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Hello all, I am a new B&B owner in Barbados.  I have 6 rooms and have the house listed as a self catering villa and as a Bed & Breakfast.  Wanted to know how you guys deal with the kitchen/cooking if all rooms are rented as a B&B.  Obviously you can't have lots of people in the kitchen at once trying to do their own thing so any suggestions?  I do not want to have to hire a full time housekeeper as I don't have the space to do so.  I am not sure I want to have to tell them they cannot use the stove etc.  Do you allow them to store/put stuff in the fridge etc?  What is manageable? Thank you for any assistance you can offer.

Ann-Marie 

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Regarding your comments and feedback.  In Barbados electricity is very expensive. With ac, fans and other devices on etc and running all day and night my bill is around $2000/month, my stove is electric and we keep front lights on for the guests. I went to our power company and they said things don’t work like overseas (I’m just moved back here faftet living in Atlanta for 10 years and NY for 25) they asked if I use AC said yes, fans on...yes. They said that is why electric bill so high. So yes I’m concerned when people leave lights and ac on, do t want to spend all my money paying light bills. That’s just one, still have water, internet, groceries for breakfast and let me tell you, it is quite expensive grocery shopping here. Ridiculously so.  Soo yes many people don’t like rules and especially so on holidays but I have them and everyone here has them, we have to. Btw I always read the rules or manuals wherever I go simply out of respect, especially if I’m staying in someone’s house.  So far all my guests have read my house manual, the codes to the doors and gates are in it so they have to plus I have loads of helpful Information welcoming them to the island. . I just got wink and use Wemo plugs and bulbs. Thanks again I much appreciate all of your comments. 

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Change all incandescent lights to LED, which don't produce much heat and won't use much electricity.

For the AC, if it's really an issue, consider occupancy detectors. Essentially, the electric only works if someone is in the room.

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Generic wrote:

Change all incandescent lights to LED, which don't produce much heat and won't use much electricity.

For the AC, if it's really an issue, consider occupancy detectors. Essentially, the electric only works if someone is in the room.

Also, an interlock system so the a/c doesn't work if the windows are open.

I found my housekeeper! running the a/c with the windows open because it was 'too hot' in the room.

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You know, the reality is, that if you are well insulated, it doesn't really matter all that much if you run the A/C when they aren't there... BUT with open windows, it's useless entirely.

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Suggestion for the lights left on situation (just came to me): a small tent card perhaps (or in your info book) We know you are good custodians of the Earth and very much appreciate you turning off lights when leaving the bathroom and your guestroom.

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I think that is great wording for a reminder sign, but may I add my two cents on lights being left on?

I suggest CFL or LED bulbs. I agree, even small costs can add up quickly, but lighting is not usually as large of a power draw as other devices. Example, a hair dryer or electric heater may draw 1500 watts, a TV 300 watts, CFL or LED bulb 10 watts.

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Last April when my son was here from Finland, he replaced all my bulbs with LED. The fixtures I got for the new office are also LED. And when I have the heat on upstairs (guests in cold months - rare as that may be), they have barely pulled away from the curb before I am on the way up to turn the heat off in the guestroom and down in the bathroom, I have the heat on in the bathrooms (low) to preserve waterlines.

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I like the LED bulbs, as CFL's stop working we are moving in that direction, they come on faster and seem a brighter light. Climbing stairs may get old quickly, but guest rooms upstairs is a big advantage as heat rises and helps protect the pipes. Our long one floor building works against me in winter as I have to keep heat in guest rooms even when we have no guests to protect the waterlines, electric heat, so I really hate to see the power bill arrive this time of year.

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Just heating the downstairs with forced-air gas heat, my bill for January was well over $300 - and ubnless I hav guets in-house (2 nights in January) the thermostat is kept at 62 degrees. I layer and put on another sweater.

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gillumhouse wrote:

Just heating the downstairs with forced-air gas heat, my bill for January was well over $300 - and ubnless I hav guets in-house (2 nights in January) the thermostat is kept at 62 degrees. I layer and put on another sweater.

Holy cow you need some insulation! I'm heating 5000 sq ft (4000 @ 55 degrees and 1000 @ 68 degrees) and my bill is lower than that!

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Gee, I'm afraid to list our power bill for fear you'd fall out of your chair laughing and hurt yourselves, but I expect our most recent light/power bill would cover Gillum's heat for the entire winter.  I don't like too much heat, gas logs warm the room we sit in and give you a place to stand for extra warmth, of course propane is a different bill, but guest rooms are electric heater/ac units, have to keep half of them on even if empty so pipes don't freeze, more when it drops real low like it did last month, then when you have winter guests they have spent the day freezing on the slopes and run the heat at maximum to defrost themselves.

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Gas bill was almost $400 with the taxes and electric was almost $160. I do miss Himself's check in winter months. Fortunately I had paid extra last month on the gas. Feb can be THE most brutal here so I am holding my breath (figuratively) that the roller coaster temps we have been having stay above 15 for the lows. Almost made it through the first winter - that is something. Doing OK is even better.

Hoping the weather ap is incorrect about tomorrow. Says it is going to snow at 2 AM until 7 AM and I have to leave here by 5:30 for Tourism Day at the Capitol.

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Part of the problem was the "workshop" having holes opened up, although I had a "snake" down at the door to keep air out. Plus we had way too many days of barely in the teens with single digit or below nights. And you are correct, my house has very little insulation, mostly the stuff they put over the boards before putting the siding on. The workshop is now insulated - somewhat - and has drywall up.

In 1912 insulation was unheard of and here gas was cheap (then) so each room had a gas fireplace to keep it warm - except the kitchen and the cook stove did the job there. The original kitchen is the largest room in the house and is now my dining room. The current kitchen was the back porch and has no insulation but stays livable with the help of a gas heater. Also, I have no basement - only the space over the studio was dug out to put a furnace in circa 1957. The rest of the house has a crawl space a chubby 2-year old could not get under.

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My half of the house is on a slab. The other part is a stone foundation. The chipmunks love it. We don't have to worry about stale air down there. But, yes, the upstairs got insulated in the 80's when the reno was done.

My old house in VT was a two pair of wool socks house. I ran two wood stoves AND the furnace and the fuel oil truck showed up every 10 days to give us another 250 gallons.

-25 was pretty standard in the winter and insulation wasnt exactly heard of in 1865.

Not doing that again!

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.... and thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules..... (Capt. Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean)

 

I agree with other comments to the effect that having high expectations around guest behavior and creating rules around those, will tend to lead to frustration. Better to create systems and structures that "gently" steer the guests (perhaps even unbeknownst to them) towards the behaviors you wish of them. Lights on timer or motion-detecting switches, and fences or other structures to guide them away from places you don't want them trampling, are two good examples. If you only want them to smoke in a particular area, make sure that there is something for safe cigarette butt disposal prominent in that area, and that there is nothing that could be used for butt disposal anywhere else. And so on.

We have a lot of fine print on the back of our guest invoice, that we ask the lead guest (the one paying the bill) to sign at the bottom. Most don't bother reading and just sign. A further problem is that generally only the lead guest is ever exposed to the terms and conditions -- the rest of their party is oblivious.

We provide "picture books" (our information book) which we can only hope they might look at and get a clue. One example that might be somewhat unique to us is the proper stowage of oars and oarlocks after using one of our rowboats. The picture book shows pictures of "the wrong way" with a red circle and diagonal line across it and pictures of "the right way" with a green circle with a check-mark next to it (universal visual symbols, one would think). But whenever we are on the dock, we inevitably discover that somebody hasn't seen the book, or it just didn't register with them, or they forgot. It's just the way guests are. We can't let it get to us.

 

 

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Welcome. 

BEST thing about having breakfast made for you is having breakfast made for you. Same with coffee. 

I am no gourmet cook but served what I knew how to make with a flourish and a smile ... servings were generous and my guests were very complimentary.  *Except for the guy who saw my red hair and assumed I'd be making an 'Irish Breakfast'. He was disappointed. I never posted anywhere that I'd be making such a thing ... in fact, my website showed the waffles and things.

 wink

I suggest you do the same. Don't stress about being something you are not.

I did not have space to have in-room cooking but on each of the three floors I had a guest mini fridge and a microwave, plus a little space to sit and eat on two of the floors, the guest library accommodated this on the first floor. 

Doing this kept people from asking to use the inn kitchen. I got rid of the tiny trash cans in these guest 'lounges' and put in big, covered ones to handle all the take out and food trash. I didn't like the food trash at first but then realized that eating late in house is what my guests wanted. Lots of people got to the end of the road where I was (literally end of the road - you have to turn around to leave the village) so their options were few. I ended up getting a bigger fridge for the library and the biggest problem was guests who stole another guest's food sometimes.

I think your guests just misunderstood the two different kinds of rental options. 

 

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Sea shanty thank you for the welcome, comments and advice. Much appreciated. 

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Hello everyone,

Two things... what is your check in procedure when your guests arrive? I don’t have an official reception area. Also have a rules book I give everyone when they arrive. It says to turn off fans, lights and ac’s when leaving room and/or house. I have these guests that turn on all the lights in the room. Two side tables lamps and overhead light  every night and leave on when they leave to go dinner, last night they were gone about 5 hours. When they go out on deck same thing, all fans and lights even though this is our winter and it’s very cool in the evenings. I have a hamper for them to put their clothes in yet they drop their clothes and undergarments  on the floor (went in to clean room and didn’t know what to do) leave them, pick them up Sad how should I handle?

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Hi and welcome to the forum!

No one will read your rules book, they are on vacation!  We have a tent style card with our most important information which includes a few rules mixed in. Since your property is in an area where most feel is laid back and 'anything goes' try to make your rules sound as though they are not rules but as things you found that make everyone live in harmony while staying there. 

As for lights I turn them off when I clean but people do not consider your bills while they are there.  They may feel they have paid for the right to abuse!  As for AC, I would leave it on as well if I were there.  I was there once in late December and we still speak of how hot it was.  I would want it cool upon my return. 

If your power bills are higher than you expected, you may want to adjust your rates to handle the higher bills.  

Good luck!

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No one is going to read your rule book, no one cares enough. And eventually, you will end up with someone posting a bad review because you have ALL THOSE RULES. So, you need to make most of it simple or automatic. For example, Zwave or Zigbee on one switch or with a movement detector.

You need to minimize the things you need to tell them and limit to helpful rather than rules. And eventually you will run into the lady who thinks that AC needs to be set at 10c because of her menopause.

Leave the clothing where they leave it, unless it presents a hazard for the housekeeping.

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Generic is spot on, rules, even interspersed rules are asking for problems. Make them helpful suggestions where ever possible.

i have a guest information pack in each room with helpful comments and I'm frequently surprised how many people read this (I can tell by comments they make).

don't fall into the trap of creating a rule for ever nuisance, for example...... if one guest takes a short cut through your flower bed put it down to stupidity. If several people do it put a small fence up. If lots of people do it then put it in your "rule" book. 

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I know I said rules but I corrected myself it’s more of a welcome book with rules interspersed and all places have rules.  Ok I didn’t know you weren’t to move clothes, so if theirs are clothes on floor and bed, you’re saying don’t clean the room? Sad   

Question::how often do you change linens and towels? 

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Change the bed for people staying more than 4 days.

Change towels as needed.   We do put up the obnoxious sign saying if you put your towels on the floor, we'll replace them, if you hang them up we won't.

I don't move clothes either but I might move things I don't like, like Mort said, glasses on wood furniture or a suitcase on my good chair.

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I am in the tropics so my guests tend to stay between 7-10 days. This is such a learning curve for me so thank you for all your responses. 

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Welcome Book >>> good information for those who choose to read, but not all will do so

Clothes on floor/bed >>> I take the position that I'm the motel maid, not a guest's personal maid, I will straighten the guest room, but don't handle personal electronics or risk breaking my neck climbing over junk in the floor.

Towels/linens >>> The nature of our business is that many/most guests stay only two or three nights, I ask if they prefer us to service the room or if they prefer to ask for specific services as needed.

 

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Hello thanks for the comment. I like the idea of asking their preference in servicing the room. 

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Hiddengembnb wrote:

Hello thanks for the comment. I like the idea of asking their preference in servicing the room. 

Most people will say don't bother because either they think they're putting you out or because of perp pressure if everyone else says no.

And then they will grumble every time they come back to the room. They are on vacation! That implies relaxing and not spending time cleaning their room before they leave for the day.

If you want to go this route then get those door hangers. And be prepared for damage when you haven't seen the room for a week.

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we have door hangers- (1) red no service today - ie emaphasis on today too many people put do not disturb on while having breakfast when actually it would be handy to do the room and then change it later when the housekeeper has gone past. (2) pink "quick spritz" with list of what you get (trash can emptied, toiletries refilled, tea and coffee tray filled up and toilet roll) and (3) green - full service - means you save a lot of time cleaning for people who don't want it anyway

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Hiddengembnb wrote:

I know I said rules but I corrected myself it’s more of a welcome book with rules interspersed and all places have rules.  Ok I didn’t know you weren’t to move clothes, so if theirs are clothes on floor and bed, you’re saying don’t clean the room? Sad   

Question::how often do you change linens and towels? 

If guests pile their stuff on the bed or throw everything on the floor, we'll do what we can - clean the bathroom, empty the trash. If it's a matter of moving a pair of pajamas to make the bed, I'll do that. And then put them right back in the bed. If wet soda cans are on my furniture I'll move them, same thing with wet clothes on the furniture. I will protect my investment.

Changing bed linens - if the guests are staying and the sheets are dirty we change them. If the sheets are clean, then it depends on length of stay. 3 nights, we don't change them. 4 or more nights, change mid way.

Towels every other day unless they smell or are obviously dirty or if the guest has left them on the floor.

But, you really should find out what is expected where you are. If everyone else changes everything everyday, that's what's expected. No one expects that where I am. Most guests tell me not to bother even for a week long stay. Except towels. Everyone loves fresh towels!

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I wouldn't read a 'rules book' in a hotel.   I do have a 'welcome' page in our in-room info books.  (Books have info on restaurants, things to do and some history on the house along with the welcome page.)

The page has breakfast info, common areas info, Wi-Fi info, check out time, and emergency phone numbers.

I do have a few 'rules' among the info paragraphs.

Please do not feed the koi fish or toss rocks into the pond.

If you bring in take out food, please feel free to enjoy it in any of our indoor or outdoor dining areas.

I have a paragraph titled: House Rules:

No smoking, no candles, no open flame of any kind by order of the Fire Marshal.

Smoking is permitted only at the picnic table on the driveway side of the building.

Please respect our other guests and neighbors.  Quiet hours are between 10 PM and 7 AM.

Please do not feed the fish or cat.  The cat is only kidding when she tells you we don't feed her.

 

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Yes yes meant welcome book which has same info you mentioned plus the turn ac off, WiFi info, gate code,  things to do, restaurants and how to contact me etc

 

duly noted on making beds and leaving clothes where they are. Thanks 

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Check in - greet guests at door, have them sign their registration form and pay. Show guest around house to room.

Guests are on vacation and are going to be on their worst behavior. If the floor or bed is strewn with crap we leave it and clean what we can.

We turn everything off when we go in to clean. If it's on at night, we let it go. Yes, it's wasteful.

Only a couple of times have we turned the heat or a/c off in a room when guests were out.

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When guests arrive, I try to greet them on the porch and ask if they need help with their luggage (gratefully, most say no). I then take them up to their room showing them where the thermostat is for their heating or pointing out where the remote is for the A/C, pointing out the basket of fruit & snacks on the dresser, location of TV remote, and the bathroom, where the light switches are. I also show the robes in the closet and hairdryer. Tell them where the bottles of water are found and that the books and magazines are there to be "stolen" - no limit on what they take. I ask them to let me know, before they turn in, what time they want breakfast in the morning. Once any questions have been answered, I leave. I am downstairs if they need anything. The only sign in the house is on the mantle in the best room and only to explain that any money in the gumball machine goes to the Lord's Pantry Food Bank.

I am sorry, but a Rules Book would turn me off. The lights left on could be a "get back at" for the "rules". Yes, guests do leave lights on. That is the cost of doing business. (You asked.)

Try not giving out a rules book and see what happens. How do you know they leave everything on when they go out to dinner? Room fluffs are after breakfast while they are out for the day. THEN turn off the lights except for one so they do not come back to a dark room.

My guests seem to leave the bathroom lights and fan on - so as soon as they leave I go up to check and, since I have a lot of one-nights, strip the room. Multi-nights, I do not go into the room (I have guests who do not leave wet towels on beds - have only found that once in 22 years and it was a retaliation) unless they request maid service (I ask if they need maid service). Adding: If clothes are on the floor, you leave them on the floor. If they are on the bed, you do not make the bed. NEVER touch guest stuff unless it is a hazard to you, your property, or them (as in on a heater (fire) or hanging on your wood furniture (do not want furniture ruined).

Tom
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gillumhouse wrote:

When guests arrive,

I am sorry, but a Rules Book would turn me off.

That is the cost of doing business.

turn off the lights except for one so they do not come back to a dark room.

NEVER touch guest stuff unless it is a hazard.

All wisdom.  Talk to the guests when they arrive, tell them about breakfast, wi-fi, the lounge, etc. Skip the rules: people don't read -- or, specifically, the people who need to read won't read.  Put timers on bathroom fans, bathroom heaters; use LED or CFL lighting; do a light room fluff to check, but generally leave them alone.

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Thank you for your comment

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Soo I told my guests due to insurance reasons they could not use my kitchen or store stuff in my fridge and they have decided to leave Sad  so that's that but I feel good about it.  (they were my second "official" guests).  In from Italy.

Can I have a survey of how many innkeepers/B&B owners  have mini fridge and Microwave in their rooms.  I am still learning, have been opened since July 2017 but am now starting to get busy and have had my first official guests from canada here for 9 days and currently have guests and a few bookings.  Any advice or suggestions you may have will be greatly appreciated.  I am scared and nervous and don't know what I am doing.    Cant find a cook so currently doing it all. I see everyone doing these big fancy breakfasts and I haven't got a clue. Help!!

Tom
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We have a guest lounge with the (only) large TV, large cafe tables, full size fridge, ice maker, Keurig coffee, and microwave.  It completely deals with the "room picnic" and take out suppers, and allows us to be really strict about staying out of our kitchen.

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We have a mini fridge for guest use. We don't allow cooking. If they can't live with that, then that's their problem, not yours or mine.

As for breakfast, I'm the cook and chief bottle washer. Nothing to worry about, make a nice breakfast that you are proud to serve and stop worrying about a hotel. If they wanted a hotel, they would have stayed in a hotel. Fruit starter or yogurt/milk starter, breads and muffins, cereal and oatmeal, coffee and tea and one nice hot dish. Most people love an omelette, anything more is just padding.

Different countries have different traditions, Italians are usually sweet for breakfast, so are the French. But they are there to experience YOUR country. Make something that has a local flavour.

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Hiddengembnb wrote:

Can I have a survey of how many innkeepers/B&B owners  have mini fridge and Microwave in their rooms. 

I have mini fridge, microwave, coffee and a lamp on a stand I built in each of our rooms, it is small doesn't take up a lot of space. We are a tiny motel and don't serve food to guests.

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Firstly, what is a standard breakfast where you are? I'm picturing a lot of fresh fruit, light foods, not heavy breakfasts. Can you set up a buffet?

What we have is an area set aside in our common area where we have a small fridge with freezer, microwave, plates, silverware, napkins, glasses, coffee cups, tea fixings, coffee machine for guests to use whenever they want. Not in the rooms. We don't want to worry about cleaning all of that in every room. Plus bugs and rodents!

We have 7 rooms and what gets used the most are the fridge and coffee machine. Not a lot of guests cook, they go out.

We make one of those big breakfasts you mentioned. But, you're new so you can do what you want!

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Morticia & Gillumhouse,

thank you so very much for your kind response. It is much appreciated. I live in Barbados and  there are only 3 B & Bs here, one has 3 rooms, I have 6 and the other has 10 plus acres of land so they have privacy and seclusion. My hall area is like a U so not much space for both a microwave and fridge. I have coffee stations in the rooms, bottle of water with two glasses.  I do fruits, local when in season, juice, coffee, sliced breads, muffins, croissants, waffles or French toast, with eggs and bacon. Have to learn to change it up so I’m not cooking the same thing everyday. Currently cleaning myself because the cleaners come and I still have to go behind them and clean smh. What am I paying for????  Hopefully I won’t lose my mind anytime soon lol. Thanks again 

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My mocrowave sits on top of the fridge - I do not have space either. there is a small stand next to it with salt & pepper shakers, more a place to set something down than anything else. IF I go upstairs today I will try to take a photo.

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Hello and thanks for your comment. I have a fridge I will put out but no microwave.. will try to sort it out within the space I am working with. 

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RELAX!!! I have been doing this since 1996.I do not cook gourmet. I slap it together and put everything in the oven for cooking so I can do things like do the fruit. I have 3 rooms and do everything. We each do what we do - our own way. 

I have a dorm-size fridge and microwave in the hall upstairs for the guests (thanks to a guest who bought them and left them for me) to use. None in the guest rooms (my rooms are not big enough for in the rooms).

I used to go to Assoc meetings around the State that always seemed to be in mansions. I came home, looked around and did the Bette Davis - What a dump! Then one day, as I looked around atthe beautiful crystal chadaliers in the hall, the dining room, and the parlor, the beautiful fretwork in the rooms, I found myself thinking - "I am soooo glad I do not have to CLEAN this place!" I came home with a whole new appreciation for my B & B.

We ALL went through the learning curve.

 

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Oh no you misunderstood, my apologies for not being clear.  I do cook breakfast, only me but I had a couple from Italy who started cooking in the evenings and being in my kitchen and was storing groceries in the fridge etc.  How do I deal with something like this without being rude?  Thanks

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(1) can you lock that door - if so do - or get a lock on - preferably a combination lock so its not another key

(2) In the UK its food hygine I have to be able to track anything and everything that comes through my kitchen/fridge ie if there was a problem I have to be able to say which shop it came from where it was stored.

- answer - to guest (1) food hygine (2) insurance (3) local regulations - none of this has to be true but do practice saying it so it sounds to them like its a standard thing ie "I'm terribly sorry but for insurance reasons we can't allow you to cook I am sure you are very responsible but a lot of people arn't" and so on

Trouble is because you are a B&B and because of the online travel agencies and home away etc - its is a very blurred area for the customer what they have booked and are getting (also they don't read) 

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Jcam,

Thank you for your feedback. Kitchen is just an open area and no lock on the door. Lol Jacam that’s exactly what I said and they developed an attitude soon after and said they would be finding somewhere else to stay.  Sad 

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insurance shminsurance.    It's my kitchen for heaven's sake!   Do you let strangers cook in your kitchen?????

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We state quite clearly in our website that there are no kitchen facilities available. When we do our tour to show the guests to their room we show them where they are allowed to go.

Perhaps the guests were confused? Maybe they thought they booked the self catering instead of the b&b?

You have to be quite clear with some people. That's not being rude, that's being assertive.

We also have two signs telling guests to keep out of the kitchen and the fridge. If your kitchen doesn't have a door that locks you may need to put up a screen to block access.

If you find guests in the kitchen, after you've told them no, then you have to tell them to leave the kitchen. Remove their food from the fridge after you've told them not to use it.

Just make sure it's clear to the guest what they have booked - self catering with kitchen access, or b&b with no access. Send that in their confirmation.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

Are they there as B & B or self-cater? Self cater - you are stuck. B & B - You tell them the Health Department, State Laws, AND your insurance prohibit anyone in the kitchen other than yourself or your employees.

Unless you have cooking facilities in the self-cater part of your business, you cannot mix them. They are totally different obviously.

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