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In the service industry, reputation is the business and the product

December bookings point to brighter year for tourism/FILE

December bookings point to brighter year for tourism/FILE

The holidays are best spent by the beach with friends and family and the Christmas holidays of 2015 were no different for the Kamau household. What was planned to be a peaceful, time away to recharge before the usual brouhaha of the year 2016, quickly became a holiday not to be forgotten.

As usual, arrangements for the family getaway were made in advance and on review, the beachside villa in the sleepy picturesque coastal town of Malindi was perfect. After giving our requirements for a comfortable stay, the villa booked was promised to have a sea view, adjacent pool, 4 bedrooms (enough accommodation for a family of six) with a chef and maid.  Unfortunately, what we perceived to be the perfect end to the year soon became a far-fetched dream as perception did not manifest into reality.

On arrival to the villa after a long day of travelling with the children and family, top on the list of priorities was to find suitable transport. Since we planned everything to the last detail, a car was already waiting at the Malindi airport. The car described as “reliable and clean” could not have been farther from the description.

As the family hurdled into the jalopy with suitcases and all the creature comforts we could not afford to leave behind when travelling with children, I could not help but notice the cockroaches scatter from the crevices in the seats and dashboard. You can only imagine the shock on my wife’s face. The next day, my temporary solution was to shower every surface of the car with five cans of doom and let it be.

The second day of our stay was filled with unexpected revelations. The perfect ocean side escape was not all it was cracked up to be. The air-conditioning did not work, food for 6 was prepared on a meko, the mini fridge was out of service and the monthly subscription for television was not paid.  I could no longer hide my frustration, so after a couple of deep breaths, I called up the villa owner and made my concerns known.

The pathological liar had an excuse for everything, maybe just as many excuses as there were in the car he provided us with. After I shared how livid I was with the state of the home, he made a point to salvage the situation. During the period of our stay, I must have pointed out so many errors but I was not going to hide my disapproval for how he ran his establishment. It almost felt as though we were a trial group before the actual opening. Lacklustre services and all, they began to improve towards the end of our stay never mind the fact housekeeping swapped towels for baby shawls. Rather than leave, we decided to make the most of the experience.

After our eight day stay, it was time to return to the capital and leave the sun and sand behind but I took away a few lessons form that trip. There are some basic necessities that should be verified before going on holiday. Here are some tips to ensure you don’t fall on the same fate as we did.

  • Suitable accommodation for the family with all the amenities necessary. Having a chef and maid while on holiday can spare the family the hustle of cooking and cleaning while on vacation.
  • A reliable means of transport is essential. Ensure you receive the car details of registration, condition and such much in advance.
  • Ensure you make an early booking to avoid being disappointed on arrival. You might just show up and find another family enjoying the facilities you were so eager you hoped to benefit from.
  • Ensure there is something for everyone. On holiday, there are those who crave adventure while others would rather lie on a daybed all day. Ensure the establishment can cater to everyone’s needs.

It is far better to visit a place with great reviews than to venture into the unknown of accommodation provided by those who know nothing on hospitality when travelling with family. Let’s just say lesson learnt.

By Cyrus Kamau

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