Saturday, May 29, 2021

 

By Michael Godfrey

YOU would have to feel for pub and restaurant owners. They have had little or no business for over a year and up to now their only option was to make the most of outdoor dining.

Sorry, but did anyone tell our law makers that, weather-wise, Ireland can be guaranteed one thing – rain. If we ever wanted confirmation of that fact, we only have to look to last weekend. It came down in bucketloads, and officially this is now the summer season. No doubt, everyone in the business will be holding their collective breath on Friday morning in anticipation of the government’s detailed plan to open up that sector of our economy.

There have been reports of late of hoteliers making the most of the increased demand for staycation holidays, purely because they can. Anyone who has read this column in recent weeks will know that I have made two bookings for mini-breaks in hotels over the summer.

Not wishing to bore you with the details, suffice it to say that on examination of the details I noticed I had made a mistake with the dates for one of the breaks. I got a good rate when I made the initial booking and, to be truthful, I doubted if the same deal would apply if I had to change dates. I was wrong.

Firstly, I was surprised to get to speak to someone at the other end of the line, but I did, and after explaining my case I was assured that although there was a price differential of slightly over €100 from when I had made the initial booking, I would not be charged anything extra. The person couldn’t have been nicer about the matter.

I then decided to check the details of my other booking, and again I was pleasantly surprised when the phone was answered immediately. I asked if a deposit was required, to which I was told there wasn’t, and then I received the welcome surprise that I had been upgraded to a ‘superior’ room at no additional charge.

Listening to the radio of late, I have heard about people being quoted astronomical prices, but my experience has been quite the opposite. Granted, neither booking is in either July or August – the so-called peak times – but, then again, experience will tell you that if parents are interested in taking a holiday and bringing their children with them, they don’t allow school to get in the way.

Think back to two years ago – I know it seems like another lifetime – and remember all the families who availed of a slightly cheaper rate to travel abroad in May or September. I am not judging, as it is their choice to make, but my point is there is really no ‘high’ or ‘low’ season anymore, just like the Saturday-to-Saturday flights. Now people travel whenever they can get a keenly-priced ticket.

But back to next Friday’s announcement: irrespective of whatever decisions are made about dining, everyone will be looking at the rules and regulations regarding flying. And if the rumour mill is to be believed, the internet had better get ready for a meltdown, such will be the demand for flights to sunnier climes.

In fairness, as much we would like to support staycations, you can’t beat a little fine weather to put you in good humour. I have made my choice for the summer and have no regrets, but I am hoping there won’t be a repeat of the weather we had to endure last weekend. If that turns out to be the case, I’ll be looking to the skies and hoping that in a few months, depending on a little positivity from the taoiseach, I’ll be on one of those planes.

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