Just-Like-Home Hospitality?

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My married children and their families came to visit the week between Christmas and New Years Eve. For a few nights, our three bedroom row house in Savannah’s Historic District became an Inn of sorts, with five adults (one hubby had to stay at home to work that week) and five children. Some hotels like to say that they treat their guests like family, but after this experience, there are certainly some things that a hotel can duplicate to create that “at home” feeling and some that they would definitely want to pass up.

1. Breakfast in your pajamas. Probably Not! Even though guests are becoming more casual, you wouldn’t want to suggest your hotel guests arrive for breakfast in their pajamas. At home, you can wear your pajamas to breakfast and stay in them all day, for that matter.
2. Overcrowding. Another No! I must admit that our back bedroom has a certain cozy charm. Guests like to come and stay in this room with its brass bed and bird’s eye view of the courtyard down below. The children especially loved to wake up and see what the freezing temperatures this week did to the fountain. This past week it was host to four people; one adult and three children. Homey, but crowded. I suppose that’s why hotels have a limit on occupancy.
3. The kids’ table. Yes! Now here is one element of home that hotels could consider offering to families. The kids’ table is a throwback to family holiday gatherings when large families with lots of kids, for the sake of their sanity, put the kids together at a table in another area for some peace and quiet. I have found that children seem to behave better when they have their own separate dining table. Restaurants could offer that as an option for large family dinners with a kids’ table adjacent to the adult table.
4. “A snack lounge.” Another Yes! Many hotels have executive lounges with appetizers and beer and wine available for adults in the evening, but for families with small children who seem to always be hungry, a few snacks like string cheese and crackers or fruit in the afternoon would be a welcome addition. Many hotels have complimentary breakfast buffet areas which sit idle after 11 a.m. This area could be available for families to get a quick snack and a glass of juice or water to tide the kids over until dinner.
5. A list of local activities or points of interest for families or children. Yes Again! Movie theatre offerings, museums, zoos, aquariums, parks, seasonal activities and other points of interest within a short drive of the hotel can help fill the time while one parent is busy with business meetings or if the family just wants to get out of the hotel and experience the area. Coloring books and crayons, borrowed from the restaurant, can keep the kids busy on a rainy day.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a freelance writer, blogger, and workplace consultant. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in "Training" magazine, "Training & Development" magazine, "Supervision," "Pulse" and "The Savannah Morning News." You can read her blogs at www.skirt.com/savannahchick, www.workingsmartworks.blogspot.com/ and on the web at www.mjnhconsulting.com.

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