Managers Owners What do the terms, “luxury cottage”, “upscale cottage rental” or “executive property” mean to you? Do you use any of these terms to describe your cottage, and if so, what criteria do base your description on? Craig and I were driving up to Fenelon Falls yesterday to view a ‘luxury, executive’ cottage, and as we often do, got into a discussion on the changing nature of the cottage rental industry. Craig is an old-style cottager in that he has more ‘rustic’ expectations, and luxury to him would be having a washer and dryer, and a satellite TV. To me, the expression means a lot more and I have very different perceptions of the term. If I was looking for this type of accommodation I would also want the appliances, but they must be quality brands; I don’t want just a satellite TV – I expect a home theatre system; and I’d also anticipate a high-end stainless steel barbecue and quality rattan outdoor furniture, as well. And that’s just for starters. The vacation rental industry has spawned a new breed of “luxury accommodation” and I think we must take heed of what rental clients are looking for when they type in these terms on a Google search. I remember when the term ‘boutique hotel’ was introduced, to differentiate between mass market hotels and smaller, more unique accommodation. It was a landmark in hotel marketing as it attracted a new group of clients who were seeking something a little out of the ordinary; ‘special’ and distanced from the clone style of hotel chains. I really believe we are moving in this direction with cottage vacation rentals too. I’m not suggesting here that every cottage needs to be raised to the ‘luxury’ level. Far from it. I consider my own cottage to be an extremely comfortable space and I’ve spent a lot of time making it into a place my guests like to come back to over and over again. However, I would not call it a Luxury Cottage or an Executive Rental, because I am not appealing to the luxury or executive seekers. It has lots of features and facilities but I know realistically they are not at the level demanded by this type of client. So, what does a property have to be, or to have, to propel it to stratospheric rental rates and allow the description to include those lofty words – upscale, executive, luxury and exceptional?. There’s been an interesting discussion on the Lay My Hat forum, on this topic and I’ve distilled a few of those ideas and added a few more from discussions I’ve had with potential renters looking for this type of accommodation. One of the suggestions that struck me was to consider spending money on things that people touch, such as door handles, taps, knives, cookware, towels etc. I like this idea. Here are some more Kitchen: Top of the range appliances with brands such as Jennair and Cuisinart. High-quality small appliances such as a Cuisinart coffee machine with a grinder attachment, a DeLonghi toaster. Henckel or similar quality chefs knives are a must, as is solid flatware, a good range of glasses and good quality plates and dishes. Corian or granite countertops with an island unit and breakfast bar type seating Bathrooms: Stylish design throughout with top of the range fittings. At least one with a Jacuzzi or Whirlpool tub; tiled shower stalls with multi-jet showerheads; double basins; good quality lighting. Furnishings: “People who spend lots more money on their accommodation usually want to see that reflected in the quality of the furnishings” Leather seating with recliners; large solid coffee tables; dining tables to seat at least 8 with matching chairs; distinctive area rugs; pillow top mattresses on all beds; unique beds such as log style, four-poster, or wrought iron; plenty of storage space for clothes. Soft furnishings & fittings: Egyptian cotton sheets; good looking and matching comforters and shams; wooden blinds and window coverings; oversized bath towels; unique lamps and light fixtures Entertainment: Widescreen TVs with surround sound; TVs in bedrooms; Bose speakers or similar throughout with individual volume controls; a well-equipped games room with a full-size pool table, games consoles etc Business Centre: Office space with fax/printer, high-speed internet connection, paper supplies. Leisure and Fitness: Sauna; hot tub; quality running machine; Concept rower; multi-gym; free weights and other fitness equipment. Outdoors: Large barbecue; rattan furniture; solid wood lounging chairs with luxury cushions. Attention to detail: This is what everyone mentioned. A luxury rental should make you feel pampered and cared for. Plenty of candles, glossy magazines, bowls of fresh fruit and candy, fresh flowers, specialty soaps, and bath foam. And finally, as one contributor on the forum said: “All the gizmos in the world do not make a top class rental, it has to look stunning… This is the most important factor; all the other add-ons come after” Comments anyone? Let me know what you think.