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‘Legally binding’?Sorry, me no speakum English

The marvellous weather has been bringing the tourists to our door in droves.

July and August can be funny months for us, as our typical residents generally go to ground as the children appear for the summer season. However, owing to the success of two of the independent marketing schemes we signed up for this year, our little “lull” has been anything but.

It is nice to know that other people’s admin departments have staff that have difficulty with names, having this month had the “Leg Off” family booked to us. This, of course, was Mr and Mrs Le Goff from Brittany – and we are dying to meet Mr and Mrs Reindeer from Norway. The Van Shuts from Holland were a lot more charming than the spelling of their name indicated.

The car park has looked like the League of Nations, and it’s fun to use other languages – even when, having enquired of a guest, whom I had been assured was French, whether he had slept well, I was staggered to hear the reply: “Ich verstehe nicht!”

Age-old problem

However, the age-old problem of cancelled bookings has been raising its head again. It doesn’t seem to matter how much we emphasise, in our brochure and in confirmations, both our scale of charges and our policy over cancellations, the general public still don’t accept willingly any liability when cancelling, sometimes at less than 12 hours’ notice.

We even go to the lengths of enclosing a holiday insurance leaflet with every single letter of confirmation, underlining the “legally binding contract”.

The financial repercussions are so much greater for little hotels such as ours – one room cancelled is 10% of our income – and being tough does not come naturally to any of us here.

Some of the cases you can feel real sympathy for, but others stagger you with their audacity. For example: “The weather is so good we simply can’t leave the garden.” What on God’s earth do you say to that?

The nicest part of the summer is having all our students back with us, and in some cases basking in reflected glory. Kimberley has graduated in Equine Studies, and Llinos has successfully completed her second year at Bangor. These young people, among others, have been with us since their early teens, and within these teenagers one can find and nurture real talent.

I was reduced to tears this month to receive a huge bouquet of flowers from Delme on his graduating from the University of Surrey (BSc in Hotel and Catering Management). The card read: “Thank you for giving me the roots to grow and wings to fly.” I cried.

Now which of you out there wants a cracker like that on your staff?

Next diary from Barbara Baldon is on 28 August

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