No Room at the Resort

Clay and India Huddleston. Saint Simon’s Island, GA. Those were the names on the online registration form for guests of Evergreen Church (where I pastor). Clay and India were planning to visit on Sunday, March 24th.

I quickly emailed them back. “I’m excited to have you.” I wrote. “We have some Huddlestons in our church, and, ironically, we’re planning on coming down to Saint Simon’s Island on April 2nd.”

I had planned to go to Saint Simon’s Island on our way to Florida for spring break. This was my daughter Anna’s first year in public school, and I thought it would be a nice gift to bring her and two of my younger daughters down to Florida to enjoy the ocean and warm weather during spring break.

About 6 months prior to spring break, I had gotten a great price on a hotel at Daytona Beach and so made reservations to stay 3 nights at the Grand Seas Resort. This was going to work perfectly, I thought.

Then, one of my daughters got a better offer for spring break. Her good friends wanted take her to Disney World and Universal Studios. So, she dropped me faster than you could snap your fingers. Then, Anna decided she didn’t want to go.

At first, I thought I might just cancel the trip. With those in the public school not going, there was really no need to go to Florida during spring break. I would rather go when there were less people!

However, I had made the reservations for 5 nights of hotels, and they were non-refundable.

In addition, I have six daughters and one son, so I had plenty of people I could take. In fact, I mused, maybe my wife could go and my parents could watch some of the kids.

And that’s what happened.

It was with that vacation in mind that I met Clay and India Huddleston at our church on March 24th. They came up to me and said, “When you come down to Saint Simon’s Island, we would like to take you out for lunch. We understand that being a Pastor is hard and want to encourage you.”

My instant thought was to politely refuse, but then I thought, When I’ve gone on vacation before, I’ve enjoyed visiting with different people as long as I had some time to myself. These people seem nice, and, hey, they are offering to buy us lunch. Why not? “OK. I’ll accept your offer.” I said. We exchanged phone numbers, and they were on their way.

And one week later, Melinda (my wife), two of my younger daughters, and I were on our way, down south to the warm weather and beaches of Florida. We slept the first night in Brunswick and the next morning we crossed the bridge over to Saint Simon’s Island.

The island was as beautiful as I had imagined. Filled with old oak trees covered with Spanish moss, all near the water, it was like an enchanted vacation space. We walked along the water and through the shops and then headed over to Mullet Bay Inn to have lunch with Clay and India.

My wife said this lunch was one of the highlights of her trip. The combination of generous portions of delicious seafood (and plain spaghetti noodles for the girls!), a comfortable atmosphere, a tablecloth the girls could color on, and the delightful company of Clay and India combined to make it one of those unforgettable meal experiences. Clay and India also made clear that we could stay with them if we ever came back through the area.

Shortly after the lunch, we continued south, to Hobe Sound, Florida, where my Grandmother lived. We enjoyed the beach, the swimming pool, my Grandmother’s cooking and company, and a visit with my former youth pastor and his wife. It all added up to another wonderful experience, and we were sad to go.

But the Grand Seas Resort was calling. It is always fun to drive to the beach, but there’s nothing like being able to walk right out of your hotel right onto the beach at your convenience.

After a three hour drive, we arrived at our first destination–WalMart for groceries. We got back in the car, and Rochelle asked her normal question, “How many hours is it?”

“Twenty minutes.” I replied.

When we arrived at the Grand Seas Resort at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4th, the lights were on, and people were inside, but there was also a chain-link fence around the whole perimeter. There were hardly any cars in the parking lot. “That’s weird. Do you think it’s closed?” My wife said.

“No, it can’t be. It looks like it’s open.” I replied.

So, I went inside, and there were two attendants at the desk. “Y’all closed?” I asked with a sarcastic grin on my face.

To my surprise, they said. “Yes, we are. I’m so sorry.” They explained that the recent hurricanes had damaged the hotel, and they were remodeling.

Uh-oh, I thought, what do we do now?

“Call Priceline,” they said, knowing that they were the ones through whom we had made the reservation. “We’ve tried to tell them, but they haven’t gotten it into their computers apparently.”

I called Priceline. They offered to re-locate me in a two star hotel somewhere in Daytona. I thought, Now I know there is a big difference between a two star and three star hotel, especially based on what I’ve seen in Daytona. So, I said, “Do you have a three star hotel anywhere on the Atlantic coast of Florida on the beach?”

Nope. Spring break.

At that point I decided that I would figure it out on my own. “I’ll go ahead and cancel.”

“We will refund your money and give you 20% more for your trouble.” The customer service representative told me.

“Thank you.” I answered.

We considered a variety of options. We had friends we could stay with not too far away. We could also go back to Grandma’s. I had also seen a hotel on Priceline one hour north in Saint Augustine at a good price. “Let’s just go there tonight. We can figure it out tomorrow.” My wife agreed.

The hotel was nice. It was so nice, in fact, that we decided we would tour Saint Augustine on Thursday and stay there that night.

The problem was that Friday night was a different story. The rates went up everywhere. We weren’t sure what to do.

Then Melinda (my wife) said, “Why don’t we go stay with Clay and India? They were fantastic, and we loved Saint Simon’s Island.”

“Alright,” I replied. “I’ll text them.” So, I did, and they said they were happy to host us.

On Friday morning, we drove up along the coast of Florida, made a stop at Huguenot Park, and had fun crossing the river on the Saint John’s Fairy. We stopped at Jekyl Island and walked the beach, while the girls got more and more of their clothed bodies into the water until they were fully submerged.

After changing, we made our way over to Saint Simon’s Island. We had another wonderful visit with Clay and India as well as a refreshing night’s sleep.

The next morning, I dropped the girls off at the shops, and I drove north on the island to visit the church where Charles and John Wesley (my namesake, my full name is John Wesley White) first came ashore at the then colony of Georgia to establish churches and preach the Gospel as missionaries to the new world. Doing this by myself was one of the highlights of my trip.

After lunch, we made our way up the congested I-95 toward Greenville, SC, our destination for Saturday evening.

The temperature gauge on my car started going down. 50, 49, 48, 47 . . . finally settling on 42.

At 9:30 p.m., I got out of the car and entered La Quinta Inn in Greenville, SC. I gave them my name, and the hotel clerks said, “We’re sorry. We’re overbooked. We don’t have a room for you.”


9 Replies to “No Room at the Resort”

  1. Don’t leave us hanging, Wes? What happened after that?

    I enjoyed reading this, as this was close to my own haunt. Next time you are down that way, make sure you stop by Midway Congregational Church! Google it!

    Sounds like a great time, overall, though!

  2. Hi Chris, I like to leave it to people’s imagination.:)

    Suffice it to say, I am home now.

    I’ll check out the church!

    Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

  3. Great story! Awesome ending. It sounds like you had an adventure instead of just a vacation.

  4. Thanks, Art! I had often said to my wife, we should do a vacation sometime where we have no plan and just take it day by day and hour by hour. After we arrived at the resort and found out it was closed, I said, “Well, I guess we have that vacation.”

  5. Hey you left me hanging…seems like y’all were dealing with a “Joseph & Mary situation”. Being in this hotel business…knowing how this can happen….I just cant imagine that i would do well at all in these situations.
    Im ready to here the lesson though. 😁

  6. Hi Missy, I don’t know if I intended any lesson, but I’m happy to share what I do when things go differently than I planned. I think that it’s a matter of learning to see these events in a way that helps you deal with them. I try to think about them differently. So, I have struggled in the past when things haven’t gone according to plan. What I realized, though, is that I am capable of thinking through how to do things differently when things happen differently. So, I try to view it as a game or puzzle to be solved. That helps me to embrace the uncertain or unexpected. It doesn’t always worked, but it has helped me.

    I’m not saying that this perspective would help everybody, but it has helped me. I think you have to find your own way of visualizing the problem.

    What has helped you to deal with the unexpected?

  7. I’ve learned that worrying,getting mad and “trying” to fix everything absolutely gets me stuck looking in the rear view mirror rather than from looking ahead.
    I’ve really worked on prayer and giving God anything & everything and letting Him carry my burdens. ( 1Peter 5:6,7)I’ve seen that when I have let go…I find peace & He DOES work it out for my good. (Romans 8:28)

  8. What a vacation! Sometimes “adventures” like this help us stretch and grow – it sounds like everyone had a good time in the end? Anyway, it’s been a while, but I enjoy reading your thoughts when I catch your posts on Facebook every once in a while! Tell Melinda hi – I still remember all our Sunday afternoon chats with such fondness! Hope you had a blessed Easter :).

  9. Hi Jenny, thanks so much for commenting. Yes, it was actually a great vacation. We remember our time with you with fondness as well. If you ever get out East, please stop in again!:)

Leave a Reply