Vacation Rental in Paradise
November 22, 2009
Grilled King Mackerel with steamed vegetables and grilled egg plant
Broken Sunset Royale Grill
Harmony, Gail and Nann dinner served on balcony Sunset Royale condo #408
I have not kept up with my publishing on the Breeze and it is not because of a lack material. Like all things in life worth doing, some discipline is necessary to keep feeling the love. This past September we had two open dates for our Siesta Key vacation rental in 2009 and decided we needed to create a special that would fill our rental calendar until the end of April 2010. In December we had a total of 12 days available and thought if we offered a free day with a one-week stay we could possible entice former rental guests to consider a trip to Siesta Key before the Christmas and New Year holiday season arrived.
Once I completed the layout for our special page and before I published it, the reality that with a one-week minimum rental at Sunset Royale it would not matter if I offered one free day or five free days, once it was rented even for just 7 days, I would not have availability for another rental so I changed the offer to up to five free additional contiguous days if you rented within the open dates for condo 408 in December. With the publishing of this special on our website I also sent this special to previous rental guests and awoke the following morning to a request from a previous inquiry, who was not mailed the special offer, requesting to book a week in December during the available period and also taking advantage of one of the special dates available at no additional charge. With a smile on my face the dates were booked. Over the next two days I received inquiries from former rental guests who had received our special offer who were also interested in our special offer.
Oh, oh I needed a plan and quickly looked at the only other available week in 2009, which was seven days in the beginning of November. This time I had no free dates to give away and It is easy to merely provide a discount, but I wanted to again do something different, this time offering a “gourmet” meal cooked by the landlord, delivered and served on the open balcony of condo 408 and with no shame suggested the rental guest invite Nann and I to join them for dinner, but this of course was not mandatory. I responded to our inquiries from former renters who had inquired on the no longer available first offer published this special dinner. Within a few days we received an inquiry from a mother who wanted to know if her daughter would be able to smoke on the outdoor open balcony. I responded positively and made her aware of my dinner offer. We soon received a confirmation with the comment, “You making us dinner ‘seals the deal’, what women would not enjoy that”!
What followed was a truly pleasurable visit by Gail and her daughter Harmony who manages a fishing resort in British Columbia, Canada called Elysia Resort at Quesnel Lake, which I will publish a follow up blog page on in 2010 before the resort opens for the season. Harmony gave us the unique history of Elysia along with some great stories about the fishing and events that are held at Elysia Resort. For those who have a desire for unique fishing experiences in a relaxing remote area away from the freeways, phones and daily routines that seem to overwhelm our lives, Elysia sounds like the Siesta Key of the North Country. Stay tuned for more on Elysia Resort and Quesnel Lake, but for now back to the dinner with Gail and Harmony.
My first thought was that a fresh seafood dinner would be out of the question, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Although Harmony is involved in running the fishing resort she has little time during the busy summer season to do her own fishing and many guest practice catch and release. Both Gail and Harmony felt fresh Florida fish sounded great to them. I had also promised fresh key lime pie, but had to reconsider when I could not find fresh key limes before they arrived. We chose the date and time and we were graciously welcomed to the dinner, which was to be served on the balcony at 4:00 PM.
At 3:15 PM I ventured down to the gas grill at Sunset Royale to prepare the heat for the fish when a problem occurred. I was attempting to light the grill with no success. A long time owner named Bob who also had planned on using the grill came out to assist when he saw me struggling with the grill. We both worked at attempting to start the grill for about 15 minutes including changing propane tanks, but with no success. Bob suggested I make a trip into the village of Siesta Key to purchase another propane tank in case one was empty and the other perhaps defective, which I did with no success. Unfortunately this was the second time in the past month that our association grill was letting me down. In October I had attempted to use it only to find a very neglected interior with peeling paint and rust, which did not make an inviting cooking source for our dinner that night. Following my complaint the association took notice by having the grill cleaned and painted. We do have charcoal grills across the street at the park, but the weather was unusually windy and cool that day making the chances of successfully grilling a six pound mackerel on an open grill very doubtful. The fish was too large to broil in our oven and I was unwilling to fillet and lose the affect of serving a large whole fish on the balcony with steamed summer squash, fresh green beans, miniature potatoes and grilled egg plant on a platter. I know the importance that a meal is prepared properly and taste good, but presentation was heavy on my mind.
I called Leslie from the Beach Place who owns the popular old Florida garden cottages next to our building and she graciously let me use their grill to prepare the over 30 inch long mackerel. I also plied her sister Pam with a good drinking bottle of red that I had been saving for a special time. I sent Nann over to Gail and Harmony’s condo with a magnum of chilled 2003 Mer SoLeil Chardonnay that was ready to drink and to inform them of the later dinner time and to share some smoked mullet dip with crackers before dinner. With the help of the Beach Place’s grill, dinner was served before long and received accolades from Gail, Harmony and Nann. My epicurean reputation intact I was able to finally relax with a glass of wine and enjoy wonderful company with our Canadian friends from British Columbia. I broke the news about no key lime pie, but served authentic fresh tiramisu, which I had picked up that morning from Paisano’s Italian bakery.
Although the dinner was late, the company was exceptional and in the wee hours of the morning Nann and I worked our way back to our condo leaving no dishes to be cleaned or kitchen to clean up for our guests. Undoubtedly the best part of owning and operating a vacation rental is the meeting of so many very nice people from all over the world. Nann and I have never experienced a renter who we would not graciously welcome back, but living vicariously in the lives of rental guests can only be outdone by sharing meals with them and sharing our life experiences and stories. Needless to say all of our guest are amazed at life on Siesta Key and looking forward to the time in their lives where they too can be living in their own paradise. Until then their visits to Siesta Key give them the realization that life on the beach is certainly in everyone’s reach and Nann and I readily admit that it’s not too shabby.