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Ask the Experts: Jo Loft

Nobody knows it better than James Villas Head of Specialist Product Jo Loft, who told us all about being part of the expert team that handpick our villas, her favourite holiday memories, and top travel tips.

Golden sands and soaring cliffs in the Algarve

So, tell us about life as a Product Manager?

I look after our villa programme in the Algarve, our largest destination, which needless to say keeps me extremely busy! My team of six also select all the villas in Mainland Spain, the Balearics, France and Portugal.

What's a normal working day like?

Non-stop! I will be emailing or on the phone to our villa owners, as well as hunting down the best new properties to offer our guests for their next holiday. I'll also keep an eye on how our Algarve villas appear on the website and in the brochure. Checking that our descriptions, floorplans and photography all showcase the villas properly is a daily task.

What's the best part of your job?

Travelling several times a year to the Algarve as well as many of our other destinations. Getting to see amazing new villas, exploring new resorts, meeting with our lovely villa owners and eating delicious local cuisine!

Are you a big holiday planner or a last minute booker?

Now that I have kids I should really be a big holiday planner, but somehow I still seem to be a last minute booker!

Cobblestone streets and whitewashed houses in Altea

Favourite destination?

Spain… I love the laid-back lifestyle, the culture, the food and the people are great fun. There are so many beautiful cities and beaches and it is definitely somewhere that I still want to explore more of.

Long haul or short haul?

Short haul – there are so many wonderful cultures and cuisines right on our doorstep!

Tell us your favourite holiday memory

There are too many to choose from, but taking my little girl on her first foreign holiday in 2015 to Pine Cliffs Resort in the Algarve was very special. She couldn't get enough of the children's pool, the beach and going to the park – it really is the perfect type of holiday for a young family as there are so many facilities right on your doorstep!

Handpicking villas aside, what do you get up to outside work?

I'm a mum to a baby and a toddler, so they keep me pretty busy. I spend most of my time running around keeping them entertained.

Seafood cataplana served in a silver bowl on a rustic, wooden table

Jo's top 5 travel tips

1. Smile and try to speak the local language – they'll appreciate you making the effort.

2. Eat the local cuisine. You'll eat some amazing fresh food which you can't always get back home.

3. Make a playlist and pack your headphones – you never know when you need to drown out other people's kids on the plane (or your own!).

4. Pack remedies for the family. It's so cheap here, but not as easy or inexpensive to find abroad.

5. Check your passport is in date before you travel. My husband once realised his passport had expired the night before we were due to go away!

A modern, stylish villa with a private pool and spacious outdoor area

Jo's favourite villa

Casa Salir in Estoi, Algarve has a perfect blend of old and new – modern furnishings but with beautiful exposed brick walls. It's in a wonderful 'escape from it all' type of location, with amazing views across the valley. And not forgetting the hot tub – a real touch of luxury!

Put Jo's tips to use with a villa holiday of your own! Whether you're craving Spain or the Algarve, or just fancy making holiday memories of your own – it all starts with finding your dream villa.

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