They flew, they drove, they arrived.
Are you ready?

By Julia Dowling Rutland
September 11, 2002

It's never difficult to entice visitors to the beach for a fewdays. Beautiful sunsets and great seafood are hard to resist. So isrelaxation. Ensure rested friends and pleasant memories with awell-appointed guest room.

Provide a good mattress. This will be the one place yourguests spend hours, and a comfortable bed keeps them refreshed andhappy. Top a firm mattress with an eggcrate pad or, for moreluxury, a down feather bed.

Outfit the bed with fine linens. Not only do sheets with athread count of 250 or higher feel better, but also they'll wearlonger with repeated washings. Buy 100 percent cotton for morecomfort--it breathes and won't pill (which feels like sand orcracker crumbs). Don't forget an extra blanket for chillynights.

Consider who usually comes to visit: If it's mostly couples,one large bed would make sense. If it's singles or kids, twin bedsoffer more flexibility.

Freshen the room by opening windows and closets for a fewhours. Fluff pillows and duvets by placing them in the dryer with afabric softener sheet on air dry (no heat).

Bedside tables should hold reading lamps and currentmagazines, but leave space for whatever the guest wants to keepthere. As another thoughtful gesture, include a few local postcards(with proper postage affixed) and a good pen.

Add something personal. On a dresser or bedside table,include such memorable touches as flowers and photos of you andyour guest.

Offer an easy-to-operate clock. A combination CDplayer/clock radio is nice. Tune it to a public channel or whateverstation plays your guest's favorites. Just be sure all alarms areoff.

Install a ceiling fan. Rooms can get stuffy, and guests maybe hesitant or unable to adjust the air conditioner.

Purchase a few night-lights that automatically come on in adark room. Place them in baths, halls, and the kitchen in casesomeone gets the midnight munchies.

Make space. Keep the closet empty or at least tidy with afew feet available for hanging clothes. Include hangers with clipsfor skirts or pants. If the closet is seldom used, add cedar blocksor dehumidifying crystals to avoid musty odors. The closet is agood place to store a spare ironing board and small steam iron.After guests leave, empty the iron of any water.

Provide a clean, unisex bathrobe for guests who want toavoid the pajama-party look in the kitchen at breakfast.

Stock the bath with a basket of new toiletries that guestsmight have forgotten to pack--toothbrush and toothpaste, razor andshaving cream, shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, pain relievers.

Don't forget the little ones. Have colorful towels and beachblankets on hand to protect carpets from spills. Purchaseage-appropriate books to help kids wind down from an excitingday.

Pack a visitor's bag in case your guests spend timesightseeing on their own. Include a local map (with greatrestaurants and interstate exits highlighted), car snacks, and adisposable camera.

Fill a mini-refrigerator with bottled water, sodas, wine,beer. Place a small coffeemaker on top for those who just can'tmove without that first cup of joe. (Be sure it has an auto-offfeature.) Include hot chocolate or decaf tea.

Set up a TV and VCR. Keep a variety of movies nearby forrainy days or quiet time.

Spend the night. This is a must-do: Sleep in your guest bedto see if the mattress and pillows are truly comfortable. Test thebath, too, to make sure the plumbing is as ready as you are.