I'd be willing to bet this list differs depending on where your vacation home is located and what season is your high season, but here's the question:
What are your recommendations best bang-for-the-buck add on amenities? Not major structural things like a garage or a mutli-story deck, but simple add-ons that can be purchased for most any vacation home.
What are the add-ons that people most often ask for, or most often comment on in your guest book?
Examples: Pool table, big screen tv, dvd library, hot tub, washer / dryer, high chair, fire pit, etc.
Here in the Poconos,we have 2 high seasons: summer waterpark and winter ski. Most of our visitors stay less than 6 days, often just for the weekend.
Our top requests and/or positive comment getters are:
Everyone asks for:
Fire Pit. We refuse to put one in because it's just too wooded in our area and fire from embers is a serious risk. But everyone thinks it's would be super-awesome to have one.
Pool table. We don't have room for one yet, but hope to be able to add one in the next few months. It's a big request particularly in winter months. We do have air hockey and fooseball at both houses, which in reality goes over better since more women like air hockey than pool.
High chair. We do provide one, and it is a huge draw for families with little ones since they don't have to being their own.
Hot Tub. We put a basic 4 or 5 person system in at both houses because it is a big differentiator. Both are just 4 or 5 jets and a single motor - guests don't need or appreciate a bazillion jets - they just want a hot tub to hang out in together. They're a pain to maintain though, so the investment is far more than just buying and installing it!
Grill. We have mid-sized gas grills at both houses. We suply the propane, with a spare tank available at all times. So far no one has abused it!
No one asks for but everyone loves:
A used PS2 console with 5 or 10 SingStar karaoke games. HUGE hit for all ages. And total investment under $100 at Gamestop!
DVD Library with player - mostly 2-10 year old titles I picked up in the $3 bin at Walmart. Great for rainy days and late nights.
Games, especially games like Don't Break the Ice, Chutes and Ladders - plus more adult games like Risk and Monopoly. The games get used nearly every other weekend. Also - a couple packs of cards - anyone can play solitaire for a while. We've picked these up at Goodwill and yard sales - and keep a few spares to pirate pieces from as those little green houses have a tendency to get lost!
Books, especially children's books - Nancy Drew series, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Winnie the Pooh - plus some fun ones for grown ups like a current copy of Guiness Book of World Records and Do Fish Drink Water? I stop at the local Salvation Army or Goodwill every so often to see if there's anything interesting on the 25 cent pile.
How about you all - what do your guests ask for, and what are the surprisingly popular amenities that impress your guests?
I agree with you totally about the books and games -- we have a games closet with a dozen popular games as well as lots of cards and an "According to Hoyle" rules book for card games. We include poker chips, of course, to go along with the cards. I have books for all ages and replenish them each year with the books I've read and loved over the year. I also have some DVDs of a few movies that were shot in our town, so guests have fun identifying the locations on screen.
We also provide a high chair, stroller, booster seat, and pack 'n' play for babies & toddlers, as well as kiddie divided plates, cups, and spoons.
My best investment was to convert a non-working wood fireplace into a gas fireplace -- it makes the house really appealing in our off-season and I am convinced we've pulled in tens of thousands of dollars of bookings because of it. I bought a floor model fireplace at a huge discount when the local fireplace center was moving to a new location.
DVD Bargain Price: FYE, which is in a lot of malls, apparently bought a lot of used DVD's from Blockbuster. 3-5 year old movies, were buy one, get one for $1. Movies are in the $5-10 range. Last week I bought 4 movies for $12 total.