How to Please Guests When the Sun Doesn’t Shine in Paradise

rainy_day_on_vacationMany years ago we planned a vacation in the Cahors region of France – in a rental villa. It was a small place just for the two of us, but it was in a beautiful region and we were excited about exploring; eating out on terraces in old villages; relaxing by the pool at the property, and being outside the bulk of the time.
It rained incessantly for 2 weeks and only cleared up on the morning we left.

It’s over 20 years ago and I still remember how depressing it was to be stuck inside this tiny, almost windowless cottage, watching the rain lash down outside. As each day went past and the remaining vacation time we’d worked so hard for, drifted away, it was difficult to get rid of the heavy feeling of loss that none of our expectations would be met. And this from an eternal optimist.

I mention this because we’ve now been in the Bahamas for 8 days and have had sunshine for just two of them. It’s not quite the same because it’s still warm and hasn’t rained much and we are still getting out a lot. Even so, a kayak trip isn’t as comfortable in moderate wind and swells as it would be in the calm Caribbean sea conditions we’d highly anticipated.

One of my favourite expressions has always been:

There is no such thing as bad weather, or good weather. There is only weather and our attitude to it.

It is a great quote to remember and live by however, when vacationers are beset with conditions they hadn’t expected, their attitude can shift to a need to blame something or someone for the bad feelings they are experiencing.

Often, it’s the home-owner who bears the brunt of the blame, for not delivering enough for their guests to do, play with or substitute for all theplanned sun-related activities. That’s not the case here. We have a pool table, satellite TV, DVDs, board games, books, a Playstation and unlimited internet access. In addition to that, the local information supplied on kayaking and hiking trails is plenty to keep us busy as long as the rain holds off. It’s not to say we are the happiest of holiday-makers, but there is nothing we can do about the weather but make the best of it.

This is the importance of providing a lot for your guests to do in any weather, even if your location is traditionally seen as a sunshine paradise.

Statistics from our own rental agency show that complaints are more likely on rainy days, as guests are stuck inside and typically look for something other than the weather to focus their disappointment upon. The properties with up-to-date entertainment facilities and comprehensive information guides on the local area (that include rainy-day activities) are less likely to receive complaints.

5 things you can do to alleviate the rainy day blues

Rainy Day Book – Create a rainy-day book that features local indoor attractions and activities and has ideas on what guests can do in poor weather. Put a list of these on your website so that guests can click links that will take them to places they can go. Here’s one on Bahamas.net that shows how simple it is to do.

Cooking Class – Ensure parents are equipped with what they need to entertain their kids (remember that they don’t have all their home-toys and games with them). Think about baking kits for cookie making and provide ingredients and supplies for making-cupcakes. A cupcake recipe book is a neat idea too.

Games and Stuff – Ensure you have the expected games…Monopoly, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. Stack your bookcase with paperbacks of different genres, and provide a selection of DVDs. Make sure magazines are up to date and not just a collection of old and tattered supermarket versions that previous guests have left behind.

Got some space? – If you’ve been on the fence about buying a larger indoor feature such as a pool table or foosball table, it can be a worthwhile expense to keep your guests happy when going outside is not an option.

For the intrepid wanderers – Your hardier and outdoor enthusiast guests will want to get out, even when it’s wet and windy – these folks are unlikely to worry about the weather but they could also do with some help. Provide details on geocaching in the area as well as hiking trails, and supply some umbrellas too. Remember to include information on where they can take a break and get a meal or a drink. I recall many weekends of hiking in the Lake District in England (we never anticipated good weather there) and ending up in a warm and cosy pub for lunch.

 

As I write this, the wind is blowing hard and it is yet another cloudy day. Mike and I are on our laptops both writing blog posts. Mike’s wife Andrea is deep into a book while baby Arya is engrossed with apps on an iPad. My husband has not yet surfaced from the very comfy king sized bed. While it’s not what we had planned, there’s a lot for us to do both inside and out so we will make the most of what’s here. We are just very happy that the owner of Thevine House has considered that there may not always be sunshine in Paradise

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  • Shannon Russo

    Hi Heather. Great article. Our Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket homeowners often encounter this same challenge. Not surprisingly, we’ve had vacationers submit a negative review to a property just because they had a week of bad weather! It prompted us to create this slideshow blog post of ideas for homeowners to include in their home to help renters weather a rainy day. http://blog.weneedavacation.com/2013/09/11/10-tips-for-helping-your-tenants-to-weather-a-rainy-day/

  • http://www.cottageblogger.com/ Heather Bayer

    That’s a great post and I love your vacation planner. We will probably never be able to take away the disappointment when the weather doesn’t co-operate but at least we can make suggestions on how they can post with it best.

  • loscuatrotulipanes

    It’s amazing: whenever I travel, the weather almost directly determines my opinion about a destination. Great weather and I’m thrilled. But it could be the most beautiful destination in the world, and if it’s all rainy, I tend to leave with a sour taste in my mouth.

  • http://www.cottageblogger.com/ Heather Bayer

    It’s tough Matt – even with the best will in the world and an optimists outlook, the shine of the vacation gets lost in the cloud. We are back now and finished off the vacation with a few more cloudy and cool days – I feel quite cheated, which was nothing to do with the owner of course but nevertheless doesn’t get me thinking back on it with a huge amount of pleasure.

  • MB

    Excellent ideas! I think decor and ambience can go a long way in making guests feel happy to be inside. Entertainment is paramount and so is a nice fireplace, a well-stocked kitchen (love the cupcake idea!), a hot tub or sauna and a comfy bed with great reading light. Also, a place to stretch out in a gathering area is great for bored kids.

  • Debi H

    Thanks Heather, for the great ideas. Starting my Rainy Day Book now! Also you have inspired me to get the garage cleaned up to provide for guest activity. It is not very inspiring now, with supplies and laundry facilities. We have a foosball game, but it’s cold and dank in there during the frequent Oregon rainy times. Perhaps carpeting, a space heater and comfortable seating areas will help make the space more usable.

  • http://www.cottageblogger.com/ Heather Bayer

    Debi – that’s a great idea for cleaning up the garage. Wherever there is space think about how it could be used by guests when they are stuck indoors. I did that with a room adjoining the garage in my rental cottage. It was a ‘man cave’ when we bought it, but we did some fairly inexpensive renovating – painting etc and replaced the scuffed vinyl tile with laminate flooring. We got a used pool table, put a flat screen TV and DVD, books and games, and a pullout couch. It has made a great space for bored teens when the weather is bad, and their parents seem to love it too!