Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Minus Two on the Charm Scale

Sunset at Picard Beach
I think that AirBnb and other travel sites should have a category in their rating system for charm. After you’ve stayed in one of their member accommodations you are asked to rate them for location, accuracy, cleanliness, communication and value.  We’ve had a strange run here with AirBnb.  Maybe it isn’t designed for old folks like us.  When you read the reviews of sites, they are often young travelers, rarely people like us in our sixth decade.  

The garden at Sister's Sea Lodge
But this run of bad luck in Antigua, and now in Dominica, brings back memories of some of the other less than pleasant lodgings we’ve stayed in over our last eighteen years of travel.  For example there was the tent in the Masai Mara while on safari, that was riddled with mosquitoes, a sagging cot and a spare bathroom attached at the back. There was the hovel in Isla Mujeras that was so grungy I had to drink a few shots of tequila to be able to sleep in restless ignorance; the little motel in San Juan de Atitlan Guatemala where I was accidentally locked into the bathroom with no way out short of removing the hardware. Speaking of hardware; the bathroom shower was an instantaneous hot water shower head that could have been an instantaneous electrocution device, with electrical wires running directly to the shower head a few inches above your head.  I could go on ….  but here in Dominica we finally decided we’d had enough of subpar accommodations.  The room looked ok in photos and the reviews were five star, albeit, with only a couple reviews over the course of two years. In reality it was a small apartment in a sixteen unit four story concrete monstrosity set in a complex of dozens of other concrete abominations.  Turns out it was mostly rented to students at Ross Medical University just a block away.  We had to ask for new pillows — the old ones stunk — kitchen towel which were actually a cafe curtain panel and a pillow case.  Not a lick of art on the walls, a long fluorescent bulb above the bed as the only light in the room, etc.  But there was Wifi so I quickly got on the computer and found a place nearby on the beach that looked like our style, Sisters Sea Lodge. But they were closed until the next day until 9am.  So we made the appointment and contacted the manager and cancelled the week remaining in the concrete gulag. The manager wasn’t happy about it but seemed to understand when we told him honestly that, “ It wasn’t what we expected” and that we “Wanted something nicer”.  He even drove us to see the Sisters Sea Lodge the next morning. 

We loved it, just our style. On the beach, the tiny resort included a huge tropical garden with cabins built by an Italian owner. It reminded us of our first winter travel destination, Villa Los Mapaches at Isla Hotbox. The cabin has stone walls with wooden ceiling and furniture.  This is a bit larger and more substantial than the palapa —thatched huts — of Mexico and it  has survived at least one major hurricane — Erica, just two years ago.  

Already we’ve had a great lunch of fried Lionfish with fries and salad and a decent French Rosé in the house restaurant sitting here on Coconut Beach.  Life is good!

So, on a 1 to 10 scale, last nights lodging, rates a minus 2 on the charm scale and tonight’s looks closer to 8.

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