30 Replies Latest reply: Sep 26, 2019 1:51 AM by swlinphx RSS

    Condiments

    euster2001 New Member

      Should we leave condiments such as olive oil, vinegar and spices in the house? A recent renter criticized us for doing this, but I thought guests would like it if there were a few staples int he house, and spices.  I have noticed that places like the Residence Hotels do not leave anything but salt and pepper, neither do the Timeshares we still have.  They always seem very bare and are more commercial than my second home. Still, perhaps they want to make it more their own. Also , one of the criticisms was they  they don't know how old the spice or the condiment is. That does seem to be a fair issue. I would like to know what others think.

        • Re: Condiments
          db.meyer Senior Contributor

          Wow, sounds like they "needed" something to complain about.  I regularly look at any of my basic "dry" staples I provide and ensure that a future expiration date is visible on the item or I don't leave it in the house. My guests do appreciate the olive oil, vinegar, spices, etc. that I provide as it is expensive to purchase at the local store especially for a shorter stay. I rarely leave anything in the fridge unless it is unopened and with a future expiration date.

            • Re: Condiments
              euster2001 New Member

              Thanks so much for the reply. Homeaway actually has a list with even more than I have so that was also reassuring. Will check dates, cull a little, but also saw one owner in another discussion mention that they make it clear that this is more than a commercial rental in that they return themselves from time to time. My guests suggested that appeared to be the case, as if it were not supposed to be. I did remind them that this is a rental by owner. It appears some guests are looking for the impersonal in our personal rentals.

                • Re: Re: Condiments
                  scowol Active Contributor

                  To address this proactively with guests who can't recognize a host being gracious and thoughtful, I have the following paragraph in my "Welcome" email and welcome letter that I leave at the house:

                   

                  "To help you get settled in right away at the house, our housekeeper will provide a "starter supply" of products, including bath tissue, paper towels, laundry detergent, dish soap, hand soap, automatic dishwasher pods, and garbage bags. Also, as standard in the home-sharing community, the housekeeper will inspect and leave out any basic staples that were thoughtfully left by prior guests. We do this because we know it's frustrating to buy bottles of condiments or a spice that you might not use up during your stay. You're welcome to use anything left in the kitchen as desired, or you may simply discard them."

              • Re: Condiments
                3seasbeach Contributor

                euster2001 You can state whether you provide (or not supply) Pantry Items.  On the leftside toolbar click "Edit Property" tab, then click the "Amenities".  Scroll down to Kitchen/Dining where you will find Pantry Items.  Check that box, then put a description of what you keep on inventory in the text field below.  Don't forget to click the Save button at the bottom of the page.  I have written that "we do not provide pantry items, however we provide a "starter" supply of coffee, paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, shampoo, bath soap, dishwasher soap, dish soap and laundry powder."

                 

                I have never supplied my guests Pantry Items (spices, condiments, etc.) and my Housekeeper has instructions to remove ALL items such as this left by the guests.  I have never had a guest question why or why not.

                • Re: Condiments
                  bonesxxx Active Contributor

                  I don't throw away food between guests and often use the cabin myself... and I tell my guests this in the guest welcome packet.  In fact, I explain how it always bothered me to go to the beach and have to buy salt, pepper, ketchup, etc. for a one week stay only to either throw it all away or need to pack coolers and schlep it all home with me.

                   

                  Guests have all really liked that there is a selection of staples in the pantry.  Things I keep: dry unopened microwave popcorn, noodles, spice rack, soy sauce, sriracha,   ketchup, mustard, olive oil, salad dressing, and even cans of soda.

                   

                  I always make sure the refrigerator main space has plenty of room.

                   

                  Things I alway pitch: milk eggs (I feed to my dog), orange juice, coffee creamer, opened cereal, etc.

                   

                  There is a pretty vocal competing school of thought on this and I hope they chime in so you get both views.  They will tell you to pitch EVERYTHING for liability reasons.  It's a fair point and one you will need to weigh for yourself.

                   

                  EDIT: I DO periodically check the dates on the condiments.  If something has a 'best by' date on it with less than 3 months, it gets pitched. Only reason I mention this is because it's easy to assume that the ketchup bottle in the fridge isn't the same one you saw last time (and the time before that, and the time before that).  But, occasionally it is

                  • Re: Condiments
                    wildiris Active Contributor

                    There have been other threads on this topic in the past.  Here's a link to one of them -guests complain about condiments in fridge

                    • Re: Condiments
                      koko Active Contributor

                      So condiments by their definition are food items which can last long beyond their expiration date.

                      As someone who hates to throw out food of any kind, simply because I remember times not having any food, I try to deal with left behind food items quickly and to the best of safe food guidelines.

                      Due to the remoteness of my place people always arrive with coolers since they have to shop on the way and so fresh food is rarely left in the refrigerator, maybe because I supply plastic storage boxes, bags and styrofoam coolers for the purpose of being able to package up opened food items and take them home. The fly in guests usually make me aware that things were left in the refrigerator and if it is something which I can safely leave for the next guests I'll hand it on with the remark: the guests who just checked out yesterday left you some jelly and butter to get you started on breakfast. Usually people are thankful and I slip under the strict line of Bed and Breakfast regulations which state no food service in the rental - period.

                      If there is opened milk the dogs make sure there won't be and pickles, sauces and spices are nothing to worry about. I do have to supply Soy sauce for some reason - it's always gone.

                      Bottom line I try to utilize the food items in giving them away, feeding the next guests or the dogs and cats, whichever seems to be reasonable and safe.

                      • Re: Condiments
                        ohst8er Premier Contributor

                        We own a Marriott Timeshare.  It's absolutely beautiful, right on the beach.  One of my favorite things about it is that when we check in, it's so perfectly cleaned and tucked and tidied I get to "pretend" I'm the first person who ever stayed there.

                         

                        When we bought our condo and prepared it for our first guest, our goal was to provide our guests with that same feeling, that the place had been cleaned and tucked and tidied "as though" they were the first person who ever stayed there.

                         

                        So no, no personal items EVER, no photos of the family, and NO FOOD left behind. 

                          • Re: Condiments
                            wildiris Active Contributor

                            As the saying goes, "to each his own."  Like you, I don't have any "personal items EVER" at my vacation rental.  Where you and I differ is that I don't consider a bottle of ketchup to be "personal."  When I travel and stay at a vacation rental, it bugs me that I have to buy a whole bottle of ketchup if we want to grill hamburgers one night.  Consequently, I stock different kitchen staple items for my guests and I include a list of the items with their check-in directions.  I tell them that I have purchased the items at the beginning of the summer.  If a guest is worried about whether the bottle of ketchup or jar of mustard was left sitting out too long by another guest (which I can appreciate) they are welcome to purchase their own, new bottle.  But, canola oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, Splenda packets, flour, spices, etc. don't spoil.  Nor do Zip-loc bags, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, trash bags, dishwasher detergent, liquid dish soap, laundry detergent, etc.  I provide my guests with all of these items and more.  To the best of my knowledge, none of my guests has been offended by this practice and several have commented in their reviews about how well-stocked the kitchen is.

                              • Re: Condiments
                                twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                I Suppose you could stop by a gas station and see if you could purchase those small packages, like they have at the fast food chains. LOL!!!

                                • Re: Condiments
                                  ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                  wildiris, I had forgotten this conversation until I saw my post on the other condiments thread.  So I will repost it here.  This is from a conversation I had with our housekeeper last year:

                                   

                                  We are staying at our VR this week. When we arrived we were a tad early and our housekeeping staff were still cleaning. I asked the housekeeping manager about the food in the cabinet and she said we always remove everything. “You never know if someone might have attempted to poison something. It’s not worth the risk .”  This from a housekeeping company. That’s how they operate. I don’t have a problem with that.


                                  So, +1 for why I don't EVER leave food behind. 

                                    • Re: Condiments
                                      wildiris Active Contributor

                                      A lot of casual restaurants leave condiments such as ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, etc. out on the tables.  I wonder if your housekeeping manager uses those condiments on her food or if she's worried that another customer has poisoned them? 

                                        • Re: Condiments
                                          ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                          Not sure.  I'm happy to ask her if you would like. 

                                            • Re: Condiments
                                              wildiris Active Contributor

                                              It would be interesting to know if she is worried (dare I say paranoid?) about restaurant patrons poisoning condiments or if her worries in this regard are limited to guests who stay at vacation rentals. 

                                                • Re: Condiments
                                                  ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                  wildiris, again, I can ask her, but I would imagine it was due to potential for liability.  It was certainly not anything I ever thought of before she said that, and since I rely on my housekeepers to keep our place in perfect order so we can be at ease from 12 hours away, I will defer to their judgement.  It has not let me down yet! 

                                              • Re: Condiments
                                                bonesxxx Active Contributor

                                                As I said above "There is a pretty vocal competing school of thought on this and I hope they chime in so you get both views.  They will tell you to pitch EVERYTHING for liability reasons.  It's a fair point and is one you will need to weigh for yourself."


                                                I'm glad ohst8er presented her case so the OP can get both sides and decide for themselves.

                                                 

                                                That said, I choose to live in a world where vacationers don't poison complete strangers for whatever reason that could be... the odds of it happening are infinitesimal and I choose not to live life by the .00000001% chances.

                                                  • Re: Condiments
                                                    ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                                    Thanks bonesxxx, my mind doesn't go there either, but it certainly also never thought anyone would poison a batch of Tylenol and kill several people as well, until someone did.  I remember being completely shocked when that happened!!! 

                                            • Re: Condiments
                                              euster2001 New Member

                                              I agree that for a timeshare or hotel one wants it pristine. However this discussion is helping me to crystallize that we are home sharing rather than a completely commercial enterprise . 

                                               

                                              I myself enjoy the surprises others have left.

                                               

                                              I do acknowledge the concerns expressed, but feel it can be a choice of a guest to use what is in the home or not. I do doubt housekeeping will consistently check dates, but the guests can themselves do this

                                                • Re: Condiments
                                                  bonesxxx Active Contributor

                                                  Here is my latest review.  Just left yesterday:

                                                   

                                                  "Bonesxxx's home guide and history was the funniest, well written guide ever. We enjoyed reading every word. There are lots of condiments and spices in the cabinets. House was well equipped and bed was excellent."

                                                   

                                                  emphasis is mine

                                              • Re: Condiments
                                                mauimakani Contributor

                                                My husband and I went back and forth over this issue when we bought our rental property. Our property is on an Island and I cringed at the thought of throwing away endless bottles of condiments and other food every time a guest checked out. For the most part, I thought guests would appreciate not having to go out and buy every condiment for their stay. While he felt that he had no idea whether the last person left the ketchup or mayonnaise out on the counter during their stay, whether they stuck their finger into the peanut butter or to fish out a pickle from a jar or worse. I hadn’t thought about it in that light and I agreed. While I do leave basic spices, sealed bottles or unopened shelf stable food can be left behind but everything else goes. I tell all guests that they can take any additional food, like fruit, down to the office.

                                                  • Re: Condiments
                                                    bonesxxx Active Contributor

                                                    Are you kidding?  I'd pay extra for peanut butter that I knew had someone's fingers in it.  And even more for pickles that were fished out by hand -- does anyone actually use a fork?

                                                     

                                                    As with black light projects, I find that ignorance is bliss and I am at peace with it

                                                  • Re: Condiments
                                                    ambidextrous Active Contributor

                                                    Aside from the liability issue (I've never had anyone sickened by my rosemary) , I think the issue should be considered in the context as to whether people actually use your kitchens for more than heating up a prepared meal. When I travel, I hate to have to buy all sorts of spices so I can make a meal (I have about 100 spice at my home -- 20 oils/vinegar). So, in my rental, I keep about a dozen common spices, oils, vinegar, sugar, flour and other small non-perishables. Folks like it and comment on the well-stocked kitchen.

                                                    • Re: Condiments
                                                      twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                                      This thread is similar to one already posted. I let my guests know that they will find things in the refrigerator, the coffee station (cupboard), spices and possible other food items. They are encouraged to use their own personal preference as to whether they use or pass. I do NOT tell them to discard as others DEFINITELY enjoy having some staples at the house. I do encourage them to check expiration dates, if they don’t want to do that, they can always purchase their own. To me it is NOT offensive to find those things in a home. My cleaning lady is also told that if anyone leaves something that she would enjoy she can take it home with her (except for the staples)

                                                       

                                                      I Just got to my VR and found that someone had left a half a bottle of wine. LOL!!

                                                       

                                                      I just have not had a guest complain about this issue in 10 years.

                                                      • Re: Condiments
                                                        swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                        Our rule is we leave all open condiments and spices as long as not expired and other foods only if unopened and not expired.  We've never gotten a complaint in 15 years and many appreciate how stocked we are.  We too will not constantly waste food nor force guests to re-buy every little thing for a short stay.