vacation rental upgrades

13 Upgrades to Make Your Vacation Rental Stand Out This Winter

Every season has its charms, whenever your vacation rental’s peak season is.

While we tend to think of summer as the best time for vacations, winter is also quite popular.  Whether for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or just a cozy weekend at a cabin, nearly half of all Americans planned to travel during the 2024 winter season.

To capitalize on these winter trips, you just need to show your guests that your rental is the ideal place. And that comes down to your rental’s offerings.

So, to help you stand out among the competition this season, we’re sharing 13 winter vacation rental upgrades to set your home apart.

Why does your property need vacation rental winter upgrades?

If you’re coming off of a hot summer season, starting work on new upgrades is probably the last thing you want to do. But upgrades might be exactly what you need to help your short-term rental gain some traction this winter and attract off-season stays.

These changes are going to add value to your home, translating to a higher average daily rate. What’s more, they might attract enough guests to help you fill your calendar in the slower months.

Some of these upgrades will even help you to increase profits by lowering your costs. At the end of the day, any upgrade you make to your vacation rental this winter will only be a positive for your business.

The 13 upgrades your vacation rental needs this winter

So, you’re ready to make some changes to your vacation rental this winter. Great! Now, where should you start? Is it all about amenities this winter, or do guests prefer to see more smart gadgets?

We’ve detailed the top 13 upgrades to make for your vacation rental once the weather turns cold.

1. Install a fireplace

Living room with a fireplace

Everyone wants to enjoy that iconic winter cabin feeling: sitting in front of a warm fire, cuddling up with a cozy blanket, drinking hot chocolate…

So, if you don’t already have a fireplace in your rental, now is the time to upgrade and make your rental more marketable for winter.

While a gas fireplace may not look as rustic as a traditional option, it saves your renters time and work. All they have to do is flick a switch and enjoy—no hauling wood to keep the fire going.

Outside of initial purchase and installation costs, remember that you will have to pay monthly for an extra gas line. However, with different guests coming and going, and spending time away from the house, the fire won’t be running all day every day.

2. Invest in heated floors

Heated floors in the bathroom or living room are appealing to any guest—especially in the winter.

Costs will inevitably depend on a few factors, such as your property’s square feet, current flooring, type of radiant heating, and more. According to Forbes, 2023 national average costs for 1,000 square feet range from:

  • $7,000 to $22,000 for hydronic or water-based
  • $8,000 to $15,000 for electric

A worthwhile investment in the long run, one huge benefit is that you don’t have to redo your flooring as well. In most cases, what you already have will work with the radiant heating.

You can currently install radiant heating with a wide range of flooring options, including:

  • Ceramic
  • Wood
  • Linoleum
  • Carpet
  • Stone

3. Add a hot tub

Hot tub with a beautiful view in the background

There are few things that allow guests to unwind and relax like a hot tub—especially in the winter. Imagine skiing or hiking out in the cold all day long, and then returning to your rental to soak and relax.

If it sounds nice to you, chances are it will to your guests, too.

Hot tubs are normally placed outside in the backyard. However, if you don’t have the space, you could upgrade your bathtub to a jet tub, transforming your bathroom into a makeshift spa for winter visitors.

The key is to make sure guests take good care of your hot tub at all times. For example, you could put up signs related to:

  • Tub rules: no food and drink allowed inside
  • Spa operation: how to turn on jets, air, heater, lights, etc.
  • Troubleshooting checklist: simple fixes for common issues

4. Say “yes” to a sauna

Outdoor sauna surrounded by snow

Once you’ve installed a hot tub at your vacation rental, a sauna is the next natural step.

Saunas are not only extra appealing during the winter months, but add year-long appeal and added value to your rental. This unique selling point will make your rental stand out among the competition, enabling you to market your property as an extra-cozy winter escape and as a health and wellness retreat.

5. Apply epoxy flooring

Epoxy flooring started in commercial garages because of its safety and durability. Nowadays, homeowners update their flooring to epoxy for similar reasons—and you can do the same to make your rental more marketable in the winter.

Calvin Kwekel, owner of Kwekel Epoxy Floors, suggests that what renters value most this time of year is slip resistance—especially for those snowbirds who like to be outdoors in all weather.

When you’re trudging in between the car and the house, accidents can happen. However, epoxy flooring is both slip-resistant and designed so that spills or puddles (such as melting snow) can easily be wiped away. Make sure you leave towels or a mop handy in the garage to clean up any spills.

6. Upgrade your amenities

Table set with plates and glasses

In addition to the provided amenities, you can also customize items or add more for the cold winter months. As it tends to get dark by 4:00 pm, guests spend more time indoors rather than outside in the dark.

In the kitchen, you can offer additional utensils, such as a muffin tray for baking or a fondue set for a classic winter dish. Equip your kitchen with hot cocoa, different teas, and mulled wine too!

Guests can also just relax on the sofa and watch a movie, so providing a Netflix account will be useful. You can also include activities your guests can do, such as board games. This can differentiate your business from your competitors, especially for families with small children.

It’s especially important to provide warm blankets in the bedrooms. And you can also include extras such as slippers, bathrobes, and fluffy towels.

7. Redecorate

Cozy room

Okay, we don’t mean that you need to completely change your decor. But a few impactful updates can go a long way toward creating a cozy ambience.

Consider adding extra throw pillows and blankets to the couch and placing candles throughout the living room. If it’s around the holidays, you can even add some decorations to make the space more festive.

Pay special attention to colors when choosing your winter decor. While bright, energizing tones are perfect for summer, you’ll want to stick with deeper and warmer shades for the winter months.

After making these changes, update your listing’s photos to help guests envision the cozy stay they could have at your place!

8. Install Smart Locks

smart lock

Smart locks are a great way to allow guests access to your property without actually being there.

This means that if they arrive late, due to delayed flights or bad weather, they won’t have to wake you up in the middle of the night for check-in. Plus, smart locks take the hassle out of arranging for cleaners, maintenance and repairs to swing by.

Additionally, Wi-Fi door locks can boost the security of your rental, potentially attracting more families who are concerned about the safety of their children. Depending on the type of lock you install, you can generate a new unlock code for each set of renters, or have them scan their mobile phone for access.

Smart locks are just one option. There are plenty of other ways that home automation can help boost your property’s year-round appeal!

9. Use a smart thermostat

How do you plan to regulate the heating and cooling in your home when temperatures drop?

The thermostat is out of your control during guests’ stay, but what about when your property sits vacant? Installing a smart thermostat will help to regulate your home’s temperature, and consequently its utility bills, from wherever you are.

Not to mention, your guests will love how modern it makes your home!

10. Buy snow equipment

Snowshoes propped up against snow

Don’t forget the great outdoors!

There’s plenty to love about winter beyond the coziness you can provide inside for your guests. Having winter sports equipment and different things for guests to enjoy outside will help contribute to their overall experience.

For example, providing sleds is a cheap way to offer something that the whole family will love! Notably the kids. Other winter sports equipment for your vacation rental could include snow shoes, ice hockey equipment, or just about anything that could make for some wintery fun.

11. Provide garage parking

If you have the extra space on your property to build a standalone garage, it might be worth the investment.

Many guests travel by car, especially if your vacation rental is located outside of a city center. And no one wants to have to heat up the car and defrost the windshield while on vacation (or ever, really).

Plus, making your guests’ lives easier is exactly what’s necessary to secure repeat visits!

12. Offer snow removal services

Shovelling snow

Tramping through piled up snow, slipping on ice, getting your car stuck in the driveway…none of these are pleasant experiences to offer your guests.

They may be seeking out your vacation rental because of the snowy landscape surrounding it, but that doesn’t mean they want to deal with the less glamorous aspects of snow.

Offering snow removal services will give guests peace of mind as they venture into weather conditions that may be new for them—or, at the very least, save them the hassle of shoveling the snow themselves. This all translates into an added attraction for your listing.

13. Bulk up your insulation

Comfort is key, but at what cost?

You might be pouring tens of thousands into your winter utility bills if your home isn’t properly prepped and insulated for the cold. That extra money could be going to the hot tub mentioned above!

Here are some upgrades to consider to get your home better equipped for cold weather:

  • Install new, weatherproof windows.
  • Add solar shades to your window treatments.
  • Pad on the insulation in the attic.
  • Add weather stripping to exterior doors.

Sometimes the best upgrades are the practical ones. Guests might not see the changes, but they’ll surely feel it when they’re nice and toasty in your vacation home this winter!

Marketing your property for winter

Once you’ve made these upgrades, big or small, you can make your property more marketable for winter!

Don’t forget to update your photos and listing descriptions to reflect these benefits to potential renters. Emphasize that you have upgraded your home and call special attention to your new offerings.

You can even consider changing the title of your property listing to reflect its value to winter renters—such as “cozy winter vacation rental”—to make it more clickable in search results.


After you’ve upgraded your vacation rental and squared away your marketing, it’s time to sit back and reap the benefits of your hard work. Winter upgrades should equal winter bookings, so get ready for an influx of reservations to come through once you’ve added the final touches.

Are there any other winter upgrades you would add to the list? Let us know below in the comments! And when all’s said and done, you’ll be able to flaunt a wide variety of features that much of your competition can’t—both in the winter and all year long!

What do you think about this article?

4.4/5 - (18 votes)
Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ready to take more direct bookings?

No set up fees, no credit card details, no obligation. Try Lodgify free for 7 days.