At the ITB Berlin 2018 conference, one of the top focal points was luxury travel and hospitality. According to Marc Aerberhard, President of Luxury Hotel & Spa Management, the new luxury travel sector is “all about what money cannot buy”.
So, what does this mean? Today’s luxury travelers favor simplicity over bling, and experiences over things. In any case, for guests, the luxury experience starts long before check-in. These travelers expect a smooth booking process, clear communication and a responsive host – as well as a knockout property to spend their vacations.
While working on your hosting skills requires little economic investment, transforming your vacation rental into something more luxury can take a big bite out of your budget. But it doesn’t have to! There are plenty of affordable upgrades you can carry out at your home to help your property achieve five-star appeal.
Keep it minimalist
For new vacation rental owners, it’s easy to get carried away when designing your rental interior from scratch. To make a property feel truly luxurious, however, minimalism is far more effective than cramming in every find. Not only does it look better, but it is also far cheaper to buy a handful of key pieces of furniture and accessories.
Think about the layout of your property, and make a list of the minimum furnishings needed for each room. For example, in a dining room, the essential items are quite simply a table and chairs. If the space allows it, you could think about adding a bar trolley at one end of the room – as long as it doesn’t obstruct any passageway.
Investing in a few staple pieces – instead of overloading your rental – will immediately give it a classy, chic and high-end hotel feel. It will also help guests get a better sense of space when browsing through your professional photos.
Play with textures – they are your friend
To create a luxury interior design, you’ll need a good eye for finding attractive pieces – as well as the know-how for putting them together. Combining metallic elements with natural materials like stone and wood create a real modern and luxe feel. Gold or rose gold accessories are a trendy and classy option to look out for.
In addition to this, you can use textures to spruce up your soft furnishings, too. During winter months, think about adding soft, fluffy blankets on top of crisp, white bed sheets. In the summer, you can switch these out for neutral colored textured throw pillows. In the dining room, a plush rug can offset a chunky metal and wooden table. Or in the living room, full-length drapes can complement hardwood floors and add drama.
Create illusions with mirrors and frames
No matter the size of your property, oversized mirrors and framed posters or artworks can work wonders to make it feel more spacious and lavish. In particular, a statement mirror with a fancy frame can instantly smarten up a property – especially in transition spaces such as corridors or hallways.
Mirrors can be expensive, but you can also often find bargains in second-hand stores. Otherwise, you can get creative and rework an existing mirror to make it more of a feature piece by painting or restoring it.
Remember that lighting is the linchpin
Dark, dingy properties do not scream luxury. Good lighting (both natural and artificial) is essential for creating an opulent space for guests to enjoy. Provide options for them to choose from, such as overhead ceiling lights and ambient side lamps. Layering lighting can help to “create ambience, interest and an illusion of height” comments Wayfair style expert, Nadia McCowan Hill.
Besides choosing great light fixtures themselves, it’s important to bear in mind the bulbs you use. McCowan Hill suggests thinking about how bright you need the space to be, what atmosphere you are trying to achieve and how energy efficient they are as the main factors which influence your decision.
Moreover, using spotlights can help highlight feature walls or architectural elements. They also work well over a dinner table setting by creating a feeling of closeness and warmth.
Emphasize the entryway
First impressions are everything in the vacation rental industry. You want your guests to feel the same excitement opening the door for the first time as they did when booking your property. For that reason, the entrance to your house has to be a masterpiece.
Imagine walking into a five-star hotel, you’d expect to be greeted with an elegant reception lobby with a well-arranged seating area. While you probably won’t have a lobby at your vacation rental, it’s easy to recreate this awe-inspiring entryway with a few simple tips. To begin, invest in a small entrance table or sideboard. Then, create a welcoming and balanced composition with a design lamp, a vase of fresh flowers and a small ceramic bowl for guests to leave items such as house keys in. You could also think about leaving your welcome book on display here, so it’s one of the first things guests come across at your home.
In addition to this, if you provide incoming travelers with a welcome letter, this setup is an ideal place to ensure they find and read it carefully.
Upcycle inexpensive, plain furniture to transform it into something special
If your property is older and you’re looking to renovate, there are many ways to do so on a budget. Low-cost stores such as Ikea sell basic furniture at very reasonable prices. With a bit of creativity, you can turn plain pieces into showstoppers.
Websites like Pinterest are great sources of inspiration for upcycling ideas which will leave your vacation rental looking instagrammable. Searching terms like “Ikea furniture hacks” brings up hundreds of results which will help spark your imagination. Many of which will allow you to transform a $30 shelving unit into something that looks like it belongs in a design showroom.
Ensure the guest experience is at the forefront
As well as your property itself providing a luxury experience, high-end guests want to feel pampered and recognized. As a host, you could set up special deals around town for your guest. Local spa nearby? Partner with them to provide an exclusive offer for your visitors. Vineyard within easy reach? Offer a premium day out wine-tasting as a limited edition add-on at the check-out.
According to the National Geographic’s luxury travel trends forecast, “luxurians no longer want souvenirs”. Instead, they want travel experiences they can post about. Your home will play a large role in creating an optimum experience for your guests, but it’s not the be all and end all. Being a welcoming, attentive host who has thought of everything in advance and provided recommendations will go a long way in determining the luxury status of your vacation rental.