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Published: September 13th 2021
"Life Is a Beach; Don't Make Spelling Errors". ~
Hello friends; geez after almost 2 years of not posting a blog, I'm now up to two. I've gone crazy altogether.
Time is passing by in a nice quiet way here with me working on the business with new ideas, & I've been touring the condos to see what updates have been done. Lots of changes in 18 months. I met up with our managers to get an understanding of what challenges they're facing these days & how we can improve some things. We LOVE the staff here. They greeted us so warmly & welcomed us back.
We haven't done any touring around yet due to work & weather. I work from a secure software so I can't be riding the waves somewhere without my laptop.
So this blog is just a little update on our time here. A few people (Deb, Marilyn, Martha, Pierrette, Manon, Linda, Mom etc.) wanted me to send another blog, so here you go. Attached are a few photos as well. Thank you to Marilyn & Deb who think I should write a book. Are you two drinking? If so I'll come visit
you soon! Thank you for letting me know you enjoy these silly blogs. 😊 xoxoxo
Unfortunately for Al, due to some crappy weather he has only gotten one dive in. September here is one of the more unpredictable months in an area that enjoys about 340 days of sunshine a year. It is hot and humid; about 32C & 39C with the humidex. At the beginning we had a few really nice days, then about 4 or 5 days with it overcast & threatening rain. Then it'll pass & we'll have a few nice days again.
The photographer I'm hiring to photo our condos keeps emailing me about when he can do the photos of our properties. I've told him that if I'm paying for photos to be done, we want the ocean to be the turquoise color that draws guests, & further that there is no sargassum (algae) on the beach. See sargassum info below. (Not sarcasm; there's already enough of that to go around. Wink wink.)
In the meantime, today is SO nice that I grabbed Al & his equipment (& by 'equipment' I mean his 'photography' equipment but you can interpret it any way
you want!) to get some photos till Ivan can do the razzle dazzle photos. It's quite a process to coordinate the photos as a) no guests can be in the condos b) the condos are cleaned c) there's no sargassum (algae on the beach) and d) that it's sunny & the sea is calm. So in case, I was hoping Al could take some pics of the condo we're in. The sea was so beautiful; but unfortunately Al thought he was off the hook to do photos so he left his flash & tripod at home. (So he can't flash me or anything else right now. 😉
When the Caribbean Sea works its magic, the colors are unbelievable & totally bewitching. Ever wonder why it has those varying colors of blue? The main reason for the color is due to the absorption & scattering of light. The blue wavelengths of light are scattered, similar to the scattering of blue light in the sky but absorption is a much larger factor than scattering for the clear ocean water. It's also because the waters in this area have phytoplankton & other organisms that whale sharks and other plankton-feeding fish live on,
so the water takes on a slightly turquoise blue color. The Caribbean Sea is a relatively shallow body of water, and especially around the coast of the peninsula which is another contributing factor.
So back to the sargassum which is a form of brown algae that rolls in, in huge platelets. It's considered a phenomenon that started in various parts of the Caribbean, Mexican Caribbean & the US (Texas & Miami etc.) around 2015 & it hit hard that year. It piled up so quickly on the beaches & if not removed, it leaves such a foul sulfur smell that it drives you inside your condo. The city tries to remove it daily by using combiners with tines, & then loaders, to pile it up to be trucked away. Then there is always staff raking the beach. It's a delicate operation due to the concern that the heavy equipment can wreck the beaches, so it's a difficult situation. But today it was lovely, & it was nice to see people floating in the ocean & enjoying the beaches.
Scientists believe this influx of algae stems from forest destruction, illegal mining operations & agricultural pollution carried out to sea
by large South American rivers, particularly the Amazon, & then swept north & west by ocean currents. I'm no expert, but what we see here is a major change of life; & a huge change for tourism. I worry if there's a downturn in tourism again how our friends & staff will do here. 😞 And it's scary to see the result of the things going on to hurt our planet.
It's also upsetting to see these palm-tree fringed stretches of white sand that meets the blue clear sea, sometimes awash with this GD algae. The Riviera Maya is known for its stretch of pristine beaches which is an international dream spot. Typically the algae arrives in the warmer summer months, but it seems to be increasing due to climate change, & people hurting our planet. It has hurt our business; as if Covid didn't do a bang up job of that already. However, I'm happy to say with vaccinations reaching more people, that business has really picked up. I'm busier than a mosquito at a nudist beach. 😉 "Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business. Yes and it's
also true if you're a housewife, architect or engineer". Dale Carnegie
As mentioned in my last blog, I've taken over the day-to-day running of the business. It requires a lot of communication with guests and I like my spelling & grammar to be on the money. I use templates for much of my communication, but I still have to respond to each guest's questions & this means I need to be concise, & my grammar etc. perfect. (Sometimes I think some of our potential guests are completely boozed up when they first make contact with me & I have to re-read their message a few times to figure it out what the heck they are asking me. Sometimes I get a drink myself; then it usually makes sense to me. 😊
In April I booked a guest in one of our condos for 2 weeks which is a nice commission. The guest had many questions. He was actually a very friendly guy but sent me non-stop emails. I love my job & am always happy to talk shop with a guest. At one point, he totally changed directions on me & went on a rant in a few
emails about the price of Covid tests in the Riviera Maya, & that Mexico was getting more & more expensive & blah blah blah. He was so angry 😞 I mean talk about 'first wold problems'. This is the type of guy who's probably mad that one pillow is too low & two is too-high. If you can afford a trip here, you can pay the going rate for Covid testing which isn't expensive at all. I was ready to swab his nose for Covid with a 2 foot Q-tip for free. Wink wink.
After his rants, the next day he actually sent me an apology which I accepted & appreciated. Then another day he texted me that he wanted to surprise his wife for her 50th birthday by flying in her brother. He needed my help with transportation, a place to stay for a night etc. This had to be hush hush. I worked with the manager, with Jaime our driver to pick him up & it all worked out. He was so happy, his wife was happy, the family dog was happy, & after they went home he left a glowing 5 star review for me. YES!
Tonya (my boss) and I were texting during this guest's stay. So to make life easier, I used the 'speak button', on my cell phone, and sent her the following voice text. "We are busy, and I am keeping a guest very happy by helping him arrange a surprise for his wife. I am secretly 'feeling' him up and it should be a great surprise".
So she texts back this laughing emoji. I'm like what is so funny? Well I re-read my text to her and thought, OMG! I meant to say that I'm secretly 'FOLLOWING' up with the guest, not FEELING the guest up. And there my friends is the amazing customer service I provide our guests. Ahem. 😊
Tonya lives in Colorado & her daughter was visiting from Dallas, & apparently my text had them killing themselves for days. I hadn't thought of that text till recently. She brought it up to me because she made a typo herself. She corrected it & said, "I thought a pervert like you would appreciate my typo".
I sure did; & laughed my butt off too. (But I still think my typo wins.) First time I've been
called a pervert; maybe not the last with the texting gaffes! So I try to be very conscious of my spelling.
This blog catches a lot of stuff re: spelling, but if it's a real word like, then
and I meant them
, it can't catch that. My editor likes to drink margaritas so he's totally unreliable to catch my errors. (His name rhymes with PAL.)
I love to look at funny spelling errors & some of them are just laugh out loud. Here's a few to entertain you. Some are signs outside businesses, in magazines or online. "Shoplifters Will Be Prostituted". "100 Percent Anus Beef". "McDonald's Are Hiring for Afternoon Shits". "Please Pay Your Parking Fee Before Existing". "On Sale; Eau De Colon". *Shamed by You English? We Can Halp". (Ad in a local newspaper for English lessons.) *Prescription: "Take One Capsule Every Day with Wood." (That sounds painful; I'll take mine with food.) "Executive Bored Meeting In Session". (That seems about right on my end!) "Burger King Now Hiring Smiling Feces". "Try Our Tasty DOGNUTS today. (Doughnut shop ad. I think I'll take a pass.) "God
Does Not Make MiSTEAKES". (Well I hope God offers seafood with the MiSTEAKES.) "No Smoking Aloud".
OK I'll stop now. It's almost as bad as my "How Hot Is It Jokes".
Don't you miss them? SARGASSUM & OUR WORLD CHANGING
So back to this algae. As mentioned, during the warmer summer months, some days are good, & some aren't. So imagine marketing luxury condos & villas with amazing beaches, & azure ocean water, & then have guests show up to find this situation. 😞 And also imagine that there are months without it & it's a total paradise. Last summer there was hardly any algae at all.
Most resorts & hotels don't like to advertise this 'situation', so their guests arrive & might not be able to swim in the ocean let alone enjoy the beach. We're not those people. I'm not about to change our photos over this but I had to come up with a solution. I'm not in the trickery business; I don't want guests arriving unaware, & then they'll be so unhappy they'll take it out on our staff, we'll get a bad review, & we won't get a return guest. I'm
all about building this business with return guests. And we have many. The owners want top dollar regardless of the conditions. All the owners live in the USA / Canada, & some don't visit often so they don't understand what we're up against. They just want their rental money every month & so I have to strike a balance. I think I found one.
I changed our policies during the months for potential algae to allow for a very flexible cancellation policy. Our listings have full disclosure & I also suggest guests do their own research on the topic of the algae. Even then it's a hit & a miss. Some people just book without reading the listing. Due to my disclaimers, I've had few guests show up & be upset. I can always calm the situation down & in the end, they love their stay. (I always research any area that I go to myself, & I can't believe guests don't do that themselves.) Every person should research where you are going for many obvious reasons.
I had a guest (I'll call him Scott) who booked a condo this summer for 10 days. I was clear with
him about the potential for the algae via our many emails. He answered OK. got it Once he booked, I brought the subject up again & then in his welcome email a week before arrival. I mentioned that the beaches weren't good, but they change daily so here's hoping he'll arrive to the beaches in good shape. I also then include a list of activities they can do in the area if the beach isn't good. I couldn't have been any more transparent if I was see-through.
So the day of his arrival, I'm sitting down to dinner & I get a text from someone I don't recognize. It's this guy's wife who I'll call Julia. She's so mad at me that I think the devil ran for cover. She said I misled them, I lied, & that the beach is horrible & further, I've ruined their vacation & so on & so forth. She wanted to leave with a full refund. I can't tell you how upset I was.
I gave her husband every bit of info I could. He kept sending emails with happy faces, so I thought he had an IQ above 100 to understand
what I was telling him. Turns out I should've asked him, "If 6 fish are in the ocean & 3 die, how many fish are there"? For the love of god. I wish his wife had taken charge of the reservation if he was unable to understand the written word.
So I skip dinner to go through every email I sent Scott, then forwarded them to his wife. And by the way, where was Scott? He loved me for the 3 weeks we communicated & now he's incognito. He even told me during said chats that it was the best customer service he ever had. Hmm? Maybe Scott was duct taped to a beach lounger by his wife. (See previous blog & duct taping.)
So after I sent her all the emails where I was crystal-clear to her husband about beach conditions etc, there was radio silence. Not one email back from her. Relief.
However, about a day later, her tirade started up again. She started with 'I didn't show them exactly what sargassum looked like & what it meant'. (What part of "Please look sargassum up to educate yourself" doesn't resonate with you two?) Neither one of them could be the next Sherlock Holmes, let's put it that way.
I started to think, what do these guests want from me? To fly down & also apply their sunblock too? Put their towel out at 9am every day on a lounger? Honestly I had one good nerve left & this Julia was getting on it. It distressed me so much with the ongoing BS, that I finally gave them two options: a discount if they wanted to stay, or a refund of a night to see the back of their heads if they wanted to leave.
Finally Scott got out of the duct tape, emails me to say that they were 'never going to leave' & thanked me so much for the offer of a discount & he would leave a very good review, because of my quick response. He said they LOVED the condo'. OMG, really? After your wife took ballistic to a new level? He then asked if he could say in in his review how fantastic my service was & that I refunded him money. And I categorially said NO to the refund & YES to my great service. Why would I want him spreading the word that at a drop of a hat I'd refund anyone money if you stay in our condos or villas? And while you're at it, write in your review that the palm trees outside the condo grow money that you can pluck. Neither is going to be a reality.
I had a word for him that sounded like PLUCK, but this is a family blog. I was ready to fly down there & wrap them in the sargassum that she was complaining about. The next day, the beach was thoroughly cleaned & they enjoyed a full week of no algae. And my commission was greatly reduced. Sigh. (He did leave a great review though.)
Our listings are clear that we're renting you a beautiful condo in a fabulous location. Our obligation is to rent you a beautiful condo in a fabulous location, & that's that. I did not rent you the beach, the ocean, nor can I send a message to the weather gods to make sure you have sun every day on your trip. For example, if you rent a ski chalet and there's freezing rain, do the owner's refund you? No. If there's an avalanche, do you get a refund? Other than that, we aren't responsible for the noise from any neighboring properties, nor the weather, nor the beach conditions, nor the fact that you may gain 10 pounds while you are here chowing down on tacos or you may burn to a crisp in the sun if you shoot back the tequila. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor. 😊
I had my patience tested
with these people & I tested negative. I have re-grouped and am back to positive. I think I have handled this situation as best as I can.
On an upbeat note, there's this great guest coming on Friday to celebrate his Mom's 75th birthday. I've loved dealing & joking around with him. Since I'm at the same complex, I'm going to make them THE most amazing gift basket for their arrival. These are the guests I welcome & I promise not to 'feel him up'. 😉
So I am signing off from a table on the balcony overlooking the 'finally' clear ocean. The palm trees are gently bending; the frigate birds are flying by like they are floating on the wind, and Al (rhymes with PAL) is reading the new book I got him called, " Landslide" by Michael Wolf. It's about the final days of Trump's presidency and the antics that were going on behind the scenes.
However, THE best book we've read in the past few months is "Empire of Pain". This book was riveting & a page turner that had such jaw dropping moments you had to almost close the book & regroup. It's about the Sackler family; a story about their ruthless promotion of OxyCotin by the Purdue company. OxyCotin is a chemical cousin of heroin which is twice as powerful as morphine. This pain medication ignited a blaze of drug abuse across the USA, with in the very least half a million people have died from overdosing on opioids such as OxyContin.
It's a shocking page turner & compares their marketing of the meds to the exact same tactics that the drug cartels use to push drugs. This author, Patrick Radden Keef is a genius writer taking us along on a journey of the family of Sacklers who were Jewish immigrants who immigrated to the US to raise their 3 sons to have a better life than they had had. They & their children & grandchildren went on to build a multi-billion dollar company at great human cost. The kicker is, as Americans were getting angry about how the family that sold OxyContin was also celebrated for its philanthropy.
In 2019, the comedian John Oliver did a segment on the Sacklers. Public anger toward the family for this opioid epidemic was building, & Oliver lampooned the family about statements made by one of its members in court documents that had recently become public. Under the circumstances, you might have expected the Sacklers to feel embarrassed & lie low. But that would be badly underestimating their callousness.
So run out and pick it up. Or I'll lend it to you for twenty cents a day when I get back. 😉 We sure love a good book.
Thanks for those that follow this silly blog of mine, & those who support my work endeavours. And further thanks to those that follow me on social media & give a 'like' every once in a while on our business Facebook & Instagram pages. It is greatly appreciated. (I've had a few people who don't follow my social media but want a discounted stay. You can at least show me some love... 😊
Hugs to all. (Next up our trip to Bacalar probably this Friday to Sunday. Now that quiet non-touristy spot with lagoons & lakes defines what paradise means.
Me & the guy whose name rhymes with PAL. (As per above. 😊
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