If there’s one thing bound to cause trouble on a holiday, apart from renting a car, it’s sunbeds.

I write this because a recently departed guest from our resort has posted a generally good review on Trip Advisor but complained about the sunbeds and one particular German family. I don’t want to continue the German sunbed myth but in this case it is a fact although in our time here they were not the only ones and not all problems were German. Nor is there a rampant sunbed problem here. For the most part it’s a very minor issue

The question is what, if anything, can the management do to solve this problem and keep everyone happy? In my opinion this is impossible.

Everywhere we have ever stayed has the same problem, demand greatly outstripping supply and only a small percentage of the supply being sought after thanks to location (sun, shade, proximity to bar). You then add the different cultural or personal attitudes and you have a recipe for some people to be happy and others not.

Everyone who is hanging by the pool for all or most of the day wants the best beds, whatever nationality, this is particularly so if you have kids who will naturally demand more pool time. The differences arise in how “nice” you want to be to fellow guests and in how you go about “reserving” your beds. The latter is probably the root of the problem.

There are perhaps three ways of claiming beds:
1/ select beds that are available when you (the majority of your family) arrive at the pool and immediately start using them.
2/ have the first family member to arrive at the pool secure beds for the rest of the family as well.
3/ one family member gets up early and reserves beds for the whole family then leaves the pool area and nobody returns for hours after.

Option 1 is the fairest (British sense of fairness) and would cause the fewest complaints but almost never happens.

Option 2 is what we use, myself being the earliest to the pool often by an hour or two. I feel slightly guilty when my technique restricts the choice of people trying to use option 1 arriving before my family does but this is offset by looking at the number of beds taken up by people who have used option 3. I therefore find this option a good compromise between screwing other guests and getting screwed by them.

Option 3 is the one that causes all the problems. I’m sure those who use it just feel like they have paid for this and are simply making sure their family enjoys the holiday. The problem gets worse when this option is used by a family of 6, as was the case in the complaint I mentioned. Even worse when they don’t turn up until mid or even late afternoon and when they do their idea of pool fun is bombing each other non stop. For balance, we had many conversations with this family and they were very nice in every other respect.

The longer I am out of Britain and its innate cultural sense of fairness the more I understand option 3 even though I will never be able to use it. I am essentially and option 1 kind of guy. More interesting to deliberate on is how, despite repeat occurrences, nobody ever just removes their towels and reclaims a bed. Everyone just sits there all day staring at the unused, towel reserved beds and getting angry.

How management are supposed to deal with this is beyond me. If they rule that no towel reservations are allowed then many families are forced into a routine they don’t want and will not return. If they have no rules, some families will get upset and perhaps not return but will they be any better off elsewhere? Management intervention takes time and causes confrontations they can do without especially in a family run place like this.

I think with this matter we have to accept it is never going to improve, there is no magic solution. You have to decide which option you’re most comfortable with and live with the consequences.

3 thoughts on “Sunbeds

  1. Lon says:

    Ian – interesting post. Actually just saw an article on this on CNN. they have a 45 min rule monitored by staff on reservations of chairs.

    Also I am wondering about this “British innate fairness” idea…. truth or myth or just how you remember things…. :)

    Enjoy your sun.

  2. Bob says:

    How about 1 bed per guest count? Some may not be right at the pool but at least available. Or better yet – a guaranteed sunbed for a small surcharge numbered per room #.

  3. Sam says:

    Look you’re not being British (or English) enough. We are polite. We like fair play. Use both. Wait for half an hour if no one turns up politely fold their towels put them to one side and use the beds. When the irate German/Israeli/Russian turns up explain that you have done everything in your power to stop this but as they weren’t there the beds have now gone. If the get lippy bash them and return to your bed. Story over. That’s how the empire was won my son.

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