|Two intertwined white Hibiscus flowers.|
In this past week, amid all of our busy days and nights, we realized it was time to start preparing for the upcoming trip to Australia and the South Pacific. In the process, we reviewed the upcoming rentals over the next year to see if there were any issues we needed to address.
|Kauai always presents a beautiful mountain view.|
Disappointed that we missed it during the booking process, we discovered that there is no oven in the first house in Fiji. There’s only a built-in stove top. How did we fail to notice this when we carefully read every detail before booking any property?
I suppose it was not unlike when we booked the house in Kenya, we didn’t think of asking if there was an indoor living room or lounge area or indoor sofa (there was not).
|Hanalei Beach is seen from one of the wraparound lanais at the St. Regis Hotel, where we often walk.|
As a result of our failure to ask if there was a living room, we spent three full months from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm sitting outdoors on the screen-less veranda, getting bitten by mosquitoes and other insects, carefully stepping over poisonous centipedes seven days a week in scorching humid heat. (This proved to be a good thing when it toughened us up for the remaining almost nine months In Africa).
Who ever thought of asking if there’s a living room? (It was so hot and humid that the zippers on our luggage turned green). We now ask or verify in photos that there’s an indoor lounge, salon or living room. Lesson learned.
|There’s always something burning in that area. We aren’t certain what it is.|
We booked Fiji after the no-living-room-situation in Kenya. In the fuzzy photos we could barely see a modern kitchen with a built-in stovetop assuming that there was an oven below. We also observed a microwave on the countertop assuming if there’s a microwave, surely there’s an oven We’d never discussed anything about an oven.
Lo and behold, a few days ago upon further inspection on the website, and based on the fact we’ll be moving into that particular property on September 8th, a mere 4½ months from now, we carefully inspected the listing to discover that there’s no oven, no toaster oven, no convection oven.
|The kitchen in Fiji is along the back wall. Its easy to see how we could have missed noticing if there was an oven or not by looking at this fuzzy photo. We’ve never been in a property with a stove top but no oven. As a result we “assumed” if there was a stovetop, surely there would be an oven. We learn as we go.|
For some travelers, not having an oven would be no big deal. However, spending 89 days in a single location cooking most of our meals, we need an oven. Plain and simple. Our way of eating requires considerable cooking in an oven.
|View to the sea over African Tulip trees.|
First step, rather than panicking was to contact the property manager Mario, to ask a few questions about the lack of an oven:
1. What would the on-site cook charge us (its a resort) to come get our prepared items, bake them for us in whatever kitchen she uses to prepare meals for guests and return it, ready to be eaten?
2. Is there a portable convection oven anywhere on the grounds that we could use or have in our house for the 89 days?
Mario, a most thoughtful and helpful property manager, immediately went to work on coming up with a solution when I kindly asked for his assistance or suggestions.
Within 12 hours, Mario got back to me. He went to town and purchased a full-sized stove/oven which will be hooked up awaiting our arrival in September! We were both shocked and extremely pleased by his generosity and thoughtfulness.
|View from several stories above this beach at the St. Regis Hotel. Tom has verbal slips, often referring to this as the St. Frances Hotel. His sister Beth is a nun and her order is the St. Frances. How that trips up his brain makes me laugh!|
We never expected this amazing solution, nor would we have backed out of our commitment to end up booking somewhere else with an oven. The deposit we’d paid to date was only $300 and if we were different people, we may have forfeited the $300 and moved on. There are other rentals in Fiji.
Backing out is not our style. Mario had locked up that property for us over a year ago for our three-month stay. Leaving them in the lurch just isn’t our style.
We would have learned to cook everything on the stove top. I even went as far as looking online to see if there was a way to bake a low carb pizza or low carb muffins atop the stove. A microwave just won’t cut it.
|A bit of ocean, mountain and vegetation create an exquisite view.|
We use an oven almost everyday for something; baked eggs muffins, Tom’s blueberry scones, a roast, a whole chicken (all low carb, starch, sugar, and grain-free) and on and on. It would have been very limiting. Plus, there’s no grill available on the property which would have been a difficult but acceptable alternative.
This kind of attention to detail and desire to please the customer doesn’t occur without the utmost of appreciation and gratefulness on our part. He didn’t even ask for a portion of the balance of the rent in order to buy the oven which isn’t due for several weeks. Wow!
|We stopped for a moment to savor the view as we wandered through St. Regis Hotel.|
Did we learn a new lesson? Most certainly. Added to our list of other items to verify in the future is now an oven. Here’s are some of our considerations for all of our rentals:
1. Wireless broadband, directly in the property. TV not required.
2. A living room with sofa and/or comfortable chairs.
3. Ceiling fans or if not available, air conditioning in the bedroom for hot nights (we’ve never used it here in Kauai).
4. A full kitchen with an oven and stove top. Dishwasher not necessary. Microwave optional.
5. Ideally, an ocean view or other significant view if the property is located in the interior.
6. A table and chairs or counter top area for dining.
7. A coffee pot, a large bowl, dishes, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, and knives.
8. Bath towels. Believe it or not, some properties advertise to “bring your own linen.” This doesn’t work for us.
9. Easy access to a washing machine. We don’t need a dryer, only a drying rack or clothesline. We prefer to avoid taking our laundry to a Laundromat.
10. Access to a grocery store within a 30-minute drive.
11. A parking spot if we have a rental car. (In Fiji, we’ll use a driver).
12. An outdoor area of some sort. A pool preferred, not necessary.
13. Access to a safe area for walks or walks along the beach.
14. A comfortable bed, preferably larger than double. In the past, we’ve managed with a double bed provided it has adequate pillows and comfortable, clean bedding. There’s no way to determine this until the first night’s sleep. In these past few years, we’ve adapted to some horribly uncomfortable beds. If a problem arises, we don’t hesitate to address it with the property owner. In December, on the Big Island, the owner immediately replaced an awful bed and threadbare linen upon at our request.
|The chandelier at St. Regis Hotel is not necessarily befitting this tropical environment.|
Anything included beyond the above, is considered a bonus and in many cases when we’ve walked in the door of a new property, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by some extras we hadn’t expected; a laundry basket, cleaning supplies, a vacuum, a blender or an ice machine (as opposed to using ice cube trays which is most often the case).
When we look back at all the abundance in our old lives such as possessing every kitchen gadget known to woman/man or TV’s with DVRs, high definition all access cable channels, or comfortable chaise lounges on a sunny patio or an outdoor table and chairs with an umbrella, it’s easy to see how much we have changed.
|View across an indoor water display at St. Regis Hotel.|
We’ve lowered our expectations, not only in what amenities we’ll expect in a vacation home that we rent for a period of time or, in a hotel for one night or, even at a restaurant. There’s nothing more satisfying than a pleasant surprise.
On the other hand, we make every effort to prepare ourselves for potential disappointments by figuring out workarounds rather than whining and complaining for two to three months.
|These commonly seen bright balls grow on various palm trees as future leaves, not always flowers.|
I’ll send this post to Mario to ensure he realizes how much we appreciate what he’s done for us and how much it means to our level of enjoyment and comfort while in Fiji. Thank you, Mario. We look forward to meeting you and Tatjana in September.
Have a thought-provoking Tuesday filled with solutions for what may keep you awake at night. I only had to think about an oven in the middle for one night, thanks to Mario.
Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2014:
|On the rooftop of our riad in Marrakech, a small area was designated for the washer. With Madame Zahra and Ouimama doing our laundry, we never had to use it. Of course, as is the case in many countries, wet clothes are hung outdoors. For details and more photos of the riad, please click here.|