No, this is not about a lottery win though it is about a winning ticket. We had booked our Christmas trip to Arizona through a travel agency which some months later invited me to a cocktail party at a hotel in Park Lane. At the last minute I was unable to attend, probably due to something work related, so instead I sent my beloved along and he won the prize draw, a week’s free vacation (excluding meals) in the Caribbean!
To say we were shocked was putting it mildly, we never win anything. No, that’s not true. Many moons ago, I won a box of broken biscuits in a raffle. The vacation, to be taken in the low season, was at The Four Season’s Resort in Nevis – not too shabby! We decided to take our free vacation in mid-June and extended it (at our own expense) by a few days.
I’ll be honest, we weren’t fans of the Caribbean. We’d previously only visited Barbados, on a tennis holiday with Sue Barker, where we’d spent most of our time at the hotel next door, a certain Sandy Lane! I was singularly unimpressed with the island and, consequently, had not the slightest inclination to visit any of the other islands. But, naturally enough, we weren’t about to turn down a free vacation.
To get to Nevis, we flew to Antigua club class – yes, we’d paid extra to upgrade – and then hopped onto a small plane, but not before we’d had the humiliating experience of being weighed with our luggage! It was just a short flight to Nevis followed by a quick limo to the resort. Our brief glimpse of the island from the air and from the road rather confirmed our fears, we wouldn’t be doing much exploring!
We were installed in a lovely ocean view suite and were looking forward to a relaxing vacation. Or, I was, my beloved was planning to play golf, tennis, go sailing etc etc thereby ensuring I would have a relaxing time around the pool with my books. Aside from one meal at a neighbouring plantation, we ate all our meals in the resort which had several restaurants and evening events to tempt us.
On our second night in the resort, we’d opted to dine outside and had booked a table for 20:30. We turned up on time but our table wasn’t ready, we were happy to sit at the bar with a cocktail, or two, to wait. An hour and two cocktails later, our good mood had dissipated. Finally, we were seated but had to wait a further 20 minutes for menus.
A seasoned waitress, I soon spotted the problem. No one was managing the restaurant that evening. Staff were all over the place and coming in and out of the kitchen empty-handed. No one was clearing the tables. More importantly, guests were being seated without giving them menus and taking drinks’ orders. Clearly responsibilities hadn’t been established. At last we ordered, but 30 minutes later we were still waiting! In exasperation we left and I vowed to have a word with the resort manager the following morning after breakfast.
The manager beat me to it! He greeted us at breakfast and apologised profusely for the way we’d been treated the night before and explained that the restaurant manager and his assistant had both been “no shows” throwing the whole operation into chaos. By way of apology we’d find flowers, champagne and a big bowl of fruit in our suite.
Thereafter, whichever restaurant we ate in, staff treated us like royalty. It was kind of amusing, particularly as the other guests noticed our preferential treatment and you could see them wondering who we were. I’ve always felt that the mark of a world-class company is how you deal with problems. The manager had certainly turned this one to his advantage.
By the end of the vacation I was feeling suitably chilled having achieved my objective of lazing by the pool, reading my books while being regularly sprayed with ice-cold Evian by a couple of poolside hunks. My beloved meanwhile had availed himself of all the sports facilities. It had been a great “free” holiday.
Now, of course, when we added up all the extras, the flight upgrade, the extra three nights in a suite, food for ten days, green fees, games of tennis with the coach etc etc it was one of our more expensive vacations but still one we’ll treasure forever.
All images courtesy of the hotel website