Spring is perfect weather season in Arizona, and one of my favorite parts about living in a vacation destination is having more than just our smiling faces to draw people to visit us. We usually have a few rounds of house guests in the springtime, and I really do love hosting. Hosting others can seem like a lot of pressure, but here are some easy things I always try to do to make guests feel welcome and at home. I think the little touches are important in hospitality.
The guest bedroom...
Our main guest room is just a fairly simple neutral space. A queen sized bed, 2 simple nightstands, and an IKEA dresser are all the furnishings. Eventually we would like to get a small t.v. in here as well as a vintage luggage stand, but for now as long as guests have a clean, comfortable place to rest, and places to set down their things, that is all that matters. I think keeping it clutter free is really important, as guests suitcases take up room, and they need clear surfaces to comfortably spread out their personal things. We have extra towels in the bottom drawer of the dresser, which also frees up room in the linen closet, and the middle drawer even holds some things that regular visitors (Mr. Ladd's mom mostly) have just left here so they don't have to pack them all the time.
The photos on the wall were bought in Flagstaff at a local photographer's gallery. They are gorgeous, and lend some southwest flair without being cheesy. Eventually I would also love to start a gallery wall above the bed with pictures of guests on their visits here, which can just continue to grow over time.
On top of the dresser, I always try to have a welcome basket. I just use this same basket and fill it with goodies that I think my guests will like or need. For example, this last time when my parents were here, I filled it with granola bars, peanuts (a favorite snack of my dad's) and Fig Newtons (for my mom), a magazine for each of them, sunscreen (the sun's kinda crazy here), aloe (Wisconsinites don't always believe me), pocket tissues, chapstick (it's dry here), gum, mints, etc.
The guest bathroom...
FRESH FLUFFY RUGS
I'm kind of crazy about this one. Nothing says welcome like clean fluffy bat mats. For this reason, I never buy the mats with the rubber backing, but the ones that are just cotton so they can be thrown in the wash and easily fluffed. If your bath mats are a hot mess, and beyond anything the washer and dryer can help with, then it's time to replace them. They are not meant to last forever. T.J. Maxx or Home Goods is a great place to get high quality ones very inexpensively.
My number one tip for the guest bathroom (or the shared one when guests come) is to get a set of towels that is only out for guests. They don't have to be fancy, but they should feel nice. If they are not in your everyday rotation, they don't get nearly as much wear and tear. No guest wants to use the threadbare towels you got for your wedding 15 years ago, or the beach towel you've had since college. I've found that T.J. Maxx or Home Goods is also the best place for these.
I have another basket in the bathroom that I fill with wash cloths and an extra hand towel along with things guests might need or have forgotten like toothpaste, hairspray, gel, soap. Next to it are two little ceramic herb pots I got for $1.00 a piece filled with Q-tips and cotton balls and some air freshener. Don't think you have to buy an actual matching bathroom toiletry set. In fact it's much more homey if you use containers with some personality. I also make sure the shower is stocked with the basics, so regulars around here know they don't have to pack those kinds of things if they don't want to.My thinking is that I want guests to feel almost like it's a spa or hotel with every detail thought of and no need to ask for anything.
I always like to pick guests up from the airport with a bottle of water and a snack of some sort. Sometimes it gets to be a long day traveling, and I know for myself I am often hungry and/or thirsty by the time I deplane and haul my bags to the curb. So I try to put myself in their shoes.
I guess in general, that's my bottom line philosophy of hospitality. Think about how you would like to be treated as a guest and then go a little above and beyond that. People will always remember how you made them feel.