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Friday, July 1, 2022

Expecting house guests or renters? Here’s a checklist from the pros

Anticipate their needs and add some luxuries. Show them how to work the locks, for starters, our panel of local experts say.

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.
Towels and fresh water on a tray make guests feel welcome and a little pampered. Photo: Getty

Inviting family or friends to stay in your home, or renting out a home or a room to travelers, can be a make-or-break situation. We spoke with local residents, Airbnb owners, guesthouse hosts, and boutique hotel owners and drew on personal experience to create this checklist. 

1. A smooth arrival sets the tone for the remainder of the visit. If you are able to pick up your guests at the airport or bus station, arrive on time, have ample room for luggage in your car, and bring a small cooler with cold beverages. Be a tour guide on the way to your home or property so they continue to be excited about the trip. In the Yucatán, certainly there are many historical spots and examples of beautiful architecture to drive by on the way to your home. If they need a driver for their transportation, help arrange that in plenty of time.

2. On arrival make sure your guests have a key to the house and know how to work any complicated doors. Review any security measures, cameras, or special procedures for locking up when leaving the house. In some older homes, the locks can be tricky. Provide your guests with a tour of the house, highlight where the lights are, as well as fans, snacks, cold drinks, a stocked bar, and coffee or tea. The tour should conclude in their bedroom and bathroom. Remember to include a brief demonstration of anything of importance in their quarters, like shower devices.

“Knowing what my safety procedures are for the hotel and rooms is essential. Reminding guests to utilize the lockable safe for valuables is important,” says Luca of Hotel Boutique Casa Espejo and restaurant.

Your guests will need to recharge not just their bodies but their electronic devices. Set up their own charging station in their guest room. Photo: iStock

3. The living quarters should be comfy and fresh with lots of pillows, extra blankets, drawer space, hangers, tissues, two clean towels per person, washcloths, and a hand towel. If the room has temperature controls, show them how it works. Providing warm cozy bathrobes is a great touch. Why not add to their fun by including a small basket with local fruit or a basket of local snacks? A flashlight by the bedside will go a long way in an unfamiliar dark bedroom. Provide a pitcher and two water glasses. Set up a simple charging station for their comfort.

4. Providing a simple notebook with the complete property address, phone numbers, wifi information, local pharmacy and market information, a list of some tourist hot spots, local restaurants, taxi or local ride information, local emergency number, local doctor or hospital with phone number and address. Review use of TV with remotes for their information. This allows your guests to be as independent as possible during their stay. 

“Guests love the idea of a house guest book to provide them with all types of local information at their fingertips. It is a great place to provide other house information like trash pickup, pool cleaning, and house cleaning,” says Sarah Casello-Rees, who has rental properties in Yucatán. 

5. When stocking your cupboards and the refrigerator, know your guests’ allergies and likes and dislikes. On the first night, consider pairing a local dish with a simple dish of their home country. So an example could be tacos and lasagna. The next day, a great way to get to know your part of the Yucatán is to go grocery shopping and find a market together. This allows your guest a fun, educational outing along with an opportunity to purchase some of their own favorites. Have a good stock of local coffee and tea with sugar, milk, and creamers. A nice selection of breakfast bars, bread for toast, and local bakery items is a good way to set up the morning breakfast corner. Eggs, cereal, and pancakes are nice to have on hand for a bigger appetite. Stocking items for a quick appetizer or dip will allow you to offer an afternoon snack. Allowing guests to choose local fare for lunch, something from the night before, or having soups and cheeses are always good ways to address lunch. After the first day, if going grocery shopping or planning meals for the next few days, discuss a tentative meal plan so everyone is in agreement. Any guests will benefit from knowing that some local eateries will sell meat by the kilo for tacos or a whole chicken with the local fixings of pickled red onion, tortillas, and hot sauce for a great price. Be prepared to rattle off some local favorite dinner spots to have a meal out together.

6. Stocking the bar for guests in your home is easy if you know what their favorite cocktail is before they arrive. Stocking the bar can be done with a few things in mind: cost, space, and favorite drinks. Make a list of your favorite cocktails, and remember that margaritas are a big favorite overall. Your shopping list should start with vodka, rum, gin, tequila, and bourbon. Pick up juices and any bitters or garnishes, tonic water, mineral water, and stock up on red and white wine. Consider some of the local beer stores: The Beer Box, Plaza El Centrito C #105, Col. Mexico Norte, is a fun place to find a great variety of beers in Mérida. Stock the bar with different glasses and update your garnishes. You don’t need to have a physical bar but just a space and a good location. Don’t forget the ice. Consider stocking some bar snacks like peanuts, olives, cheese, crackers, or whip up your favorite dip for vegetables. 

7. The bathroom is a great place to supply special soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. Here in Yucatán, providing sunscreen and bug spray is a great touch. Stock the bathroom with the essentials like extra toothbrushes and toothpaste, tissues, toilet paper, air freshener, and hand lotion. A fun local small gift or item is a nice bonus. The local organic-food stores always carry nice soaps. These are some of the extras that make your guests brag about their stay at your house. 

“I include Mexican coffee in all my rentals for the guests,” states Ana Bloom, a local owner of rental properties in the Yucatán. “I also have bikes for their use, which they really seem to enjoy. The outdoor living concept here and the heat make it a plus to provide my properties with an outdoor grill for cooking.”

8. When looking at the great outdoor areas that many homes here have, identify a focal point aside from the grill.

“A clean well-kept area with local plants and comfortable seating,” recommends Venus Estrella, who rents properties along with her husband, Orlando. “Utilize good lighting to extend the use of the outdoor area. If the home has a pool, beach towels are a great touch and perhaps a floating device. Available music outside is an extra bonus that guests appreciate. Make sure your guests know when the pool will be cleaned and treated.” Venus also provides a first aid kit in her rentals, but all of this can also apply to a house guest. 

9. Playing like a tourist might be part of your job while guests are visiting. The Yucatán has so much to offer that it can’t all be listed in a book. Make yourself available when guests first arrive to answer questions about local things to see: churches, cenotes, tours, beaches, museums, cultural events, music events, shopping, and places to eat. Talk about available transportation, money exchange, any safety protocols, and car rentals. Planned events, like the Biciruta on Sundays, are fun attractions that your guests won’t want to miss. If you start gathering business cards and menus of places you visit they can easily be added to your visitor notebook. 

“The owners of the homes I manage sometimes have me purchase flowers or wine as a welcome. The guests appreciate a very clean home, mosquito netting, and good air conditioning,” Alejandro Pinto Tolosa, a property manager, states.

10. The kitchen needs to have the essentials like cookware, plates, silverware, glasses, toaster oven, microwave and a coffee pot. What extras are recommended: salt, pepper, coffee, tea, paper towels, tea towels. A basket with local seasonings or salsas is a great touch. The local Yucatán honey and Mexican vanilla on hand for the property is an added extra. Basic dish soaps and hand lotion in the kitchen and basic cleaning supplies will help your guests keep your place tidy. 

11. A simple laundry area with detergent and softener allows for guests to freshen up items. A hint from homeowners is to maintain the cleanliness of your washer. This area becomes dirty quickly from use. If you have an outside area for hanging, provide ample clothes pins.

“Provide the essentials for the home, then add extra drinking water, shampoos, soaps, and clean linens,” says Lizbeth Marmolejo, owner of Property Management 23. “We always leave a supply of coffee, cream, and sugar for the beginning of their stay. In some rentals, as requested we leave a bottle of wine, cheese, and some local fruit.”

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