When You’re An Entrepreneur Your Team Means Everything

When You’re An Entrepreneur Your Team Means Everything

What they say is true. Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. I know because I’ve lived it. We started operations for Tailored Stay in December of 2019. My team was fresh faced, excited, getting orders and driving momentum.  And then the pandemic hit. So what did we do?

 We pivoted our operations, like so many other companies had to do. Luckily, our beta test was in the greater Taos area of New Mexico where services like Instacart and Door Dash didn’t exist. So we shopped and delivered groceries and supplies to locals. We were glad to help yet it felt awkward and disappointing from a team standpoint that what we were doing was so off the mark of what we had envisioned for the vacation rental industry.

I can honestly say that I don’t think we would have gotten through that period without an amazing and resilient team. They have stuck with me through and through. Working nights and weekends, supporting me during the tough days and encouraging me with the excitement and top-notch skills they bring to the table.

In the summer of 2020 we were back to wowing guests of vacation rental properties with curated groceries, vacation amenities and celebrations all set-up in their units before they arrived.

 

Bachelorette party decor
Birthday Decor
vacation grilling

Our product market fit was great. We were able to place over 250 orders with some repeat and loyal customers. 75% of the property management companies that we worked with approached us for our services and we have a signed ‘Letter of Intent’ from several more who want to work with us throughout the US.

Even with these successes, some days are still hard so I will turn my attention to what I am grateful for:

Like many startup founders, I would love to spend 100% of my time on working on my business but being bootstrapped, to date, means also finding investors and partners.

What I am Grateful for as an Entrepreneur

1. Investors have been willing to take my calls. I have received terrific feedback from industry leaders, executives, Angel Investors and VC’s. Each call puts us closer to our goal.

2. This industry that we have chosen and are passionate about is young and supportive of one another as startups in the vacation rental space. Having attended the VRMA Conference in Chicago I was so warmed by how much people wanted everybody else to succeed. It’s truly an exciting, the sky’s the limit, space to be in.

3. Definitely not lastly, is my team. I could brag about them all day. Please indulge me as I do just that.

The Team, as a Founder, I am so Lucky to Have

Stephen Fitzgerald CFO

I know better than to not call out my husband first. Anyone who has the privilege of knowing Stephen knows these two things about him: he has a solid sober prospective and an abundance of integrity in intention and follow through which makes him a great partner and leader. Stephen has spent his entire career in Executive positions within leading hospitality companies such as Saber, Hotwire & Hilton. He brings decades of experience to the table in Ecommerce, Finance and his success and thorough knowledge of OTA’s.

Nicholas Armstrong CTO

A true Texan at heart, there is not a problem that Nick can’t meet. He gladly tackles new IT projects and pulls out some sort of magic wand combining experience and fierce intelligence to make them work. He has earned successes and leadership positions in the world of IT. Currently he works with highly sensitive healthcare data but lucky for us, in his early career also worked with grocery inventory. This man understands his item files and UPC’s!

Cecilia Cuff Hospitality & Operations Director

When I first contacted Cecilia on LinkedIn to work with Tailored Stay, I thought there was no way she’d be interested. With her background at Hyatt hotels and having been handpicked to renovate Taos Ski Valley, I didn’t think she’d have much interest in a startup. Boy, was I wrong! Cecilia has the largest appetite for entrepreneurship of any of us. She co-owns several successful businesses including the newly opened Bronseville Winery which celebrates the cultural history of the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago.

Pat Parker Lead Website & WooCommerce Developer 

Pat is another team member that we happened to stumble a pon and bring into the fold. Pat started as a contractor for us but we quickly knew that both her experience and personality made her a great fit for our team. Pat has drove numerous projects throughout her long career in development and IT. She is a true expert when it comes to web development and WooCommerce inventory. Her passion and specialty is writing code to make things work that typically wouldn’t have otherwise.

Mark Grosso Head of Product & Legal Council

When you take someone who has extensive leadership experience in product marketing during his decade with Verizon, combined with a J.D. that he earned at night, you get a two-in-one combination with a sense of humor to boot. Mark’s sharpness and attention to detail are team assets we rely on every day. His emotional support is invaluable. He props everyone up. Mark is a remarkable leader and team player.

Anna Arrow PR & Customer Success

Some little known facts about Anna: she graduated as Valedictorian from High School and had the talent and ambition to move to Hollywood after college where she had a sucesful run as an actress. Anna’s passions are people and animals (she now helps run a small hobby farm in Northern, IL). An extremely affective communicator and commited to providing world-class guest services that she gained in running large nightclubs and international festivals in the US and abroad, Anna has a unique skillset. She fosters creation and sees through complexities with unique and inspired views.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the talent, support and perserverence of this team. The startup grind is definately not for everyone. We’ve somehow found the perfect ingredients to align us with success. Thank you my team, my family, my friends.

Stocking The Kitchen At Your Vacation Rental Home: Everything You Need To Know

Stocking The Kitchen At Your Vacation Rental Home: Everything You Need To Know

How To Stock The Kitchen Of Your Vacation Rental

 

Being a first, second or even third time owner of vacation rental homes is exciting but staging it can be daunting. There’s maintenance, marketing, property management and on top of that managing and exceeding guests expectations.

Did you know that several surveys have found that the number one reason people book vacation rentals over hotels is for the kitchen? So if you stock the kitchen with basic essentials to top end appliances and décor, you’re already a step ahead of most. Read on to find everything you need to know about stocking the kitchen of your vacation rental home.

 Kitchen Cooking Essentials

Let’s start with kitchen essentials. It’s important to say here, that even if you want to skimp on the budget, not investing in high-quality, durable items just means you will have to replace them in the future costing you more money in the long run. I did the research for you to find quality items at fair prices with this in mind. *Please note this article contains affiliate links. All items can be easily purchased and shipped directly from Amazon. 

  • Various Sizes of Pots & Pans

These, shown here, are easily stackable, PFOA free, oven safe and easy to clean. Both have received over 4.5 ratings specifically for durablility and how easy they are to clean. Perfect for repeat guests to use over and over again. 

 

  • Baking Dishes

Again, these should be both attractive and easy to clean. The stackable variety give your guests access to multiple options and they can even go in the refridgerator to store food. You can expect highly durable materials that withstand heat and are easy to clean.

  • Cuttlery

Stainless steal silverware is one of the most durable options out there. They are rust resistant, dishwasher friendly and easy to maintain. We like the on the counter butcher block for knives so guests of your vacation rental can easily find them and a well-stocked kitchen should be evident in your photographs.

  • Cutting Boards

Choose from eco-friendly bamboo with natural antimicrobial properties or these deeply grooved non-slip plastic boards that are dishwasher safe. Can’t decide? You may want to purchase both to give your guests a choice.

  •  Kitchen Towels & Oven Mitts

Stick with clean designs, easy to wash, durable materials and make sure you have plenty so you can swap them out for new guests.

  • Basic Cooking Utensils

Get the bundled varieties shown here in basic black or mix it up and delight your guests with the fun and colorful.

  • Wine Cooking & Serving Essentials

A well-stocked kitchen provides most of the conveniences your guests would find at home in their own kitchen. From a wine key, to can opener, baking sheets to serving utensils, these are a must to have on your vacation rental home kitchen stocking list.

  • Additional Vacation Kitchen Essentials

To truly provide a ‘home away from home’ at your VRBO or Airbnb, complete the cooking essentials with a pizza cutter, silicone spatulas, a colandor and stainless steal mixing bowls.

  •  Salt, Pepper, Sugar Packets & Basic Spices

You don’t have to go overboard here and you’ll often find that guests leave these items behind. Basic cooking spices and seasonings will be your foodie guest’s delight though, adding to their over all experience at your vacation rental home.

Glasses, Bowls & Plates For Your Well-Stocked Vacation Rental Home Kitchen

  • Glasses, Tumblers, Mugs & Wine Glasses

These highly rated led-free glasses are top of the line and affordable. Made in Italy, the highball glasses and the juice or tumbler glasses are dishwasher safe. The timeless designs and sturdy bases set them a step above others. When it comes to coffee cups, have fun! Mornings are hard enough. Cheer your guests with fun colors on the inside and a classic black matte on the outside. Choose from stem or stemless wine glasses, but make sure you have them.

  • Plates & Bowls

While I can’t account for everyone’s taste, what I like about the super classic white ceramic and the contemporary American Atelier stoneware sets, is that they are both highly rated for durability and long term ware. Dishwasher and microwave safe, these everyday use dishes have clean lines and will last you for years.

Top Rated Kitchen Counter Appliances

  • Coffee Pot & Electric Tea Kettle

Your tea drinking and European guests will be glad you thought of them when it comes to caffeination. This stainless steal, cordless tea kettle gets five stars when it comes to safety features and hottness. You may debate whether or not to get a Kuerig or standard coffee pot. Many rentals offer both. I have found it’s cheaper to stock small coffee packets over coffee pods.

  • Stock Additional Kitchen Appliances

A crockpot is great for large groups and limits the packing and items a guest has to bring. While the toaster is extremely essential more and more people are also using blenders for morning smoothies and reheating their leftovers or take out in an airfryer.

Essentials For The Grill

  • Grilling Equiptment

If your property features a grill, these basic grilling essentials are a must. They are durable for long-lasting use.

Kitchen Utility Items For Your Airbnb

  • Basic Kitchen Utility

A standard paper towel holder will give your guests access to easily swipe and clean. The stainless, touch-less garbage can with the black top will block fingerprints and stains.

Classy Kitchen Hospitality For Hosting

  • Serving Dishes & More

Set your space apart with stylish serving trays, dishes, ramekins. Be the host that goes the extra mile and watch those five stars come in.

Colorful Decor & Kitchen Extras

Not sure how to add extra flare? Timeless, colorful and modern feels clean and sleek on your walls and countertops. Remeber. a little bit of personality can go along way in fostering a deeper guest connection. Let them know who you are with fun signs and wall decor. Don’t forget to add splashes of color and think about packaging when it comes to things like soaps and other vacation rental kitchen amenities. There are endless possibilities here. I hope you have some fun shopping along the way! Best of luck to you in running a succesful vacation rental home in 2022.

Have more ideas? Don’t forget to leave them in the comments.

How The Pandemic Has Changed Guests’ Vacation Rental Expectations In 2021

How The Pandemic Has Changed Guests’ Vacation Rental Expectations In 2021

COVID 19 -Effects On Travel & The Road To Vacation Rental Recovery

 

It was like a wave when it hit, toppling down businesses, halting cruise travel, virtually taking out tourism overnight. People canceled booked trips by record-breaking numbers. They rightfully listened to the experts who said stay home. The best of the industry turned their hotels and rentals into long-term facilities for essential workers and homeless communities. While for months, large jets squatted on abandoned tarmacs hoping to one day be used again.

 

That’s the thing about travel. It comes with hope and the pleasure of knowing that you have your next vacation planned runs deep. Yearning for travel is like the middle child, the one who won’t stay home even when grounded. Although we did stay home. So now that we’re slowly turning a corner opening borders and gaining flexibility with more vaccine distributions, what’s next?

According to the VRBO US 2020 Travel Report, 82% of 8,000 people surveyed have already planned travel for 2021 and 65% said they plan to increase traveling frequency from what it was pre-COVID. 

Findings: Travel Is Indeed Good For Mental Health

 

Not surprisingly another 22% said that going on vacation would improve their mental health and self-care.

 

Experts agree that vacationing and planning your vacation help to improve mental health during high-stress periods (like the current one). Just the means of anticipation of travel has been found to be a mood-booster while the actual planning & booking can rank higher as a stress-reliever than the trip transit itself. 

Join ‘Dreaming of Travel’ a FB Community that focuses on just that.

So What In Travel Has Actually Changed Since 2019?

 

In 2020 global hotel occupancy in March fell to an average of 17% capacity vs. 77% in 2019. The vacation rental home industry bottomed out at 34%, during the same period, in comparison to 56% occupancy during the same time in 2019. Urban areas were hit the hardest while rural, mountain and beach vacations experienced growth. In fact, a new report from AirDNA April 2021 marks the first-month vacation rental bookings for May, June, and July 2021 have more demand booked through the first week of April 2021 than for the same months in 2019 as of early April 2019

AirDNA Vacation Rental Report

*It’s important to note that the vacation rental sector continues to be projected to grow at a higher rate than hotels, hotel occupancy significantly outperformed rental homes in 2019 (a lot had to do with business travel).

 

Why Are More Travelers Turning To Booking Vacation Rental Homes?

 

There are obvious pandemic-related reasons such as touch-less entry, more personal and family space but another big swing is that people are seeking out destinations that allow them to explore outdoors. In the past year, searches for cabins, luxury homes and chalets skyrocketed compared to previous years. Snow skiing and beach destinations have become increasingly popular as well. 

Since working from home allows more freedom, the VRBO vacation survey also found that 48% of respondents say they can now work from anywhere and 37% have already considered booking a home rental just for a change of scenery. 

What Does The Vacation Rental Industry Need To Do To Accommodate Demand & Succeed In New Guest Expectations?

 

While occupancy levels are up, there is still a lot of competition in rural markets. So how do you cut away from the noise and stay in tune with changing travel trends?

    Some of the Expected 2021 Vacation Rental Home Travel Trends Include:

    • Driveable and flexible vacations 
    • Communication about cleaning procedures and COVID safety will continue to influence bookings
    • Whole family spaces including pet-friendly accommodations will be on the rise
    • Guest touchpoints that used to be face to face will increasingly move to tech platforms
    • Guests will actively involve themselves in supporting the local community

     

    Guests’ Expectations Have Also Changed

    They are seeking amenities that make them feel at home and can accommodate longer stays.

    Concierge and hotel-like services will be more in demand as competition to provide these grows. Guests will be seeking more meaning in their vacations with family and loved ones.

     

    How Property Managers & Owners Can Get A Head Of It All

    1. Reevaluate your cancellation policy 
    2. Pivot to a closer geographical region you are marketing to
    3. Focus on outdoor, safe recreation nearby
    4. Provide home-like amenities like stocked kitchens, work/school spaces and high-speed WiFi
    5. Integrate touchless technology for check-ins and communicating with guests

    Easily Embed This Travel Infographic.

    Continue Being Infront of Guests – Don’t Use This As a Time to Fade Out

    It’s been a long haul for all of us but according to Skift, the worse thing Property Managers and Travel Companies can do is to go into hiding. Instead, focus on campaigns that make guests feel comfortable and reassured that you will be there when they are ready to travel again. Las Vegas, for example, has implemented the #OnlyYou campaign. Property Management company Natural Retreats focuses on the environment and amenities with their #OpenTheDoorToMore campaign while TurnKey addresses changing guest expectations right on their homepage. 

    For more information on how you can provide your guests with exceptional amenities visit: https://tailoredstay.com/owners/

    Happy health & recovery to all!

     

    Safety Tips For Your Vacation Home Getaway

    Safety Tips For Your Vacation Home Getaway

    16 Tips for Vacation Rental Home Guests

    Over the last decade, tens of millions of people have had uneventful, enjoyable stays in vacation rental units. But let’s be honest – every type of travel carries some risk. While Airbnb, VRBO and others have taken steps to improve platform security and to address concerns, there are actions you can take to better ensure a safe, comfortable trip. We’ve assembled 16 vacation home rental safety tips to help.

    1. Pay attention to the property descriptions.

    Read them carefully to ensure that you understand the facilities and amenities of the unit, and the features you will and won’t be getting. While many listings on platforms such as Airbnb or VRBO will let you know if there are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, they may not tell you if the backdoor has a working deadbolt or if the room that your children will sleep in has a lock on the window. If in doubt, these are things you should contact the property manager about ahead of time.

    2. Read the reviews

    Read as many as possible. They will help identify recurring themes, issues or problems as other guests see them.

    3. Make sure the property fits the description.

    Ask for more pictures beforehand if you have doubts. Note if the reviews say anything about the property descriptions not matching photos.

    4. Get to know your host.

    Ask a few questions in an email exchange. Check them out on social media if possible.

    5. Look out for payment scams.

    While Airbnb and VRBO use reviews and complaints to police hosts and offerings, there are still plenty of examples of scams and stolen money. See this blog on risks of Airbnb travelers for more details. In any event, never bypass the built-in platform payment solution.

    6. Check to see if the property or host has been blacklisted.

    Sites like AirbnbHell & Sitejabber feature stories of Airbnb rentals gone terribly wrong.

    7. Check the location and neighborhood appearance on Google Earth or Google street view.

    Does it look like a neighborhood you would feel safe in?

    8. Bring your own first aid kit if possible.

    Your unit may not have one.

    9. Check the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors when you arrive.

    While you are at it, look for cameras disguised in light fixtures or as smoke alarms, motion detectors or clock radios.

     

    Hosting During Covid-19: How to Protect You & Your Guests

    10. Know where the exits are.

    Rehearse what you and your traveling companions would do to escape a fire.

    11. Let friends or family know where you are staying.

    Many of us have Find My Friends or similar location sharing apps on our phones. This may not be enough. For extra precaution let loved ones know where you are staying.

    12. Research the city.

    Where are the safest places to stay, and what areas are best avoided? How do you get in touch with the local police or fire station if there is an emergency? Where is the nearest walk-in clinic or hospital? If you ‘d like your host to provide these go ahead and ask them.

    13. Often times it’s not the place. It’s the people.

    No two people are made the same. You may have had a great experience with one host and not so great with another. Communicate with your host to get a feel for them before you arrive. If you detect any interaction concerns with your host, don’t buy. Move on.

    14. Rent out the whole house or apartment.

    Staying with strangers may sound adventurous but you don’t know what you’re going to get. Even if your housemates are honest and well-meaning, they may come and go and be active at hours that don’t agree with your schedule. If you want to avoid this, check with the owner to make sure no one else is going to be there with you.

    15. Women often travel alone, but additional precautions will make your stay safer and more enjoyable.

    First, buy the entire unit to avoid unknown housemates. If you can’t or don’t want to do that, ensure the door to your room securely locks and perform a camera check shortly after arrival. Check that the bathroom locks securely. Follow your intuition. If something does not feel right, it might not be right.

    16. Have an open mind.

    Whether you elect to buy the entire unit or an individual room, the point of a vacation rental experience is often the conviviality, feeling of exploration, and interaction with fellow travelers and neighbors. It’s a mindset adjustment that can pay off with all-new experiences.

     Over the last decade, the growth and availability of the vacation rental marketplace have opened a whole new range of stay options for travelers. With a little research, advance planning, and common sense, you can be assured of a safe, enjoyable stay.

    Still  have questions? 

     

     

     

    Hearty Dinners & Drinks For Your Group After The Slopes

    Hearty Dinners & Drinks For Your Group After The Slopes

    The best part about winter is being able to get away for a week or long weekend and enjoy fresh powder on the slopes. Grab your skis or snowboard and head to the mountains for an exhilarating ski vacation in the great outdoors!

    Whether or not you are planning on hitting the slopes yourself, a day in the mountain air usually leads to your group being famished at night. These hearty meals and toasty drinks are a great way to refresh and relax in your cozy vacation rental cabin. Delight friends and family with these easy to make recipes that are sure to please your active crowd.

    *Disclaimer: Some of these involve the use of a crockpot. If you can’t bring one along, ask your Property Manager to secure one for you.

    Dinner Recipes Designed for your Ski Trip

    Slow Cooker Beef Tips

    These beef tips take minutes to assemble. Just cook on low in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours and return from the slopes to a hearty homecooked meal. Serve over mash potatoes or rice with your favorite salad or vegetable.

    Serving Size: 8                     Prep Time: 20 Minutes                    Cook Time: 6-8 hours low

    Ingredients:
    • 3 lbs Top Sirloin Steak cubed
    • 2 cups Beef Broth
    • 1 10.5 oz can of Cream of Mushroom Soup
    • 1 cup diced Onion
    • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
    • 1 tsp dry Thyme
    • 1 tsp seasoning salt -like Lawry’s, divided
    • 2 tbsps Cooking Oil

     

     

    Directions:

    • Cut Steak into 1-inch cubes
    • Heat a large skillet with oil and brown meat using half the Lawry’s seasoning
    • Add all of the ingredients to the crockpot
    • Mix in the stew meat
    • Cook on low for 6-8 hours

    Rigatoni Alla Nonno

    The unique and memorable flavors of Italy can be found in Grandpa’s Rigatoni. A base of pork, carrots and onions combined with a (jarred) red sauce makes a sweet palette-satisfying dish. The best part? After preparation, it only needs 35 minutes to simmer. Prepare a quick hot pasta that everyone will love.

    Serving Size: 6                     Prep Time: 15 Minutes                    Cook Time: 35-45 mins

    Ingredients:
    • 16 oz box Rigatoni
    • 2 1/2 lbs boneless Pork Loin Chops
    • 1/2 cup Carrots, sliced in thin rounds
    • 1 medium white or yellow Onion, chopped
    • 1 tbsp minced Garlic
    • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
    • 1 16 oz can/jar of your favorite meatless red sauce (We like Huntz 4 Cheese Sauce)
    • Fresh Parmesan Cheese
    • Olive Oil
    Directions
    • Slice the pork loin into thin bite-size strips
    • Heat a large skillet or saucepan with a liberal amount of olive oil
    • Add the pork to the pan and sprinkle with about 1/2 Tbsp of Italian Seasoning
    • Cook until mostly white (about 5 minutes) turning pieces with a fork as you go
    • Remove pork from the pan
    • Add onion, carrots and minced garlic to the pan
    • Cook for 4 minutes until onion starts to get opaque
    • Add pork back to the pan
    • Add the sauce and stir
    • Simmer on low for 35-45 minutes
    • Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions
    • Sprinkle with fresh parmesan right before serving

     

     

    Don’t Forget Hot Drinks to Help you Warm-up and Celebrate your Ski Vacation With Family and Friends

    Hot Toddy

    Guaranteed to Warm you Up

    • 1 oz Bourbon
    • 1 tsp Honey
    • 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice
    • 1/4 cup boiling Water
    • Sip slowly and enjoy

    Irish Coffee

    A Classic Pick-Me-Up Before or After the Slopes

    • 2 parts Irish Whiskey
    • 4 parts black Coffee
    • Sugar or Cream to taste
    • PRO TIP: Use Bailey’s instead of cream for extra pizazz

    Texas-Style Chili

    What’s winter without Chili? The original dish most likely emerged in the Mexico/Southwest Texas region. There are so many variations but we like this one because it’s full of flavor and easy to make. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for your crowd.

    Serving Size: 4                    Prep Time: 10 Minutes                    Cook Time:40 mins

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb ground Beef or Turkey
    • Olive Oil or Vegetable Oil
    • 1 yellow Onion, chopped
    • Diced green Pepper
    • 1 14 oz can Diced Tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 15 oz can Kidney Beans, undrained
    • 1 package Chili Seasoning -like McCormick’s or your choice

     

     

    Suggested Toppings:

    • Chopped red Onion
    • Shredded Cheese
    • Sour Cream
    • Jalepeno slices
    • Oyster Crackers or other

     

     

    Directions:

    • Gently heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot
    • Sauté chopped onions and pepper over media heat until the onions are translucent
    • Add and brown ground beef or turkey and cook through
    • Remove from heat and drain excess fat
    • Add undrained diced tomatoes and kidney beans
    • 1 15 oz can kidney beans, undrained
    • Add chili seasoning, stir thoroughly and bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally

     

     

    One-Dish Ham & Scalloped Potatoes

    For the Northerners and Brittish in your crowd, Ham & Scalloped potatoes is a winter staple. Thought to have origins in England, this hearty and one-dish meal sticks to your bones when you need it to the most.

    Serving Size: 8                   Prep Time: 20 Minutes                    Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins

    Ingredients:

    • 2 cups diced cured Ham
    • 8 medium Russet Potatoes (about 6 cups)
    • 1/2 pt. Whipping Cream
    • 1 cup grated American or cheddar cheese
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Fresh Parsley

     

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
    • Grease a 2 1/2 quart baking dish
    • Scrub the potatoes and slice into 1/4 inch rounds
    • Layer half the potatoes in the bottom of the pan
    • Sprinkle with salt & pepper
    • Top with half of the ham
    • Add 1/4 pint whipping cream
    • Add 1/2 cup cheese
    • Repeat with remaining ingredients
    • Bake for 60 minutes covered in foil
    • Remove foil and cook until Potatoes are tender
    • Garnish with parsley

    Best Ever Baked Chicken Dinner

    This quickly became a household favorite as soon as we tried it. Never worry again about your chicken not staying moist and flavorful while still maintaining perfectly seasoned and crispy skin.

    Serving Size: 8                     Prep Time: 20 Minutes                    Cook Time: 1 hr 30-45 mins

    Ingredients:

    • 1 5-6 lb roasting Chicken
    • 2 Lemons halved, one for garnish
    • 1 bunch fresh Thyme, 10 additional sprigs for garnish
    • 5 whole cloves Garlic, peeled but not cut
    • Kosher Salt
    • Garlic Seasoning Himalyan Pink Salt
    • Freshly ground Pepper
    • 1 large Onion, sliced thick
    • 5 Carrots cut in 1 1/2 inch sticks
    • 2 – 3 cupes Red Potatoes, halved
    • 2 tbsp melted Butter
    • Olive Oil

     

     

    Directions:

    • Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
    • Rinse the chicken in cold water, remove giblets and pat dry with a paper towel
    • In a small bowl, generously mix 2 parts garlic seasoning salt with 1 part each salt and pepper
    • Liberally apply to the outside skin of the chicken
    • With a brush or a spoon, apply the melted butter to the outside of the chicken, adding additional spice mixture if there is run off
  • Stuff the cavity with one half of the lemon followed by the bunch of thyme and garlic cloves, Plug the other opening with the remaining lemon half, rind out
  • Place the onions, carrots and potatoes in the bottom of a large baking dish
  • Sprinkle the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Place thecChicken on top of the vegetable and cook uncovered for 1/1/2 hours or until the juice runs clear when cut between the thigh and leg
  • Additional Winter Drinks to Serve to a Group

    Hot Apple Cider

    The Taste of Autumn in One Sip

    • Fill a cup 3/4 of the way with heated Apple Cider
    • 1 shot Whiskey or Fireball
    • A few drops of Lemon Juice
    • sliced apples and Cinnamon sticks for garnish
    • Optional: Drizzle with Caramel
    • PRO TIP: For large groups or parties, heat wet ingredients, except for alcohol, in a crockpot or stove
    • Add alcohol to taste

    A+ Martini

     Not a hot drink but still perfect for winter

    • 2.5 oz Hendrick’s or Bombay Gin
    • 2 oz Aperol
    • .5 oz simple syrup
    • 4-5 drops of Lemon Juice
    • 2-3 dashes of Bitters
    • Best shaken over ice and served in a martini glass

    Vacation Meal Planning Made Easy

    Vacation Meal Planning Made Easy

    You’ve found the perfect Airbnb and now it’s time to start vacation planning. Isn’t it true that part of the lure of staying at a vacation rental home is so you can have a kitchen with basic cooking essentials at your fingertips?

    While it’s hard to find recipes with minimal spices, cooking oils and ingredients that you can reuse they’re all keys to successful vacation meal planning. If you’re traveling with a group these meals take in account different taste buds, picky eaters and range from sweet and delectable to chock full of vegetables and healthy.

    Package up leftovers for grab and go meals and snacks throughout the week . Use our printable vacation meal planning guide to help get you organized before you go.

    Day One: A relaxing Vacation Arrival!

    Dinner:

    Combat fast food and airport food with veggies and hummus or dip, charcuterie board and your favorite drink. The first night is all about relaxing. With kids in tow easy to make Annie’s Organic Mac-n-Cheese is a hassle-free dependable option. Serve with the fruit or vegetable that you know they will eat. Think comfort foods and don’t get hung up if that means PB&J. After a long day of travel, you want your kids to sleep and this is not the time to introduce new foods after a day of traveling excitement.

    Day Two: Includes the most cooking -relax the rest of the week!

    Breakfast:

    Egg Strata and/or French Toast casserole. Prepare the night before or that morning. Making this early in your stay means that there will most likely be leftovers to serve throughout the week.

    Cheese, Bacon & Vegetable Strata Recipe

    A tried and true crowd-pleaser, this easy Strata is best prepared the night before.

    PREP TIME: 15 minutes

    COOK TIME: 1 hr

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 12 thick slices of White Bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
    • ¼ cup crumbled cooked Bacon 
    • 2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
    • 1 ½ cups chopped fresh Mushrooms
    • 12 Eggs
    • 2 ½ cups Half-and-Half
    • Optional – 1/4 moderate sautéed chopped Onion and/or chopped Green Peppers

    DIRECTIONS:

    •  Toss cubed Bread with Bacon, Cheese, Mushrooms (sautéed Onions and Green Pepper if desired), and pour into a 9×13” baking pan
    • Whisk together Eggs, Half-and-Half, and Mustard until smooth, then pour evenly over cubed bread 
    • Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight
    • Preheat oven to 350 
    • Remove plastic wrap from the baking dish, and bake Strata in the preheated oven until the top is golden brown and eggs are set, about an hour 
    • Let stand for 10 minutes before serving

    Day Two

    Breakfast:

    Another breakfast favorite, especially for the kids, this easy French Toast Casserole Recipe only takes minutes to assemble. The pecans and drizzled topping puts it in a league of its own.

    French Toast Casserole Recipe

    Prepare the night before or in the morning and bake right away.

    PREP TIME: 10 minutes

    COOK TIME: 35-45 minutes

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 large loaf good-quality French or Sourdough Bread, leave the crusts on for extra crunch
    • 1/2 cup (45g) Chopped Pecans 
    • 5 large Eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups Whole Milk
    • 1/4 cup (50g) Granulated Sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon Salt

    FOR THE TOPPING:

    • 4 tablespoons unsalted Butter, melted
    • 3 tablespoons (40g) Dark Brown Sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
    • Pinch of Salt

    DIRECTIONS: 

    • Lightly grease a 2 or 3-quart baking dish
    • Slice or tear the Bread into 1-inch cubes
    • Layer Bread and Pecans until the Bread is all in the dish
    • In a separate bowl, whisk together the Eggs, Milk, Sugar and ½ teaspoon of Cinnamon, pour this mixture over the Bread
    • In another bowl mix the topping: melted Butter, Brown Sugar, 1 teaspoon Cinnamon and a pinch of Salt
    • Drizzle the Bread mix with the topping right before it goes in the oven
    • Bake at 350 degrees in a preheated oven fo 35-45 minutes
    • Serve with Maple Syrup

    Day Two

    Lunch:

    A variety of delicious sandwiches will fuel you and your active group during the week. Again making them ahead will free up time for you later, and help you to save money and calories when you opt for one of these over sweets or take out for a late-night snack.

    Chicken Salad on Sweet Hawaiian Buns

    Light but flavorful, we’ve never met one we haven’t liked.

    PREP TIME:5- 10 minutes

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1.5 lbs shredded Chicken 
    • 8-10 Hawaiian Buns -or similar
    • Cilantro -chopped, 1 handful
    • 1 cup Mayonnaise
    • ½ cup Shredded Cheese
    • Salt & Pepper -to taste
    • Optional: chopped Red Onion or Jalapeno

    CHEAT TIP:

    • For a really fast version use an already cooked Rotisserie Chicken from the grocery store

    DIRECTIONS: 

    • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, sprinkle with Salt & Pepper and then spoon onto Buns
    • Package together or in individual portions and store in the fridge until serving
      • *Optional: Spread with Avocado slices just before serving

      Day Two

      Lunch:

      A take on the classic Italian hoagie, with fresh ingredients and a little  bit of red pepper zest.

      Sweet & Sassy Italian Hoagies

      Wrap these tight in seran wrap after assembly to lock in the flavor.

      PREP TIME: 10 minutes

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 6-8 rolls or Sub bread
      • 1 pound each -A mix of Italian lunch meats: choose 2 from Salami, Ham, Capicola, Prosciutto, Mortadella, Pepperoni
      • 1 pound mild Yellow Cheese such as Mozzarella or Provolone 
      • 1 (16 oz) jar of Roasted Red Peppers
      • 2 cups shredded Lettuce
      • 2 Beefsteak Tomatoes
      • Vinaigrette – we like 
        Beano’s Original Submarine Dressing, 8.0 FL OZ

      DIRECTIONS: 

      • Spread the bottom face of the sub bread with Roasted Red Peppers
      • On the top, generously add the Italian Vinegerate
      • On the Pepper side, assemble first meat, then cheese, followed by vegetables
      • Wrap subs tightly in saran wrap and refridgerate until serving

      Day Two

      Dinner:

      Prepare in the morning and then leave in the crock pot while you explore fun activities during the day.

      Cheryl’s Southern Pork

      Expect leftovers of this delightfully simple yet delicious pork to carry over for lunch the next day.

      PREP TIME: 10 minutes

      COOK TIME: 6-8 hours on high, 4 on low

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 8-10 lbs pork shoulder
      • Salt
      • Pepper
      • Cumin
      • Paprika Pepper
      • Smoked Paprika (mostly) 
      • Water

      DIRECTIONS: 

      • Mix a generous portion of spices into a bowl to create the dry rub
      • Lay the raw Pork on a clean surface or parchment paper and massage the dry rub onto the meat evenly
      • Place meat into a large crockpot
      • Add 1 cup water
      • Cook on low for 6-8 hours
      • The meat will be white and easily shreddable when it’s done
      • Serve on Corn or Flour Tortillas with Cheese, leftover Cilantro and diced Onion

      Day Three: Eat what’s already been prepared and explore!

      Breakfast:

      Leftovers from the day before. Fruit, Bagel and Cereal option. Dry cereal is always easy to bag up for snacks throughout the day to fuel your adventures.

      Lunch:

      Combine leftover Pork from the night before with BBQ sauce. Serve on a bun with Chips and Fruit.

      Dinner:

      Out for John’s Birthday

      Day Four: Enduldge in some local tastes!

      Breakfast:

      Out at the local Cafe.

      Lunch:

      Grab and go pre-made Chicken Salad and Italian Hoagie Sandwiches.

      Day Four

      Dinner:

       Always a crowd-pleaser, these Chipotle-like Burrito Bowls only take 35 minutes to make and everyone can build their own.

      Steak & Chicken Burrito Bowls

      Anticipate happy bellies all around the dinner table. Serves 10. Reduce the amount of meat for smaller crowds.

      PREP TIME: 15 minutes

      COOK TIME: 20 minutes

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 3-4 bounds cubed Chicken
      • 3-4 pounds cubed Sirloin Steak
      • 2 (8 oz) packages of Frontera Classic Fajita Skillet Sauce
      • 2 (8 oz) packages of Frontera Key Lime Shrimp Taco Skillet Sauce (goes great with Chicken too)
      • 1 large (16 oz) can of Black or Pinto Beans
      • 4 – 6 cups Brown Rice or White Rice
      • Lettuce
      • Shredded Cheese
      • Cilantro
      • Onion
      • Avocado
      • Tomato
      • Sour Cream

      DIRECTIONS: 

      • Heat two large skillets and grease with oil or butter
      • Add Chicken and Steak -don’t mix meat, one in each
      • Cook through turning so all sides are evenly cooked
      • Add the sauces and let simmer for 10 – 15 minutes
      • Meanwhile, cook the Rice and Beans
      • Chop Tomatoes, Onion and Cilantro
      • Arrange all toppings along the counter
      • Layer bowls with Rice, Beans, Meat and individual topping choices

      Serving: Everyone gets a bowl and can go down the line and assemble their own, in true Chipotle-style.

      Day Five: make it easy and reuse ingredients!

      Breakfast:

      Combine remaining Eggs with Milk, Salt and Pepper. Whisk together and slowly cook scrambled Eggs over medium-low heat. Throw in any leftover Lunch or cooked Meat, Veggies and Cheese for a hearty Scrambler.

      Lunch:

      At the Festival

       

      Day Five

      Dinner:

      Pasta with Marinara, a White Sauce option and Meatballs.

      Classic Marinara & White Sauce With Meat Balls

      For a diverse crowd, you can appeal to vegetarians, Italian lovers and those who can’t do the red sauce. Again this is along the lines of build your own so anyone who’s not happy can literally go sit in a snowbank.

      Start with the meatballs and while they are baking make the Pasta and Sauces.

      MEATBALLS – Makes 25 to 30

      PREP TIME: 15 minutes

      COOK TIME: 25 minutes, turning once halfway through

      INGREDIENTS: These are best and most tender if made with a meat mix that includes ground Veal. If that’s against your constitution or hard to find, make your own breadcrumbs or add Ricotta cheese to retain flavor and tenderness in each bite.

        • 1.5 lbs ground Beef 80/20
        • 1 lb ground Mild Italian Sausage (pork)
        • 1 lb ground Veal OR Homemade Breadcrumbs
        • 2 Eggs
        • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
        • ¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
        • Dry Italian bread crumbs (if using Veal)
        • *Add 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese to replace the Veal
        • 1/2 – 1 cup Flour to Coat
        • Olive Oil

      DIRECTIONS:

      • Combine all ingredients with the exception of the Flour and Olive Oil in a large bowl
      • Using your hands, generously mix together ensuring all ingredients are spread throughout
      • Roll into 2 bite-size round balls
      • On a flat surface or plate, sprinkle the Flour
      • Roll each Meatball in the Flour so all sides are coated
      • Generously coat two baking dishes with Olive Oil
      • Place the Meatballs in the dishes, then bake at 350 for 25 minutes, turning halfway through

      PASTA: Cook 2 lbs Pasta of your choice in a large pot on the back burner while you prepare the sauces.

      MARINARA SAUCE – Makes 10 cups

      PREP TIME: 10 minutes

      COOK TIME: 30 minutes

      INGREDIENTS:

        • 12 tbsp Olive Oil
        • ½ cup Butter
        • 6 large Garlic Cloves, mashed
        • 1 tsp Parsley
        • 1 tsp Salt
        • 1 tsp Pepper
        • 12 cups -6 1 lbs cans Peeled Plum Tomatoes
        • 2 tbsp dried Oregano
        • 4 heaping tbsp Tomato Paste

      DIRECTIONS: 

        • Heat Oil and Butter in a large saucepan
        • Chop Garlic and Parsley together and add to the pan
        • Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes
        • Drain the Tomatoes and chop the solids
        • Add Tomatoes and Oregano to the pan
        • Cook slowly over low heat for 30 minutes

      WHITE SAUCE – Serves 6

      PREP TIME: 5 minutes

      COOK TIME: 20 minutes

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 5 tbsp Butter
      • 3 cloves Fresh Garlic -minced or 2 tsp prepared
      • 3 tbsp Flour
      • 1 cup Chicken Broth
      • 1 cup Milk
      • 1/2 cup shredded Mozarella Cheese
      • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
      • Salt and Pepper to taste

      DIRECTIONS:

      • Melt Butter in a saucepan over medium heat
      • Add the Garlic, cook for one minute
      • Add Flour, cook for another minute while stirring occasionally
      • Add the Milk and Broth to make a rue, stirring constantly
      • Cook until sauce thickens
      • Add the Cheeses and Salt and Pepper
      • Serve immediately or set the burner to low, stirring often if waiting for the Meatballs or Marinara to cook

      Day Six: Combine simple, fun & healthy!

      Breakfast:

      Pastries & donuts from the local bakery.

       

      Day Six

      Lunch:

      Meatball Bombers

      Meatball Bombers

      Using remaining Meatballs from the night before, these are easy to prepare on the fly and throw in the oven.

      PREP TIME: 5 minutes

      COOK TIME: 15-20 minutes, until meat is heated through and cheese melts

      INGREDIENTS:

      • 1-2 loaves of Italian or French Bread, depending on how many you are feeding
      • Mozarella Cheese -remaining from precious recipes
      • Meatballs & Marinara from the night before

      DIRECTIONS: 

      • Slice the loaves of bread in half and then cut into individual sandwich portions
      • Add 3-4 Meatballs to each
      • Cover with Mozarella Cheese 
      • *For a saltier flavor additionally sprinkle with remaining Parmesan
      • Bake in the oven at 350 until heated up and the cheese is melted

      Day Six:

      Dinner:

      Healthy option. If you’re like us, by day six you’re tired of eating out and crave some fresh food and vegetables to get you through vacation bloat.

      Salmon Quinoa Bowls 

      Healthy and flavorful, these easily prepared bowls combine robust flavor with your choice of vegetables. Serves 6

      PREP TIME: 15 minutes

      COOK TIME: 35-45 minutes

      INGREDIENTS:

      • A generous piece of salmon, 1.5 to 2 lbs, about .25 lbs for each person in your group
      • 2 cups Tri-Colored Quinoa -follow instructions on the package
      • 4 cups Brown Rice -follow instructions on the package
      • Sauce:
        • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
        • 3 tbsp Rice Vinegar
        • 3 tbsps Honey
        • 3 cloves Garlic -minced
        • 2 tbs fresh Ginger
        • 1/4 tsp crushed Red Pepper flakes
      • 2 tbsps Olive Oil
      • 24 ounces mixed veggies of your choice – we like Kale, Onion, Red Pepper, Mushrooms, Snap Peas and Water Chestnuts
      • 4 Scallions
      • 2 tsp Lemon Juice

       

      DIRECTIONS: 

      • Cook the Quinoa and Rice according to the package directions
      • Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce
      • Prepare the Salmon by rinsing it in cold water, then pat dry with a paper towel
      • Sprinkle the Salmon with Salt, Pepper and Lemon Juice to taste
      • Add the Salmon to a coated shallow baking pan
      • Pour 2/3 of the sauce mixture over the Salmon
      • Place in oven, preheated to 375 degrees
      • Cook 30-45 minutes until the top is flaky and the middle retains some pink
      • Heat a large skillet with 1 tbsp Olive Oil (add a bit of Peanut Oil if you have it on hand)
      • Add the vegetables, including scallions
      • Saute until crisp and tender, about 8-10 minutes turning often
      • Sprinkle with Soy Sauce to taste
      • Heat the remaining sauce mixture on the stove or microwave and serve alongside Salmon
      • *Remove the skin from the Salmon before serving
      • Layer in bowls and enjoy!

      Day Seven: Enduldge in leftovers all day!

      Leftovers all day long. If this means your five-year-old is eating Pasta for breakfast, let him. You have enough to do with packing and making the checkout time. Conserve on travel snacks by bagging up leftovers and taking them on your journey home.

      Shop Now

      Spend your well-earned vacation with loved ones rather than at the grocery store. We will shope and stock your vacation rental home prior to your arrival.

      Travel Thoughtfully! Order groceries ahead.

      Vacation meal planning is not always easy but it’s a lot less stressful if you plan in advance. Lucky for today’s travelers, the option of staying at a vacation rental home over a hotel, gives you the option of dining in, catering to different taste buds and diets and overall relaxing in a true family or group fashion. Eat in to truly enjoy the ambiance of your ‘home away from home’.

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