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Upgrading Your Vacation Rental: Kitchens

Investing in upgrades to your vacation rental is an important decision. From a purely business standpoint, the benefits include:

•    Increased occupancy.
•    Higher ADR (average daily rate).
•    Better income.
•    Greater resale value. 

On a more personal level, improvements also make your vacation property a nicer place for you, your family and your friends to stay in. I am always asked, “how nice should my home be”? The answer is always the same, if you walk in to your vacation home and feel wowed, so will the guests. The result is better revenue but also better upkeep by the renters. If you respect your home, they will too.  

Where is the best place to invest in improvements to your rental property?

Our advice: Start with the kitchen. One of the most important reasons people choose vacation rentals over hotel-type properties is that they want to cook …and, they want a nice kitchen to cook in. Also, many renters are excited by the possibility of cooking in a kitchen that might be nicer than the one they have at home.

Also, consider the old adage about “all parties end up in the kitchen.” A kitchen is more than a place to prepare food; it’s a primary gathering place in all homes, including vacation rentals. When renters are shopping for vacation rentals online — and at least 90 percent of all vacation rentals are booked online — people want to see pictures of a stylish, updated kitchen. If they don’t see them, they may look elsewhere.

Should I consider a complete kitchen remodel? 

This primarily depends on the age of the property and if the kitchen has received any previous upgrades. But if your property has its original Formica counters, linoleum floors and 70s-era Harvest Gold appliances, you should think about a complete remodel. Here are some of the features of an upgraded kitchen that are most likely to attract renters:
•    Granite counters — People notice granite counters online. If you go online and look at pictures of vacation rentals (and we suggest you do as part of any remodel process), you’ll see how granite counters “pop” in the pictures. They scream “quality.” And, despite the initial expense, it’s a hard-wearing surface that will outlast most other counter surfaces, making it a solid long-term investment.
•    Appliances — At a minimum, go for stainless steel; renters notice them, too. And if your budget allows (and the kitchen is plumbed for it) consider installing an upscale gas range.  Also, no counter top microwaves.
•    Floors and cabinets — Like granite counters, the choices here that are the most attractive to renters — tile floors, hardwood cabinets, etc. — cost more initially, but hold up the best in the long run. 
•    Sinks and faucets — Again, quality will serve you both in the short-term (attracting renters) and over the long haul (reduced wear and tear, maintenance costs, etc.). Go metal and avoid anything plastic if possible.
•    Kitchen tools — don’t forget the unseen dining ware, pans, knives and tools.  The quick way to make a repeat guest go somewhere else is having cracked dishes, not enough glasses and poor quality pots and cooking tools. It costs very little more to provide a well-stocked kitchen and guests will remember the ease in which they were able to prepare meals while staying in the home.
***Remember, if you think, “wow, I want to cook and hang out in here!” your guests will too!

What if a complete kitchen remodel just isn’t in the budget? 

Often, older kitchens have very dark cabinets and poor lighting. Dated, unattractive wallpaper can also be a turnoff to renters, as well as worn, older flooring. Instead of a full remodel, think about a cost-effective “refresh” to make your kitchen brighter and more attractive:

•    Instead of replacing cabinets, they can be cleaned, sanded and painted a lighter, up-to-date color.
•    Remove any wallpaper and paint walls to compliment the cabinets.
•    Upgrade the light fixtures and cabinet hardware.
•    If needed, replace linoleum or other worn flooring with tile or another attractive, hard-wearing surface.

If you don’t have the money to completely remodel, then make the kitchen feel clean, usable and well stocked.  As long as the guest wants to cook and hang out, the kitchen is working!

Need advice?
At Summit Mountain Rentals, we’re happy to talk with vacation rental owners about making their properties more attractive to renters. It doesn’t matter if you rent your property though us or not; we’re here to help! Just shoot us an email at or post a question in the comments section below.


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