Lessons from 20 Years as a Jamaica Villa Vacation Rental Owner: The Non-Glamorous Side to Owning a Jamaica Villa Rental
As much as we wish good riddance to 2020, we have a milestone to celebrate as vacation rental owners – Mais Oui’s 20th anniversary!
We have been blessed to have had some of the nicest guests. Nothing makes us happier than having guests who love and appreciate the Mais Oui experience and they have rewarded us with so many 5-star reviews. That, plus our desire to keep our staff employed and to share the beauty of Jamaica with others, fuels our “why”.
Truth be told, it has been a labor of love. Just like childbirth, there are labor pains. And just like raising a child, there are those moments, that only a parent can appreciate.
Preparing the villa for each set of guests is a major endeavor because we feel so personally responsible for each guest’s experience. Plus, managing problems from 1500 miles away magnifies very problem at least a 100-fold.
Whenever people find out that we own Mais Oui, their first reaction is usually that it must be really cool to be vacation rental owners in Jamaica. I usually smile and do an internal eye roll as I say to myself, “If only they knew!”
As we reflect on this incredible milestone celebration as vacation rental owners, here are 10 moments over our 20 years that have nothing to do with COVID-19, that we would rather forget. We can laugh about these moments now but at the time, they were definitely not funny. And for some of these, God must have really had our back!
We hope you enjoy the read!
1. The architectural design of the villa had an opening in the roof in the center of the house to let in light. During construction, having fallen in love with the idea and thinking bigger was better, I instructed the construction crew to widen the opening.
Note to self, leave architectural design decisions to the trained professionals. Rain doesn’t fall straight down in the Caribbean.
When the house was finished, I had a quick lesson in architectural design as rain drenched the upstairs of the house. We had to cover the opening with glass. So that’s the real story behind the giant skylight over the indoor garden.
2. When we were furnishing the villa, I bought all the bedspreads and mattress pads here in the US. I had the brilliant idea to vacuum seal them in space saver bags and carry them down in my luggage.
Largely because I had two bulging suitcases, I ended up in the line for those with items to declare at customs. Well, they wanted to see everything in my suitcases, including my vacuum-sealed bags.
You can just imagine the sight as the flattened bags morphed into a mountain of fabric that could not now fit in the suitcases from which they came. I still remember the bewildered look on the customs officer’s face as he saw the rising uncontrollable mass.
No worries about a recurrence. We don’t use bedspreads any more.
3. Within a day of arrival of our very first guests, the electrical needs of the house overloaded our neighborhood’s aging transformer and our entire area was plunged into darkness. We were mortified.
Fortunately, our guests enjoyed a beautiful candlelight dinner that evening. And, the electrical company replaced the transformer in record time.
This Summer, we started the first phase of going solar, with the ultimate dream of being totally green and off the grid!
4. We made the big plunge and paid beaucoup bucks, even by today’s standards, for a full-color ¼ page ad in Islands Magazine, which is what serious villa owners seemed to do back in the day.
Then September 11th happened, just as the issue with our beautiful ad was released.
We got not even one phone call or email. No one was traveling. This signaled tough times ahead. It took us a few years to start getting bookings again consistently.
5. We were at the villa for my niece’s christening in 2007 when Hurricane Dean struck. It wasn’t a direct hit by any means but we had some rain and wind. Not unexpectedly, the power was turned off as a precaution. We had a grand old time with board games and candlelight dinners.
The experience made us get a generator to at least be able to provide basic support for the house in the event of a power outage.
6. A few years ago, our chef got another dream job the night before guests were supposed to arrive for their Christmas holiday.
Fortunately, we have developed various relationships over the years and were able to find a replacement in the nick of time!
7. I got a frantic call early one afternoon that the swimming pool was losing water fast for no apparent reason. I almost had a heart attack before I realize that, with the time difference, the guests had already checked out. Whew!
Luckily, the pool repairman lives nearby and fixed the problem.
8. Once, the washing machine broke down while we had a full house.
The part to fix it was not available on the island. The cost to FedEx it and deliver it to the villa was four times the cost of the part.
Fortunately, I have a very creative Mr. Fix-It, in my contact list, who is a life-saver. A house of this size generates a lot of laundry.
We bought an extra washer and dryer to be safe.
9. I bought a 5-burner gas cooktop and carried it as checked luggage on one of my trips down to the villa.
The person checking me in at the airport thought that was the strangest thing ever. The TSA staff almost took it apart to make sure it was really a stove.
Since I fly out of that airport often, I was “the woman with the stove”. If only they knew, the tales that my luggage would tell. Imagine what they would have thought had they opened the bag of fake breasts I brought down for a local breast health awareness fair one year!
10. I decided to dabble in Google adwords to get more exposure for our website to get more of our guests to book direct.
Someone from Google called me and I was thrilled to get their free advice to optimize my ads. They convinced me to increase my budget to get better results. The follow-up call in 2 weeks didn’t happen and I forgot all about it.
Let’s just say, I finally figured out why I couldn’t pay down my credit card bill. I will wait until tax time to explain what exactly happened to Darrell.
We hope you had a good laugh at these experiences. Fortunately, things have a way of working themselves out, one way or the other, and, as they say, we lived to tell the tale.
More importantly, these trials and tribulations, plus countless other challenging experiences over the years, helped us to improve the Mais Oui experience.
We also learned resilience, which came in handy as we braved the COVID-19 pandemic. We are “little but talawah”, small but mighty, and that belief sustained us through 2020.
So while it is nice having a Jamaican villa vacation rental, there is a lot of grass that has to be mowed. I think you would be much happier booking a stay with us so you can enjoy the uniquely Mais Oui experience that garners us such nice reviews.
Thank you for your support over the years. We couldn’t have done it without you. We look forward to sharing our new and improved Mais Oui with you on your next visit.
‘Til next time.
Think and dream Jamaica!
Sherry, Darrell, and Darrian
Considering a visit to Jamaica with a group? Contact us today for more information about, Mais Oui Tennis & Spa Villa, our boutique 8-BR ocean view Jamaica villa rental experience in beautiful Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Perfect for multi-generational families and groups, retreats, and intimate destination weddings and vow renewals.
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Give us a call: 833-MAISOUI (624.7684) toll-free or 914.709.0457
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