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Pool near-accident at the gite


Clair

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A couple of weeks agao, we welcomed a Belgian couple and their child at the gite.

I did the usual intro tour, explaining about the toilet, the washing machine, the shower doors... and the pool.

Ours is an above-ground pool, about 1.10m deep, and the mother explained she had short-listed our property because the removable ladder would give her a greater sense of safety with her 6 year-old son.

It had been arranged that the grand-parents would join them for a few days during their 2-week stay.

One late afternoon a few days later, we arrived home and found out the grand-parents had become a family of 4... No grand-parent in sight... All 7 were in or around the pool, having drinks at the picnic table nearby.

No explanation was offered for the change of guests (or asked for, as we did not want any bad feeling for the rest of their stay, even though we can only sleep 6 at a push). After enquiring if extra bedding was needed (no thank you, they had blow-up beds and sleeping bags), I left them to enjoy their holiday.

The following evening, I heard very loud and sudden shouts: all 4 parents had been having drinks on the terrace outside the house and the child's father

had just looked up towards the pool and noticed his 2 year-old son half-way up the pool ladder... Much running and the child was grabbed away from the pool

edging where he had ben leaning over, about to fall over into the

water...

The father told me he had no idea the ladder could be removed.

Later, the mother who had made the original booking said I should make it clear in my advert that the pool could not be seen from the terrace.

The description says "the garden and pool are located to the side of the house, up a gentle slope accessed via a few steps  at the end of the terrace".

So it is true that the pool cannot be seen from the terrace, as it is on higher ground and to the side of the house.

I had never thought it would be necessary to point that out, because I always take all the guests round when they arrive and always point out the risks of having children near the pool.

They invariably comment they will never leave the child(ren) near the pool without adult supervision....

So, as a result of this near-accident, we have now decided that we would always present the pool with no ladder attached, show every new arrival how to hook it onto the pool, then remove it and give it to them.

What else should I have done?

EDIT: the mother who made the booking has posted a comment about her stay with us on the website which provides the majority of our bookings: "parents with young children should be aware that the garden and pool are not directly accessible from the house"

Not true, but it may actually eliminate young families, which could be a blessing in disguise...?![;-)]

She has also rated us 5 out of 5 overall...

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Wow Clair, you must have the patience of a saint!

Surely the booked guests should have have the sense to tell their 'unoffocial guests' about the pool?

I think they are putting far too much 'blame' on you and I would have told them so.

How would your liability insurance have worked if there had been an accident with these unofficial guests ( free loaders!) ?

That would be the thing that would worry me, knowing how insurance companies look for any excuse not to pay out.

I think that anybody who allows friends of guests to turn up and use the facilities are far more tolerant than I, because I think it is rude and tight.  I would never dream of doing that to any one and I would imagine I would get short shrift if I tried it in a hotel.

I don't think you could have done anymore.

 

 

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Hi Clair,

I too have an above ground pool with removable ladders. I send out a terms and conditions with every booking saying that it is the parents responsibility to remove the ladders when the pool is not in use and that children must not be left unnattended in the garden. The guests have to fill out a booking form with all guests who are to attend and only those listed can stay in the property. This needs to be signed to acknowledge they have read and will abide by the T&C's and returned along with their deposit before I accept the booking.

I also have posters up around the house and pool area with the pool rools attached.

I agree that you are very patient and I think that I would have pointed out that they are their children, not yours.

If you would like me to send you a copy of my T&C's to look at feel free to PM me.

 

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[quote user="Smiley"]I send out a terms and conditions with every booking saying that it is the parents responsibility to remove the ladders when the pool is not in use and that children must not be left unnattended in the garden. The guests have to fill out a booking form with all guests who are to attend and only those listed can stay in the property. This needs to be signed to acknowledge they have read and will abide by the T&C's and returned along with their deposit before I accept the booking.[/quote]

Snap!!

The booking form they completed had 2 named people listed as "visiting for 4 to 5 days" and as we can accommodate up to 6, there was no problem...

Then 2 became 4, and they didn't have the same names as the ones listed on the booking form, but as the booking was halfway through already, and they were very nice people, I decided not to rock the boat.

I don't have any safety posters round the pool or the house, maybe I should have...

Smiley, we seem to have the same safeguards: how would you have approached the "different" and "too many" guests situation as it occured here?

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Hi Clair, There are obviously 2 ways of handling the situation. Personally I would have taken the lead party member (who signed the original agreement) to one side and told them they were in breach of the tems and conditions and asked the new guests to fill out and sign another booking form including the additional guests, before allowing them to stay (assuming the group were giving you no hassle) at least this way they could not bleat about knowing about things. Alternatively of course if you did not want them to continue to stay then you could simply ask the guests to leave as they were in breach.

Personally, I am absent from my property as I still remain in the UK but my caretaker always attends and checks who is in the house etc and e-mails me to double check.

Probably 25% of my guests ask if extended family or friends can visit. As the house accommodates 10 people it's not a problem for me.

I do worry about Insurance though and always insist on the names. Are you sure your terms and conditions are firm enough? I have sent you a copy of mine to compare Paras 4&% relate to your problem.

As they rated you 5/5 you must have handled it pretty well !

Unfortunately it is a natural instinct for many people to try to blame others for their carelessness.

 

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I wonder whether inviting the rest of the family to visit is something peculiarly Belgian? We had Belgian guests last year and they did exactly the same thing, although they did ask first. We provided them with a cot for the baby and let them get on with it. They said it was for only one night but we ended up with 6 people+baby in our 4 person gite for three nights! To be fair, they did ask what they owed us for the extra guests, but we were a bit uncomfortable with so many people staying in such a small cottage.

 

 

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[quote user="Smiley"]Hi Clair, There are obviously 2 ways of handling the situation. Personally I would have taken the lead party member (who signed the original agreement) to one side and told them they were in breach of the tems and conditions and asked the new guests to fill out and sign another booking form including the additional guests, before allowing them to stay (assuming the group were giving you no hassle) at least this way they could not bleat about knowing about things. Alternatively of course if you did not want them to continue to stay then you could simply ask the guests to leave as they were in breach.

Personally, I am absent from my property as I still remain in the UK but my caretaker always attends and checks who is in the house etc and e-mails me to double check.

Probably 25% of my guests ask if extended family or friends can visit. As the house accommodates 10 people it's not a problem for me.

I do worry about Insurance though and always insist on the names. Are you sure your terms and conditions are firm enough? I have sent you a copy of mine to compare Paras 4&% relate to your problem.

As they rated you 5/5 you must have handled it pretty well !

Unfortunately it is a natural instinct for many people to try to blame others for their carelessness.
[/quote]

Hi Smiley, thanks for the T&C.

Mine are long the same line, more specific even:

  • The maximum number of persons (including babies

    and infants) to reside in the Property must never exceed 6.
  • The persons residing in the Property during the

    rental period may not be altered from those stated on the booking form.
  • The Client agrees to indemnify the

    Owner against claims made by third parties for damages or injury
    caused

    on or within the premises of the Property and within the rental period
    to persons who

    were given permission to enter the Property b
    y the Client.

  • We do not recommend the Property for

    young children or the elderly or infirm. Due to the numerous stone steps and

    high terraces, movement around the Property must be with care.
  • Children MUST be supervised at ALL

    times. We can accept no liability or responsibility for any accident in the

    Property or its grounds.
So, based on my own rules, I agree with you that I should have tackled the matter of the unnammed extra guests immediately with the "main contact". I chickened out because they were nice and I did not want any bad feeling for the 2nd week of their stay.

I've been thinking about this for a while now and if this "extra people" situation reoccurs, I will definitely deal with it.

Regarding the pool near-accident, we will now lock the ladder outside, away from the pool and hand the key (and the official responsability) to the "main contact" on arrival.

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Hello Clair,

Lets just say thank god this isnt a much more serious thread ref what could have resulted,

But I myself expect to have our gite ready in one years time and we have read and asked question after question about the hand over and I myself will show the customer the pool and after all the saftey chat is over they will be asked if they understand the full safe way to use the pool and once I recieve a YES,

I will ask for a signed form supplied by me saying all has been explained and fully understood, a copy for them and one for our files.

Also when confirming they want to go ahead and book it will be xeplained that they will be asked to sign the said form,

The unfortunate thing about above ground pools is the lack of safety required by law compaired to the ground mounted pools, ie no fencing, no pool cover, no alarm system required.

When we asked about the difference in the laws for the two pools, I said to my wife it,s an accident waiting to happen befor the laws changed.

your gite customers are lucky they have a live child to take home,

ref the un.listed guest,  have a word with your insurance company befor it happens again and you offer extra anything,

 

WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF THEY HAD AN ACCIDENT AND CLAIMED FROM YOU,?

all they,d have to say is you new I was there , you offered us extra bedding, If you didnt want us here why didnt you say so,

Your making a rope for your self by not making it clear who should and who shouldnt be there.

regards clair I hope you understand this is meant to help you not to get into trouble, or be taken for a ride.

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Clair, there is a one-word reason why we refuse to build a pool for our Auberge. 'Parents'.  I come from a country where too many little kids have drowned in backyard pools simply because Mum and Dad 'took their eyes away for just a second'. For all sorts of reasons. But there is always one common denominator...no direct parental supervision. You have to literally sit and watch them at ALL times. I know of a three year old who drowned while Mum was hanging out the washing ten feet away, she had her back to him!. It is not your fault it is theirs. Sorry, but incidents like this just make me want to retch.
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The security regulations for the in ground pools do not guarantee safety. If you look at the statistics, there have been 10 deaths of under 6's in the year to date and 7 of the pools had security devices (it wasn't specified which). It is said that the fact there are security devices means that some parents are relaxing their supervision of children around the pool. On another forum gite owners have been reporting that customers are switching off pool alarms and wedging open security gates as they are a nuisance when shut. If parents continue to have careless attitudes like these, no wonder there are still accidents.
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[quote user="wen"]Clair, there is a one-word reason why we refuse to build a pool for our Auberge. 'Parents'.  I come from a country where too many little kids have drowned in backyard pools simply because Mum and Dad 'took their eyes away for just a second'. For all sorts of reasons. But there is always one common denominator...no direct parental supervision. You have to literally sit and watch them at ALL times. I know of a three year old who drowned while Mum was hanging out the washing ten feet away, she had her back to him!. It is not your fault it is theirs. Sorry, but incidents like this just make me want to retch.[/quote]

 

The only trouble is what next? In my house I have architectural guards on the second floor windows to prevent falling. no doubt a 4,5or 6 year old could climb them. How far should we have to go to prevent mis-parenting. Is there one Gite owner who can honestly say that there is no danger to children from one thing or another in their property? Do we have to put guards round the cookers? make sure there are no knives in the kitchen? It could become impossible. All we can do is comply to regulations, stay above the laws and hope. That is why we have insurance surely.

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[quote user="Smiley"]

[quote user="wen"]Clair, there is a one-word

reason why we refuse to build a pool for our Auberge. 'Parents'. 

I come from a country where too many little kids have drowned in

backyard pools simply because Mum and Dad 'took their eyes away for

just a second'. For all sorts of reasons. But there is always one

common denominator...no direct parental supervision. You have to

literally sit and watch them at ALL times. I know of a three year old

who drowned while Mum was hanging out the washing ten feet away, she

had her back to him!. It is not your fault it is theirs. Sorry, but

incidents like this just make me want to retch.[/quote]

 

The only trouble is what next? In my house I

have architectural guards on the second floor windows to

prevent falling. no doubt a 4,5or 6 year old could climb them. How far

should we have to go to prevent mis-parenting. Is there one Gite owner

who can honestly say that there is no danger to children from one thing

or another in their property? Do we have to put guards round the

cookers? make sure there are no knives in the kitchen? It could become

impossible. All we can do is comply to regulations, stay above the laws

and hope. That is why we have insurance surely.

[/quote]

It is impossible to cover every angle to cover other people's negligence. The only defence is that one can demonstrate that all reasonable steps have been taken to protect people (children and adults).

Pun - getting people to sign lots of pieces of paper is not a

guarantee that accidents will not occur. People cannot sign away their

rights to sue in case of negligence: the law does not allow this.

Having run a gite business for some years, and worked for some years in

the paston potentially dangerous industrial sites, having I'm afraid

that the very best protections are:

1) Thinking like an idiot - how could I hurt myself if I really wanted

to? It sounds as though you are already doing this, which I think will

pay you dividends;

2) Constant vigilance. I, personally, would be very uncomfartable

renting out a gite unless I was either on site or able to visit daily.

Just being around seems to remind people about what they have been told.

EDIT: Don't get too hung up on how children can hurt themselves. Adults

too are capable of injuring themselves in some quite extraordinary

ways, and they are more likely, frankly, to try and blame somebody else.

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Claire - one near miss is one too many for me. Treat it like you would an in ground pool i.e get a fence, gate and alarm!

Regarding the extra guests, we have rented a gite de france gite and rang the owners to say there may be another couple joining our party which will take the gite up to maximum occupancy (nearby friends who really won't want to drive home after BBQing with us). The owner was amazed and asked why we'd phoned - he said "the gite sleeps six; six are booked in - we leave bedding for six"! We didn't have to give individual names of our party on the booking form.

I look after a gite here in Charente for some friends. They normally say how many are staying, but I don't question them or visit (just a phone call the day after they've arrived to ensure all is well). The owners just asked me to make up the two double beds every time and leave bedding folded on the two single beds. Once guests have paid for the cottage, it's their home for the week and we expect them to be in holiday mode and enjoy themselves. That may mean having friends around. Luckily there is no pool!
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[quote user="Jon D"]



2) Constant vigilance. I, personally, would be very uncomfartable renting out a gite unless I was either on site or able to visit daily. Just being around seems to remind people about what they have been told.


[/quote]

I do understand why you've written this, but if I'd rented your gite I'd be appalled if you kept coming round to check up on things. Even if you lived on site I'd expect you to keep out of the way (except if called upon to help). I'd certainly not book with you twice, or recommend you to friends. It sounds like a holiday from hell, having the owner keep popping up to remind you of the rules!

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[quote user="KathyC"]

[quote user="Jon D"]

2) Constant

vigilance. I, personally, would be very uncomfartable renting out a

gite unless I was either on site or able to visit daily. Just being

around seems to remind people about what they have been told.

[/quote]

I do understand why you've written this, but if I'd rented your gite

I'd be appalled if you kept coming round to check up on things. Even if

you lived on site I'd expect you to keep out of the way (except if

called upon to help). I'd certainly not book with you twice, or

recommend you to friends. It sounds like a holiday from hell, having

the owner keep popping up to remind you of the rules!

[/quote]

Certainly keeping the correct balance is difficult, but I think we

manage. We booked 56 weeks this year over three properties (we only

really offer summer and shoulder seasons, so the most we could ever

practically book is 20 weeks per property), 12 so far for 2007

(including one party who booked for the fourth time on the trot and did

so before they had actually arrived for their 2006 booking) and around

50% of our bookings are either repeats or direct recommendations.

Since you have not stayed with us (though of course you would be quite

welcome to do so) I hardly think that you are in any position to make

such a sweeping statement.

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[quote user="Jon D"][quote user="KathyC"]

[quote user="Jon D"]



2) Constant vigilance. I, personally, would be very uncomfartable renting out a gite unless I was either on site or able to visit daily. Just being around seems to remind people about what they have been told.


[/quote]

I do understand why you've written this, but if I'd rented your gite I'd be appalled if you kept coming round to check up on things. Even if you lived on site I'd expect you to keep out of the way (except if called upon to help). I'd certainly not book with you twice, or recommend you to friends. It sounds like a holiday from hell, having the owner keep popping up to remind you of the rules!

[/quote]



Certainly keeping the correct balance is difficult, but I think we manage. We booked 56 weeks this year over three properties (we only really offer summer and shoulder seasons, so the most we could ever practically book is 20 weeks per property), 12 so far for 2007 (including one party who booked for the fourth time on the trot and did so before they had actually arrived for their 2006 booking) and around 50% of our bookings are either repeats or direct recommendations.

Since you have not stayed with us (though of course you would be quite welcome to do so) I hardly think that you are in any position to make such a sweeping statement.
[/quote]

Sorry, I slightly misread your post, (thought you'd said that you went around to remind people of rules!) but I think you've overreacted a bit. I'm sure your set up is great but personally I'd rather not keep seeing the owner when I'm on holiday. This is one of the reasons that I book gites rather than chambres d'hote. I always like to imagine that I'm staying in my own property when I'm away; seeing the real owner rather knocks the illusion on the head!

(You really didn't need to give me so much information about your business and how do you know I've never stayed with you?)

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[quote user="KathyC"]

(You really didn't need to give me so much information about your business and how do you know I've never stayed with you?)

[/quote]

The use of the conditional and passive in your post. And I felt the

need to defend (robustly) our business from the label "holiday from

hell".

I once met a professional butler. An hour of his wisdom was probably

the most valuable business advice I ever got. It is all about being

around without being an opressive presence. Some guests don't want to

see us, so we "disappear" - gardens are gardened, pools cleaned, bins

put out and empty bottles removed while they are not around. But they

know that we have been and that they can get hold of us when needed.

Other guests want two or three good chin wags a day and actually like

to see someone cutting the grass. It's a matter of judgement.

Perhaps you have stayed with us and we went "invisible", which is why you wouldn't have found it a holiday from hell...

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[quote]

Certainly keeping the correct balance is difficult, but I think we

manage. We booked 56 weeks this year over three properties (we only

really offer summer and shoulder seasons, so the most we could ever

practically book is 20 weeks per property), 12 so far for 2007

(including one party who booked for the fourth time on the trot and did

so before they had actually arrived for their 2006 booking) and around

50% of our bookings are either repeats or direct recommendations.[/quote]

This is aimed in general not at anyone in particular

I have to say, we must be useless and us or our places not liked at

all.  In the Dordogne or Brittany, at at most we would get two

lots who might return the next year. 50% is for us, incredible but I

hear of these figures from people.

So, either we must say the places we own have been crap, the people

didn't like us or we are doing something else very wrong ? We still let

for 20 weeks or more on some, down to 12 on the larger more family

orientated properties we owned. We did have one family who used to

holiday with us every year, inc places from South to North but that in

general is about it............think we will go for a lovely lunch

today and wonder what we are doing wrong here.

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[quote user="Blanche Neige"]

I always like to

imagine that I'm staying in my own property when I'm away; seeing the

real owner rather knocks the illusion on the head!

Kathy, ..................................a kindred spirit![:)]

Check your PM box

[/quote]

Very true for some people but there are those gregarious folks that

seek out places where others will be and where the owners actually

live. Gîte complexes are not for all but they can be good value and

people will know for sure that others will be there. Horses for courses

really..................

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[quote user="Miki"][quote user="Blanche Neige"]

I always like to imagine that I'm staying in my own property when I'm away; seeing the real owner rather knocks the illusion on the head!

Kathy, ..................................a kindred spirit![:)]


Check your PM box

[/quote]

Very true for some people but there are those gregarious folks that seek out places where others will be and where the owners actually live. Gîte complexes are not for all but they can be good value and people will know for sure that others will be there. Horses for courses really..................


[/quote]

Well said Miki - we have people who refuse to book with us due to shared facilities and pools, but others who book expressly because they know there will be other children around for their kids to play with and that they will get a little time to read their books in peace and quiet.

A 50% return is incredible Jon D, we only get 20%, so must be doing something wrong too....

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I have seen both Miki's website and Jon D's and they both look smashing high quality places. I don't think you are doing anything wrong Miki and I know you don't either really [;-)]

As merely a house owner and occasional tourist / holidaymaker, to my mind Miki's and Jon's places offer something very different (not better) which could account for the booking differences.

For example, if I go on a touring holiday, I am likely to want to stay a Miki place, perhaps a night and couple of days. I wouldn't stay the week and not because Miki would kick me out, but I just couldn't stay in a B and B for longer than a few days, it's just not for me, I could get fed up with the Ritz!  Chances are that after I had toured that bit of France, I may not go back to a Miki place for some years if ever.

If I want a ' staying in one place for the weather  and a rest ' type holiday,  I would stay in a gite and if I liked it lot and wanted a similar holiday the next year and there was plenty left still to see, I could well book again. But if it was grotty one, I wouldn't, so obviously both of you are doing very well in your particular field.

 

I had a point to this and now I've forgotten where I was going[Www]

 

 

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[quote user="SusanAH"][quote user="Miki"][quote user="Blanche Neige"]

I always like to imagine that I'm staying in

my own property when I'm away; seeing the real owner rather knocks the

illusion on the head!

Kathy, ..................................a kindred spirit![:)]

Check your PM box

[/quote]

Very true for some people but there are those

gregarious folks that seek out places where others will be and where

the owners actually live. Gîte complexes are not for all but they can

be good value and people will know for sure that others will be there.

Horses for courses really..................

[/quote]

Well said Miki - we have people who refuse to book with us due to

shared facilities and pools, but others who book expressly because they

know there will be other children around for their kids to play with

and that they will get a little time to read their books in peace and

quiet.

A 50% return is incredible Jon D, we only get 20%, so must be doing something wrong too....

[/quote]

Return and recommedation together. 50% re-booking on

its

own would be remarkable. And why should anyone be doing anything wrong?

Both as a child and an adult, I've never holidayed at the same place

twice , no matter how much it was liked. We liked varity. Lots of

people do. Some people, however, like to stick with the familiar,

particularly, I think, as we specialise in providing accomodation to

famillies with younger children. In

the end it is the number and value of the weeks booked, not how they

come to be booked, that matters.

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