You don't have to buy a Viking range or an 8-person hot tub to get your guests to say, “Hey, look at this!” Sometimes it's those little extras that you have on hand at your vacation rental that can make their stay the most memorable. Plus, tailoring your amenities to the type of renters you attract shows your guests that you really have them in mind.
In a slow economy, it's still very possible to add some "ummph" to your amenities without breaking the bank. We've compiled some simple and creative ideas for vacation rental extras that you can typically find for less than $10 at your local dollar store or discount warehouse.
Whether you have family fun in mind or you simply want to save your guests a trip to the store, you will likely leave a lasting impression by adding some of these simple and inexpensive extras to your vacation rental.
1. Margarita Mix. Don't worry if you can't spring for a full-blown margarita machine. Just leave your guests some margarita or pina colada mix to help get the fun started.
2. Extra Flip Flops. Stock some flip flops in various sizes for your guests to use after they get wet and sandy at the beach. Or perhaps your guests forgot to bring beach shoes and they'll take advantage of the supply on hand. Either way, just be sure to replace the flip flops after they've been used.
3. Waterproof Disposable Camera. You're probably thinking, “Who uses a disposable camera these days?” But if your guests forget their camera or charger or don't trust their own cameras being exposed to the elements, they'll be thanking you when they develop those priceless shots.
4. Sunscreen. If your guests weren't able to pack a bottle of sunscreen in their carry-on luggage (or it didn't make it through security), they'll be thrilled to find it stocked at your home. You can even go the extra mile by providing a variety of SPFs to satisfy all skin types.
5. Local Treats. When it comes to leaving treats for your guests, think local. A bottle of wine or sparkling cider from the region or some local jams and jellies can add a bit of authenticity to your guests' stay.
6. Foreign-Language Dictionary. If you own a vacation home in an international destination or your property attracts a large number of international visitors, a simple phrase book will be much appreciated by guests trying to find their way around town. A local guide book is also a good idea no matter the local language.
7. Ice Pops. Whether you provide molds for do-it-yourself frozen treats or the pre-made kind you can just pop in the freezer, kids and adults alike will appreciate a fun and refreshing treat.
8. Pool & Beach Toys . If your guests tend to frequent the water, consider supplying some toys like floaties, noodles and buckets and shovels for sand castles and shell-collecting.
9. Easel or Chalkboard. Think “Ultimate Pictionary.” If your home attracts large family gatherings, an easel or chalkboard is the perfect way for the entire family to interact together.
10. Jump Ropes. When your guests need the kids to step outside and burn off some extra energy (or the adults want to burn off the calories from last night's boardwalk fare), jump ropes are a cheap and easy solution.
11. Fresh Herbs or Veggies. For guests who do a lot of cooking, consider planting a small herb garden or tomato plants. Your housekeeper or landscaper should be able to take care of the upkeep, and your guests will love the fresh fare.
12. Rain Gear. Nothing ruins a trip faster than some bad weather. However, your guests will appreciate your forward-thinking when you supply plastic ponchos and a couple of umbrellas, which could make the difference between a dull day indoors and an outdoor adventure.
13. Activity Books. Consider stocking both coloring books for the kiddos and crossword puzzles or Sudoku for the adults. You'll have to replace them every once in a while, but they're a great way to keep all members of the family entertained at the beach or after a long day outdoors.
14. Iced Tea, Lemonade or Hot Cocoa Mix. You might already provide bottles of water, but you can add some “flavor” to your refrigerator by providing drink mixes for iced tea, lemonade, hot cocoa or other fruity beverages.
15. Snow Gear. If you own a vacation home in a colder destination, consider other region-appropriate exras like gloves, mittens, sleds, or snow discs for your guests to enjoy during their ski vacation.
16. Frisbees and Rubber Balls. You don't have to purchase a basketball goal or volleyball net to keep your guests entertained outdoors. Instead, just grab a few Frisbees, plastic balls or bean bags for them to throw around.
17. Microwave Popcorn and Buckets. Make your guests feel like they're at the theater by stocking your pantry with microwaveable popcorn and authentic popcorn buckets so no one has to share.
18. Squiggly Straws . Keep the kids from fighting for the blue cup by distracting them with squiggly straws in fun colors. It's an easy way for them to keep track of their drinks, too.
19. Wiffle Ball and Bat . Pay homage to America's favorite pastime with wiffle balls and bats for guests of all ages.
20. Horseshoes. All you need are a few horseshoes and a couple of stakes in the ground and your guests are all set for an afternoon of fun.
21. Cookie Cutters. Since many guests will visit your home for a special occasion, consider providing cookie cutters in fun shapes and sizes to get the kids involved. For an extra touch, you can also provide powdered or frozen cookie dough.
22. Bath Toys . Make bath time a treat by providing rubber duckies or spongy toys for the kids to play with in the tub.
23. CDs. If you've already loaded most of your music collection onto your computer and MP3 player, why not leave the original CDs at your vacation home? Your guests will likely appreciate the sounds of local musicians, kid-appropriate albums, or soothing CDs of nature sounds.
24. Wood for Burning. If you have a fireplace or firepit setup, supply some wood in your garage or storage area for your guests to roast marshmallows.
25. S'mores Kit. On that note, it wouldn't hurt to stock some graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows and skewers so your guests can enjoy some good old fashioned s'mores.
The bottom line: A little goes a long way. By selecting a few items off this list or coming up with your own ideas, you can impress your guests with the extra effort and thought you gave to your household amenities.