We live in an easily accessible ski resort town that is a desirable place to visit. We have three young children.
We have a large home with guest rooms and therefore get a lot of requests from friends, and even mere acquaintances, asking to stay with us. Our saying yes the first time has now turned in to repeat requests, sometimes several times each season, or once a year at the least. This has also resulted in repeat visitors asking if they can leave their skis, boots, and other ski gear in our garage or mudroom.
Just because we have a large home we do not want a revolving door of house guests who have come to expect that they are always welcome. Please advise: What is the best way to politely handle this situation? How do we politely refuse these requests without coming across as rude or stingy?
What would have been the best way to have handled these requests in the beginning, so as not to have gotten in to this situation in the first place? What would your response to someone asking if they can stay with you be? Thank you.
Firstly, I don’t think you could or should have done things differently in the beginning. You were right to welcome friends; you weren’t to know they were going to take advantage of you. Doing something once, willingly, doesn’t mean that forever after you are obliged to do the same again even if you don’t want to.
Going forward, I think you have to be a bit more upfront (and brutal). When an acquantaince asks, you have to say, “I’m sorry, as you can imagine, living here, we get so many requests, we can’t possibly say yes to everyone”. Hopefully they will leave it at that.
If they try to pressure you further remember that if they can’t take no for an answer now, they will make horrible house-guests. Do not be persuaded by them, instead concentrate on the fact that they are trying to pressure you into it as a reason stand firm in your ‘no’.
You’ll just have to pick a phrase, “I’m sorry we aren’t able to host you” and stick to it. Don’t make false promises about ‘next year’, or ‘another time’, false hope will lead to more requests. Just stick to the line.
As for people who have been before, and you still want to host occasionally, I would implement a policy of one trip per season. So if people call and ask, say, “Jim, we would love to have you. We are getting so many requests this year we are asking people to visit just the once. So would you prefer to come now, or in January?”
If they push their luck with a, “Now and January, ha ha!”, stand firm: “I’m sorry, we can’t do both”.
Another option is to become a B & B. I’m not sure if you’d be interested in the extra work running a business would entail, but since you’re changing the linen anyway, insurance, taxes and admin aren’t much on top. This would have two advantages:
- You could make some money.
- You could tell people you really don’t want to visit you are ‘Booked up’.
You don’t even have to advertise the business. Just put word out that you’ve decided your house is large enough, and the next time someone asks to stay, tell them you are now a B & B and you have availabilty for x week for y dollars. Many will run for the hills. Job done.
Others will still want to come, and in return you get some extra money for your budget. You don’t have to charge a fortune. You don’t have to open your home up to strangers (don’t list it online or in directories).
If that’s not your thing, but you still want to host occasionally, I think you need some clearer rules – especially concerning kit. If people are coming to ski, and you have agreed to host them, you can’t expect them not to have skis poles and boots. Though I totally understand why that’s frustrating. So since the house is large, I would allocate an area, show them where it is, and say, “We ask all guests to keep all kit in this room / closet / nook”. Again, you’ll have to be firm about reminding people of the area if their stuff strays.
Basically, if you want your home back, you’re going to have to enforce some boundaries. Some people find that harder than others. If you’re a people-pleaser, this is going to be hell. But it’s the only way things are going to change.