This was something I started a couple of years ago after a guest at the cottage called and just asked the question, “What is there to do round here when the weather’s bad?” We’d provided a good library of books and a few videos and DVD but hadn’t gone much beyond that. My family spent years camping in the UK and were so used to disappointing weather that we always had a ‘Plan B’ to keep the kids occupied, so I guess I expected everybody does that. But we are finding that many guests are not so self-sufficient, particularly those who are new to vacation rentals and whose past experiences have been in hotel complexes and resorts where every activity under the sun (or rain) is provided for them.
I want my guests to have a wonderful time regardless of the weather. When the weather is great, it’s easy as there’s so much to do outside. Swimming, fishing, kayaking; sitting on the dock with a good book; campfires at night, and the hot tub, all add up to wonderful experiences. However, when it’s grey and cool and the rain lashes down, it’s worthwhile providing a range of indoor activities to keep the family happy. My Rainy Day Book has a long list of ideas ranging from
Apart from a range of novels to appeal to a variety of tastes and ages, provide some books that will give your guests ideas on what to do. A recipe book for candy making (just make sure you have a robust pan for them to use if they are making hard candies); a book on the art of origami with a supply of paper; or a book on teaching your dog to do tricks ( if you allow pets), are just some suggestions.
Cooking and baking
Supply cookie sheets, muffin tins, cake pans and some recipe books for making sweet stuff. Provide a box of items guests are unlikely to bring with them such as sprinkles, cup cake papers, icing tools, etc. If you take a little time and imagine what you would like to have in a kitchen if you decided on the spur of the moment to do some baking, then stock accordingly, your cooking inspired guests will be happy.
Create an activity inspiring craft box. The number one item in your box should be a large plastic tablecloth, perhaps two. Then you can include glue sticks, paints, crayons, colouring books, sewing kits, activity packs etc. I would suggest taping a sheet to the top of the box that asks guests to keep the box tidy and to always use the cloth when doing crafts on your dining table. I have a large tote with several smaller plastic boxes inside for different items – all labeled. Things don’t always go back in the place you want them to be but moms are generally so appreciative they have been provided that they usually make a good attempt.
Videos and DVDs
If you’ve ever curled up in front of an old movie on a rainy day, you’ll know it’s a feel-good thing to do. My favourites are Paint Your Wagon; The Great Escape and Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Get a good collection to suit different tastes – you can probably find them at yard sales and in the discount bins at Wal*Mart – and list them in your RDA book.
Board Games & Cards
Stick to the known favourites such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Yahtzee and Clue and provide a chess set. Supply several packs of cards, a crib board and a book of card games.
Places to go in the rain
Don’t just collect leaflets from your tourist office; provide a list of places to go with a short description of each. For instance we have directions for a couple of half-day driving tour. Our Chocolate, Cheese and Beer Tour is a round trip that takes in a chocolate outlet, a cheese factory and a local brewery.
Your Rainy Day Activity Book is your key to great reviews from your guests which can be hard to get when the weather is not in their favour. They will appreciate that you have thought about their needs and have taken the time to give them some ideas on what to do. It is one of those value added extras that can get you more repeat bookings and word of mouth referrals. And, apart from all that, it’s a lot of fun to do!
Let me know what you do to offer your guests rainy day options.