by Guest Blogger, Tom Kelly

My wife and I have reached a stage in life where we no longer collect kids, swim fins, rafts, fishing poles and race off to a lake in the mountains for summer vacations. Now, we seem to trail these young adults to the wonderful places where they now work or visit - and hope one year to get them all back to the lake.

What has been intriguing and surprising is the number of different languages that I’ve heard every day. It didn’t used to be that way. For example, we drove from Seattle to Jackson Hole, Wyoming two weeks ago to visit our youngest son who accepted a last-minute job at a dude ranch. On that trip, I heard more French in Jackson, more Japanese in Yellowstone and more French in McCall, Idaho than I would have ever imagined. Of course, when I mentioned my impressions of increased international visitors to our son he replied: “You and Mom just need to get out more.”

I thought about his response last weekend when we visited this popular wine country of California for the wedding of our daughter’s longtime friend. As I was gearing up my bike for a long ride through the valley’s vineyards, I overheard a young couple arguing in French about the exact location up the road in Yountville where actress Julia Roberts was conducting interviews for her new movie Eat Pray Love based on the novel by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The groom’s family had rented two private homes outside Napa. One of them was on a gorgeous estate that also hosted the wedding ceremony and reception. The day before the wedding, the owner dropped in during the preparations to see if there was anything he could do to assist. When I asked if international interest had risen, he said the number of foreign inquiries and bookings was clearly up from recent years.

“And not just here in Napa where you might expect more foreigners. We have a place in New Hampshire and European interest is up there, too.”

He said he and his wife often try to find something special from their country of origin, if possible, between bookings. Tiny bars of French soap, bottles German beer, even reference to a Belgian waffle maker have made a difference.

Why not try to make a small difference with all renters? If they know you care – and feel that they are more than a name in a ledger – they will tell their friends.