Chapter One: The Cayman Islands
Important Note: This story takes place before the Internet, Trip Advisor, Yelp, etc.
True Story…I took my family to The Cayman Islands for the first time, many, many years ago. We rented a gorgeous condo on the world famous Seven Mile Beach, which is on the western side of the island and just North of the city of Georgetown.
Our plan was to settle in, grab a quick bite eat somewhere nearby and get our groceries and supplies in the morning.
So, while we were checking in, I asked the lovely woman at the front desk where we might go grab a bite to eat…somewhere within walking distance.
OK…here we go! Her reply was that she didn’t live on that side of the island and really didn’t know of a place…but her boss went and got Kentucky Fried Chicken for lunch sometimes. REALLY???
…sure enough, there was a strip center across the street, and there was the KFC. So our first taste of Caribbean was American Franchise Food, and I’ll never forget paying $64 for dang bucket of chicken.
Despite that experience, we returned to The Caymans for many years and developed our own favorite places…all of them local and unique. OK…they might be a little “touristy”…but that’s what we are: Tourists.
Chapter Two: The Redneck Riviera
Fast forward a couple of decades, and I was on the lookout to buy a vacation rental property on Texas’ Central Coastal Bend. I spent many months visiting the small towns along the coast, and I’m sorry to say, my Cayman story repeated itself again and again.
I was staying in small port town one night and asked where I might find some good local seafood.
No kidding…the fellow at the front desk liked the tuna salad sandwich at Subway…Ugh!
Chapter Three: Mustang Island
I ended up buying a couple of condos on Mustang Island, which is between Port Aransas and North Padre Island, and over the years have gotten to know many people who live there, as well as the staff that work on our property.
During my first few years as a property owner, I would ask my “local” friends where they would recommend my guests dine, shop, etc. All I can do is refer you to Chapters One and Two. The best that I could muster up was a couple of smokey dive bars that catered to…you guessed it: “locals”.
I asked them, “Why not the place with huge deck that overlooks the sunset?”…or the “the bar that in the marina and the ship channel views?”
Answer: “Too many darn tourists!”
I don’t blame them one bit. I used to live on the beach in Southern California and dreaded summer time, when we lost control of our little town…so we just stayed at home a lot.
But, I still had to accommodate my guests, and so I invested lots of time and money and research to come up with what became “Crafy’s Picks“, a regular part of my blog and something that I send to every guest before they’d arrive. I know all of my “pick’s” owners, managers and of course, the bartenders. Did I mention time and money on “research”? Oh, and of course, their signature dishes.
So, while I did gain LOCAL knowledge, I still had to use that knowledge to think like a GUEST!
Chapter Four: The Guest’s Picks
I’ll talk about this more in detail next month…so I’ll just tease it here.
In order to really “Think Like a Guest”…I had to talk to my guests. And so, I began surveying them on their “picks”…I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t quite the “local” that I thought I was.
Next Month: The Guest Survey Card