My Favorite Finds of 2014

Always+ElegantIt’s hard for me to believe that today I celebrate the first anniversary of this blog!  The year has flown by … and my family and co-workers do not seem at all surprised that I’ve had so much to say.  I, on the other hand, was not certain that I was up for the challenge … but it seems there must be a direct correlation between talking and writing, much to the amusement of my husband/editor who gleefully wields his editing pen every Sunday morning.  In other words … I have a tendency to go on, and on, and on a bit.
In researching topics of interest for Some Place Like Home, I have made some wonderful discoveries.  Most that I have yet to share with you because they did not warrant a full article.  So I thought it might be fitting in this last post of the year to share some of my favorite finds of 2014. 

 

 Joss & Main: https://www.jossandmain.com

8-Piece+Pierce+Comforter+SetLaurie+Sheet+Set+in+Teal4-Piece+Willard+Comforter+Set

Oh my goodness do these folks know how to make a bed!  Love, love, love all the wonderful bedroom collections.  Sheets, blankets, comforters piled high … pillows, shams … makes you want to dive in and take a nap.  If only every bed in every property we managed had such a luxurious and inviting look!  Property owners, this is exactly what you are striving for; this is the look that sells prospective tenants.  Makes sure to sign up for their emails; Joss & Main have frequent sales.

Restoration Hardware: http://www.restorationhardware.com

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If you can afford a good piece of furniture or two … I recommend this decorator quality store.  Their furniture, light fixtures and accent pieces work with almost any decor and are always the latest in style.  If the $$$ turns you away … use this site for décor inspiration, then try to duplicate “the look.”  My personal favorites … unique chandeliers that make a BIG statement and the fun industrial-meets-traditional-meets-shabby chic furnishings.  And, Restoration Hardware carries the very best spa/hotel quality bedding.

How to Insert a Comforter Into a Duvet:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aviWdkOHDU4

duvetcover

 

This is just “too cool.”  Ever struggle with stuffing your comforter into the duvet cover?  Even with two people this can be a total pain in the butt.  For years I bypassed beautiful duvets covers, settling for standard bedspreads to avoid the hassle of stuffing the comforter back in after washing.  Recently I learned that many luxury hotels have entirely eliminated the top sheet!  They make up beds with a flat sheet, then a duvet over a comforter and perhaps a coverlet on top … or not.  They wash the duvet covers with the sheets assuring pristine clean bedding.  I have a couple of owners doing the same thing.  My initial aggggggg was replace with an OMG when I saw this video.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-a2FR1iwqg

fittedsheetMy readers may remember an article I posted on July 27th titled “One of the Coolest Things Ever,” which included a video on how to easily fold a fitted sheet.  No more messy linen closet after watching this video (I confess … I watched it at least a dozen times). 

On Line Shopping

amazon.com, overstock.com, lowes.com, homedepot.com, costco.com, samsclub.com, ebay.com.

Anyone who knows me … knows I love to shop; but with other people’s money … not so much.  OK, sheets, blankets, dishes … they’re fine.  But when it comes to home décor like furniture, art, window coverings and even appliances … the pressure is on.   Most people have their own unique taste, budget and preferred manufactures.   I love on line shopping because out of town owners can easily make purchases for their vacation home on line and arrange delivery to the property, management company or in some cases, arrange for store pick-up.  The owner can make choices based on their own taste, at the price point they want and it takes the property manager off the hook.  Everyone’s happy!  I love to shop, I love to decorate … but honestly … owners want me to be doing what I do best … working in the office, filling their vacation home with tenants and helping them make money.

I’m sure there are many, many more wonderful finds out there ….. please share your favorites.

Happy New Year my friends! 
See ya’ll in 2015! 

 

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Is Palm Springs on the Right Track?

palm_springs_03On December 10th the Desert Sun ran an editorial on vacation rentals in Palm Springs.  I am glad to see the media presenting a broader picture on the heated debate between vacation rental operators and local residents.  There are two definite sides to vacation rentals and I firmly believe that finding a middle ground will benefit everyone in the long run.  Palm Springs might be on to something here!  For quite some time I have been saying that some entity needs to step in and handle the complaints received by the police and compliance offices.  We need a neutral party to identify problem homes as well as nuisance residents. 
Bad owners and party houses are giving us a bad rap … or should I say rep.  Every party house reflects on the entire industry.  Every conscientious vacation rental owner and manager would like to see the bad players shut down.  These few bad apples are harming the entire industry.  I am hopeful that the Palm Springs pilot program will be successful.  By cracking down and enforcing the existing regulations, perhaps we can stop the increasingly strict city rules and regulations. 
Again and again I have been put in the very uncomfortable position of defending a Rancho Mirage regulation that I view unfair.  This past week, meeting and doing a property walk-through, I had to explain to a lovely sixty-something year old couple that they were not permitted to turn on the TV on the back patio … period.  The couple was disappointed that the city felt that they could be a possible nuisance if they took their coffee out to the private back yard and watched the morning news.   They mentioned that it was not a very welcoming feeling.  For the vacation rental owners and managers who strive to enforce good neighbor policies and follow all the rules, it is bitter to swallow the pill prescribed for the few problem properties. 
The boost that vacation rentals bring to the local economy and the city coffers, make it worth the effort to find a workable solution.  I also believe that there are some people who have gotten their backs up, and this is true on both sides of the issue.   This should also be looked at very carefully.  This is a good time for everyone to stand down, take a deep-breath and give the Palm Springs’ pilot program a chance to succeed. 
Following is the Desert Sun Editorial dated December 10, 2014 …

Our Voice: Palm Springs on top of vacation rentals

Vacation rental management agencies and homeowners in Palm Springs can expect a more vigorous response and follow-up to disturbance complaints.

The city will launch a three-month pilot program with Desert Security Services to quickly respond to disturbances received by the police department on weekends.

“The security officer or a code person will be dispatched immediately by police dispatch,” David Ready, Palm Springs city manager, told the Palm Springs City Council on Wednesday. The pilot program will cost $45,000 to $50,000.

“They will respond immediately to that home, and make an assessment of what’s occurring. If a citation needs to be issued, they will do it. And if nothing is occurring, they will record that as well,” Ready added.

The council was reviewing the modifications it made to the city’s vacation rental ordinance six months ago, in part, to see if the changes are working to reduce disturbances, and improve compliance with the ordinance.

Roughly 1,500 homes in Palm Springs are registered as vacation rentals, a 10.3 percent increase since February. Of those, 2 to 3 percent of the rentals have garnered complaints, according to city statistics taken in the last six months.

However, the issue remains a sensitive one — particularly for those residents who happen to live next door to “party houses.”

Tricia Porter said she has what seems to amount to a fraternity house behind her home.

“We can stand in the front of our house and hear them playing ping pong,” Porter told the council.   Read full article …..

Photo: http://www.dollysinatralodgeosia.org/

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A Perfectly Appointed Vacation Home

958422I was recently searching the internet for topic ideas for this blog. One item I kept coming upon was lists of minimum furnishing requirements. With the approaching holidays, many websites offered lists of kitchen necessities for holiday guests. Looking through these lists, I thought hmmmm …. how were these kitchens supplied before the holiday guests?  As far as I’m concerned, any vacation is a holiday. There is always a possibility that your guests will be cooking and entertaining and a well-supplied kitchen is required year-round, not just during the holidays. So today I am sharing Vacation Rentals of the Desert’s complete “Minimum Requirement List.” If you provide these items, you will have a comfortable, well equipped vacation home. You may question some of these items … but think “big picture.” For example; electric can opener …. older guests who may suffer from arthritis; pillow protectors … open mouth sleepers; plastic clothes hangers … “Mommy Dearest” … come on, no one likes wire hangers unless you’ve locked your keys in the car.  At 10 for $1.99 it’s worth giving your property a bit more class.  Remember, whether you manage your own vacation rental home or you hire a management company … you are in the hospitality business.  If you want to be successful, generate more business and receive good reviews, you must provide a perfectly appointed, well maintained vacation home.  Sometimes the smallest details count the most.

 

     Minimum Furnishings Requirements Blog Minimum Furnishing Requirements

    
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The Absolute, Number One, Most Important Detail …

958433      . . . . Cleaning!

As we approach the holidays and a great number of guest arrivals, cleaning concerns are in the forefront of my mind.  Vacation Rentals of the Desert gives owners the option of doing their own cleaning, using their personal cleaner or enlisting our cleaning service.  Thankfully most of our owners use our cleaning service who are skilled in the cleaning requirements of a vacation rental property.  For the few owners that choose to handle their own cleaning, we provide a list of requirements and will schedule an inspection of the clean prior to the guest’s arrival.  This system works well most of the time.  Many owners have very high expectations themselves … but for a few, we will unfortunately have an uncomfortable conversation.  Pointing out areas that are missed can be embarrassing for owners that have spent hours and hours cleaning, and they may take the news on a personal rather than professional level.  A couple of months ago I inspected a property after the owner had cleaned.  I always take my camera, and on this occasion it came in handy.  I probably took two dozen photos to back up our need for additional cleaning.  The issues ran from a dirty toilet to food drips on the kitchen trash container; a dirty coffee maker to crumbs in the bottom of the toaster oven, etc.  The owner was greatly offended and wondered “if he should not do vacation rentals in the future.”  After a heart-to-heart, I am hopeful that this owner will see that the cost of a professional cleaning is more than worth his time and trouble. 

So I felt that today I should rerun my very first blog post, dated December 31, 2013.  I cannot say it enough … You can give your guests a huge discount; you can leave them treats, theater tickets, gifts …. none of this, absolutely none, nothing, nada, period, end of story …. will compensate for a dirty property.  Cleaning is the absolute NUMBER ONE most important, not to be circumvented, never to be taken lightly, detail in running a successful vacation rental property!

Question:  You arrive at your hotel room, enter the bathroom, lift up the toilet seat and find yellow stains around the Porcelain rim.  What do you do next?  

I rest my case!

Please read on ….

 

Dec 31, 2013 

Vacation Rentals of the Desert has sparkling clean propertiesThe Absolute,

Number One,

Most Important Detail

 … Cleaning!

 

 

The following is rather blunt … but I hope to create an “Ahh Haa” moment for my readers.  As a vacation rental manager it is one of the most critical aspects of my business and may be the single most import advice I will ever share.

The absolute, number one, most import detail in a successful rental property … and I cannot stress this enough … is cleanliness!  Cutting corners by hiring a cleaner at a lower cost can ultimately cost you much more than a few dollars.  Once a guest has found one area overlooked they will certainly be looking for more and with a much more critical eye.  If the oversight is not addressed immediately this quickly progresses to a second problem … an unhappy guest who will not only give your property a bad review costing you future bookings but your guests will now be less forgiving of any of the properties shortcomings and most certainly will not become a repeat tenant.  All this to save a few dollars?  I will say this many times throughout my future posts … “It is very expensive to be cheap!”  My company,Vacation Rentals of the Desert, guarantees our cleaning service.  If an area is overlooked we immediately schedule the cleaners to return.  We have checks and balances to assure this does not happen but on the rare occasion when something is overlooked, our reaction is prompt and courteous.  There are many areas that may easily be overlooked by cleaners who are not trained in vacation rental cleaning such as organizing linen closets and under kitchen and bathroom sinks.  Identifying and throwing away undesirable items such as used bars of soap, dated or open dry goods, refrigerated containers that are open or are not in squeeze bottles.  Say you have an open jar of mayonnaise or jelly in the refrigerator.  To a first time vacation rental owner this may seem like a convenient condiment for their guest.  Now put yourself in the guest’s shoes … their thoughts … who made a sandwich, licked the knife and stuck it back into the jar?  These items are viewed as gross and definitely unwanted.

As a vacation rental manager or private owner preparing a property for guests, you must have the ability to look through your guest’s eyes and view the property on a less personal level.  Toiletries such as toothpaste, toothbrushes and used shampoo fall into the same category.  These items are unsightly and give the guest an uncomfortable feeling of being an unwelcome trespasser.   I have found hemorrhoid creams, feminine hygiene products, condoms and even a set of false teeth in a jar under bathroom sinks, undergarments in bedroom drawers, personal letters and bills in desk drawers … this is definitely too much information (TMI) and can easily sour a guest’s vacation.  Ceiling fans, light fixtures, baseboards, screens and slider tracks, spotted shower doors, plumbing fixtures and windows … all are critical in presenting a clean and welcoming property.  The owner of our cleaning service puts it this way, “every surface must be touched and cleaned.”  This advice you can take to the bank … cutting corners to save a few dollars on cleaning will, not may, but will cost you future rental income and added stress in dealing with unpleasant guest complaints.   Is this worth saving $10, $50 or $100?

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