A Guesthouse Owner’s wishlist

The hospitality industry is a tough one and operators are always expected to have a smile on their faces. ‘Jane Doe’ fled the crime and grime of the city and found herself in the mayhem of guest crime and grime, running a budget accommodation establishment in a small Karoo town.

Here are some of the items on her “I wish you wouldn’t ” list for guests.

Please don’t arrive with your dog/s without prior agreement. It’s too late now to turn you away, even if it means that my dogs/cats have to be locked up out of harm’s way for the entire weekend.

Please don’t blitz-mail out multiple urgent requests for accommodation and then fail to tell me you’ve “found something else” when I’ve been holding the space for you for a week.

Please don’t move the furniture around. Why would you want to rearrange my rooms. Twin beds are twin beds and I told you that right upfront. If you want a second double bed  for your friends please book somewhere else.

Please don’t drag the sofa across the room – when you shoved it in front of the fireplace it got covered in ash and burns from wood sparks.

Please tell me if you’ve broken something; I can’t do a daily inventory and it’s embarrassing when the next guests arrive and there are only three wineglasses and no salad bowl.

Please don’t save your hair-colouring date for a weekend away in my guest cottage; the red/brown/black dye is impossible to remove from my white towels. It would also be nice if you removed your mascara and lipstick before going to bed.

My fridge door is no stronger than yours, and 3 x 2-litre cokes and 3 bottles of wine is just too much in a door rack. After you left it was hanging on a thread and believe it or not, the handyman actually charges me every time he comes out to fix it.

Do you fill the bath to the brim at home? I don’t think so… then don’t do it when you’re in somebody else’s home. How do I know? The ring, darling, the ring. In the same vein, do you stand on your own towels and leave them on the floor… mmm. Not a nice habit, especially with muddy feet.

And please don’t use my white towels to polish up your Harley, however much you love it.

Do your children roller skate and ride bicycles in your own home?

Please don’t be so shocked when I charge money for children to stay. Are they sleeping in beds. Are they using hot water. Are they writing on the walls and spilling juice on my bedspread. Well, then yes, they will pay to sleep, even if it’s only half price.

Try to match your expectations and the services offered, with the price. For R200 per person a night, you’re getting down duvets, spotless white pure cotton sheets and towels and immaculate premises. As well as character, history and priceless views.

The air conditioning is a luxury. Leaving it on 24 hours a day is an offence. Pumping the heat up to a tropical 30deg C in midwinter offends not only me, but also the environment.

If you put all the heaters, aircon and oven on at once the electricity will trip; that’s how I know you’re being naughty and hoping to get away with it. I mentioned that in my welcome note. Now I also know you didn’t read it…

If checkout time is 10 am please don’t ask if you can stay till 12 “just because it’s so lovely here”. Invariably there are other guests checking in at 2 and we don’t have a fleet of housekeeping staff as in a hotel.

Is your own charlady is faced with a tower of dirty dishes, braai pans, scorched potholders and beer spills on the floor the morning after a braai? Does she have to turn the place around in double-quick time for a new set of guests. No? Well please don’t expect my charlady to do that either.

And when you leave, please don’t grudgingly peel off those banknotes! Peel off just one more, green, brown, or a nice big red one. Hotel and restaurant staff get tips, don’t they? So why should the staff of a budget self-catering establishment in a small Karoo dorp be any different.

Last week’s prizewinning question: “Can we make a fire?”
Me: “Yes of course”
“Where is the fireplace?”
Me: “It’s that big hole in the wall in the living room”.

Thank you, and have a wonderful holiday.

June 2012.

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