Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Art of Hospitality

An art that has nearly been lost is the art of hospitality. People lead very hectic lives and hospitality often ends up at the bottom of our “to do” list. In a time past, there was a certain excitement that took over the mood of the house during the anticipation of a guest’s arrival. Preparation might start several days before the “lookout” began. And when the time came, all the household including the servants would line up outside for a formal welcoming.

The art of hospitality is one that I truly enjoy indulging in. We’ve had guests from various parts of the world stay in our humble home. Yet, we’ve learned how to make even the most foreign of guests feel right at home. Here are my suggestions on how to provide superior hospitality on the occasion of overnight guests.

Have a welcome message. – I like to do this by using a decorative chalkboard in our guest room/office. I write on the board the guest’s name and what I plan to serve for breakfast in the morning. If your guest speaks another language other than your own, write out the message in their native language. HINT: You can look it up on the internet.

Plan out the details. – Is your guest from a foreign country? Why not search out some food items that are from your guest’s country and make them readily available for snacks. If your computer is password protected be sure to leave them the password. Make sure your guest has their own key.

Subtle touches. – Little luxuries go a long way with overnight guests. Think of yourself as the owner of a Bed and Breakfast. Provide travel size bottles of lotion and fancy soap. Perhaps giving a small welcome basket upon their arrival with some of their personal favorite items. If you are not sure what that might be, gourmet food items always do the trick. Example: wine, crackers, cookies, olives or fresh fruit. Fresh flowers add warmth to the room.

Be the first to rise in the morning. – Even if it is a mere 15 minutes before your guests rise much can be done. You can start the coffee and throw in a fresh batch of muffins or cookies into the oven. What a lovely way to wake up in the morning! Now, immediately after your guests wake they can enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and something to nibble on while breakfast is cooking or as they prepare to leave for the day’s activities.

Accessible Delectable. – It’s likely that you will do some special grocery shopping prior to guest’s arrival. You may ask your guest in advance of any food allergies or special likes and dislikes. Since you’ve gone through all the trouble and expense of having special food items, leave them out in eyes view for your guests to enjoy. Communicate to your guests that they are welcome to help themselves to whatever they need.

Sweet Dreams. – While your guests are enjoying breakfast discreetly enter their room and make their bed for them. In the evening, turn down the covers and add a small piece of chocolate on their pillows. Sprinkle pure lavender oil on thier pillow cases and offer a cup of hot tea before bedtime. Be sure to have an ample tea selection.

Coat or Sweater? – Your guests will be grateful if you print out a 10 day forecast for them. Leave it in an obvious place for them to see. If you can, email the forecast to them prior to their departure from their home for practical packing purposes.

What to do? – Prior to your guest’s arrival think of and be ready to provide a list options of places to go and places to eat. For places to eat, keep in mind all your local favorites and a wide variety of cuisine. Knowing where to shop to get all the best deals is always welcomed information.

Home Cooked Meals. – It may be difficult to coordinate the guest’s schedule of sightseeing with your daily routine but it’s worth a try. It may be possible with good planning to prepare dinner for your guests. A special meal and a nice bottle of wine will be appreciated as you spare them from another restaurant meal. This may also provide the opportunity for your guests to meet your friends.

Warm and Cozy. – Look for ways to make your guest feel at home. Making sure the temperature is right, have extra pillows, a soft blanket and anything else you can think of that is personal. The more personalized the visit the quicker you will see them get comfortable enough to put their feet up.

All your efforts will be appreciated and memorable. Your guests will feel as if they had visited a 5 star resort. They will long to return for another visit and will brag about your hospitality to all their friends. In the end, both the guest and host benefit. Even if it is their first time staying in your home, they leave your home as old friends. Offering warm hospitality is just another day in a European style life.

What are your favorite ways to express hospitality? Post a comment for all to enjoy.


JMEC said...


Phil & Jessica said...

This is the best advice I have ever read! I would soooo do this if I had my own little guest room. It has always been my dream to own a bed and breakfast, what a wonderful way to make your guests feel like they are actually IN one! :)- Jess

Baysprinkle said...

See! This is why I can't wait to get a place with an extra room. How much more fab it would be to apply your suggestions then vs in a room filled with kids toys. LOL

So, when can I come stay at Hotel de la Puig?