Welcome to my first blog post *grits teeth* My prose may not be journalist material (I prefer to decorate than write), however I hope the below tips and tricks will benefit some of you. Some might be harsh, but true.
I was inspired to write this post after searching accommodation in Vanuatu on behalf of friends who are visiting over Easter, and actually finding it difficult to recommend a place that stood out from the crowd and looked extra special :( I was overloaded with images of hibiscus, rattan, brown, red and green everything, frangipani art, sad pillows, cheap netting, balinese furniture… the list goes on.
I want your business to do well, because if you do well, we all do well. Keeping the spend in the local economy and all that jazz... so with that said, here are some tips that might help you stand out from the crowd and make your accommodation feel more stylish and world class. Bearing in mind, it's not just the local accommodations you are being compared against, but Bali, Fiji and other destinations.
For example... Quiet Leaves in Bali is only $50 a night. It is near the beach, has a pool and chic outdoor bathroom. Where would you rather stay? The good news is you can update your space easily, and not spend a penny.
I have put a summary/checklist at the bottom for those that dont like to read.
Ok, here goes…
Things you can do that wont cost you a penny (plus a few that are affordable and will make a difference):
- Cushions + Pillows.
- No more diamond/diagonal cushions. We aren't in the 90's anymore. Keep them straight.
- You don't need many. Either one positioned in the center of the bed, or two cushions positioned in front of each pillow.
- Speaking of pillows - they should look fluffy and full. There were so many flat, sad pillows! They look old, too slept on and uninviting. When staying in a hotel, you want to forget how many heads have used that pillow before you. And if you want to be a step above the rest, consider offering a pillow menu. The cost is minimal, but adds that extra bit of luxury.
- Red cushions…. So many red and lime green cushions!? When choosing your colour palette, consider your branding, your art and your environment. But this doesnt mean that you should keep your red cushions just because you have red in your logo. Time to get a bit more creative.
Soho House, Barcelona. This team can do no wrong in my eyes. Straight cushions and a very desirable room - enticing you to stay there. Take away the wainscoting and this space is basically a white box with a window. Yet it is full of style - even without the wainscoting.
La Residence Franschhoek, South Africa. The only time lime green should be used in a hotel room. Personality plus.
- No more rolling! Again, we are in 2019, not 1999. Fold them in thirds and place them nicely in the bathroom - not on the bed.
- Without wanting to contradict myself, the only time rolling should be allowed is on outdoor lounges, with beach towels (preferably striped). Summer vibez y’all.
- If you want your room to feel more luxurious and modern, steer clear of the towel art (no swans please).
- Let’s discuss brown towels! Ew. This feels like you are trying to hide the dirt (which you might be ;-) ) For holiday accommodation, cleanliness is essential, making white towels essential. If they get dirty - use bleach. Voila!
- Due to our humid climate, towels dont dry as quickly, so when it is time to reinvest in towels, opt for a lighter weight (ideally 600grm2) and a looser loom.
Folded towels at COMO Shambhala Estate, Payangan. Also notice flowers in a vase - more on that later.
- Your art should be proportional to your space. For example, dont hang only one 30x30cm art on a long/tall wall. This was apparent in so many rooms!
- If you have two pieces of art that should be hung together - hang them together, not a metre apart.
- If you dont have a headboard or netting, hang (proportional) art above the bed.
Villa Marie Saint-Barth, St Barths. Look, straight cushions! Think you cant afford art? Visit the Handicraft market and use one of Vanuatu's very talented weavers instead. Hanging baskets are very chic.
- This one is simple… white sheets only.
- Secondly, white sheets only… :) They look clean and crisp. Add colour with a throw/blanket. Personally, I would avoid patterned duvet covers as they can look dated unless styled correctly.
- Add personality through your cushions, bed runner/throw, art and accessories.
- Lastly, not all bedding should be tucked in tightly. If your interior suits it, keep the bedding loose and relaxed. Rules are made to be broken.
Unmade, but seriously inviting bed at Residenza Napoleone III, Rome, Italy. Unexpected, but so luxurious. They are setting the scene with a tray of breakfast, instead of cheap champagne and empty glasses. And look how in proportion the artwork is!
Six Senses, Fiji. So fresh and so clean. Perfectly styled with a cuppa. Note the lack of hibiscus.
- I love fresh flowers, but there is a hibiscus overload! Scattered on beds, in bathrooms, on toilets, on tables, on pillows, in bathrooms again. It looks tacky and wilts almost immediately. Not to mention the ants…
- Instead, buy a few small vases (aka bud vase) and place them on bedsides and in the bathroom, complete with a small flower, or even better - leaf - arrangement. It will look more modern and keep them fresh.
- Top tip - add sugar and white vinegar to your flower’s water to keep them fresher even longer. https://www.rd.com/home/decorating/how-to-make-flowers-last-longer/
- I know it is going to be hard to break this habit, but it will be worth it.
Bratsera Hotel on Hydra in the Greek Islands. Exhibit A - bud vase. Not a strewn stem in sight. Also, unmade bed and white sheets. Wouldn't you rather stay here?
- Rugs have 2 purposes, to frame/focus a space and to help you get dust and sand off your feet before hopping into bed.
- For the living area, position them under your coffee table, large enough for the feet of your sofa and arm chairs to be sitting on, or almost touching. A lot of rugs were too small - I get it, they are cheaper - but they arent worth it. Also, dont place them in randomly open areas…
- For the bedroom, rugs are a pointless placed at the end of the bed. Either have 2 small rugs either side of the bed, or one large one that sits under the bed and protrudes either side - enough for you to dust your feet off before catching some zzz’s.
- Rugs are also a great way to hide your dated tiles. Wink.
Casa San Agustin in Cartagena, Colombia. A perfectly positioned rug. They have also opted for a weaved basket as their art. So simple and so effective. Also notice how luxurious their lamps are... but I'll save that for another post.
Perfect example of what not to do. Rug at end of bed and no rug in living?! Doesnt the coffee table look lonely? Would also recommend that photos are taken with all curtains open. TV also looks a bit sad on wall. Would advise a sideboard to be positioned under the unit, or add more art to the TV wall.
- If you dont have professional photos, get some. There are a lot of talented photographers on this island who will charge you less than elsewhere. Your competitor has professional photos and it means they are likely getting booked first and are achieving a better rate per night. If you cant afford it yet, then DIY, but remember to take your photos either first thing in the morning or at dusk when the light is softer - or better yet, have morning photos and dusk photos - turn on all lights (yes, even in the day time) and open all the blinds/shutters/curtains.
- Dont have an instagram? Get one. It is free and a great way to connect with a wider audience.
- Add more plants. Use baskets from the handicraft markets to disguise the pot. Place them in the room and on the terrace for more privacy.
- Rattan Sofa’s should be used outside only. They dont look stylish and you all (ok... most) have them. Stand out from the crowd. If you do have them, at least get them recovered in white (with removable covers so you can wash or bleach if necessary). Dont want white? Choose anything other than brown or orange.
- Cream walls. I’m not totally against cream, but if your space gets a lot of light, then white is preferable and will look more modern. There are many shades of white, so do some research, paint some samples and choose the best option for your space.
Frégate Island Private, Seychelles. Another perfectly positioned rug... if this didnt have the scattered hibiscus it would be near perfect. Also note lack of rattan furniture and perfectly sized artwork.
Look at the room below with a critical eye and consider where you would rather stay...?
Not naming names. White walls in this room is too much contrast, a creamier white would be better. Blinds are pulled.. bad view? Dirty, ugly and pointlessly positioned rug, diagonal cushions, swan towels and scattered flowers. Argh. If I saw this when looking for a hotel, I would immediately skip to the next option.
For those who dont like to read…quick summary below. Or print it out and tick off as you go.
Stage One Checklist - Free.
- Remove all hibiscus flowers and replace with small vase in bathroom and bedsides.
- Straighten cushions.
- Re-position your art properly (eye level, group smaller pieces of art together, in line with door/window heights if nearby).
- Re-position rugs to bedside, not end of bed.
- Fold your towels and take them off the bed.
- Create your instagram and post your updated photos there.
Stage Two Checklist - Small Investment
- Invest in some new art (I dont want to plug the store, as that isn't what this post is about, but we have some great art and it’s affordable, so no excuses now).
- White Bedding and Towels (dont forget to clean/replace your bed netting).
- Your choice of art will assist you in deciding your colour palette - from there you can update your cushions and bed runner/throw.
- Invest in a larger rug (we have these too... just sayin').
- Paint job.
- Professional photos.
If you want to discuss any of these points in more detail, give me a bell. Happy to help!