I recall going to a vacation rental property for the first time and being really disappointed by the reality of what had been described in the listing as a ‘fully equipped kitchen’. I expected far more than what was delivered as my point of reference was my personally equipped kitchen at home. So, at the very least, a decent can opener and a sharp knife should have been readily available. Over the years, and as I have readied six of my own rental properties, I’ve learned both from my own experience and from my guests' reviews what is most important to help guests feel comfortable in their kitchen away from home.
1. Sharp knives
No amount of re-emphasis makes this less important. Even if you only have one chef quality knife, it will be better than all those fancy looking knife blocks the home stores have on offer each week. They may be sharp for the first few uses but after a very short while they become the objects of frustration described in many reviews.
2. Stainless steel pans
Spending the extra on good stainless steel pans is worthwhile as they will outlast the cheaper non-stick variety by years and there will be no complaints about damaged Teflon coatings. The only exception to this is fry pans where non-stick is useful, but be prepared to change them regularly as and when they become scratched. Buy spares when they come on offer so you always have a new one in reserve.
3. Bake ware
When the urge comes upon your guests to bake some cookies or a date loaf, you don’t want them frustrated because there’s nothing to cook them in. As with pots and pans, replace them when they get over-used, have any sign of rust or non-stick begins to wear off.
4. Herbs and spices
Keep a good selection of herbs and spices topped up and your guests will be delighted. It’s even better if you have fresh herbs available in pots for them to use, or in a small herb garden. Paprika, steak spice, garlic salt and cumin are most popular.
5. Serving dishes
After all the work has gone into preparation, the chef wants dishes to serve the meal in. Provide a selection of vegetable platters and bowls, turkey plates for larger meal presentation, and smaller dishes for sauces and dips.
6. Salad stuff
I don’t use one of these myself but I have been asked on several occasions for a salad spinner so I guess they must be popular. My properties are now equipped with one as well as a salad bowl and servers.
7. Freezer space
I went on vacation one time with friends and we planned to take turns cooking. They arrived with their contributions – 4 days of breakfasts, lunch and dinner – frozen and in containers, with the explanation they didn’t want to spend their vacation preparing food. All well and good until we found there was only a tiny freezer compartment in the rental home fridge and that was full of the owners food. I learned from that and my properties each have a small freezer available for guest use.
8. Storage space
Guests can arrive with a lot of food to store in your cupboards, particularly when there are a couple of families vacationing together, so make sure you have set aside a sufficient amount of space for them to store all the stuff they will undoubtedly bring. All those monster bags of chips and cookies and specialty foods bought just for the vacation occasion need to be stored somewhere so help guests out with a lot of empty cupboard space.
9. Cater for large groups
If your property has a larger capacity, the kitchen needs to reflect the numbers in the equipment provided. Big pots for boiling pasta and corn; large roasting tins and sufficient dishes and cutlery for all, will be appreciated. A family of ten arriving for a Thanksgiving break won’t be impressed with a gravy boat for two.
10 . Don’t forget the cleaning equipment
Give your guests the equipment and materials to keep the kitchen clean while they are staying. Even if you have a property management company or cleaner looking after the place, your guests need the wherewithal to clean-up as they go if they wish. Fresh dishcloths, kitchen cleaner, and dustpan/brush at the very minimum, should be provided. Ask your guests to comment on how well equipped the kitchen is and follow up with them when you have acted on their suggestions. They love that!