Our family has owned the Englewood Lighthouse Resort since November of 2002. Many of the policies and rules we have instituted came from experience as we ran this resort. Being big timeshare fans, we try to model our place after a timeshare resort, minus the 90-minute sales talk!!
Why do you charge extra guest charges?
We try to keep our rates very reasonable. So when more people come, that is more water used, more bedding and towels used, more electricity and more wear and tear. If we absorbed all the extra charges, our rates would have to be higher, and that's not fair to our single travelers or two-person parties.
Why did you get rid of the pet friendly cottages?
When we bought the resort we had a no pet policy. We tried for several years to accommodate guests with pets. Unfortunately, we had more complaints and damage that we really could handle. Many times the owners don't realize the problems their pets cause. Like barking for hours in the cottage until they return is extremely disturbing to the attached cottage guests.
Is the Pool Warm?
This is a tough one to answer. During our Season Period, our pool heater is set for 84 degrees, which is the upper end of a standard temperature setting for Florida pools in the winter. We have found that some people think a pool is "cold" even at 90 degrees! The pool is not heated during Off-Season or Lighthouse Special periods. In the summer, the pool is used to cool us off!
How about the WIFI? Is it fast?
This is also a tough one to make people happy with. No matter what you have, somebody will always want it faster and stronger. We just upgraded to Verizon FIOS with a speed of 50 MB/s. The wireless router is up in the main house and a wireless access point sends the signal out to the cottages. The signal strength varies, but all the cottages seem to get it pretty good inside except for #6. The signal strength varies around the resort, clubhouse and dock. If having a really high capacity wireless connection is important to you, you might have to head to the library, McDonalds, or bring a dedicated hot spot.
Can we have a late checkout?
Being a family-run resort, we can sometimes be a little flexible on the timing. But we need guests to understand that just like when they checked in, there will be somebody checking into their cottage, maybe later that same day. This can be a tough proposition especially if the cottage requires substantial cleaning. Sometimes people try to check in early too (True Story: 7:30 a.m. is our record). So that makes it even worse for our workload. Just to keep it fair, please don't ask us for early checkin and late checkout on the same stay. When we have a few cottages to turn around in one day, we cannot allow anyone to stay past 10 a.m. Keep in mind, we are in the hospitality business. If we do allow you to come early or stay late, please consider leaving a small token of your appreciation behind. We have found that very few people actually reciprocate a favor.
Why don't you allow a full refund on a cancellation?
Many of our guests book their vacations up to a year in advance. We don't like the idea of charging a large 50% deposit so far in advance like many places do, so we use a nominal 15% deposit. We would ask any guests who have to cancel to please consider our side of the equation as well. Some bookings require effort on our part to put together, so we have some time and effort invested in securing bookings. When someone books a cottage, it shows up as blocked out for any other potential guests, possibly for many months. So people who may have wanted that cottage look elsewhere. After the cottage is re-opened to others, the rate we might get depends on how close the dates are. If it is real close, we might not be able to book it at all. So when guests agree to the cancellation policy then try to get a full refund it puts us in a very awkward spot. True Story: We had a guest cancel last minute because they had to "go back up North to aid their dying mother". Well, a few days later, we saw them at a local flea market scooping up some deals! "Hey, how's mom?"
I have a real emergency. Why can't I get a refund of all my payment(s)?
We know emergencies come up, but we're not an insurance company. That's why we would encourage our guests to purchase travel insurance for those situations. We are not responsible for reimbursing guests who choose not to purchase travel insurance. Our cancellation policy applies regardless of the reason for cancellation.
How come we have to pay before we come?
This is a new policy that we have instituted. It is actually working out well. We have a small operation, so sometimes we would put the key and welcome package out for the guests if we ran out for dinner or a band concert. Then it became a case of track down the guests. Are they on the boat? Are they home? So it eases everyone's mind this way. Additionally, our current online booking module adds a level of security because we never see the credit card information at all. True Story: We learned the hard way on this one in the early days on a monthly booking with a "pay when you come" policy. Somebody put a small deposit down and never checked-in. Turns out they put small deposits on three different places for the season, came down and picked the one they liked the best! Lesson Learned.
So if you have any questions you think we should add, please let us know! We really enjoy living here and running this small resort. These are just a few of the stories. If you come to see us, maybe ask us about "masking tape man", "Mr. Hangtoolow", or "Domino Nights".