What Should Your Guests Bring To The Cottage?

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New owners often ask what they should provide for renters to ensure their cottage rental vacation gets off to a good start.  I like to hear this because it tells me the owners are already feeling a responsibility to their clients, which is not always the case.

I recall hearing of a situation where a family arrived at a cottage late at night to find there was nothing in the way of supplies, including toilet paper. The beds each had a single blanket but no pillows. There was no outside light to welcome them, and no flashlight to help them find the breaker panel to switch on the power that the owner had helpfully turned off. I cannot think of a worse way to start a vacation.

You don't want your renters to have any surprises when they arrive at your cottage. For example, if your listing says you have a queen bed but you replaced it with a king, what will your renters do with the queen size linens they have brought with them? Let them know what you provide and what they need to bring. Here's some ideas:

Send a pre-arrival document

This should have the directions to the cottage; key collection or entry information; number & sizes of beds (for those bringing linens); a list of what is provided and what is not; cottage telephone number and contact numbers for owner/agency/caretaker; and departure information i.e. how you expect the cottage to be left at check-out time.

Send a Life at The Cottage letter

Don't assume your renters know anything about cottage living, unless they are returning guests and even they may need a reminder.  All the things you take for granted after years of enjoying the cottage, may be entirely new to your renters. All these things need to be in your cottage manual, but it's always good to warn in advance of some things they may find very different. Some things that immediately come to mind are, use of a septic system; water pump noise; what happens when the hydro goes out;  bugs and critters; water safety; respect for neighbours etc.

Basic supplies

Some owners provide much more than this basic list, as I do, but providing this is your minimum supply list to last them the first couple of days, it should feel welcoming.

  • Paper products – toilet paper, kitchen towel, coffee filters
  • Aluminum foil and Saran wrap
  • Garbage bags and liners
  • Dishwasher soap and tabs if there is a machine
  • Laundry detergent
  • Basic condiments, herbs and spices, tea, coffee and sugar, cooking oil
  • Cleaning supplies
  • A power outage kit – a sealed box with water, flashlight and batteries, instructions on how to flush the toilet, candles and holders, emergency contact numbers etc.

If there is a phone at the cottage, it's a nice gesture to call your guests that day after they arrive to make sure everything is OK. Many guests will not let you know  there was a problem until they get home by which time it's far to late to recover the situation.

As ever, let me know if there is anything I've missed.