Even if you’re not a domestic goddess, having people over—for an evening or a weekend—can be really fun. It can also be a lot of work. While I love food, I’m not a genius in the kitchen, and while I enjoy well-designed spaces, I’m no Kelly Wearstler. The good news is, even if you’re not a millennial Martha Stewart, you can still master the art of hosting so that your guests feel happy and comfortable for every moment they’re in your home.
I talked to hospitality guru Lisa Samuel, Caribbean Sales Manager at the stunning Capella Marigot Bay Resort and Marina in Saint Lucia to find out how you can cut down on the stressful part of entertaining by putting a bit of thought into your guests’ stay. That can mean anything from picking up a particular item you know they like to have in the fridge or simply making sure there’s a clean set of sheets on the bed (or couch) they’re snoozing on.
If you want to go above and beyond the basic requirements of having a friend crash at your place, here are Samuel’s easy yet brilliant tips for making their time with you extra-memorable.
Greet Your Guests in Style
Depending on how long your guests’ journey was, it’s possible they might be tired (and even a little cranky) upon arrival. I know I felt a little drained upon arriving at Capella Marigot Bay, where I was lucky enough to stay for a few days in October. But the staff there set an incredible example for the kind of reception any traveler will welcome when they get to their destination—a nice, cold drink.
In my case, I was offered a delicious spiced iced tea spiked with St. Lucian rum, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise. “This warm welcome gently reminds you that you have arrived in a distinct place,” says Samuel. You can bet I perked right up—and so will your guests, whether you offer them a beer, a glass of wine, or even just a fresh glass of water (a lemon or lime garnish is always a nice touch).
Don’t Let Anyone Go Hungry
The only thing worse than feeling tired, drained, and really having to pee when you get to your destination? Hanger, a.k.a. anger triggered by hunger. I, personally, am a frequent victim of this condition, which is why I always try to have snacks on hand whenever I welcome guests into my home, whether they’ve trekked 45 minutes by subway from another neighborhood, or flown for half a day across the country to get there.
“At our resort, a personal assistant graciously escorts you to your room with an arrival snack freshly prepared by our pastry chef,” says Samuel. Not only that, but every afternoon when I came back from my room after a morning of activities, my room was freshly stocked with a complimentary tasty treat and cold drink—my favorite pairing was savory popcorn and Coronas. If you have a spare room where guests sleep, maybe you can place a dish of mixed nuts or fresh fruit on a table; or if you live in a tiny apartment like I do, it can be as simple as stocking your cabinets with munchies and offering them to your guests frequently (or making sure they know they can grab them at their leisure).
Make it Personal
When possible, keep your guests’ personalities and preferences in mind, as well as incorporating local elements during their stay. It’s not your job to go so far out of your way that you’re inconveniencing yourself, but there’s joy to be found in thoughtful touches that make them feel especially welcome and at home. “Our assistants will reach out to guests prior to arrival to find out your main purpose of travel—whether you’re coming for a mountainous adventure or simply to relax, they’ll craft an itinerary to suit your palate. If you’re celebrating a special occasion like a birthday, you’ll find your initials and a personal message along with fresh, vibrant local flowers,” says Samuel.
Of course, all that might not be possible when you’re simply hosting a friend for a night or two—but the message remains the same: Keep your guest’s bigger picture in mind. Are they there to interview for a job? Laying over on their way somewhere else? Visiting you for fun? All this should play into the plans you make and how much thought and effort you put into their stay.
See Them Off in Person
It might sound a tad silly or old-fashioned, but don’t just wave goodbye to your guests from your couch as they schlep their bags out the door. Offer to help carry anything if need be, walk them out to your driveway or front hall as they climb into their car or cab, or give them a ride to a bus station if that’s possible. Make your guests feel like they haven’t been a burden you’re looking forward to saying goodbye to, but a VIP who you’re sad to see go (even if you’re secretly happy to have a little down time to yourself—which is understandable, since hosting can be a lot of work!)
“My favorite part of our departure process is what we call a ‘fond farewell,’ and we take great pride in it,” says Samuel. “During departure, there may be two or more members of our team who wave you goodbye until we can no longer see your car. This has reduced many guests to tears seeing the people they’ve connected with during their stay make a special effort standing together to provide a memorable farewell.” Some traditions are worth keeping—or, in this case, starting—to create a gracious and positive experience for your guest, as well as earning you the well-deserved title of hostess with the mostest.