Today’s traveler expects vacation rental properties to have all the conveniences of home. Many travelers are looking for the ultimate escape and seek homes with resort amenities or features above and beyond their own living accommodations.
Homes stocked with quality items make guests feel pampered and contribute to a better overall experience. No surprise that great experiences lead to better reviews and yield more bookings. Amenities and the guest experience can turn the one time visitor into a repeat guest.
The goal is to create spaces that make guests feel like they never want to leave. Arizona Vacation Home Rentals (AVHR) provides owners with this spreadsheet New Home Inventory List to help you estimate your start up costs. What follows in this blog is essential information along with the rationale for our recommendations.
- Pet Policy – We do not allow pets inside our homes. Many owners and guests are allergic to them and having a pet in the home can cause damage and extra cleaning.
- Smoking Policy – Absolutely zero smoking is allowed inside or outside of our homes.
- Summertime Thermostats:
- We send guests emails with summer time thermostat expectations.
- We ask owners NOT to put locks on their thermostats.
- We ask owners with remote access not to touch the thermostat when home is occupied with guests. Guests experience different levels of temperature comfort and we want them to be comfortable both day and night.
Doing Our Share
- AVHR installs a camera on the front of your home’s garage facing the street:
- These cameras have audio capability turned off for guest privacy.
- Cameras help us keep your home and guests safe and assist with ensuring the home isn’t over occupancy limits.
- We are unable to provide owners access to these cameras.
- We ask that owners who have security cameras on homes remove them.
- If owners have cameras to monitor landscaping, pool and pest services, we ask that these be mounted near our camera on the front of the garage. Audio capabilities should be turned off.
- We strongly urge Ring doorbells be removed. The feedback from past guests is that Ring doorbells make them feel as if they are being spied on.
- Highchairs and Pack ’N Plays are available for guests to reserve for an additional charge. We will deliver and pick them up from your home after the guests check out.
- As part of our service we supply and restock the following:
- Dish soap, laundry soap, hand soap
- Toilet paper, paper towels
Less Pricey Shopping with Quality in Mind
- Our favorite affordable furniture store is American Furniture Warehouse.
- Costco has high quality items for good prices. We recommend purchasing as many of your furnishings (towels, sheets, kitchen items) as possible from Costco.
Home Smart Technology
It goes without saying that travelers expect the best home smart technology in their vacation homes whether they are traveling for pleasure or their destination is work-related:
- We recommend high speed internet so guests can log into their personal streaming accounts for watching TV and more.
- Larger homes should have internet extenders to allow access on pool decks.
- Cable TV service is not necessary. Guests can stream their personal apps on smart TVs.
- Choose Smart TVs with a variety of apps and high speed internet options. Samsung is our favorite because they have all the streaming apps, are easy for guests to use and connect to the home’s wifi.
- Many travelers have TVs in their bedrooms at home and expect TVs in the bedrooms of their vacation homes.
- When multiple or large families rent a home together, bedroom TVs offer a quiet place to escape the crowd and view a favorite show.
- Bedroom TVs should be at least 50 inches in size.
- Great room TVs should be at least 65 inches; a sound bar is helpful for homes with movie/theater rooms.
- We do not recommend you subscribe to a streaming service for your home. We will provide an account for guests who do not know how to stream.
Gather Round for Family Dining
Well stocked kitchens are a perk to staying at a vacation home instead of a hotel. Guests may want to prepare home cooked meals and expect the usual staples to be supplied:
- Double the guest count for dishes and silverware. If your home sleeps 10, purchase 20 counts of plates, cups, bowls, spoons and so on.
- Melamine dinnerware and acrylic drink ware is recommended to have on hand for outdoor/poolside eating and drinking.
- Select by Calphalon pots and pans hold up longer than teflon.
- Providing only silicone spatulas and utensils prevents scratching and damage to cookware.
- We think it is prudent to have both Keurig and drip coffee machines since guests may strongly prefer one over the other.
- Homes for large families often need extra refrigerator space. For homes with only one kitchen fridge we recommend a beverage fridge for the garage or laundry room, or a weather friendly one for the backyard.
Good Night, Sleep Tight
Everyone deserves to sleep comfortably while on vacation or working away from home. Owners should consider furnishing each bedroom to function as a mini-hotel room:
- Because many people have king beds in their bedrooms at home, our first choice is king beds for ALL bedrooms that have enough floor space. King beds in multiple or all bedrooms reduces arguments over sleeping arrangements and who gets the “primary suite.”
- Queen beds are not usually recommended. Guests have never complained about a bed being too big for a bedroom but we do get comments about not enough king beds.
- In some homes we recommend 2 king beds with a nightstand between them which increases occupancy and allows us to increase the pricing of the home. Please talk to someone at AVHR before purchasing 2 kings beds for a bedroom.
- If a king bed does not fit, the next best option is two XL twin beds.
- Cozy and premium bedding enhances everyone’s sleep. We recommend hotel style comforters that are easy to wash and protectors to keep pillows and mattresses fresh and long-lasting. Avoid cheap, ill-fitted bed sheets as guests notice and comment in home reviews about preferring luxurious bed linens. Kirkland Signature sheets at Costco are a good choice.
- Provide extra blankets that are the same size as beds. Store these in clear sweater or blanket bags on closet shelves in the bedrooms. Our cleaning staff will know blankets need washed if they are out of storage bags or closets.
- Supply one set of sheets per bed. Choose white which can be bleached or a neutral color. Guests will typically use any and all extra sets of sheets so please no more than one or two extra sheet sets in your home. Too many linens to wash makes it challenging to turn homes in a timely manner.
- Area rugs are recommended for bedrooms without carpet. Keep in mind that rugs (and carpets) will need to be cleaned when dirty or replaced when stained or worn.
Guests want to unpack their luggage and move into their vacation rental home.
- A luggage rack is recommended for each bedroom.
- Bedrooms should have closets and dressers. We recommend a hanging closet organizer for bedrooms that are don’t have space for a dresser.
- Bedrooms without closet space should have an armoire or wardrobe for guests to hang clothes.
Fresh and Clean: Bathrooms and Laundry Rooms
Bathrooms and bedrooms tend to be the rooms that leave lasting impressions on guests. Guests respond well to bathrooms that are updated so this may be money well spent:
- Tan, grey or white towels are the best choice of colors for towels. You need two towels per guest. If your home sleeps 10 you will need 20 bath towels, 20 hand towels and 20 wash cloths.
- Charisma 100% hygrocotton towels from Costco are perfect. Walmart has a cheaper towel option (standard bath towels are about $5); however, the price reflects the quality and they will likely need to be replaced more frequently.
- Pool towels should be the same number as the maximum occupancy in your home and a separate color or pattern to avoid confusion with bath towels.
- Towels should not be stored under sinks as problems may occur; place them in linen closets or bedrooms
- Clear, plastic soap dispensers ensure the cleaning crew sees when they need to be refilled. The metal kind tend to corrode.
- Step stools for hand washing and toothbrushing are advised to discourage children from standing on and breaking commode seats.
- We highly recommend adding a commercial grade washer and dryer to your home. The washer should have a quick wash feature to facilitate flipping your home quickly when necessary.
- An iron and ironing board are a must; a steamer is even better.
- No bleach products – we will remove them from your home if we find them as guests tend to bleach the wrong things. This will help protect your towels and bedding from being ruined.
The Outdoor Oasis
Many guests comment in home reviews how much they enjoy the outdoor spaces at their vacation home. Lay a foundation for memory making with an amenity rich outdoor setting that includes comfortable furnishings and activities for guests of all ages:
- We recommend adding a hot tub to your property if you do not have one. Even with a heated pool, the weather can be too cool for swimming in the winter. Hot tubs are high on the list of searched amenities and add value to guests’ experiences. We find chlorine works best for hot tubs.
- Patio furniture should include a dining table and chair set with enough seating for the guest occupancy number.
- Extra chairs that are light, comfortable and can be easily moved to and from the pool area are also needed. Home Depot has inexpensive choices: non-metal is preferred as metal gets hot in the sun although wicker tends to break down in the sun over time.
- Several small outdoor end tables are a nice touch and add to guests’ comfort.
- Umbrellas are needed for pool decks and patios. Unfortunately, umbrellas wear out. Expect to replace them every every 1 – 2 years.
- Sturdy umbrella stands are a must! The wind picks up quickly during monsoon season and can knock the umbrellas and stands into the pools. Choose stands that are at least 30 lbs; heavier and with wheels are even better.
- We highly recommend adding pool heat to your pool. Electric is preferred because although it takes longer to reach the desired temperature, it costs far less to maintain the temp goal.
- Electric heat costs roughly $7-10/day; gas heat can be as much as $25/day in cold months.
- We charge guests for daily pool heat; therefore, the cost of adding a heater will pay for itself in 2 – 3 years.
- We turn pool heaters on in October and run them full time until May. The exception to this is if we have a vacancy gap longer than a week or two. The actual cost to heat a pool from the ambient temperature of 55°- 60° up to 85° is more than if we leave the pool heat on all the time.
- We suggest pool covers for pools that have electric heat pumps.
- We recommend leaving pool pumps on 24/7; this ensures the pool stays heated and clean.
- You will need to set up weekly pool service with a pool maintenance company. The service needs to be available for weekend service calls.
- For liability reasons we do not supply pool toys or life jackets. If owners or former guests leave these items for incoming guests to use we advise guests they are to use at their own risk.
- Outdoor toys such as corn hole add exciting choices for guests. Expect all toys to get wet and wear out over time. Wood products should be avoided.
- Bikes are recommended for each home. We suggest four mountain bikes: two men’s and two women’s. AVHR can refer you to our bike service for regular maintenance.
- Landscaping services should be set up for twice each month.
- A monthly pest service is recommended with a repeat, no cost, same-day call out as needed.
The Final Touch
- We ask that owners provide a key package that includes 4 sets of each key to the home: door, mailbox and community pool. We will label the keys.
- Guests respond well to updated homes. This may seem small but we recommend changing any brass hardware: door knobs, pulls, handles, and hinges as these age a home.
- And finally, your vacation rental should meet high standards of comfort, convenience and cleanliness. These significantly impact impressions and reviews. Guests may have suggestions that are helpful and we will keep you apprised of these. Over time AVHR will help you review the quality of your vacation rental property and recommend upgrades and improvements when needed.
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Photo credits: © Gilbert S Grant