Today is a day of records: the hottest day since I came to Argentina (and probably some kind of record for today’s date), the most people we have had in the hotel sleeping – 27, maybe the biggest lunch we have had in the hotel (not including big meals we did in the club house) – 38, and a record date for ACs not working. Here is a play-by-play of the day in the life of a rural hotel manager:
00:01: Drag mattress outside; way too hot to sleep inside. Set up fan in doorway to keep mosquitoes off. Dozed off with dogs barking, generator humming and four cats invading my space.
04:30: Give up on sleeping outside because of above mentioned factors. Drag heavy mattress inside, try to sleep.
07:30: Give up on sleeping inside, take shower. 8:45: Go to work.
09:00: Check on rooms for arrivals, general check up of everything. Feeling relatively good about the day; most guests have had breakfast so we can move on earlier than normal to the bienvenida, the welcome of coffee, tea, cold drinks and pastries for the new arrivals. We set up the pool as best as we can with extra lounge chairs, shades, and chairs, being nervous about accommodating 38 guests with nine lounge chairs… Help guys set up gazebo.
11:00: Tables are set up as cleverly as possible, with table cloths hiding ugly extensions and lots of thought put in to how to seat the groups as efficiently as possible. Remember where the shade will hit at 13:00. The barbecue is fired up, the meat has arrived with the chef, things are good. Answering phones, turning people down for the weekend as we are completely full. Plan arrivals Sunday and Monday. Obsessively check accuweather to see if the forecast may change. Sun baking down.
12:00: Feeling super happy that the 16 new arrivals are just coming; it means that the previous 20 people have had a nice relaxing morning at the pool with plenty of space. Had spent lots of time worrying about that – when people come to a nice place, they want to feel that it is calm and spacey and not crowded and difficult. Still worried about the group of 12 day trippers: there is no AC anywhere other than the guest rooms, so day visitors have nowhere to cool off other than under the trees or in the pool. Check in of day trippers and a family who comes to stay.
12:30: First ACs start acting up. Do a few tricks that seem to work. Drop owner’s daughter off at home. Pick up wine from storage. Answer emails.
13:15 A huge asado for 38 comes off to a great start. The head maintenance guy comes to look at one of the ACs that is being bad. He does my trick and it works – but for how long… He promises to turn on the generator. Eating fruit salad.
14:20: The group of ten Argentinians are loving the asado and asking about where we buy the meat and all that jazz. We made sure we had the whole spread, which sometimes we don’t when there are a lot of foreigners. The foreigners are having a lovely time as well. Organizing horseback riding and other activities. Feeling good about the lunch and about the fact that the pool was not too crowded in the morning. Thinking that the worst is over and hoping for a break in the afternoon. Eating fruit salad and drinking water.
15:00: Three or four ACs not working. I am sweating, and not just from the heat. Temperature officially reaches 40 degrees. And from here it turns into a blur: Babies crying with heat, fans being carried into rooms, maintenance guy comes back, turns on the generator is not on, nothing is working. Furious with maintenance boss; feeling helpless! Finally generator really does get turned on, and all non-essential power is taken off – club house, watering, etc. Families with babies desperate; give up on nap time as babies are too hot. I am feeling horrible! Eating fruit salad, moving on to Coca Light. Still, ACs not working. The club manager is luckily there as well. Chef suggests renting another generator. We pass out water bottles from the freezer and call generator place. Luckily they have plenty. Engineer arrives, can do nothing. We are apologizing left and right and trying to show that we are working on it. Thank God for the pool! Tea time for 35; that is a lot of cake… Running out of ice; it is melting. Nothing is cooling properly. Fridges hot. Drive people to horseback riding.
18:00: Trail rides and sulkey rides for all as we wait for the generator to be connected. Constantly checking on people, afraid to ask if they are OK but wanting to be present and do what I can. Start gathering towels to wash so that they will be dry tomorrow (they never dry well overnight but everyone is going to want fresh towels of course.) Change a few light bulbs. Eat more fruit salad. Move on to regular Coke.
19:00: Generator working and ACs kicking in! Hooray! The loud noise sounds like a warm tenor to my ears. Finally able to tell people that their ACs are OK. Bringing out more cake as the kitchen is deep in dinner prep – home made pasta for all. Starting the washer finally; worried about towels.
19:10: The coordinator of the day trip group can’t find her phone. We look for it for 30 minutes; the iPhone locator can’t find it, she is really angry, it is nowhere to be found, her kids are screaming, she is screaming at her husband, we try to retrace her steps. She insists she left it at the table after lunch but nobody has seen it. She isn’t accusing anyone of stealing it but I am really worried! Nothing has been stolen from the hotel guests since I have been here but one is always worried.
19:45: Turns out her friend’s nanny has the phone! Crisis averted! With that and the generator I am HAPPY! Wanting to kiss the generator. Dinner set up going strong; prepping with candles and bug spray and all that. Kitchen boiling hot, feeling bad for my colleagues. 😦 But very impressed by their stamina and good mood. Taking care of early child dinners, special requests and all that.
20:20: Gathering towels again. Jump in the pool. FEELS AMAZING. Forget about dinner. Swim. Start collecting all the mattresses, chairs, lounge chairs. Radio my colleague to start dinner.
20:40: Check on dinner, all happy. Help serve wine. A few guys ask for leftover morcilla, blood sausage, and we are happy to comply. Out of lemon, WTF?? Do more loads of laundry. Take out, spin it, hang it. Keep helping with tables. Make plan with chef for next day. Eat fruit salad. Be fascinated by the fact that I have lost my appetite; really never happens.
21:00: More laundry. Talking to my staff, planning breakfast, checking on guests. More candles, more wine. Kitchen probably well over 40 degrees. Outside temperature 32 degrees. Talk to my assistant, ask her if I can leave. 🙂
21:50: Going home. 30 degrees outside, more inside. 😦 Radio my assistant with a few reminders.
22:15: Getting it all out by writing this blog post! Drinking sparkling water. Wondering how I will sleep in this heat. Reflect on how the good planning made the things I worried about go really well, but there was no way I could prepare for the electricity thing. Electricity is a problem in all of Argentina but with our generator we really should be OK, especially when directing almost all power to the hotel. At least the extra rented generator provided a solution. Proud of our team and the way they work in this heat. ❤ 22 breakfasts, 16 snacks, 38 lunches, 35 tea time meals, 27 dinners. No iPhone 5 stolen!
22:30: Pondering sneaking in to guest room and sleep quietly on the floor to have some AC. Maybe they won’t notice?