We all know that when you own property in Muskoka you are the proud owners of the most desired “get-away” destination of your friends and family. This can mean last minute phone calls with requests to come and stay for a day or two. You will also likely be asked to host the family reunion and dare I say, Thanksgiving dinner too.
Of course when you have friends or relatives coming to stay from out of town, you want to make their visit a pleasure by thinking ahead and offering the same courtesies you would like to be shown. This does not mean you need to prepare elaborate fruit baskets and floral arrangements as they are, after all friends or family. However a few niceties are called for as most of us love to make our guests feel welcome.
Here is my checklist to help you be a great host in your lovely Muskoka Home or Cottage.
Guest room essentials. This may seem a redundant to some of you who have a guest room set up at all times, but for those of you new to creating a space for your company here is a list to help you cover all the bases. Remember you are not trying to be a four-star hotel, but certain basics should be in place to make your visitor comfortable. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget something fundamental, so take a look at ideas below before your guests arrive.
The essentials: fresh sheets and blankets on the bed, coverings on the windows, a working light, bath towels, a wastebasket, a wall mirror, an extra blanket and a cleared shelf or drawer.
Bonus items: A fan, clock, snacks, mini toiletries and a surge protector for charging devices.
When and Where? Again, so simple, but … just do it. Miscommunication about when your guests are arriving or leaving can get the visit off on the wrong foot. If you are picking them up at the airport or train station, make sure you have all of their travel info, and agree on a place to meet. If they are coming by car, ensure they know where to park and leave the lights on.
What do I Need to Know? Find out if your guests have food allergies or follow a specific diet, knowing in advance will give you time to prepare. If you are not sure what to get, ask them to list a few favorite foods that you can pick up before they arrive.
Share the Plan. If you have activities in mind, be sure to tell your guests in advance so they can pack appropriately. This would also be a good time to check in and see if there is anything they would like to do or see while they are in town.
Put out the Welcome Mat. Even if a guest is coming in on a late-night flight, providing a cozy, well-lit space to come “home to” is important. Turn on lights, and have a place for sitting down and relaxing ready. Traveling makes you hungry! Folks arriving from a different time zone may be feeling way off — a pot of hot water for tea or coffee, maybe even a selection of chilled wine and beer and a few little nibbles, should cover all the bases.
Get Them to Their Room on Time! Bring your guests to their room and give a little tour of the space. Point out where the extra blankets and pillows are kept, which shelf or drawer they can use to put their things, and where extra toiletries are in case they have forgotten something. Depending on their time in transit, they may need to rest sooner rather than later.
Show Them How it Works. After living in your home for years, you may have forgotten how difficult it was to work the shower that first time or flush the toilet so it doesn’t run all night — save your guests the agony and show them clearly how everything works.
When the Guest Room is NOT a Bedroom. There is nothing wrong with having guests sleep over in your living room, den or office — just so long as you make them comfortable there. Ensure there are adequate window coverings and a light near the couch or futon. Help set up their bed in the evening, show them where they can change and store their things, and let them know what time you typically wake up, so they won’t be surprised.
Mi Casa Es Tu Casa. Guests can feel awkward having to ask every time they need something. Make things easier — on you and them — tell them your home is their home. Let them know you area happy if they wish to make themselves tea or get a bite to eat without waiting for you to offer. Show your guest where the coffee and tea-making supplies, snacks, drinks and dishes are kept. Show them where your garbage and recycling cans are, and where to put what. If they will be staying longer, provide a small laundry basket and show them how to run the laundry facilities.
Be Inclusive. Most of us when we are guests like to help out, so ask your guest to wash salad greens, chop veggies or dry dishes. it will help make them feel included and useful. However, taking out the trash, scrubbing greasy pans and other dirty jobs are best left to family members unless you know your guest well …or perhaps don’t want them to come back!
It’s Muskoka – Relax. Cushion your scheduled events and outings with unplanned time so that everyone has a chance to simply enjoy being in beautiful Muskoka. Be open to suggestions from your guests, but don’t panic if there is a morning or afternoon spent just hanging out at home; we all need a break once in a while!
One of the most enjoyable things I get to do as a Muskoka Realtor is help people buy homes or cottages where they intend to entertain their loved ones. Muskoka is a premium retirement area as well as a recreational one, so many of my clients plan their purchase around enjoying their friends and families. Being the “Host with the Most” is easy when you have a plan!