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Hung Out to Dry: When the Hotel GM Becomes a Guest

We can’t be the best at our jobs––managing hotels––if we never see things or experience things as a guest does. Staying at our competitive hotels, and traveling to other cities and countries, gives us inspiration and motivation to keep “doing better.”

Arriving in Johannesburg after a grueling, forever all night and day flight, I perked up and was ready to hop on a prop plane to get to the first real destination: Botswana.

Greeted on the shores of the Delta, I was carefully deposited into a dugout canoe along with my sleepy family. Down the river, dodging hippos and being warned not to reach out and touch the colorful, powerfully poisonous, miniature frogs clinging to the tall river grass, we headed towards our island camp.

The family divided up between three tents, pitched wooden walkways joining them and leading to the Braai area where we would join others for our meals.

We understood from our guide all the safety issues as well as the lovely amenities that seemed impossible to produce and yet they were there with daily surprises. Just a slight chat about laundry issues and a caution that requesting underwear to be cleaned by the staff was considered disrespectful but would be accommodated upon if necessary.

And so, our adventure began. Mornings with five o’clock drums beating to encourage joining the early drives, coffees and pastries await at the dock and a huge breakfast in a dried riverbed would be served after the drive. Lazy afternoon naps by the pool in hammocks and cocktail drives to celebrate the sunsets and see the animals as they prepare for their night’s hunt.

On the sixth day, it was time to get some laundry done. I gathered all the family’s grunge and asked to have them laundered so that when we left in two days for our next camp, we would have fresh digs. I pulled out all the underpants involved and set about washing them in the bathroom sink then spreading them about my tent in the hopes that they would dry.

Having missed both the day and night game drives I was anxious to set off on the morning drive as it was the last day in Botswana. Worried again that the underwear was still damp, I rearranged all of it, hanging each piece carefully just outside my tent entrance, on the railings of the walkway, and ran to catch the canoe with the rest of my clan.

The day grew hot and hotter. The blistering African sun was relentless as we ended the morning drive around nine and headed back to camp. Surely, I thought, the underwear would all be dry by now!

It was! It was thoroughly and completely dry, each piece hanging perfectly from its very own branch high up in the Kigelia Africana trees that surrounded the camp. Screaming with delight and mockery, a band of Baboons continued jumping from branch to branch decorating the trees with the remainder of the family's underwear.

What to write on the comment card under LAUNDRY SERVICE?


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