If you’re considering investing in upgrades to your vacation rental, it’s important to prioritize what upgrades to pursue to make your home more attractive to renters, increase bookings and, at the same time, charge more in rent to reflect the home’s enhanced quality. And of course, upgrades also make your vacation property a nicer place for you, your family and friends to stay in. We know from experience that if you make your vacation home the kind of place that you can’t wait to get away to, renters will feel the same way about it. And, they’ll take better care of your home while they’re staying in it!
So, where should you start in upgrading your vacation home? For the exterior, there’s no question: Adding a hot tub is a proven way to drive bookings and generate at least $5,000 more a year in gross rental revenue.
For the interior, we always advise owners to start with the kitchen. One of the most important reason 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 their kitchen at home.
But after the kitchen, look to the bathrooms. It’s a place where renters spend a large amount of very private “personal” time. Like kitchens, bathrooms are an area that when renters are looking at pictures of vacation rentals online, they truly notice upgrades like granite counters, upscale lighting fixtures and faucets, and more. Also, these days most people renters some kitchen updates. But updated bathrooms send a signal to renters that the owners have gone all out to make their property special and that they really care about their vacation home — and their guests.
So where should I start on remodeling bathrooms?
If you’re remodeling your vacation home’s kitchen, it makes sense to at least consider remodeling the bathrooms at the same time. You can achieve “quantity discounts” in many areas, including labor, materials and more. Also, it allows you to achieve a consistent “style” throughout the home, e.g., matching granite counters, faucet brands and styles, and other design details. That level of attention to detail is something that renters notice, too.
Make the master bathroom a priority. Let’s face it: That’s the bathroom the person choosing and paying for the vacation rental (the “decision maker”) is probably going to use! If you need to split a budget between upgrading multiple bathrooms, spend more on the master bath. Depending on the existing plumbing layout, think about doing something special that will attract the decision maker, such as:
- Upgrading an existing standalone tub to a large Jacuzzi tub.
- Changing a large shower into a steam shower.
- Converting a large counter space with only one sink to two sinks.
You get the idea. If you create a space — be it a bathroom, kitchen or any other area of your vacation home — that makes you say “Wow,” potential decision makers looking at your home online will feel the same way. And, they’ll be a lot more likely to click the “Book Now” button!
Reaping the rewards of smart bathroom investments
Here’s a fantastic example of doing it right. White Wolf 384 is a beautiful 4 bedroom, 4.5 bathroom townhome on Peak 8 in Breckenridge. In the fall of 2015, the owners updated this already high-end vacation home with gorgeous new granite counters in the kitchen and bathrooms. Check out the pictures! And, during the 2015-2016 winter season, the owners saw rental revenue increase 16 percent over the previous winter.
Coincidence? We suspect not.
What if a complete bathroom overhaul isn’t in cards?
OK, if you just afford to completely revamp your vacation home’s bathrooms, get creative. Starting with the master bathroom, follow this process:
Walk into the bathroom and turn on the light. Take note of your first impressions; they will in all likelihood be the same as a guest’s first impressions. If you notice that:
- The room seems dark — How about a new light fixture that disperses more light?
- The walls look dingy — How about a fresh coat of paint?
- The sink faucet is rusted, pitted or discolored — How about a new one (they’re inexpensive and easy to replace)?
- The towel bars are old and bent — How about new ones (even cheaper and easier to replace than the faucet)?
These are quick fixes that, with a little planning and a trip to Home Depot, can all be done in a weekend (or even a day) for very little money. Other suggestion that require more time and expense — but don’t fall into the category of a full remodel — include:
- Floors — Replace linoleum or other worn, dated flooring with tile or another attractive, hard-wearing surface.
- Counters — Remember, the owners of White Wolf 384 only replaced the counters in the bathrooms and kitchen and saw rental revenue increase substantially.
If you work with a good property management company, talk to them about any updates you’re considering to your vacation rental. They can help you prioritize any projects you’re planning, show you examples of upgrades other owners have done, and even help you save money on materials and labor.
Of course, at Summit Mountain Rentals, we’re happy to talk with any and all 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or post a question in the comments section below.