Jim and I recently returned from a much needed break – a brief, but relaxing holiday on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Kauai has been described as the most lush and tropical of the islands, a virtual garden of delight. Its vast, craggy mountains, covered in textured shades of green, form a continuous backdrop. And in the foreground, never have we seen happier looking foliage on palm trees, or more colourful flame trees, virtually filling canyons for as far as the eye could see. Stunning. You can’t go wrong.
But for us, what was different on this week long holiday was that we stayed the whole time at an anonymous timeshare condo community, rather than breaking up our time with B & B’s and hotels. The difference was very noticeable to us, and definitely not in a good way.
This caused us to reflect upon what we try to do at our B & B, Seasons Above the Bay, in Cowichan Bay, and what we’ve noticed that other B & B owners do for us when we stay with them.
If you’ve never stayed at a B & B, and maybe can’t imagine doing so, it’s the personalized, yet not obtrusive element that I’m trying to describe here. A B & B, at its best, brings together a group of people who are all intent on exploring an area with sound, reliable advice so that they don’t waste time with things that are really not worth the expense and trouble, or more importantly, don’t miss out on things that are so unique and special they can literally make your holiday. What we realized this time around is just how much it’s about the people, and about the conversations you’d never get to have if you weren’t a part of such a group. We really missed the personalized service and the conversation that make staying at a great B & B the backbone of a wonderful holiday.
Generally speaking, it begins and ends at the breakfast table. I can’t tell you how many times people have sat down at our dining room table, or at the garden breakfast table in the summer, not knowing who was going to be sitting across from them, but knowing it would be a kindred spirit. So many times people began as complete strangers, but departed as friends, sharing really new ideas and exchanging information, helping each other out. It makes for a rich, tapestry-like experience, and somehow the whole thing just runs deeper. This is why people return again and again, seeking that real connection to deepen their own experience. If that sounds a little heavy for a holiday, I’m missing the mark a bit. It’s a happy thing, and one wants to repeat it again and again. This makes one a B & B convert, and I’m happy to say that that is what Jim and I are.
Yes, Kauai was beautiful, and Jimmy Oliver and I rarely run out of conversation. The best thing about us is the delight we take in cracking each other up, and there was no shortage of that. But some of our best moments were spent in friendly conversation with locals, yakking over breakfast at Hemingway Art Cafe in Kapa’a, or happenstance life talk with a young man on Hapuna Beach. It’s about people. (And chickens and kitties, of course, you cannot go to Kauai without meeting a ton of each of them.) But truly, we regret the condo. It didn’t measure up for us, and a big ‘something’ was just missing. Next time, the human connection: we’ll read the reviews carefully, and book ourselves into some great B & B’s. No regret.