Posts Tagged ‘sonoma county vacations’


Monday, May 6th, 2013


An article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat recently peaked my interest. It was titled “Is Yelp Really Just a Forum for Blowhards” and I must say, I’ve felt that way many, many times. Admittedly Yelp has been a thorn in my side, as they’ve allowed a former employee to rant about working here, and a post which simply said ‘they discriminate on young people’. These posts are not what Yelp is meant to do, which is help the consumer when considering their purchase. So, with that in mind, and a little taste of lemon puckering my lips at them, here is a summary of the article written by Sandy Banks, appearing in the Sunday, 4/28/2013 print.

It all started when Ms. Banks went into a restaurant, not checking on Yelp first, enjoyed her experience, then saw a sign in the window ‘Stop the Bully. Boycott Yelp’. She uses the site to get the low down on most everything she does, and later found the restaurant was rated a 3 of 5 stars and had 88 Yelp reviews. The restaurant suggested (and two lawsuits have suggested) that if they paid for Yelp ads, they’d be ranked higher, but instead the negative reviews were filtered to appear first.

The restaurant said their customers repeatedly submitted very good reviews that never show up on the web site. Yelp’s response to the restaurant “perhaps if you paid to do Yelp ads, we could help with this” and they couldn’t determine when asked, why the positive reviews weren’t showing up.

I agree. The same has happened here. We’ve had thousands of guests stay with us, most share a positive experience, and yet, the majority appear negative on Yelp. I gave up for a long time, assuming it was part of the new internet experience, where it gave a voice only to those that wanted to be seen, heard, and blast, not offering anything constructive.

I have a son that works here that has a traumatic brain injury. Now he is not necessarily the best in customer service, but he tries damn hard, and it’s part of his recovery to work. So push come to shove, who will I chose, even if my business suffers? Of course all the mothers out there know, it’s going to be my son.

But let me explain what happened with one review. A guest checked in early, miffed they couldn’t get into the home ahead of time. My son had his lunch on the desk, finishing up while leaving the door open (it was a Saturday and a very relaxed day with us) for potential customers.

Long story short, they gave us a bad review because he was eating his lunch, and delayed them getting in (even though they were early, mind you).

So that’s my bias, I admit, with Yelp. Too many people post to tear people down, rather than give constructive advise.

But on the other hand…????

Hot topics via PhoCusWright

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013


Travel and Social Media: changing minds

Social media isn’t moving the travel needle, at least not yet. True, every travel company needs a social media strategy. Facebook is focused on making the travel vertical big business. How?

Interaction/commentary that is public, Google +, maps, TripAdvisor, reviews, You Tube flash. Lots of content attracts the traveler, quick responses, but still, nothing like the phone call and one on one interaction.

Reflecting on living in Northern California Wine Country

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

I thought about writing yesterday, but in the wake of what happened in Boston, I decided that silence might be the best course of action. And as I reflect on it, I consider living in Sonoma County.

We are like a little country that could carve itself out of the state and sustain ourself. We have agriculture, cattle, fishing, job sustainability, mountains, lakes, parks, the ocean…we’re pretty damn lucky we can live here.

I know I’m fortunate to also work here and not have to commute to the Bay Area to earn a living, and to have raised my family here as well has been wonderful with the good schools available.

I’m taking a day to thank the people who have stayed with us, given us their business, and the long term relationship we’ve established with many property owners, tenants, and guests.

Many of you know our son suffered a traumatic brain injury about ten years ago, and working here has been challenging but so rewarding watching him grow and become an able minded adult, loving and appreciative of his life. We also thank our customers for their understanding with his challenges at times.

As we go about our day today, perhaps we can allow a gentleness to wash through us when our patience runs thin, and our anger begins to rise and remember we do have our lives, with all the challenges that come.

Vacation Rental Policies

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

Sonoma County Vacations understands — There are hundreds of vacation rental homes to choose from, just in Sonoma County! How do you choose? Randomly pick one from an online sight? Call a reputable company? Why do they charge cleaning and tax on cleaning? “I’ll just pick one from an individual property owner who doesn’t charge all that, and I can save money” you might think. But what are the risks?

Reviews will tell the story? Not always, in fact, not nearly enough. Review sites are filled with extremes, both ways, negative and positive, and somewhere the truth lies in between. We’ve been reviewed negatively for not leaving spices out (which we never have in twenty years for liability reasons) as well as representing a property that was located on a busy street, even though we have a map, and ask for what the guests needs.

Suggestions? We have a 24/7 emergency/after hours phone and we live within ten minutes of most homes, and never more than 30 minutes whatever the case.

Would you like a walk through on arrival? We’re happy to oblige.
Policies? Payment in full 30 days prior to arrival, with 1/2 down upon reserving. Security deposit needs to be paid by check, secured funds, and returned within 30 days of departure.

Why so long? A security deposit is put down so the property owner has some security regarding utility usage as well as damage, and they need time to get the bills. We never want to keep a security deposit and I’ve personally paid a property owner many times over for small items to keep our guests returning. But that instance where hundreds of dollars of propane is used — I can’t cover that and a guest needs to be charged.

A property management company’s commission is a very small part of the total, and we typically do not have dollars to play with.

I can promise guests we go through every home prior to arrival and do a mechanical inspection to make sure everything is working, and is cleaned.
Coming in summer 2013?
Docusign for guest ease with the contract.
App for smart phones to download and have the house manual, directions, codes, etc.

We’re always looking to give our guests an easier way to reserve, and we have online 24/7 reservation service.

We hope this helps in your choices for reservation considerations.

Healdsburg Jazz Festival June 04-13

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The 12th annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival is just two months away! Don’t miss it this year, it’s a musical experience you won’t regret. And tickets are now available for all shows!

Here is the schedule of perfomances!

Monday, April 5
Randy Vincent and Chris Amberger
guitar and acoustic bass

Tuesday, April 6
Dick Conte and Steve Webber
piano and acoustic bass

Friday, April 9
Bennett Roth-Newell and John Norris
Piano and Acoustic Bass

Saturday, April 10
Lee Charlton Trio
with Tony D’Anna and Rob Wright
Piano, Acoustic Bass and Drums

Monday, April 12
David Howard and Stephanie Ozer
guitar and piano

Tuesday, April 13
Miles Wick and Michael Coleman
piano and bass

Friday, April 16
Stephanie Ozer and Chuck Metcalf Duo
Piano and Acoustic Bass

Saturday, April 17
Chuck Metcalf Trio
with David Udolf and Chuck McPherson
Piano, Acoustic Bass and Drums

Monday, April 19
Greg Hester and Jim Passarell
piano and acoustic bass

Tuesday, April 20
Christian Foley-Beining and Tom Shader
guitar and acoustic bass

Friday, April 23
Susan Sutton and Bill Fouty Duo
Piano and Acoustic Bass

Saturday, April 24
Chris Amberger Trio
with Grant Levin and Chuck McPherson
Piano, Acoustic Bass and Drums

Monday, April 26
Ricardo Peixoto and Carlos Oliviera
guitar duo

Tuesday, April 27
John Youngblood and Gus Garelick
guitar and violin

Friday, April 30
Ken Cook and Cliff Hugo Duo
Piano and Acoustic Bass

Have fun and see you at one of the performances!

Dragonfly Farm

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Dragonfly Farm is an amazing place that you have to visit when you’re in Healdsburg. For years I have driven past the Dragonfly Farm on Westside Road but I recently went there when the weather was beautiful and I had a wonderful time there! I should’ve taken my camera, but once the weather clears, I’ll go back there and post some photos here.

Owner Bonnie Z and her daughter Carlisle Yuill-Thornton invites everyone to enjoy the garden, take a tour from the ducks or laugh with the silly cats. You are encouraged to bring a picnic to enjoy in shade their new seating area (designed by Ray Degischer).

They also have a seasonal farmstand, which offers cut flowers and other seasonal delights from the garden. Visit their website here. We highly recommend you visit Dragonfly Farm when you’re in town- it won’t disappoint! Have fun!

Easter Egg Hunt in the Vineyards!

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

I know it’s raining right now, but hopefully the sun will come out on Easter Sunday!

Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville will have an Easter egg hunt this Sunday! It’ll be free for the first 200 egg hunters under the age of 12! This is a limited event, so please call them at (707) 857-1403 as soon as possible to join in.

There will also be fun things for the grown ups, such as complimentary champagne and baked goods. Sign up is free but required at 10:00AM.

Have fun and happy hunting!

Passport To Dry Creek Valley Is Just A Few Weeks Away!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Well what do you know? Passport to Dry Creek Valley is just a few weeks away! This event will take place on April 24 and 25, so if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, we suggest you get them right away because they are almost sold out.

We are almost fully booked for that weekend, and we only have a few properties left! If you’d like to stay with us, feel free to visit our website or give us a call at (707) 433-8899. Look for Belinda and Miko and they can help you out with your weekend stay.

We’d also like to remind you to have a designated driver for all three days- have fun but be safe! For tickets, please visit Winegrowers of Dry Creek Valley. Happy planning!

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival – Tickets On Sale Now!

Friday, March 26th, 2010

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is one of the greatest events in town. It’s one of the events that everyone just absolutely loves! People from around the US (and not just from the Bay Area) make it up to Healdsburg just to watch these live performances. This year, Charlie Haden, Ravi Coltrane, Leny Andrade, Oscar Castro-Neves, Geri Allen, Jason Moran, Bill Frissel, and Esperanza Spalding will be performing during these 10 terrific days!

June is an awesome month to visit Healdsburg. This is the beginning of the Healdsburg Farmers Market which is held every Tuesday at the plaza and on Sundays at the parking lot behind Hotel Healdsburg. On Tuesdays, there is also live music in the plaza, and a lot of people bring their picnic blankets and lay on the grass with their friends, family, and even their dogs! There is a lot of dancing involved, too, and it’s just a lot of fun.

We highly encourage you to visit Healdsburg during this time! Please take a look at our vacation homes when you get the chance, and if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call and we’d love to help you out!

If you live in Healdsburg, now is the time to volunteer, become a sponsor, or become a supporter! You can find the details here.

Guess What?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

We just heard that Mutt Lynch Winery will be having Yappy Hour every month now! This is an awesome event for a great cause. So to all the dog lovers out there in Healdsburg, let’s get together every month with our doggies! It’ll be a fun time with great wine, great food and great company! This is the perfec time to celebrate what our dogs do for us, in the company of friends and family. If your dog means the world to you- like it means to me- then we sincerely encourage you to come support this event.

If you’d like to learn more about this event, please visit Mutt Lynch Winery’s website, and if you’re planning to go, let your friends know about this wonderful monthly event! The more the merrier! And if you’d like to spend the weekend here, please take a look at our vacation homes– feel free to give us a call if you have any questions.

Have fun and see you there! We’ll keep you posted on the dates of Yappy Hour!