It’s a year and a few months now since Linda and I took over Easy Five. The previous owners, Karin and Siggi Konrad, operated the guesthouse for 10 years or more, and had built up a loyal clientele of mainly German-speaking couples, many of whom returned year after year for a week, or two weeks or even longer. Understandably, these long-standing guests were concerned about what the change in ownership might mean for the vacation spot they had come to know and love, and about which they doubtless felt just a little bit possessive.
We shared their concern because we didn’t want to do anything that would jeapordise this very loyal and repeat clientele, the sort of customers any small business would love to have. While we made a few small changes, we were careful to leave most things just as they were. We also paid close attention to the notes Karin left us about the particular likes of various guests and made certain we could accommodate them.
We were getting pretty good feedback as the first few sets of repeat guests came for their stay this past season and met the new Canadian owners for the first time. Everyone liked the heat pump we attached to the swimming pool to take the chill out of the water, especially for those early-morning swims many of our German guests enjoyed taking. The new flat-screen television sets were welcomed. Most guests thoroughly enjoyed all the different fresh-ground, fresh-brewed African coffees that we added to the breakfast buffet. (And for those who didn’t want to switch from the familiar, we still had the old standby filter coffee for them.) And, if I may say so myself, my made-to-order omelettes were a smash hit!
As we look back on that first season and look forward to the next, we know we did well based on two things.
The first was the conversation we had with Peter and Maria, a lovely couple who have been coming to Easy Five for years and years. As they prepared to leave us following their two-week stay in November, Peter told me that there was a German expression that often applied in cases like this. The expression, “Es kommt nie etwas besseres nach,” literally translates as “It never comes to something better,” and, Peter explained, it means that change rarely improves things. “Afterwards is rarely better,” he said. “But at Easy Five, afterwards is much better!”
While I loved Peter for his warm expression of confidence in what we were doing, even more concrete evidence is emerging as bookings roll in for our second year. With rare exception, every long-term repeat guest we hosted last year is returning again this year, with some of them staying for even longer than last year. They will find quite a few more changes this year — having got our first full season under our belts, we are busy painting, redecorating and upgrading the rooms, and doing a fair bit of work in the gardens. We very much want to hear what all our guests think about the new look but we especially look forward to the reaction of our valued repeaters. We trust they will all agree with Peter and say, “Es kommt nie etwas besseres nach? Not at Easy Five!”