Girlfriend Retreat !!

c226729a-2578-476a-b1d0-514c4474fc5e.1.10Hey…I missed ya’ll last week!

Well … maybe just a little.

This past weekend I took a vacation … a “girlfriend weekend” at a vacation rental at Lake Arrowhead. This was my very first experience actually renting a vacation home.  After almost 19 years managing vacation properties it was time to turn the tables. The photo above is a picture of the lake taken from our Lake Arrowhead cabin’s wrap-around porch.

The owner of one of the properties I handle in Palm Springs also has a vacation cabin in Lake Arrowhead. Personally knowing the owner, I felt comfortable renting the cabin for a short weekend trip. With my girlfriend Lori from Redlands and Lynn from Carlsbad, we headed up the mountain on Friday afternoon to spend a weekend of shopping, girl-talk and catching up on each other’s lives. The three of us met and worked together at an advertising company in Orange County in the mid-90s. Over the years we have stayed in contact and our families have grown close, but getting together for large family gatherings over the holidays and during special events left little time for the three of us to connect as girlfriends. Sometimes we get so involved in the “business of life” that we lose track of time and the friendships that we’ve forged along the way. See my post May 11, 2014 “Plan a Destination Event for Family or Friends.”

So Friday afternoon we rendezvoused at Lori’s house in Redlands, piled into her SUV and up the mountain we went … leaving temperatures of 100 plus, heading for the low 80s with a breeze off the lake … heaven! Once we found the cabin, we quickly unpacked the car and explored our weekend home. It was absolutely perfect! Three bedrooms, two baths, a spacious and comfortable great room with fireplace, a large flat-screen TV … and a fantastic view of the lake from every window and French door. Once settled we took inventory of the kitchen supplies, salt, pepper, aluminum foil, etc. then headed to the grocery store in the quaint village of Lake Arrowhead.

Over the weekend we had dinner out at an excellent Mexican restaurant overlooking the lake, shopped and purchased souvenirs (for me, a picture of a cow for our kitchen much to my husband’s chagrin … yes there is room for one more picture honey), a movie at a theater in Blue Jay (“Maleficent” in 3-D … great girlfriend movie), cooked, relaxed, drank wine, talked and even caught an old Audrey Hephurn movie on TV. We caught up on each other’s lives … for the most part, shared our accomplishments and told more than a few secrets. We had a fabulous weekend and vowed to make it an annual event.

Discoveries I made as a 1st time vacation “renter”   ….

1) Shop for groceries and supplies AFTER you take assessment of the supplies at the property.

2) Be sure to write a review on the property. This is HUGE for the property’s success. If the property is managed by a vacation rental company, you may have to write your review in the form of an email sent directly to the company. You may want to ask whether the company will send you a “review request.” If you are renting directly from the owner (VRBO or any rent-by-owner site), you will need to go to the on-line listing to post a review.

3) If you have minor suggestions for the property … consider putting your ideas in a separate email … not in the review. Depending on how the review is scored, noting the lack of insignificant items such as coasters or a flashlight, might bring the rating down. If the property was absolutely perfect “except” you wished there had been a cookie sheet … perhaps a separate email with your “suggestions” would be more helpful.

4) Our experience would not have been the same in a hotel. Being in the “business” I already know this … but here is a great opportunity to drive home this point! Three grown women sharing one room and one bathroom would have been cramped unacceptable … three separate rooms would have been expensive. Visiting would have been uncomfortable and eating every meal at restaurants … costly! At our vacation cabin we had the luxury of relaxing in our PJs till late morning and visiting in a comfortable living room setting or on the porch overlooking the lake, the pine trees and at night, the stars. We had loads of fun and saved costs by cooking most of our meals in the fully equipped kitchen, then stashing dirty dishes in the dishwasher. We relaxed and had wine without having to draw straws for who would be the designated driver. When planning accommodations for more than one … consider a vacation rental !!

5) Don’t wait for someone else to suggest a family or friend get away! Lori, Lynn and I have been friends for over 23 years and this is the first time we have gone away on a “girlfriend only” weekend. Was it worth the cost? Oh heck yeah … absolutely. Split three ways …. about $200 each! We had a blast and created memories to last a lifetime … it was a bargain.

Hey Lori and Lynn … 358 days and counting!

Oh … and here’s my cow!

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