Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gone Goondi-very-windy

Expat Paul Tredgett recounts the challenges of an outback B&B in a hurricane...

Satellite image: Google

Every business has difficult times, makes mistakes and disappoints customers. It is what you do from there which makes the difference. Sometimes the circumstances are beyond your control, but still how you respond makes the difference. What gets up people's noses is when nobody cares, when your are referred to somebody else to get rid of you, and you have to state your case again and again. Where you can’t even contact anybody with the authority to make a decision or resolve the issue. We’ve all been there.

Enter B&B. Or ‘Hosted Accommodation’. In nearly all cases, the owner is the operator on a property they own and consider home. I am one. I not only consider it a business obligation to provide the best service that I can, it is also part of my pride and emotional well-being to share my beautiful environment to provide an enjoyable and satisfying experience. And you have to go far to find the boss who can make decisions and resolve issues, he or she probably greeted you on arrival.

Recently Cyclone Ita molested this part of the coast and brought inconvenience to many.

The cyclone was only a cat 1 when it went somewhere near a couple of days ago. Pretty windy but only one tree across the track, not like the hundreds in the last 2 cyclones. But it rained a bit. 246 mm yesterday and most of that in 3 hours in the afternoon. In the middle of that wind and pelting rain, a guest arrived but I told him to stop at the top of the hill as the creek was 30m wide, navel deep and doing quite a rate of knots. Couldn’t even risk wading through. Fortunately, there is the bridge near Blackbean Cottage. It wasn’t visible, being 400mm underwater, but I assured him that there was one and please follow directly behind me, as it is quite narrow. I had one end of his wheelie suitcase. I disgraced myself twice by missing the bridge and plunging into the water, but had the presence of mind to let go the luggage which he manfully struggled to keep above the waters.

He later agreed that although he is very well traveled, he has never before had quite that experience when arriving at a hotel reception, with storm and tempest and disappearing receptionist/porter. Fortunately, he had a sense of humour.

The rest of the party has arrived yesterday, having flown from Sydney , but the plane made 2 aborted landing attempts before the pilot made a decision between discretion and valour and headed back to land in Brisbane. My guests were accommodated and flown back today at the airlines expense. Both the Gillies and Kuranda range still closed, probably land slips, so they came up the Palmeston. I do appreciate the effort they all made to get here. Lesser mortals would have just cancelled out.

Next day I assembled the able-bodied guests down at the bottom of the waterfall in the rainforest also known as ‘leech central’, due to their abundance there. The occasion was hauling the hydro generator out of the creek as it had been swept away in the floods. It weighs 110 kg and I needed the help.

B&B’s can provide personal service, direct involvement, interesting experiences and perhaps even an educational opportunity. A hotel or motel can provide predictable comfort ranging from adequate to luxurious depending on your budget, but B&B’s often provide something special that you have never experienced before.

Possum Valley is a bit on the wild side. Many offer gentle luxury. Choose carefully.

Originally posted on Paul's blog as "Awkward Moments."


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