Offering winter rentals can provide much needed income in the slower, low-season months and properties that are geared up for the cold, snowy weather can reap real benefits in this competitive market. Creating an ambient atmosphere and cosy welcome is the top priority and here's a few tips to make it successful.
Change thin summer bedding and comforters to good quality duvets. I can't say enough about creating comfortable bedroom space and providing sufficient bedding and blankets to ensure your guests are warm. If your guests don't get a good night's sleep in the winter, they will not return. I recommend duvets and attractive covers because they look the best and are wonderfully warm. When I did this in my cottage, the heating costs went down because our guests didn't find it necessary to blast heat through the place at night.
Having a wood stove or open fireplace is naturally an attractor to winter guests. If this source of heating is well maintained and meets all safety codes, there is no reason not to allow your guests to use it. Provide instructions for economic use and make sure there is plenty of wood available. Put a photo of of the fire on your listing – that works really well!
Review photos on your listings. Summer shots of the waterfront, deck and dock will not attract those looking for special winter ambience, so include some that are visually appealing for your winter renters. If you have your own web site, create a new page that targets winter guests and features the winter activities around the cottage.
Let your potential guests know what to expect on their winter vacation and create some descriptive text. Here's an example:
"Imagine waking up to a fresh fall of sparkling snow under a deep blue sky, with a day of winter activities ahead. Perhaps you'll just take a walk across the frozen lake, or head for the nearby cross country ski trails or downhill slopes. If staying closer to home is more to your liking, you could take a soak in the hot tub, before curling up by the wood stove with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. As evening comes, wrap up warm and cook up a storm on the barbecue before heading for a good night's sleep snuggled up under the goosedown duvet".
While you may not pay much attention to your lighting in the summer, it's really important to create a warm and cosy atmosphere on a winter's evening, particularly if you don't have a visible source of heat. Ambient lighting, colourful throws, cushions and rugs, and warm wood accents can help with this. If you haven't been in your place at night for a while, take the time to experience it. Does it exude warmth and a feeling of welcome? Is the lighting harsh and if so, can you use side lamps and lower wattage bulbs to create a softer effect?
Spending some time working on a seasonal look and feel can pay dividends in increased bookings and occupancy. Even if it's just one weekend a month, it could pay for heating costs, so it's well worth the effort.