A Palm Springs AirBNB nightmare
Thinking about renting a Palm Springs vacation home through Airbnb? You may want to consider the following cautionary tale we found on Huffington Post recently:
"'Hey, Mom,' my daughter, Isabel, wrote last winter, "check out this cool house in Palm Springs on Airbnb. I think we should rent it and invite G-ma and have a family vacay there for the Fourth of July. Whatcha think, moms?"
Isabel lives in L.A., and her dad and I had recently moved from Boston to Bloomington, Indiana, so we mainly see her on special occasions. What a sweet kid, I thought, clicking the link -- she misses us and wants to have a plan in place to see everyone. Plus, I knew she wanted us to get to know her boyfriend, James, better, that she wanted to include him on a fun family event.
"I'm in," I wrote back. "Check with G-ma."
I knew what G-ma, Isabel's Connecticut grandmother -- my husband Jim's mom -- would say because she'd taken Isabel on a special trip every year throughout Isabel's teenage years, and Isabel had lived with her during the college semester she'd interned in New York at MTV. They're tight. A team.
"Coolz," she wrote back. "I'll give Dad the dates and tell him when and where to be. Right?"
"Yep," I said, "that'll work."
"He's in!" she replied. "Party on, Momz!"
"Okay! Love, Mom xo"
The day we left for the Fourth of July trip, it was 102 degrees in Palm Springs. So we'll have to use a little imagination to forget how hot it's gonna be, I thought. Isn't Palm Springs kinda old school Hollywood? Perhaps we'll fall down a rabbit hole and end up in Wonderland. Maybe stumble into Sammy and Dean and Frank's Tea Par-tay, like it's 1972. Eat the mushrooms. Drink the tea. Like we're trippin'!
Isabel and her boyfriend, James, drove down from L.A., picked us up at the airport, and delivered us to our Airbnb rental house, giddy like only kids in their early twenties can be. The moment we walked through the door, I felt I'd swallowed a magic mushroom -- just like Alice -- and slipped underground, far beneath the desert, into a cool cave-of-a-house, tricked out with quirky art and a groovy vibe.
A sculpted golden hand, palm-up on the table in the foyer, beckoned us in. Was the Cheshire Cat inside? I wondered. The scene was indeed psychedelic in the living room, where a larger-than-life Seventies lamp promised to light up our lives. Poolside, a candy-striped umbrella shaded a cabana bar -- the ideal spot to sip afternoon tea (well, after sundown).
But in the pool house, where Isabel had planned to sleep, an ancient, in-wall, Frigidaire air conditioner was blasting hot air and no fiddling convinced it to cool the air in there below 102 degrees. Ever the Mom, I rushed to the rescue, phoned the owner, and left a message to see about getting it fixed. In the meantime, we went to dinner downtown while we awaited the verdict.
About an hour later, the owner phoned back. Happy to hear from her, I soon lost hope -- she didn't think the air conditioner could be fixed that night. Upset, I wasn't going to argue with her, so I asked her to speak to my husband, Jim -- a professor, a reasonable-type guy -- whom I felt could help solve the situation. He took the phone outside, to the 100-degree street to talk. When he returned, Jim told us that she'd yelled at him, called him unreasonable to demand the air conditioner be fixed that night -- on a holiday weekend -- that there was nothing she could do because her house manager didn't think it could be fixed either. However, she'd offered to refund our night's rent and see about a repair in the morning. We agreed to wait it out and double up in the bedrooms in the main house.
The next day the owner emailed saying she'd been unable to find someone to fix the air conditioner in the pool-house bedroom, that she wouldn't be able to have it fixed over the weekend, and that she felt uncomfortable letting Jim stay in the house as he'd been so unreasonable as to demand that the AC be fixed. We could stay, but he'd have to go! Like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, she'd swiped her croquet mallet in the air and declared: "Off with his head!" How dare he demand that the air conditioning be fixed on a 102-degree day on his vacation?
Then, Airbnb called, also to inform us that Jim's request had angered the owner, that everyone in the party could stay, but he could not. The owner was kicking him out.
Of course we couldn't stay without the husband/father! We had to have him with us! Dismayed, Isabel felt like she'd somehow messed up, done something wrong. We reassured her that she'd done nothing wrong, that we'd done nothing wrong.
With the traumatic realization that we'd been kicked out, that we'd rented a home from a...well, from an interesting woman to say the least, we jockeyed on the phone with the Airbnb agent, who scurried about like the White Rabbit, attempting to relocate us, fearing it was too late for another house to be had. At last, he secured us accommodation at a hotel. Although it wasn't the dream destination Isabel had planned -- one where we'd be together in a house -- we bucked up and packed our stuff, confused by the strange folk in this unreal world who seemed not to operate like folks in Real-land. Our stay in Wonderland had taken a surreal turn, indeed. So curious!"
In all fairness, Airbnb did find another place to stay, but it was in a hotel. No private pool, no living room, no private bedrooms... (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-shanahan/got-kicked-out-of-our-airbnb_b_7983032.html" target="_blank">read the article at Huffington Post</a>)
When you rent from an individual owner through a clearing house like Airbnb, you leave yourself vulnerable to the whims and shortcomings of the owner. A Beau Monde Villas vacation rental would have been inspected and all needed repoairs made before the guests arrived. In fact, once you book a Palm Springs vacation rental with Beau Monde Villas, you will be contacted by your personal concierge to begin planning the perfcet vacation for you and your fellow travelers. Book a table at one of the many world class restaurants, a round of golf, or have champagne on ice (or a baby crib) waiting for you upon arrival. When you arrive, you will be met by the house butler, who will give you a tour of the house and explain how to use all of the amnities. Throughout your stay, our dedicated concierge will be available to arrange dinner reservations, tours, event tickets and anything else the guest may desire.
Airbnb might seem like a good idea, but, in the end, you're renting from a landlord, not a professional vacation rental agency whose sole purpose is to make your Palm Springs vacation perfect enough to want to come back over and over again! Which do you think is going to deliver better results?