a guesthouse life...
Knitting is the new yoga, but actually, the inspirational topic for this blog post is an issue with toilet seats...
I doubt there is anyone out there who is not yet aware that I can now claim the title GRANDMOTHER. It is with the greatest of self-discipline that I do not insist that every guest looks at photos on my mobile phone before they are allowed to enjoy breakfast. I became a champion knitter overnight - shortly after Luella's birth I woke up with tennis elbow pain and suddenly realised: I just finished my 6th jersey for 2-month-old Luella - no wonder!!
But back to toilets...
At Fairview we take the comfort of our guests to heart. So when a guest tells me that the toilet seat is uncomfortable, I am not going to ignore that complaint. I am going to use that toilet to get up to speed with the level of comfort my guests are expected to enjoy (or not) when they spend a penny. Initially, I thought he was exaggerating, but then I reminded myself that I am far better padded than he seemed to have been and he mentioned that he liked to read his newspaper on the loo, so maybe sit a few more minutes. Being a multi-tasker, I sat, mentally making to-do lists in my mind and yes, the discomfort grew proportionately to the length of my to-do list. Not excruciatingly uncomfortable, but yes, uncomfortable.
I am forever upgrading, replacing, renewing, all the time beating myself up about how I can ensure that my guests are comfortable because let's face it - when they stay at Fairview there are enough little idiosyncrasies typical to a house over 150 years old that they have to put up with. This particular bathroom had one of those old-fashioned toilets with a high cistern that you flush by pulling a chain and about 3 months ago I decided to replace it as it was just too noisy and used too much water. Quirkiness had to make way for practicality.
I remember when I bought the toilet I was skeptical about the square shape of the toilet seat, but because the toilet had to cover the markings made by the old toilet and had to have a section that covered the ugly drain pipes at the back that was really the best choice. Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought it necessary to work up the row of toilets on display to find the most comfortable one. Yet, that is what I will do when I buy the new toilet for the Banksia Annex in the making. In the meantime - who has a knitting pattern for a padded toilet seat cover?!
Bed and breakfasts and guest houses are often run by the owners - in South Africa they mostly have 5 or less rooms in the case of Guest Houses and the majority of Bed and Breakfast operations have 3 or less rooms. Because of limited staff , check in at a guest house is often by appointment prior to 3 pm and you are definitely expected to arrive before 7 pm unless a late arrival has been previously arranged with your host. I have to get up at 6 am most mornings, so it is just not possible for me to sit up until midnight waiting on guests to arrive. For security reason we also do not take 'off street' bookings after 7 pm.
right of admission reserved...
Ask any guest house owner what the most frustrating aspect of running an accommodation establishment is and they will say that it is waiting for guests to arrive and even worse : 'No Shows'. For the unenlightened - that is when a person makes a booking and changes his/her plans without notifying the establishment. If you have a 4 bedroom B&B that represents 25% of your occupancy lost. For me it is not so much the 25% occupancy lost as the time spent waiting on that guest ; the waste of keeping the room warm, the geyser running ; the disregard shown toward the B&B host.
When you phone the next day the excuses range from: 'It is not my fault as I told my secretary/wife/agent to cancel and they forgot', 'I tried to phone, but your line was busy', 'I forgot my directions so I booked into another B&B', 'I never paid a deposit so I did not think that it was a confirmed booking'. One evening I invited two couples who both owned accommodation establishments over for dinner and in the course of a conversation it turned out that we were all three establishments expecting the same people to arrive for the long weekend! Because of the frustrations of no-shows I have made it our policy that bookings are only finally confirmed on receiving a 50% deposit.
The flip side of the coin would be to have a guest arrive at your door thinking they have a confirmed booking to find that there is 'no place at the inn'. In 19 years of running a B&B this has only happened to me twice. The first time was many years ago - before the use of computerised booking systems when bookings were still jotted down in a diary. The guests arrived at our door on the 28th December and I had written them in for a week later. A strict deposit policy can also boomerang on you, as I recently found - by the time the guest paid the deposit we had presumed they were not taking the room anymore. Frustration all around.
Please, please, please do not let the Australians who booked two rooms for a week over Christmas and who never answered our e-mail requests for a deposit arrive on our doorstep under the impression that they have a reservation...
About the blog
This is the story of our house, lovingly restored and shared with guests and family since 1995.