Arrowhead Resort published a note.
Happy Independence Day
Well, it's happened again. Another unhappy guest review from Independence Day weekend. Note, that I no longer call it the Fourth of July. It's Independence Day, and I've been needing a kick in the seat of the pants reminder of that for several years now-- probably ever since that guy tried to burn our place down a few years back. We love this country and our ability to run a business as we see fit, our right to speak freely about it, and even our unhappy guests' rights to speak freely about their stay. Anyway, you can go to Trip Advisor to read the negative review, but I think my response can stand on its own here. It's been a long month, filled with raw emotions that range from the death of a family member to the shootings in Dallas, leaving me at an unusual loss for words. I want to thank the reviewer for breaking my writer's block. I think the words are flowing again now.
Here's our response that will appear on Trip Advisor if they don’t censor it. (Yes, they actually do that!)
We honestly appreciate feedback, even the negative kind. It's really the only way we can continue to be successful (19 seasons and counting.) We aren't crazy about being called "childish" for exercising our right of rebuttal, but that seems to be the problem with our society these days. Everyone wants only their opinion heard and we all seem to have lost our ability to imagine walking in each other's shoes.
I would like to thank Bethany and her family for their business and her thoughtful comments. We love that she has actually helped us emphasize our adherence to rules, thus making it clear to those that are bothered by such things that we might not be a good fit for their stay on Lake Whitney. There are a few of her comments that fall under the category of "you don’t know what you don't know" that I would like to address.
1. As I have stated before, we are NOT a campground. We are a cabin and RV facility, emphasis on the cabins. We have a handful of long-term luxury RV sites with decks that are used on weekends by guests who live as far away as New Jersey. Only one reviewer on this site is one of those owners; all others are from cabin guests. We have two overnight RV sites available, usually used by families that rent a combination of cabins and RV sites. No tents or pop-up campers are allowed and no campfires, thus the distinction of not being a campground. We are also not a fancy resort with every imaginable amenity. We are a simple "mom & pop" business sharing our home by renting our humble cabins.
2. There are reasons why the cabins are not supplied with dishes, but the list of health department regulations would bore you. We took note of the fact that this group flew into the area and OFFERED AT CHECK IN, the use of any kitchen supplies they needed as we do with all guests who arrive from out of state.
3. I do have to apologize for the lack of brand new linens this season. We normally run a rotation schedule, weeding out the older towels and replacing them. Our community and our business have suffered from back-to-back floods that damaged both our property and the overall level of business at the lake. There simply was not enough extra money in the budget this season to replace all of the older towels this year. Even though our current issues are with flooding, we always expect the next drought around the corner and take every opportunity to conserve water by not changing towels daily. This reviewer is not from Texas and cannot be expected to empathize with drought issues.
4. We don’t have a "rule book." We have a guest book filled with 21 pages of useful information like a church directory, Wi-Fi info, the names of the horses, check-out time, discounts for booking future stays, and how to reach us after hours. Yes, there are a few rules there also, but people will be people, so rules are needed. Yes, we also have rules posted in other places as well, because people will be people.
5. We agree that the rule about showering before entering the pool is a bit silly, but it's a Texas Health Department regulation to include that in our pool rules, much the same as posting depth and no diving markers. The only applicability it seems to have for us is maybe keeping people from washing the mud off of their feet in the pool after they have been to the lake. Maybe.
6. Our late night spotlight runs on the golf carts during this guest's stay were actually a) trash collection so that raccoons did not scatter it overnight, b) checking that everyone's cooking fires were extinguished, c) checking on the horses, which are afraid of fireworks and were still not able to be safely put away in their barn, as it was damaged by flood waters, and d) touching base with guests wanting interaction, video rentals, or ice purchases after official office hours, and before we attempt to get a few hours of sleep before starting all over the next morning. Luckily for all involved, we had a very quiet group of guests this year for Independence Day, making our rounds more about safety and comfort than about enforcing rules.
7. We are not a huge chain resort. Our checkout procedure is perhaps a bit less streamlined than a chain hotel, but it is designed to do several things: a) get you on your way quickly, b) ensure that we actually do get paid, c) reduce the credit card fees we are charged so that we can keep our cabin rates reasonable, and d) have one last interaction with guests for the purpose of feedback. Believe it or not, most people prefer to tell us in person how their stay at our home was.
8. The peacocks are not everybody's cup of tea. They are noisy during mating season, which is winding down in July, but they are also noisy when they perceive threats, like late-night neighborhood fireworks. As we state clearly on our website, we know we are not right for everyone. But what's great about this country is that we get to choose how to run our business (and whether or not we have peacocks) and you get to choose where you spend your Independence Day weekend.
9. We make every effort to be clear about access to the lake, but let me try again. There are two permanently placed, heavy steel A-frame walkovers with handrails-- one at the top fence and one at the bottom fence. Each walkover has 6 steps up and 6 steps down, allowing guests to walk up and over the fence. The steps consist of treads that are 4 inches x 26 inches, with metal grating to prevent slipping. The walkovers do not have narrow rungs like a ladder would have. At normal lake level, there is a mowed trail between the top fence and the bottom fence. There are photos of the walkovers and the trail on our website. A pony and a one-eyed miniature horse are sometimes in the pasture. They are both pretty harmless, but Texas law protects us from liability of having horses at our home as long as guests are made aware that they will be near horses.
10. As regards to check-in, in Texas, we generally find it more hospitable to greet expected guests on the front porch. Sorry, if that offended. We did find it necessary to stop several unauthorized vehicles entering the property during Bethany's stay and that is easier to accomplish when we are outside than if we remain indoors in the comfort of the a/c where we would rather be. Holiday weekends always bring out hordes of people attempting to access the lake-- especially this year with the public parks closed due to the aforementioned floods. The family with a six-year-old in cabin 12 told us that she appreciated our vigilance at the entrance so that she knew her child was safe from unvetted strangers.
11. As I have so "childishly" pointed out in previous responses to guests who came here with wrong intentions or misguided expectations, holiday weekends, especially Independence Day is not only a day of celebration, it is a day for celebrations to get out of control. Our security is always heightened at this time of year, as it is throughout the country. Gary and I must keep in mind that assistance in the form of law enforcement or fire fighters is a minimum of 20 minutes away so we find it best to head off trouble before we actually need assistance. It is a sad state of affairs that we must all be vigilent, but as I write this, families are mourning following the tragedy in France during their independence celebrations.
12. As for allowing visitors, we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. Trust me, we have tried visitor control in all manners-- with special passes, with a fee, without a fee, with limits on the numbers and hours, etc. Every single one of those scenarios caused someone to be unhappy. The deciding factor in not allowing ANYBODY to have ANY visitors regardless of our occupancy level or the time of year is that an overwhelming number of incidents involving property damage, crime, and guest complaints have involved day-visitors. The long list of things we and other guests have endured by people VISITING registered guests includes: deliberate and accidental fires, theft, child endangerment, underage drinking parties, public sex, vandalism, and drugs, just to name a few.
13. As for our level of success, yes, we did have ONE vacancy this Independence Day weekend, directly attributed to a cancellation by a boater with no easy access to the lake because of the flood. It is insulting and offensive when you claim to know the level of success a business is having and think you know a better way. It's easy to attack us for "hurling insults" in our rebuttals while you are hurling your own about things that you literally know nothing about. And if this reviewer did know about our floods, then shame on her for kicking us when we are down. We have served thousands of happy guests in 19 seasons. They continue to make us successful just as we are. While we strive to continually improve our offerings, one person's image of turning our place into a "gold mine" with "glamping" doesn't really suit us. We are what we are and continue to work at making sure our guests know what we are BEFORE they arrive.
14. I also want to apologize to Bethany and her family if our smiles were a bit strained during their stay. Our brother-in-law was killed in the BNSF train collision on Tuesday, June 28th. His memorial service was held on Saturday, July 2. As a "mom & pop" business, there is no bereavement leave, no co-worker to fill our shoes, no way to leave the business on the busiest weekend of the year to travel out of town. We faced the agonizing choice of closing the resort, thereby disrupting the holiday travel plans of all of our guests in order to grieve with family, or to push through and grieve silently. We chose the latter. Bethany could not have known this, nor did any of our guests need to know it. I am not seeking sympathy, but rather using this merely as an example that none of us knows what another person is going through unless we reach out to that person and ask.
15. To say that we don’t love people and the business of sharing our beautiful property is a poorly drawn conclusion that is rebutted by happy guests week after week for 19 seasons. (Sadly, happy guests are the least likely to write reviews.) This particular guest has no way of knowing what we love or do not love. Concluding that we don’t love our work by pointing out our attention to the details is actually a bit illogical, kind of like the child who thinks her parents don’t love her because they are strict. Sleepless nights and constant vigilance to make sure everyone is safe and enjoys the property IS what love looks like. Spending time talking to interested guests at all hours of the day and night about the peacocks, the horses, the lake, and the wildlife IS what love looks like. Swapping out dirty towels on demand IS what love looks like. And taking the time to write lengthy responses to unhappy guests is also what love looks like. Sure, we could put up an automated gate and sit inside the office with our heads in the sand while our guests are here, but as I said before that's not what we call hospitality. We LOVE the outdoors and we LOVE interacting with guests who seek interaction. I suppose it is unfortunate that these guests were in the cabin nearest the office. They obviously would have been happier if they had not been able to see OUR every move. Our actions were in no way a reflection of their behavior. Just as Bethany said, they were ideal guests.
16. Perhaps instead of mixing a handful of previous bad reviews (which are actually rare if you read all of the reviews) with a weekend's worth of "observations" to draw all-knowing conclusions about our property and our personalities, if Bethany had spent time actually talking to us about the things that bothered her, she might not have felt the need to spend her time on this detailed review that really boils down to two legitimate complaints: skimpy towels and us being a little less friendly than usual. But then, if we all spent more time truly interacting with people before we speak ill, write business-damaging reviews, join protests, or shoot people, things might be better all the way around. I am going to take my own advice and admit that I do not know what was going on with Bethany and her group. I wish I had taken more time to get to know them and wish them safe and happy travels in the future. #learningempathy #youdontknowwhatyoudontknow #happyindependenceday