Hi Hendrik, thanks for your review.
Actually, we agree with some of your points and disagree with some other ones. Let me explain. I don't think the bed could be covered in a thick layer of dust and dead insects, since the bedsheets had been freshly laid for you on the same day. But there was actually dust and dead insects on the top of the mosquito net, as we observed today after visiting Amma's hut following your comment. There were also spider webs under the roof, agreed with this.
We were unaware that the ceiling fan was not working and you are right to mention that the standing fan, that we donated to Amma for the additional bed she puts when 3 guests stay in the hut, was indeed difficult to put on (problem with the switch) and tied to the wall as the upper part needed to be fixed. I want to sincerely apologize for all these disagreements as it was not meant to be like this.
The mosquito net and roof should have been cleaned properly and both fans should have been in working condition. Actually, we haven’t had the experience of Amma neglecting her place like this before. If you check the other comments, you will agree that despite the hut being basic, people generally describe it as clean and do not complain about the appliances not functioning.
Amma is quite upset and busy with some family issues these days, but we had not understood that it had a consequence on the quality of the service she offers to our guests. Today, when we saw the status of the hut, we asked her to put back things in order and have decided to put on hold further bookings until things are back to normal. Again, we are sorry for the bad experience.
This said, we would have appreciated that you give us this information when we called you. We spoke to you over the phone 2 times, at no point you gave me information about these problems. We could have come and settled the matters, asked/helped Amma to clean, and provided another standing fan if needed. Not letting us know about the difficulties you encountered when checking in prevented us to correct the situation on the spot.
I also want to emphasize that generally, guests call us before reaching Amma’s hut, and we do visit them to welcome them and ensure that everything is alright and that food can be ordered according to their wishes. But in your case, we were informed by Amma that you had arrived, and when I called you, you asked me to organize a tuktuk to go out to attend some personal issue, so we could not visit you since you went out immediately after I phoned you.
Regarding the price of the food, I have emailed you 3 days ago to ask you about how much you had paid, and I have so far not received any answer to my question. Amma told me she had charged 500 Rs per head (1000 Rs for both of you) for a vegetarian dinner. Sorry to say, but we consider it fine.
That it might be cheaper in Arugam Bay, which is, according to your words “the most touristic place in Sri Lanka”, is obvious, as when there are more people ordering food at a time, you can cook a larger number of portions and decrease the price per head. In the case of Amma, she cooked for you 2 only, and spent most probably 3 hours in the kitchen to prepare what you qualified as a “delicious” dinner. This has to be taken into account.
There are plenty of places in Batticaloa that can give decent food for cheaper than this, but this is food (pre)cooked for many, and you have to go there to eat. Here, you can simply sit in Amma’s Hut and get the food you like, freshly cooked for you only. Please try to understand the difference and appreciate the service.
Regarding your last point, your “wild guess” assuming that Amma does not see much of the money you paid, Amma receives directly the money from Airbnb on her bank account (around 2700 Rs after Airbnb have cut their fees), but once in a while only (we set up a minimum threshold before sending the money, as the bank fees taken in USA to transfer the funds to Sri Lanka are more than 5 USD per transfer).
We charge from Amma 600 Rs per night (500 Rs for the advertisement/booking /communication/training/review and feedback work we do for her and 100 Rs to cover our phone/travelling expenses to make phone calls and come to see the guests when there is a need of translation).
Which means Amma gets around 2100 Rs per night. Does that really make us exploiters of “the poor old lady of ammas place”, as you seem to consider her?
Since our work in community tourism has been acknowledged locally, we got funds in the past to equip and support a number of homestays in Batticaloa, and we do continue to support most of them to have a presence online and get bookings, facilitate the communication with the guests, enable them to get an income out of the presence of travellers in the area. It does not go without hard work.
You have unhappily experienced how it can be if we loosen little bit our supervision of our homestay providers, who remain after all people who are quite new in the industry, and human beings with their own hardships and personal issues.
Hoping this can clarify our position on your various concerns.
Wishing you better experiences in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the world!