Our Vacation: Behind The Scenes

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Now that we’ve unpacked and settled back in to Life Bedford Style, we thought it was a good time to talk about our VRBO experience and the vacation in general.

The question we get most often by friends and family:
How was the VRBO experience? 

Welllllllll, mixed. We went from being pampered at a four-star resort where everything is done to having to do almost everything ourselves. Having to grocery shop and cook were the two worst aspects of renting a home versus staying at a resort.

Granted the house came with a housekeeper who we were told could and would cook if we asked (and paid) but that wasn’t our comfort factor. Plus we had no idea how she cooked and we eat very simply – we don’t fry things etc, and would have hated to ask her to cook only to see a plate of fried fish and heavy rices. So we worked it out between the two of us. I got up early and made the coffee and got things ready for breakfast. Mr. EOS did the dishes (yes, the housekeeper would have done them but we had so few it made sense for us to do them) Lunch was out a couple of times or leftover fish from dinner or a can of tuna or even a store-bought Greek salad. Simple, light.

Dinner was the meal we really hated cooking for ourselves. It was at the end of a day, after a couple of drinks, the breeze was not as strong and we had a mosquito issue in a corner of the kitchen where no air came through. Plus, the stove lost its ability to ignite by turning on the knobs so each burner had to be lit with a match. A pain. We weren’t at camp!

We just didn’t feel comfortable about driving late at night either so we decided it was safer to suck up and deal and cook at home (and enjoy complaining about it) than drive home from a far away restaurant.

While the owners were wonderful, we got to thinking reading the villa reviews, very few actually raved about the house – most said great things about Rob and Veron, and here’s what we think is the deal. We think they (smartly) market themselves as the attraction – making sure we see Rob play, letting tenants use the house car, bringing us fish. The house itself was very different than in the photos – different outdoor furniture, different indoor furniture (placement of as well as pieces).

One of our first “issues” was there was no patio umbrella to get into the shade. We asked the first day if they would bring one by and we got an email back that said No, they break so often they had not found one that was good enough to suit. I countered that we live on the ocean, know that umbrellas can flip, would never leave the house with the umbrella open, and would even bring it in at night. We still got a No, yet, look at this listing photo. Hmmmm.

vz1
We did NOT have four lounge chairs. We had two. We did NOT have the teak benches and table you see in the foreground. There was other furniture but not anywhere as nice as what is in the photo. We did not have that umbrella!

The day we arrived we noticed there was no ice in the freezer and we found no ice cubes. We asked for your help and you came up with great ideas to get us through until we could get ice BUT we thought and thought that what homeowner would possibly think it’s ok not to leave every tenant either a bunch of ice trays filled and ready or a bag of ice. That was odd.

Not one knife actually sliced a darn thing. The scissors in the drawer looked like a relic off the Titanic. There was no can opener (we had to buy one) and as we mentioned, we had to buy a fish grill thing. That was minor I guess, but still. When we told the housekeeper there was no can opener (for the tuna) she shrugged her shoulders. We didn’t asked to be reimbursed but a can opener in our mind is a basic.

No one ever came to clean the pool or empty the filter and we didn’t see any packet of house instructions saying that this was OUR job. But the filter had to be cleaned every day – it was full of leaves so we did it. We even turned on the hose one day as the water level seemed low to us. What other choice did we have? Very odd.

The interior lights we practically non-existent. Two on the far wall. One very strange track fixture in the kitchen that kinda lit the sink but left the breakfast bar 100% in the dark. Not one overhead light in the living room and where the inside dining room table was placed when WE stayed (different placement than in the photos), there was No light at all so after diner if we wanted to sit and play Boggle or Scrabble, we couldn’t. It was that dark.

vz2
See the one track light in the kitchen. Nothing over the breakfast bar (and we did NOT have four stools – we had two chairs falling apart!) The area where you see a light fixture by the rattan faced armoire was for nothing. There was no furniture there so it lit an area one didn’t sit in! Not one light in the beamed ceiling in the living room. Not one!

The mosquito problem in the master bedroom was bad but some of problem was of my own making. The bed had netting but I really hated to have that around me. A couple of the first nights I opened my side and when I saw how many HUGE bites my legs and arms had on in the morning, I closed the netting. The bugs come through the french doors at night, even though the doors were closed, they weren’t sealed well. The housekeeper saw my legs and sprayed for us but we could only find ONE review in all the the villa reviews that complained about the mosquitoes up and downstairs. No one mentioned the different furniture. No one mentioned the lack of umbrella. No one said a thing about no lights.

We think we were a strange breed of tenant this house hasn’t had before. We’re older. We weren’t gone after breakfast until 10pm. We didn’t try and find every bar and jerk chicken restaurant in town. We hung around the house which made every thing far more noticeable that we didn’t like seem exaggerated.

It goes back to the adage: What you don’t know you don’t know.

The house backed up to a pretty busy road and there was another road to about five or six houses IN FRONT and below the house so that traffic was noticeable too. There was no way of seeing that and no description of the house or photo gave us any indication the house was a road sandwich. But not one other review mentioned that either. Odd.

Would we do this again? No. Was it horrible? No. But we made the trifecta of bad decisions:

  1. Going to an island we didn’t know
  2. Going 1000% extreme in opposite direction from all our other vacations
  3. Being so far away from the airport

Yesterday we penned a review of the house to post on VRBO – we decided Rob and Veron were so hospitable that they deserved a mention and nod. We clicked Submit, then this morning as we scrolled through the listing photos, seeing HOW MUCH was really truly different between the listing photos and what we got, we called VRBO and rescinded our review. We think it’s better to say nothing.

We were overly generous too. We gave a big tip to the housekeeper (even though we did most of her work and had to ASK for the sheets and bathroom towels to be changed after we were there a full week!). We topped off the car with gasoline (although no one asked us to, it seemed only right). PLUS, even though Veron said we didn’t need to reimburse her for the fish, it was a LOT of fish that was delivered so we left $100 on the counter with a note that we couldn’t accept her generosity – not only letting her pay for our fish but the cost of having someone bring it to us. In hindsight, maybe we should have accepted their offer re the free fish and since not asked specifically to refill the car, we don’t. We’re just too nice I guess. We were naïve enough to think Veron or Rob would even email us and thank us for leaving the fish money and filling the car. Nope. That was disappointing and made us feel more like schnooks for being good tenants.

Long story short, we’re stashing away money to be resort rats again next year, even if it’s a financial strain. VRBO is a great company, I have tons of friends who love renting from them and we didn’t have a bad VRBO experience, we had a mediocre villa and St. Lucia experience. We agreed St. Lucia wouldn’t even be an island we’d choose to return to.

 

 

13 thoughts on “Our Vacation: Behind The Scenes

  1. We’ve had nothing but excellent VRBO rentals but we always look for the same type of house, beach rentals or cabins. It’s easier the more VRBOing you do and I can see how your first experience might leave you disappointed. Usually the comments are the best way to vet a home but not always. Look for big gaps in dates with no reviews. It might indicate people who weren’t happy but decided not to write a review.

  2. The staging photos versus furniture realty is inexcusable and misleading, to say the least.

    On the plus side, the use of the car is worth many hundreds of dollars. Plus all you can eat fish….

    Just guessing, I estimate that this particular vrbo was about 1/3 the price of comparable length stay in a large ocean view suite (not standard room) at Half Moon Bay.

    Then again, you spent 1/3 of your days on St. Lucia adjusting/shopping and many days beforehand packing and schlepping condiments, breadcrumbs and bug spray.

    I would have left a vrbo review citing the misrepresentation of the poolside furniture and umbrella, the ice situation, and lack of basic culinary utensils.

    It is curious that no previous guests haven’t already noted theses inconsistencies?

    1. Very true about the car! It was fabulous to have, free. Of course it was balanced by paying a driver $100US x 2 for picking us up and dropping us off at the airport. We were thrilled to pay for that because we couldn’t imagine navigating roads we didn’t know. So paying a driver was worth every penny. I imagine other tenants use the car a whole lot more than we did. It is a big perk.
      The total of the house rental was about $4k- a pittance compared to a Half Moon suite and food plan for the same period.
      In hindsight we would not have schlepped food from here. Food was relatively cheap there. Live and learn. We made several rookie mistakes.
      We penned a long note to Rob and Veron about the things we think should be addressed but burned the note before we left. It’s one of those things- we aren’t going g back. We’ll never see them again. They have lots of good reviews. What’s the point of saying a thing?

  3. I was awaiting your comparative review. When you think of it, you don’t have to get all that dressed up to have dinner at a resort. How many of a resort’s amenities would you be using? When all you want is to sit in the sun- or shade- read a few books, have a couple of dark and stormies, and play card games, it doesn’t make much sense to pay a premium price for a whole bunch of extras. A small, upscale inn/hotel with breakfasts included might be just the ticket. A direct flight ticket. It would be on a nice, quiet beach and within walking distance to casual and fancier restaurants. It would have private outdoor space, either porch or patio, for cocktails. And no mosquitoes.
    I wonder if that place exists….

    1. Both of us LIKE to get dressed up for dinner. We’re probably in the minority so staying in a beach coverup for dinner felt wrong. We’re more formal than this rental and we felt out of step.
      Agree about the resort amenities but today all resorts have that egregious Resort Fee even if you do nothing. I think it should be event based.
      When you find that perfect vacation spot you described, call me!!! You yo first, tell me how it is, then we’ll go second. 🙂

  4. So now, What you do know, you do know. Just think if you had rented one of those Cotton Bay villas as portrayed by Sothebys and discovered that small corner of hell 👹.

    Next time, maybe go somewhere near Exhuma so that you can send back pics of the swimming pigs:

    1. Oh dear god. What’s funny is that in the beginning of the search, we looked at condos. And it would not have been out of the realm of possibilities, given the photos in the Sotheby’s listing, that we WOULD have been right in the center of that hell.
      We expect to return to our two favorites haunts- Barbados or Jamaica. I think we’re done experimenting for this particular vacation.

  5. I agree with CH that you should write a review stating that the villa was not as represented in photos. Otherwise you do a disservice to the next renter. You don’t need to be mean, just stare the facts ma’am!

      1. If I’m right, then do it. Write a fact based review, noting the difference in furniture in the listing and the lack of some basics. I’d mention the pool maintenance issue too.
        It’s how VRBO works.

  6. So
    In the end,
    As always, money talks.
    Bullshit walks
    4K for st Lucia
    12K for half moon
    Sorry if u are unhappy
    Being on a sailboat is the best on islands
    Dingy to dinner

    1. We saw so many sailboats doing just as you described and we talked about doing that as an option. We regret to inform you that we’re going to stick to being sybaritic landlubbers. 🙂

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