Philda at word
Last Saturday evening we went to bed early as we only had one couple staying - only to be cruelly awoken at 11.45 by the gate bell being rung - repeatedly... As I have a slight hearing impairment the bell is set to ring very loudly and to discourage people from ringing it repeatedly it is also set to ring loudly at the gate. Desmond went down to open the gate as we could see that these people were not taking 'no' for an answer.
To my surprise I could hear that he was actually booking them in - we normally, as a security measure, do not take off-street bookings after hours. It transpired that they had made an online booking earlier and for some reason the text message notification never came through on my mobile phone, so I did not know about their arrival as I never checked my computer between returning from a late afternoon movie, making dinner and retiring early. That they did not think it unacceptable to book in nearly midnight without prior arrangement just added to the chain of events of how things go very wrong when they start going wrong.
They told Desmond that they had booked a different room to the one he gave them and they were none too happy when he insisted that that was the only room that they could have booked (the others were either occupied or closed for renovation). The next morning I printed out the confirmation e-mail to show them that they had indeed booked room 2 and Room 2 was the room that they got as I pointed to the number 2 on the door.
They did not take to a proprietor who did not believe that the customer is always right and neither did the proprietor take to argumentative guests - we were on a speedy downhill slope. To the point where I said to Desmond that I wondered if I could give myself a bad review on TripAdvisor?
Over breakfast they said that the shower was not draining properly and that they therefor could not shower. I asked their permission to send our housekeeper into the room to check out the drain while they were having breakfast. Prior to them I had guests who stayed 5 days in that room with no problem.
I gave Liesbet a dose of bio degradable drain cleaner with instructions to pour it down the drain of Room 2 , add a liter of boiling water, to replace wet towels and to make sure the electric towel rails were on. She came back reporting job done, but found it strange that the water ran down perfectly well and assured me that the towels were nice and toasty on the heated towel rails as instructed. Well, you guessed: Liesbet had gone into Room 1, not Room 2! This transpired when the understandably unhappy guest came to me with a look of exasperation on her face and frustration in her voice to tell me that the wet towels were still lying exactly on the floor as she had left it. What more could go wrong? Desmond being Desmond answered: ' they could eventually have a shower and the gas bottle could empty right then"!
As a fellow B&B owner told me: 'Only one thing to do Philda. Make yourself a cup of tea, go and find yourself a quiet spot in the garden, take your guest book and read all the gushing thank you's and compliments about excellent service, hospitable hosts etc. etc.!'
But I still wonder if I could give myself a bad review on TripAdvisor?
One of the sites we market on, just asked to give the 'house rules' Which had me thinking... In the end this is what I gave them: Fairview Homestead is a 7 bedroom guest house in B&B style - that means we, the owners, live on the premises. Our guest rooms are private, but we have a communal lounge/breakfast area for the guests. The only rules I can think of are : no non-paying guests in the bedrooms for longer than 10 minutes ; no cigarette buds in the garden, no unsupervised children in the swimming pool, be nice to the hosts...
That was said 'tongue in cheek' ! We have had paying guests in our house for more than 17 years and I've never had to pin down rules, so I do not think I am going to start now.
So often friends will ask if we do not get tired of sharing our home with guests. After all these years I can honestly say that we still enjoy it. ! But being put on the spot to think about house rules, I also realised that those mentioned are the only things that sometimes gets me upset. I once found two children playing by themselves - their parents had gone shopping. We have not had much trouble with the cigarette buds in the garden, but we find cigarette buds on the beach repulsive, so I can just imagine what Desmond would say if he found them amongst his flowers. About 'be nice to the hosts' you'll understand if you read the post http://www.fairview.lithe.co.za/right-of-admission-reserved/
And the rule 'no non-paying guests in the bedrooms for longer than 10 minutes' is because of another incident which ,I think, is any guest house owner's worst nightmare. I woke up with a start one morning at 2am , walked downstairs to get a glass of water and then got a start as the front door slammed , accompanied by female laughter as someone came in. Not so abnormal, but what woke me up completely was that I had two single businessmen booked into the two doors at the front. As I contemplated how to handle this, the laughter just became more raucous. It dawned on me that both these gentlemen had ladies in their rooms. As I said to Desmond afterwards - I went from scared to angry in 3000 revs. I stormed down the passage, banged on the doors, shouting: 'every non-paying guest in these rooms have exactly 5 minutes to leave. How dare you abuse my hospitality like this?'.
Now, the evening before, Desmond saw a program about Dachshunds and thought a baby Dachshund would make a good friend for Juno our Bull Mastiff and he always thought they were such cute looking dogs. Juno is such a softie and in the television program they said that Dachshunds have more aggression than most breeds and make the perfect guard dogs. So he argued that the Dachshund would be the guard dog, while Juno looks scary because of her size. South Africans have a thing about guard dogs that I find so overrated. I would have none of this. I do not like yapping dogs ; my father had a little Dachshund that yapped incessantly - I had enough of yapping dogs as a child to last me a lifetime. As I crawled back into bed Desmond whispered in my ear: 'who needs a Dachshund, I've got you babe...'
Man comes to the front door of a guest house and says he's Mr. Smith, booked in for two nights.
Proprietor: 'Would you like me to carry your bag from the car, sir'.
Guest: 'No, she can walk, but you can bring the luggage.'
Innkeeper: The room is R1000- a night. It's R50- if you make your own bed.
Guest: I'll make my own bed.
Innkeeper: Good. I'll get you some nails and wood.
Paddy is booked into a guest house, and looking round,notices a sign on the wall. He says to the owner: "What time do you get in by?" The owner looks confused and says: "Well, I am the owner, I live here. Why do you ask?"
Says Paddy,"Well, on that sign there, it says guests have to be in before you!"
The owner replies,"No, it says: "Guests must be in before 1 am"!
I do believe in laughing through the turmoil of running a B&B and let's face it there are lots of opportunity for a good chuckle every now and then. At the time I was not amused, but I often tell people about the grading assessor who gave me 3 out of 10 for my furniture. When I queried it she waved her hand in exasperation toward my antique furnished room and exclaimed, "but you only have mismatched second-hand furniture". You can only smile... and cancel star grading.
A fellow guesthouse owner told me about one of her guests who asked in a strong ‘Indian’ accent whether her young employee (fresh out of high school, and not yet with an ear accustomed to foreign accents) had “toilet paper”. The young lady promptly went to get what she heard the guest had asked for – the guest was of course very surprised when she returned, as he had in fact asked for “today’s paper”! Fortunately, the guest had a sense of humour and not only had a good laugh about the incident, but shared the joke with the guest house owner!
Sometimes my ability to smile lands me in trouble. I once walked out to greet guests and there they were sitting in their car, while the husband lets rip with a tongue lashing of note. What to do - turn around and leave them to it? But what if they take that as inhospitable? In the end, I pretended not to hear them and industriously started deadheading the nearest daisy bush. When the wife timidly walked toward me I smiled bravely and told her to come in - I'll make them a nice cup of tea. She explained that her husband was very upset with her map reading abilities. At that stage, Angry Hubby was slamming car doors and huffing and puffing with the luggage, but the next minute he tells me to wipe that smile off my face! Me? Wipe the smile off my face? In a flash, it was gone. I then calmly pointed toward the Right of Admission sign above my front door and told him to put his luggage right back into the car as he would not be sleeping in my guest house.
Today I can laugh at this incident, but at the time it was not funny - I am in the business of welcoming guests into our home, not chasing them away! But that is the promised blog post about the day that I fell back on the "right of admission reserved" sign.
About the blog
This is the story of our house, lovingly restored and shared with guests and family since 1995.