I have been spending most of September lying on a sun-lounger by the pool (and to be honest, most of July and August too…!). Normally I think of my September ‘holiday’ as a well-earned break after a hectic summer of running holiday rental properties. Most Saturdays would find me hurtling between several villas checking that the cleaners had turned up, making sure there were enough basic provisions for guests (loo rolls & washing up liquid for the 3* properties, welcome packs of cheese and wine for the 4* properties), doing ‘meet and greets’ or making sure the keys were hidden in the right place etc. On Sundays I would usually get at least 1 ‘call-out’ from a guest who had already lost the key or lacked the basic skills to work the washing machine. During the week I would call in to meet the guests I hadn’t met on the Saturday, picking my way around shiny sun-burned bodies and beer bottles scattered around the pools. But not this year…
To start with I had less properties to run - 2 of the larger villas had been sold and I had resigned from the 3rd because the owner would never pay for any maintenance issues and after ‘sewage-gate’ and an incident with a hornet’s nest I decided to call it a day. The main flurry of bookings for the summer normally arrive in March, but this year, due to the lockdown, there was just a flurry of cancellations from the few who had already booked. So, when I could drag myself away from making banana-bread and tidying cupboards I contacted all my ‘owners’ and suggested they drop their prices and offer longer-stay discounts. Success! Most of the summer visitors were French or Belgian (less affected by travel restrictions) but some of the other renters were what I would call ‘Covid Refugees’ including a family unable to get back to America who were delighted to rent for one month, and a couple whose house purchase had been delayed until September.
The one thing that has really surprised me this year is the clients’ attitude to the virus. It doesn’t seem to exist for them. I have made sure that every property is kept empty for several days between clients, that everything is disinfected and the cleaners wear masks; when I meet the clients I wear a mask and hand over the disinfected keys in a plastic bag and explain all the precautions we have taken - and they cheerfully say ‘oh, we’re not worried’ and seem surprised that I don’t go in with them to show them around!
So perhaps I can’t quite justify my September idleness as being a reward for hard work over the summer, but I can at least relax knowing that I haven’t put anybody’s health at risk - and especially not my own!