Slice of Life Challenge – March 6 – Seeking Your Suggestions

When Mom died in December 2015, we were blessed that she had shared her final wishes so that her arrangements were smooth for my father, my brother, and me, right down to her favorite hymn at the funeral service – How Firm a Foundation – which, when seeing the movie Emma with one of my daughters a couple of years later, prompted full tears when it started playing. Mom may not have liked that version, but it did the trick to trigger my tender heart.

Her forward planning was a gift of love. Though we were grieved, we didn’t feel frustrated or stressed on top of the sadness. I felt tremendously blessed, because I’ve both seen and experienced the other side of that story, and it often results in severing of family ties and sometimes even behaving in ways that do all but honor the legacy of the dearly departed family member. We didn’t want that.

When my brother, our dad, and I sat down to discuss what would be important to our mother, the first truths were clear: remain a strong family and get along. Spend time together making new memories. Live each day to the fullest. Keeping Mom at the forefront of all of the discussions – as if she were sitting at the table with us, listening in – kept us from focusing on anything other than her wishes. She’d taught my brother and me how to crab and fish at the pier, how to swim at the Sea Island pool, and how to ride our bikes right there on Martin Street back when the world was a safer place. She’d been an active preacher’s wife and had volunteered in our classes at school. The time she spent outdoors enjoying nature on St. Simons Island, Georgia was important to her.

As we talked further, we concluded that for her future generations to continue to experience the places that were so dear to her, perhaps we should consider investing in a condominium that would enable family and friends to stay on the island and visit Dad without his having to prepare for family to stay in his home. All signs seemed to point to acquiring a short-term vacation rental.

We found one that met our criteria: no stairs, good proximity to the village area and beach, a ground floor unit, and maintenance and upkeep handled by an association so that its management doesn’t become a burden.

As we moved into the decorating phase, my brother and his girlfriend called me. “Can you look at the paint samples and tell me which one you like? There’s Swiss Coffee, Snowbound, and Vibrant White.”

Snowbound, Swiss Coffee, Vibrant White

I liked Snowbound. So did they.

He called again. “We’ve stayed in some rentals and so have you. So what are your non-negotiables in how you pick where you stay?”

I thought for a moment, focusing on the simple pleasures of what I enjoy most – which, let’s face it – mostly has to do with eating.

“A Keurig is important. Heavy white dinnerware and quality flatware is important, too. So is a corkscrew. But calming colors, ambient lighting, and sparse furnishings in a place free of clutter are my heart’s desire,” I told him. I love a space that proclaims minimalism and cleanliness and lets me focus on something I don’t feel the need to get up and dust or clean. I also like a list of some restaurant and activity recommendations, and a book that others have signed sharing what they enjoyed while staying there. Fast WiFi is at the top of the list, too, in case I have to do some work while I’m away.

I thought another moment.

“Tell you what,” I suggested. “It’s Slice of Life month, and writers are the best at sharing opinions and helping us see things we may not see on our own. How about if I ask the group what they like when they stay in hotels or rental units and let’s see what they love in a place when they are on vacation – or any ideas they’ve seen along the way?”

“That would be fantastic,” he said.

So today, my family and I are seeking your suggestions: what are your top desired features in a vacation rental?

21 Replies to “Slice of Life Challenge – March 6 – Seeking Your Suggestions”

  1. Kim,
    First, I love reading about your mom and love the idea of a shared family space. I need workout equipment and travel w/ a fold-up yoga mat when possible, so if there’s not a gym in the condo facility, I’d like a few hand weights and bands, too. A couple of bikes and beach chairs are welcome when in a beach rental. Books. A small shelf would do. White linens and towels are a must, but I know dark colors are what many choose. It’s nice when hotels have robes, slippers, and quality toiletries. Skip the one-ply and provide Charmin. I want every place I stay to be at least as nice as my home. Normally I’m not a fan of place decor, but I like it in vacation rentals. Like you, I like clean and modern.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glenda, thank you for your always helpful tips, and I know you have stayed in a lot of rentals with your extensive traveling! It helps to have the voice of experience, as the science of getting it JUST RIGHT is important from the very beginning. Amen on the Charmin, too. It’s rough otherwise, but we will have plenty of that, along with spare rolls for backup. I appreciate all of the suggestions. We are making a list so that we know how to be the most welcoming hosts we can be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kim, thanks for sharing about your mom’s passing and its affect on the rest of your family. How amazing she was to you and your brother comes through so clearing in your words.
    As for your clever request, I happen to be staying at a rental right now. I do like the minimal decor as you suggested. One thing we noticed missing last night was wine glasses. Somehow, drinking out of a small juice glass or water glass just isn’t the same. Extra pillows and blankets is always helpful, too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sally, I’m adding good quality wine glasses to the list. I, too, have had an experience when I didn’t have a wine glass. Here in the rural Georgia country, we will drink it from a mason jar, but we couldn’t get away with that on an island. Having the wine glass just makes the experience pleasurable. We will look for some good ones and some extra pillows – I know I love a flat memory foam pillow, but my husband loves one that is fluffier. You’re right – – we need a variety.


  3. Kim, this whole post is so moving, in the way that your family is cherishing the memory of your mother by working on a place to be together…in place where you were all together, when she was here. An act of love for one anther and for her – and for more happy memory-making. Rentals…big soft pillows, beds with cozy blankets, for you know you’ll be running the AC in summer. Likewise, soft throw blankets for the living room. Coffee cups with a bit of weight to them, maybe coasters. Nightlights. Good glassware. And I’m with you about minimalist design! Not too many things to dust. Oh – but a console table with family photos in beautiful frames. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fran, I’m adding nightlights to the list for sure. That’s a GREAT suggestion! Because it’s easier than fumbling with a cell phone in the middle of the night. And the coffee cups – yes, some weight! I like them to be big so I don’t have to get up every few minutes to refill my cup. Thank you so much for these great ideas. We are so appreciative for the ideas from the experiences of others ~ that’s how we are learning more!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bless your mom for instilling the importance of family within you all. And I love that you have chosen a place where you can all get together. I love the suggestions others have made. I second all of them. Furnishings are something I think about. Those big sectionals for the living space might look nice and they might be cheap, but they are hard to get in and out of and not always very comfortable. I like a place that has a comfy chair or a recliner. And a table, not just stools at a counter. A few spices for cooking are nice so we don’t have to buy everything. And I do like the idea of a couple of books, some games, and cards. A small cooler.

    And the best places we have stayed kept a notebook with details about the house, what to do when leaving, garbage days, wifi password etc. Also, good places to eat, fun places to visit, etc

    You’re getting some great ideas from others. I hope these help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deb, every single idea is worth its weight in gold. We love the comments today – your idea of some games and some books put a smile on my face. I love to play cards, and I’m thinking how nice it will be to have something like that on hand for those rainy days when the beach, bikes, or golf may not be an option. We appreciate your taking the time to respond with some very helpful tips for us!


  5. What a beautiful slice. Your mom sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    For your rental, many things you mentioned already would be on my list. Especially the corkscrew! We now bring one with us just in case because so many we have stayed at don’t have one! Also, other little kitchen utensils. You never know what they might want to make while they are there. Salt and pepper too.
    I would also say blinds or curtains that completely cover the windows in all rooms, including the living area. We love light during the day, but at night, we like to cozy in, snuggle on the couch to all watch a movie, and it is an anxiety of mine to have the windows uncovered at night. And it just feels more cozy with them covered.
    A couple of each of different kinds of sleeping pillows would be nice since every one likes different kinds. And actual comforters on the beds. I hate that most hotels just have a sheet over a pretty thin blanket. I need some heft to my sleeping blanket, lol!
    Things for the beach is nice. I really liked that in the last place we stayed. I liked that we didn’t have to go buy beach toys or chairs when we would have to just leave them.
    I agree with wine glasses.
    For decor, definitely clean and modern and minimalist is my favorite. Nothing that dates it. But comfy couches and other places to sit too.
    Oo, also, some outlet splitters, especially by the beds and tvs so you can plug your phone in but also other devices that you might have. Again, we tend to just bring those now, but it would be welcomed if they were already there!
    That’s all I can think of for now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Natalie, it’s funny ~ the first thing I do in a rental unit is check the windows to be sure they are locked. I stayed alone in San Antonio last February, and the unit was near train tracks. I found an unlocked window on the bottom floor and of course went into panic mode checking all the closets for the killer I just figured was lurking in there somewhere or under a bed. I lived, but yes – – the curtains and option for complete privacy is a must, and my mother is cheering from Heaven that we are adding extra window coverage to the list. I love the idea of the splitters, too. I texted my brother today about it. I stayed in Savannah, Georgia and in Kentucky recently where the rooms had this charging option next to the bed, and it was a blessing. Thank you so much for your tips today. I really appreciate the time you took in giving us such thoughtful suggestions.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a heartwarming post. Your mother sounds like a woman with wisdom and foresight. We just signed a lease for a shore rental so this is easy. Super Clean and uncluttered. I, too, like modern, minimalist decor. I don’t want to be reminded that others inhabit the place everywhere I look. Comfy beds and sparkling kitchen dishes and supplies are a must. I am always turned off by bright or dark-colored rooms. I like neutral colors throughout. That’s a big one for me. Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rita, I agree on the sparkling dishes. I am hoping we have an extra hot dishwasher cycle with the steam at the end that dries them to that sparkle. There is nothing like a heavy white plate with that sparkle of clean that makes dinnertime a sheer pleasure. The comfy beds are so important, too – – getting a great night’s sleep just adds to the overall happy experience when you wake up rested. Thanks so much for the helpful tips and great suggestions.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Your mom sounds like a special person. Having her wishes known for her passing as well as for you as time goes on is priceless. Unfortunately my mom didn’t want to talk about her passing, so we had to guess at what she would have wanted. She laughed often and smiled more. I have used that to help me moving forward.

    We just left our rental on Saturday. What they had that I liked: plenty of towels, multiple pillows, a few of most kinds of cookware & place settings. They had 4 sizes of glass storage containers! Dish soap, a dishrag & hand soap in the kitchen. Minimal decor, but what was there fit well. The front porch had two chairs and a small table which were lovely to sit at.

    What they needed: spices (even just salt & pepper would have been helpful), a veritable peeler, hand soap for the bathroom, more outlets, some rags to clean and basic cleaning supplies (the pollen outside was crazy – needed to keep cleaning the table & chairs.) Better toilet paper. A box of tissues.
    Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Linda&Greg, those porch chairs are a great idea! Rockers especially, for when it is raining or cool enough in the mornings or evenings to drink coffee outside. That’s a great idea about keeping some spare cleaning products available for wiping down outdoor furniture. We have Charmin on the list for TP – you can’t go wrong with the classic softness! I still remember Mr. Whipple commercials. I love Puffs Plus with Lotion tissues – – it’s that little bit of extra that we need to provide, and I’m so thankful you took the time to share with us today, my fellow camping enthusiasts!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kim, I know you’re asking for some advice, but I love how this rental is really an opportunity to have family be able to connect. I agree that spending time together is so important, and to not let a family fall apart after losing a loved one. I think you nailed it when you shared your requirements for a vacation rental. I like information that shares favorite restaurants and guides for the area. This can be very helpful. I also appreciate having the little things like salt/pepper and a small washing machine and dryer is huge. Communicating all the expectations from what you want the renters to do with garbage, etc. is essential. Good luck as you move forward with this amazing venture. I love reading about your mother:) Hugs!


  9. I love this post for many reasons- how it introduces the reader to your mom (what a thoughtful and inspiring person she was) and involves us in her legacy. For the rental, I always appreciate coffee.


  10. Kim,
    What a beautiful idea for you all to create this space together in honor of your dear mama. Wow, you have received some great advice for this special place. I would say an amen to the decor / ambiance most people have suggested. As a tea drinker, I love places that offer several varieties of tea bags and plenty for my stay. A small washer and dryer combo would be great, if possible. And plenty of cleaning supplies. And, of course, the Slice of Life discount package! (JK)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denise, I’m lobbying for the friends and family discount for sure! Yes, yes! Thank you for the suggestion for tea bags, too. I am a tea lover myself and definitely see a nice tea box in the works. Thanks for the helpful idea!


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