BBQ Rentals at Breezy Oak Villas
Rob, why do you charge to rent a BBQ? We often see them included for free at vacation rentals!
Thanks for your question. I’m happy to share with you details of exactly what we provide and why we charge for it.
This is an update of an article written years ago about how we came to offer a BBQ for our guests at the villa. You can read it here if interested.
In a business, nothing is ever free.
When one runs a business, just like in one’s personal life, everything you provide costs something… in money, time or both.
That means that somehow, everything has to be paid for, and the costs of providing anything to customers must be covered. If a vacation rental provides an amenity, and calls it ‘free’, really that is simply a marketing choice on the part of the owner/manager. Some of the money being charged for the nightly rental rate has to go to pay for that ‘free’ item. This means that every guest pays for it, whether they want to or not, and whether they use it or not.
I’ve never been comfortable with being forced to pay for something that I don’t use, or gain any benefit from. Knowing as I do how business expenses work, and that nothing can be provided at no cost to the business owner, I understand that every free thing a customer receives must be paid for, and the cost of providing it along with its overhead (and likely mark-up too) must be built into the regular charges of a business.
Frankly, I would rather just pay less and receive a better value for my purchase, than pay more and in effect, pay extra for other customers to make use of that ‘free’ item that I’m not. As a customer, I don’t like this practice, so doing this to our guests is not something that I’m comfortable with.
In the case of things that some of our guests would like to have at our vacation rentals but not all will need or use; like baby items, seasonal pool heating, or the BBQ… rather than build their cost into the nightly rate, we charge separately for them, and therefor keep the regular nightly charge for all guests as low as we can. If you’re not bringing a baby with you to our villa, you don’t have to pay for having a high-chair there. It just makes sense.
We do provide ‘no-charge’ extras to our guests.
I realize I just said that nothing is ever provided to a guest for free, and that’s true. So rather than referring to something provided to all guests as ‘free’, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s refer to them instead as extras. When evaluating the value that we provide, we hope our guests keep in mind that instead of providing a bunch of ‘free’ items that a lot of guests will never use, we choose instead to provide a set of extras to all of our guests, which they almost all can make use of. And these are things which the vast majority of Orlando area vacation rentals don’t provide for their guests! We’re happy to do this (and yes, the cost of this is built into our nightly rental rate, we can’t escape that) because almost every single one of our guests can and do directly benefit from them, and it helps us provide better value, and a better experience.
What you often get for a free BBQ…
Providing a BBQ at an Orlando vacation rental is actually surprisingly challenging, and expensive. It is inconvenient for staff and involves some cost, so Orlando area vacation rental owners get very creative about what they provide, and how they do it.
For example, some vacation rentals provide what I call a ‘state-park’ grill (a camp stove) and tell their guests that they have a ‘free’ BBQ for them to use. I can’t help but wonder how surprising this must be for a guest who arrives at a vacation rental, expecting to have the use of a quality BBQ for outdoor cooking, only to discover that they have to procure their own firewood to use it!
Of course, not all vacation rental owners do this.
George! Hey George… Where are you?
Instead, many provide an electric grill or griddle on an outdoor stand, and call that a BBQ. These are most often something like a George Foreman Grill or other similar electrical appliance… and it’s outdoors, so it’s a BBQ, right? No… not really. We want something better for our guests.
A propane-gas fired grill is the only way to go!
At least in my book it is! But even a propane gas grill is not always a guarantee of having something truly suitable at your villa while on vacation.
Sometimes the propane grills provided are so small that you can’t cook a meal for a family on them! That’s fine if you’re just a couple, but our home does sleep eight people. What if you’ve got a whole family to feed?
And value? The small, two-burner grill featured in the photo at right costs $50 to rent for 1 – 3 days, plus $6 per day extra. And this is what is provided at some area vacation rentals. Either for free, or charged for.
Yes… size DOES count!
I’ll never forget being able to take a tour of a purpose-built Orlando area vacation rental home that could sleep 20 people. It was something to behold! As the manager was showing us around, we walked out on to the back pool deck, which surprisingly had no lanai (At least that was something our properties had up on them!) and spied the beautiful, huge, fancy propane gas grill. It truly was gorgeous as far as BBQs go, and something that you might expect you would need if grilling for twenty people. I asked the manager about how it worked, as there was a big chain lock preventing it from being opened. “Oh, the guests can rent the grill as an extra if they want it, and then we give them the combination.” And what does that cost I wondered aloud… “We charge $45 per night for it!” as my eyebrows shot up. “And the guests have to go and get their own propane!”
But so does convenience!
I was really surprised by her process, as the last thing I would want to do myself on holidays would be going to look for a business where I could get a propane tank refilled, or also have to purchase a new tank (there wasn’t one at that villa) especially in a strange area where I simply wouldn’t know where to go. And to leave, find and get the propane and then come back, especially while I have hungry vacationers waiting for me back at the villa, just doesn’t sound like vacation fun!
And definitely not the level of convenience I want to provide for my guests.
I discovered later that almost all owners who have propane grills available to their guests, no matter their quality and whether free or not, leave it up to the guests to get propane. If the tank runs out, the guest is expected to go fill it, and leave the balance for the next guest. It’s great if you get free propane for your stay, not so much if you’re the one who has to waste time to go fill it and pay for what others will be using.
In my experience barbecuing at home, the likelihood of a propane tank running out of gas increases in direct proportion to the urgency or importance of the meal! It will run out while I’ve got invited guests waiting, never when I’m just grilling something small for myself and my wife. It’s just the BBQ version of Murphy’s law! It’s frustrating, and it is not something I want my guests to experience during their stay in my villa!
Designing the better experience
When deciding to provide a BBQ for our guests, I was determined to provide the best BBQ experience we could. So here’s how we do it:
- We provide a full-size 5 burner grill, with four main burners and a side pot burner. Our guests have a BBQ big enough to prepare a full meal for all the guests our home can sleep.
- We have all the tools one needs for outdoor grilling. You don’t have to steal inappropriate ones from the kitchen!
- Propane. Our guests will find a tank on the BBQ with gas in it, ready to go. They don’t have to first run out, source and buy propane, or worse… have to delay their meal to do so.
- We have a second tank of propane on the property. If the propane does run out on our guest, they don’t need to interrupt their cook to go get gas. We have a second tank on the property, ready to be switched out with the empty one on the grill so the fun doesn’t get interrupted. This allows our staff, not the guest, to later conveniently re-fill the empty tank while the full one is on the BBQ, so our guests are never inconvenienced by an empty tank.
- We’re constantly replacing our BBQs! We used to keep a cover on our grills, but soon learned that in the moist climate of central Florida, where it rains practically every day in summer (Don’t worry, it’s short and quickly blows over, but when it does come down, it can be heavy!) all a grill cover did was keep moisture trapped in the BBQ. We learned it is far better to let the BBQ get rinsed off and dry out as quickly as it can, in order to maintain the grill and prevent it from rusting as much as possible. But guess what? In all that summer humidity, a BBQ in central Florida will still only last two years! So we’re constantly replacing our BBQs so our guests have a recent, decent quality one to use. And that is not cheap to do! We donate the old ones that do still have life left in them to local charities.
- We work at creating a better grilling environment. A grill can not be kept on a lanai (covered deck) because the smoke and grease will quickly blacken the ceiling. We once had a guest start a fire in the grill, destroying the lanai ceiling and necessitating replacement, so this is a lesson we’ve learned the hard way! The same is true about keeping a BBQ inside a pool screen enclosure, the screens will get smoked up and covered with grease and there is always the possibility of melting the screens if the BBQ is placed too close to them. So where do you place the BBQ? At our homes, we are constantly working to improve the outdoor experience, and this includes when using the BBQ. In this category, right now, Pleasant Oak Villa has the edge. As part of the enlargement of the pool screen enclosure and the pool deck at this property, we created an additional 16′ x 16′ deck area just for the BBQ and a separate outdoor table and chairs set. It makes for a much better grilling experience!
So now you know…
exactly what we provide for a BBQ, and why we charge an extra $5 per night for it.
It is fair to all of our guests, including those who don’t use the grill, and it provides the best BBQ experience we can… all at a great value!