Quality Basics for the Kitchen

When I bought my first property for rental in 1998, I became a regular WalMart shopper.  If it was cheap and cheerful, I was going to buy it.  After all, it was just a ‘rental’ and boy, did I learn quickly.  Cheap toasters, coffee makers, microwaves and blenders don’t last long.  Dollar store glassware and plates chip badly, non-stick cookware gets damaged easily and the biggest mistake was the brand new stove that didn’t self-clean (because I saved $150).  

Things changed with the next few properties as I learned from guest feedback and my own experience of having to replace small appliances and kitchen equipment regularly.  It was clear the false economy methods I’d been using were not cost effective in the long run.  Along with that, as my philosophy of hospitality changed and respect grew for my guests so did the quality of kitchen items I was buying.

Every kitchen must have the basic equipment to ensure guests have everything they need to cater for themselves but buying with quality in mind will save money and stress over time.  

Here’s some kitchen upgrades to consider:

Pots and Pans
Get rid of the ugly non-stick pans and replace with stainless steel.  There are plenty of options in the $200 - $250 per set range that will deliver years of service and still look good.  The only exceptions are fry pans which, if Teflon is the only choice, should be replaced every year.  Look for at least triple-layer coating or upgrade to hard-anodized cookware with Teflon as it does appear to be more durable.
Buying sets of pots and pans often yields  cookware items that will never get used – the large steamers and fry pans for instance, so think about buying 3 different sized pans, a Dutch oven and a pasta pot, alongside the fry pans.

There is no place for 2-slice toasters any more unless you have a one-bedroom apartment.  Choose a good quality 4-slice with room for bagels, and your guests will be happy. Stainless steel has a better aesthetic – just make sure your cleaning team has the appropriate stainless steel cleaner to make it look the best on each changeover.

Please make sure you have a kettle – even a stove top model.  Even if you do not drink tea, or even know how to make it, you will have tea-drinking guests at some point.  When we arrive at a vacation rental, the first thing we check for is the kettle.  If there isn’t one, we will go and buy one, which doesn’t make for happy guests.  As with every other small appliance, do not go for the cheapest one.  

Coffee Maker
There are a huge variety of coffee makers on the market.  At the high end, they often come with timers and built- in grinders.  Avoid any complicated machine with more than one page of instructions;  your guests don’t want to spend their first morning on vacation getting frustrated about how to get their morning Java hit.  The best buy is a durable machine that looks good, is easy to use, has a jug that can be replaced, and has a decent capacity.  If your vacation rental still has a coffee maker that would be better suited to a cheap motel it’s time to upgrade.

Blenders get a lot of use, from crushing ice, to Margarita making, pancake mixes and smoothies.  Spending on a quality model will bring great feedback from guests, as this is the small appliance that gets the most varied use.  Vitamix and Blendtec are the star blenders but are costly, so do your research on the best ones, and buy accordingly.  

A small cheap microwave can let down an otherwise great kitchen.  Even though it is unlikely to be used for much more than reheating leftovers and thawing frozen food, it is worthwhile spending a little more to have a model that complements the rest of the kitchen.  Avoid the combination models with complicated instructions – as with the coffee maker above, you don’t want your guests to get frustrated trying to get the thing to work.

The quality mantra should extend to every part of your kitchen from the cheese grater to a pasta pan.  Make your kitchen a wonderful place for your guests to enjoy cooking and they will reward you with great reviews.  It is definitely worth the time and a little extra money.