrival day - or as soon as we become aware. We recommend as always that guests take out holiday insurance.

We are not well enough to travel home
NHS leaflet

If you are unable to travel home and need to self isolate at our property then you will be held liable for the extra costs occurred and the cost of your extended stay payable immediately but also due to the specialist nature of our accommodation we feel that you would impose too higher risk to our other guests, and could be liable for the cancellation of guests in the neighboring cottage too. Self Isolation guidance is here.

Face masks

If you forget your face mask / face covering and would like one then please ask.

If you are exempt from wearing a face mask - the government advise downloading this PDF and saving it to your phone so it is always with you, it also includes a page to share if you can not hear someone and need to lip read. We would recommend wearing a sunflower lanyard if this is the case - details of the scheme can be found here: Hidden Disabilities - and we have some available at the cottages you can purchase for a £1.

Entering the UK from abroad

The restrictions vary depending on where you are traveling from. The UK guidance is here: https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control  Please ensure that you follow the guidance and  you have arranged the necessary additional time prior to booking or paying the balance on your holiday. It is also advisable to have holiday and medical insurance.

Covid Symptom Tracker

We have been supporting the Covid Symptom tracker since it was first started... a recent updated announced a "new feature introduces the idea of a permanent home address (where you live most of the time) and an additional address for where you are currently staying." This means you can change your location whilst you are on holiday (use SO41 8HH) , so that you can continue to monitor wherever you are. https://covid.joinzoe.com/data

Last Updated 12th August 2021

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