Once upon a time, a man contacted Midlands reservations, a small booking office for accommodation establishments in the KZN Midlands. He wanted a place that was quiet but that would offer good food and great service but it also had to allow for privacy.
The reservationist asked what dates he had in mind and for how many people, to which he replied “It’s for one person and I’d like it to be as soon as possible.” The reservationist then asked how many nights he was wanting, to which he replied, “For as long as it takes.” A little unsure, the reservationist needing a more definitive answer prompted the man by stating most folk tend to stay on average 2-3 nights but should he want to explore the Midlands Meander, he should consider staying at least 5 nights, to which the man responded, “It’s not for me, its for someone who’s been hurt, has walked a long journey, has no relatives nearby and needs to find her way again. I’m not sure how long she will stay; a week; possibly two, hopefully longer.” The reservationist had a better idea and suggested she check availability and revert back to the man with available options.
The reservationist made the first call but the owner said she was unwilling to book a room indefinitely in case she had other bookings come along, the second call went better and that was marked as option 1, the third call was much the same as the second call, however, the manager said that for every night extra the room was booked for, there would be a 10% discount off the nightly charge, that was marked as option 2, the last call went so well, the reservationist was sure the man would book that option, but as protocol is what it is, all three options were offered.
A venue was booked and the man paid the venue upfront for the first week, asking that should their guests wish to stay longer,a bill should be sent after every two days. Both the Midlands Reservations consultant and the inn-keeper were curious as to who this mystery guest would be.
A few days later a lady arrived at the venue. Her clothes were modest and in good condition, her make-up was perfectly done and she seemed to be well presented. The Inn-keeper warmly welcomed the new guest and showed her around the main areas and then down around the garden to the room entrance, there; on the dresser; was a welcome card next to the information pack. The Inn-keeper pointed out the room amenities and briefly mentioned the on site facilities, referring to the info-pack on the dresser for details.
Being an efficient woman, the lady unpacked her clothes into the wardrobe, sat on the edge of the bed and bgan reading the welcome card she had snatched from the dresser.
She skim-read it, but then the words “as long as you’d like to stay”, caught her attention, she re-read the words, carefully; purposefully. Slightly unsure, she made her way back to reception. The inn-keeper was busy fluffing up cushions in the library when the new guest approached. The lady began, “The card said you would include a laundry service free of charge for the duration of my stay, that I could extend my stay as long as I gave you two days notice, that room service would be at no extra charge, that I could call on you for a cup of tea or a guided walk into one of the nearby plantations, that making a simple meal or a favourite meal would be no trouble at all?” The inn-keeper smiled, yes, you are my guest and your stay has been taken care of, you should take all the time you need to find your way again, my staff and I are here to make sure you have a safe and pleasant stay, that whilst you are here you find healing and know, that although you are our guest, we shall treat you as family.
The lady stayed 12 nights and 13 days. It took 7 days for her to stop talking about her work and grievances, on the 8th day, she helped the waitress fold napkins and enquired about her, on the 9th day she and the cook were exchanging recipes, on the 10th day she disappeared into the plantation before breakfast and came back ravenous for dinner, that evening she sat in the library with the inn-keeper and told the inn-keeper that she would like to return home in a couple of days, but wanted to explore the Midlands Meander before that. Instead of sending her out with a packed meal; the inn-keeper designed a trip with vouchers for places to stop, sample their products and simply enjoy along the way. Each evening the lady returned with a smile on her face and recounted all she had seen, done and felt. Other guests planned day-trips for themselves after listening to her enthusiastically chatting to the staff as though they were family, calling them by name and commenting on who would have enjoyed which activity that day.
The inn-keeper sent the bill with these words: “It was a pleasure hosting your guest, I trust she has regained her strength, had a well-deserved break and is walking a new road.”