Principle 6: The Feeling of Premium

Karla

Karla, Owner of Tropical Blessings
Inner Circle
Thanks for the link to charging stations - I just ordered 2 and they will be here on 9/25! I have plenty of towels - probably 20 per bathroom, and so many guests have commented how much they enjoyed having plenty of good towels. I have plenty of coffee, but have been stingy with laundry pods. I will now provide "plenty". I have a lot of books in the homes, and guests do read them. I have found the ladies really like cookbooks, so am adding more of them.
@SScurlock Along with your plenty of coffee you might add coffee filters too. Buy some in bulk from Amazon if they’ll ship to your location, they cost little and guests will be glad to find them. In addition to laundry pods you might add Bounce dryer sheets and a spray bottle of Shout or OxyClean in case somebody wants to pretreat a piece of clothing and try to get a stain mostly out before they put it in the washer.
 

CCapalbo

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
@CCapalbo Since you mentioned birthday’s you might have to pull guests in on “the plot” for a birthday cake for the Big 4-0 or Big 5-0, etc. A round frosted cake is easy but the perimeter of the circular top
should be lined with small plastic dinosaurs. Your guests might need to search out those little dinosaurs at some place like WalMart and bring them along but that cake is hilarious, no one will ever forget it!
@Karla, We try to work with someone in the group to ensure that our plans for the guests is something they would like. We also work with a local cake store in town to get the best deals.

In my response to guests inquiry, I ask questions like " Is this your first time to Jamaica" This normally starts a dialogue with the guests.
 

CCapalbo

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
@SScurlock Along with your plenty of coffee you might add coffee filters too. Buy some in bulk from Amazon if they’ll ship to your location, they cost little and guests will be glad to find them. In addition to laundry pods you might add Bounce dryer sheets and a spray bottle of Shout or OxyClean in case somebody wants to pretreat a piece of clothing and try to get a stain mostly out before they put it in the washer.
I love the idea of the bounce dryer sheet and Shou or OxyClean.
 

Karla

Karla, Owner of Tropical Blessings
Inner Circle
@Karla I love the birthday cake idea with the dinosaurs!
@SSurlock, So glad you like the dinosaur cake. I’m sure you’ll always remember to add a few secret ingredients to the recipe, so easy. Simply stir together or sprinkle on top equal measures of the following: playful, funny, and mischievous. No one should should observe the cook’s preparations with the possible exception of several co-chef’s. The results are guaranteed: the cake is absolutely delicious and all who taste it will experience delightfully memorable moments. Trust me, I’ve tested this recipe before and I’ve never met a single person who didn’t totally love this unforgettable cake! “LOVE, LIGHT, & LAUGHTER. It’s time has come, let’s make it happen!!!” —Anon.
 

JPrugh

Envoy
Inner Circle
@Karla and @SSurlock: What would you think of a cookbook targeted toward guests? My wife and I stayed in a TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Hays, KS a couple nights ago. Their cookbook (purchased for $12 - see below) provides 20 recipes for everything from smoothies to salmon to desserts. Marriott has a corporate relationship with Weber who supplies their gas grills and cooking equipment (think crockpots). This equipment can be borrowed by guests to cook in their room's efficiency kitchen. My kitchen has the typical suite of appliances plus a toaster, blender and hand mixer with bowls and other cooking equipment.
My questions to you are:
1) does this already exist and, if so, does it work well for hosts and guests?
2) are recipes targeted to the local market (both food and hospitality)?
3) if this doesn't exist, what is your opinion of providing a local cookbook with a limited number of simple and accessible recipes? (please realize that not every location has private chefs!)
 

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Karla

Karla, Owner of Tropical Blessings
Inner Circle
@Karla and @SSurlock: What would you think of a cookbook targeted toward guests? My wife and I stayed in a TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Hays, KS a couple nights ago. Their cookbook (purchased for $12 - see below) provides 20 recipes for everything from smoothies to salmon to desserts. Marriott has a corporate relationship with Weber who supplies their gas grills and cooking equipment (think crockpots). This equipment can be borrowed by guests to cook in their room's efficiency kitchen. My kitchen has the typical suite of appliances plus a toaster, blender and hand mixer with bowls and other cooking equipment.
My questions to you are:
1) does this already exist and, if so, does it work well for hosts and guests?
2) are recipes targeted to the local market (both food and hospitality)?
3) if this doesn't exist, what is your opinion of providing a local cookbook with a limited number of simple and accessible recipes? (please realize that not every location has private chefs!)

@JPrugh I think the cookbook is a fabulous idea! There’s no St. John cookbook per se either but your idea is reminding me of Mom, can’t remember the title now but ladies from “the village” collaborated. Each contributed a personal recipe or two and the cookbook became a local “bestseller.” It was longer than 12 pages but somehow they pulled it together without spending a whole lot of money on printing.

There were various sections: Table of Contents, then chapters: Appetizers, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Casseroles, whatever you title “main courses,” and of course: desserts! What a fun project, I’m sure there are locals who would enjoy contributing. On a chilly day those excellent crockpot recipes are the best, perfect for vacationers too, get the crockpot going, take off for the day, come home and dinner is ready, whether it’s beef stew, spaghetti sauce, or a hearty soup. Add a salad and some hot buttered rolls, the work is done. They sit down and enjoy the a home-cooked meal together and the sense of fellowship that goes with it. Easy on the budget too.

A “local” cookbook might be a very nice keepsake, something visitors would enjoy taking home.

I tasted “Priscilla’s Pineapple Pie,” made by an aunt in New England. It was so yummy I asked for the recipe and was shocked that it took only five minutes to make. Pineapple is perfect for the tropics but I enjoyed it on a cold snowy day.

Quick and easy is perfect for those on vacation so here you go with that winner dessert, I know I already shared it here already but it’s worth repeating:

Mix the following: One 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple (use the juice too,) one pint of sour cream, two packets of vanilla pudding. Pour the contents into a graham cracker crust. Chill it, that’s it!

I have made that pie any number of times but I must add a warning: the filling is so delicious that it’s hard not to keep tasting spoonfuls of it yourself, make sure you leave enough it for the pie!

I never let anyone see me making that pie, they’d never ever guess how easy it is and how little time it takes. It’s always a hit and if asked for the recipe I’ll sometimes say it’s an old family recipe and I’ve been sworn to secrecy, all depends on the people and the day, but “easy” is great for vacationers.

Round up some locals who will undoubtedly be pleased to participate. As for printing on the cheap: colored card stock for front and back cover. Fun title and creative sketch for the front. Three ring hole punch, typed pages (or written in script by individual contributors,) and those “big gold paper clip thingies” to hold Table of Contents and Chapters together. You might not even have to charge for it, depends on the size, but it might reach “local fame” and be found in small shops. In any event, what a nice welcome gift to for guests to find upon arrival.

That “printing” idea goes back decades but after a fellowship with the National Writing Project my approach to teaching high school English changed radically and I learned to support the writer’s intentions instead of crucifying their compositions with my lethal red pen. Each student proudly contributed a piece of personal writing to the “book” published by each class I taught. Almost no money involved but the “books” looked great. I’m sure certain students still have them to this day.?

A collaborative local cookbook sounds like a really fun project, go for it! I’m sure you’ll generate lots of enthusiasm among those who choose to participate. It’s that personal touch and with some guests it will strike just the right note for sure!

ADDENDUM: The well stocked kitchen is a major plus! If guests are staying for only a week do they really want to spend money buying a whole lot of money on spices?? I doubt it so I stock up on those including olive oil and Worcestershire sauce, just about everything and it is very much appreciated, especially on St. John where everything is VERY expensive.

Equipment: Skillets of various sizes, all sorts of pots and pans, baking sheets, wooden spoons, other spoons and ladles, spatulas, mixing bowls, glass loaf “pan” (meatloaf, banana bread,) strainers, selection of multiple knives (a knife sharpener is cheap,) cutting boards, “Tupperware” for leftovers, potholders, oven mitts, graters, garlic press, perhaps even a griddle for pancakes, ETC. You name it, I likely have it. Those mini steamer baskets, I probably have three of those at home, great for veggies. I have only one here, time to add a couple more for island use. I can hardly begin to tell you how many people have complimented on the kitchen. It’s like: ready, set, go for your culinary adventures and have a great time! I’ve been amazed at how many great things I find at discount stores.

Of course everyone on island absolutely adores Macy’s, they ship to the USVI, which some merchants happen to consider an “international” location even though it’s a territory of the United States, in which case the shipping charges are astronomical.

You can easily find some very attractive and decorative plastic ware for snacks at cocktail hour. The plates for crackers and cheese, a tray with three sections for the queso, onion dip, and salsa, colorful bowls for the potato chips and tortilla chips. Let’s go festive for the party!

I’m a Macy’s “premier customer” so I keep an eye on “sales” and do very well.

Sometimes I know exactly what I want but I’m patient. Who would think a wooden salad bowl would be so hard to find, have they gone out of style? I wanted at least six individual salad bowls, preferably eight. Well, I finally found what I wanted, only one left. Original price $250, on sale $125. It’s classy and nice.

My cookbook collection has evolved slowly, one book at a time, I’m picky but I keep an eye out and when I find what I’ve had in mind for awhile I know it, and boom, I grab it. Crockpots are great, select a cookbook for crockpot recipes. Oddly enough I don’t have a crockpot in on St. John, but we’re in the tropics but a crockpot recipe book sounds like a great choice for you.

I have not Googled “easy” or “shortcut” recipe books but you can easily find them and for visitors who don’t want to spend time “slaving in the kitchen” one or two of those might come in handy.

You’ll never pull all of this together overnight, it’s no rush job. Just remain open minded with a creative perspective. Enjoy the project, it will evolve over time and flow. Have fun with it along the way. Cheers and Bon Apetit!
 

Karla

Karla, Owner of Tropical Blessings
Inner Circle
@Karla and @SSurlock: What would you think of a cookbook targeted toward guests? My wife and I stayed in a TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Hays, KS a couple nights ago. Their cookbook (purchased for $12 - see below) provides 20 recipes for everything from smoothies to salmon to desserts. Marriott has a corporate relationship with Weber who supplies their gas grills and cooking equipment (think crockpots). This equipment can be borrowed by guests to cook in their room's efficiency kitchen. My kitchen has the typical suite of appliances plus a toaster, blender and hand mixer with bowls and other cooking equipment.
My questions to you are:
1) does this already exist and, if so, does it work well for hosts and guests?
2) are recipes targeted to the local market (both food and hospitality)?
3) if this doesn't exist, what is your opinion of providing a local cookbook with a limited number of simple and accessible recipes? (please realize that not every location has private chefs!)
@JPrugh I got carried away with kitchen enthusiasm! I’m sure your kitchen is fine, a “work in progress” like mine, so forgive my additional commentary that went beyond cookbooks. That guests are so happy with my kitchen makes me very happy too! Hope you’ll find an extra helpful snippet or two within my first response to you. With my additional comments beyond the cookbook collection (or single cookbook.)

What I was was attempting to convey is that by providing for guests generously with cookware/serve ware, utensils and equipment they are set up in their kitchen comfort zone so that making a recipe from a cookbook is easier and more fun to do from the get go.

I think creatively about how I might thoughtfully enhance the cooking experience in the kitchen. People will find everything they need in my kitchen and often more than they need, so cooking is a very happy time for them.

If somebody loves homemade muffins and they discover an appealing muffin recipe in one of your cookbooks they’ll smile when they find you have a muffin tin. That example might be too obvious, maybe every rental has muffin tins. I’ve seen those lists of “must have” kitchen items but I know I cover the bases very well with those. I don’t rely on those lists, I mostly rely on instincts and go beyond the “musts” and add what isn’t a “must” but is a pleasure to find and is particularly useful or and/or convenient.

Cooking can be such an intimate experience so my goal is to create a kitchen that exudes a sense of intimacy and invites people to have a great time in the kitchen and I know they do. Cookbooks add to that sense and frankly I think my cookbook collection is quite charming. However, to make the cookbook idea really work you need to back up the cookbooks with everything a guest might want or need to use them.

Every room in your rental matters and I consider each room that way, individually and very personally, but in ways for some people the kitchen is sort of like “Ground Central.” Since my kitchen is part of a great room it seems to be the anchor of that shared living area.

Mind you, I’m fully aware of the fact that I could overlook an obvious kitchen “something” and later think, “Duh, how could I have totally forgotten something like that??” Following a brief mental slap on my wrist for forgetting whatever it is, I promptly correct that oversight and then.....one more kitchen inspiration always comes up and chasing the idea is usually irresistible to me. It’s also likely that an IC member is going to come up with some idea I would never dream up on my own.

Somehow I always “have an eye out” for things my guests might like. I’m not searching for anything in particular but sometimes something just catches my eye and I ask myself “Why do I like this ‘kitchen’ thing, would I really use it, would my guests likely appreciate it or not?” That has resulted in a kitchen that pleases me and others and though I’m proud of the kitchen it’s evolution will probably continue. No sense of pressure about my kitchen but I doubt I’ll ever be fully convinced that the job is done. Fortunately that job lives for me in the zone of fun so I don’t mind the “extra work.”

I totally love the idea of a local cookbook and you led me to a few cookbook reminiscences. Stashed in a box somewhere I’m certain I have a copy of an old Church cookbook that dates back to my childhood. I’ve kept it for sentimental reasons and local ladies definitely contributed some great “keeper” recipes but that cookbook isn’t a great fit for a Tropical kitchen, it’s “too New England.”

A St. John or Virgin Islands cookbook would be great but there’s not one to be found that I’m aware of. Such a cookbook would be very cool to find and if I saw it I’d if I saw it at St. John Spice or the Friends of the Park store I’d probably buy it faster than a heartbeat.

I’m almost tempted to spearhead such a project myself but it would take too much time so I’ve compromised and selected Regional/Caribbean and Classic cookbooks and even contributed a personal favorite of mine from Tortola, now out of print. I’m taking my chances with that one. I’d be terribly disappointed if someone walked away with it but I trust no one will do that.

I DO have a few great recipes no one will find in my kitchen so I leak them out as secrets in correspondence, whether it be Pricilla’s Pineapple Pie or my own cocktail recipe for a Seriously Superior Painkiller.

Now you’ve got me thinking that “Cooking” (I’d come up with a better name) could be a website menu item where I briefly introduce the varied selection of cookbooks to be found in my kitchen and....a few special extra recipes (your choice) that guests will only find out about because you told them. Maybe that should be a Blog instead (have yet to write my first one) but however you choose to present it we are definitely talking about a “premiere” idea which has left me feeling hungry right now, please pass the salt!
 

DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
@Karla and @SSurlock: What would you think of a cookbook targeted toward guests? My wife and I stayed in a TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Hays, KS a couple nights ago. Their cookbook (purchased for $12 - see below) provides 20 recipes for everything from smoothies to salmon to desserts. Marriott has a corporate relationship with Weber who supplies their gas grills and cooking equipment (think crockpots). This equipment can be borrowed by guests to cook in their room's efficiency kitchen. My kitchen has the typical suite of appliances plus a toaster, blender and hand mixer with bowls and other cooking equipment.
My questions to you are:
1) does this already exist and, if so, does it work well for hosts and guests?
2) are recipes targeted to the local market (both food and hospitality)?
3) if this doesn't exist, what is your opinion of providing a local cookbook with a limited number of simple and accessible recipes? (please realize that not every location has private chefs!)


As our kitchen is small I don't have much room for cookbooks. The ones I do have reflect who we are as individuals (Spanish, anglers and abalone divers):
A bound copy of my husband's recipe for his paella and how-to directions in photos - (we also have a paella pan available for guests)
125 Best Cheesecake Recipes (our family's preferred dessert and yes I have a multitude of springform pans)
The Everything Kids' Cookbook & The Betty Crocker The Big Book of Cupcakes (or how to keep the grandkids happy- and we also provide cupcake papers too). I use to have an abalone cookbook but now that the abalone is on the road to extinction it caused me too much pain to have it there (there are abalone farms and they do ship to the door).

I also have cookbooks that include local favorites and native food items found in the area. We have a community garden maintained by residents in our community. To honor them, I have a copy of their limited run cookbook (out of print), The Posh Squash: A Community Garden Cookbook

Our area is known for its mushrooms. In fact, the county next door has a whole fair and feast centered around it!
So not only do I have books on what to look for when mushroom hunting (Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern California and The Wild Mushroom Cookbook: Recipes From Mendocino ~with the caveat -throw it out if in doubt...cuz you could die (said in more tourist-friendly terms), I also have books on how to cook things found along the way: The Sea Forager's Guide to the Northern California Coast. Our Zenful and nature-focused region also draws folks who prefer a more wholesome diet- for that reason I also provide The Moosewood Cookbook

And for those who simply need to recall how long to cook the Thanksgiving bird, I have my original copy of Joy too!
 

SScurlock

Envoy
Inner Circle
Yellow Jersey
@JPrugh I love the idea of cookbooks! I have found mine open on the desk and guests actually reading them when I delivered muffins one evening. I have been told cook books are the number 1 selling type of book in the U.S., so they are popular.! Mine are mostly regional type cookbooks - Southern cooking, bar-b-q, and local church cook books which have some really good recipes in them! I have a fully stocked kitchen with all the basic appliances, nothing exotic. Cupcake pans were added at the request of a guest that had grandchildren visiting.
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
@JPrugh I love the idea of cookbooks! I have found mine open on the desk and guests actually reading them when I delivered muffins one evening. I have been told cook books are the number 1 selling type of book in the U.S., so they are popular.! Mine are mostly regional type cookbooks - Southern cooking, bar-b-q, and local church cook books which have some really good recipes in them! I have a fully stocked kitchen with all the basic appliances, nothing exotic. Cupcake pans were added at the request of a guest that had grandchildren visiting.
LOVE THIS!
 

Will Franco

Efficiency Manager
Staff member
WOW, there's so much great information in this thread.

As a traveler, the premium touches are hard to appreciate when the basics are overlooked:
  • Clean includes under the bed, behind the sofa, and in the corners of rooms.
  • A comfy bed positioned appropriately (no headboards on the same wall as the door, plz)
  • Operators manual. How do turn the AC off/off, turn on the TV, turn the lights off?
Forgive me these seem obvious. Above that, the premium touches I LOVE LOVE LOVE to see are a steam cleaner in the cupboard, few different pillow options, and a high-quality Bluetooth speaker fired up and ready to go!
 
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DMartinez

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
WOW, there's so much great information in this thread.

As a traveler, the premium touches are hard to appreciate when the basics are overlooked:
  • Clean includes under the bed, behind the sofa, and in the corners of rooms.
  • A comfy bed positioned appropriately (no headboards on the same wall as the door, plz)
  • Operators manual. How do turn the AC off/off, turn on the TV, turn the lights off?
Forgive me these seem obvious. Above that, the premium touches I LOVE LOVE LOVE to see are a steam cleaner in the cupboard, few different pillow options, and a high-quality Bluetooth speaker fired up and ready to go!
AMEN!

Clean should be a given. If not fire the housekeeper (or in my case fire the husband and GET a housekeeper).

Explain steam cleaner. We have available for the guests a vacuum, a dust buster, as well as a "Bona" mop system of our wooden floors. We also have a rug/upholstery cleaner- that we use after guests leave.
Our floors are wood and a steam cleaner would not be the best for them.

Our operator's manuals are included in our Touchstay app plus I have a binder of hard copies for those who need paper to hold (my primary niche). A panel of lights is labeled and notes that there is an under the cabinet lighting with switch in the kitchen.
And most definitely agree on the pillow options. This last year with COVID restrictions may affect this wish-list item though.
 

Will Franco

Efficiency Manager
Staff member
Explain steam cleaner. We have available for the guests a vacuum, a dust buster, as well as a "Bona" mop system of our wooden floors. We also have a rug/upholstery cleaner- that we use after guests leave.
Our floors are wood and a steam cleaner would not be the best for them.
If there's a steam cleaner in a rental, I feel very comfortable. Because steam gets into the nooks and crannies - it gets the gunk out. For example, I can whip around my bathroom with a steamer and then wipe all the surfaces to clean them.
 
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