Broadkill Beach, Delaware at sunset 2022
This should actually be entitled "Blog Expectations" since I haven't met my goal of posting once a month, but I will try to catch up! It's been 5 months since our 2022 beach vacation to Delaware and there were some lessons learned both before and during our vacation. The first lesson I learned was don't make that last minute decision to step up onto a counter to clean the bathroom lights because you're likely to slip off and fracture your wrist. That's right, the night before we left I fractured my wrist and ended up in the ER! Vacation was a bit of a challenge (couldn't get my arm wet, and who knew how much you REALLY need both hands to do so many things!), but I was fortunate I didn't do more damage to myself and we still had a lot of fun! Thankfully everyone was very patient with me about getting ready to go anywhere.
So, that brings me to the second lesson which is don't always trust the pictures you see online when you're renting a new place that you've never stayed at before. I had high expectations and was really looking forward to staying at this rental. It was bayfront on our favorite beach and I just loved the views. I was convinced we finally found THE house that we were going to rent year after year. This house had SO much potential if the owner would have just put some extra TLC into it. We actually found pictures in a desk drawer of when they were building it. I'm sure it was a truly special place and a labor of love at the time. I'm guessing that over the years it got expensive to upkeep as the salt air can take a toll on a beach house. However, there are some basic concerns that you just can't ignore when you have a vacation rental. I'm going to list some of those below to help others from potentially making the same mistakes that could cost them reservations and negative reviews.
Important Things to Not Skimp On:
1) Thorough cleaning inside AND out. I think this is one of the most important concerns. Outside - If you can't afford to repaint your house then at least pay to have it power washed so it looks fresh and inviting. Do some weeding yourself if you can't afford to hire a lawncare service. Make sure doors open and close easily and spray the hinges if they're a little rusty. Clean up any debris around the grounds. Definitely fix or reinforce any steps that may be in disrepair to prevent any injuries to your guests.
Inside - PLEASE make sure it's clean and free of crumbs, fingerprints and spray for bugs. Look under pillows on the sofas for things left behind by the other guests (we did actually find things under our sofa pillows). Also look under beds, in closets and drawers. Make sure furniture is easy to clean and care for. Slipcovers are ideal as they can be put in the washer and ready for your next guests! The sofa in our enclosed porch was so stained I honestly was apprehensive sit on it. Cleaning under rugs is also something to remember. Sanitizing your home is VERY important. You wouldn't want to stay in a place you felt wasn't clean and you shouldn't expect your guests to settle for anything less. In addition, furniture should not only be clean but comfortable. Comfortable beds are a MUST. No one wants to wake up with a backache from a bad night's sleep on an uncomfortable bed.
2) If you offer any extra amenities, such as a grill, beach umbrellas, picnic table/umbrella, sand chairs, kayaks, fire pits, etc., make sure everything is in working order and not in disrepair. Our grill was broken. This was confirmed by the owner's maintenance person, even though the realtor attempted to tell us that the previous renters used it with no problem. The maintenance person indicated to us that there was no way it could've been used in that condition. After we brought it to the realtor's attention, the owner agreed to replace it based on the maintenance man's recommendation. Replace broken umbrellas (our table umbrella was torn and most likely hadn't been opened in quite a while), make the firepit area welcoming with some inexpensive outdoor seating. If you're going to offer these things - they SHOULD be functional! I understand sometimes things break during a guest's stay so provide them with a good contact number to reach you or your maintenance/cleaning crew and let them know you're available to ensure their stay is memorable for all of the right reasons.
3) Every home has clutter (mine included!) Using cabinets with doors will make the room look more calm and pleasing to the eye. That's not to say that you can't have cabinets with open shelving that are tastefully decorated, but don't shove things into a cabinet on full display (that happened at our rental too!).
I desperately wanted to rearrange this shelving to make it more presentable!
4) If you have a patio, deck or enclosed porch this is where your guests will spend much of their time, especially if you have a home with a view! Clean and refresh the patio, including any worn furniture that needs replaced. For enclosed areas that may have screens, make sure there are no holes in the screens for bugs to get in (and duct tape is not a classy fix, even if it's meant to be temporary). Screens are supposed to enable your guest to smell the salt air without swatting at mosquitos or sand flies. Sliding doors need to WORK. This will be their escape room - a room where they can enjoy the view, play games, have family meals or just read a good book. Don't overlook this very important space.
5) If your budget allows, installing blinds or even just hanging an inexpensive curtain panel that can be closed in the evening for privacy is a good idea. Letting in the sunlight during the day is a must but no one wants to feel like they're being watched by the neighbors at night.
6) If there are any areas in the home that could be potentially hazardous, as was the case with our open stairwell (see photos below), make sure that you have it properly marked. After hitting my head on it, which was a major OUCH, we moved the chair directly underneath it to avoid any future injuries! The entire space should've been enclosed and used for storage but since it wasn't, a super quick and easy fix for this could've been hanging some vertical shell garlands, a cool bamboo curtain or some stackable wicker storage cubes to fill the space.
So, I could go on but I think I've touched on some of the key factors not to be overlooked in your rental. We've stayed in some very special homes on our vacations and we always have the best time in Delaware! We will continue to go back every year however, unfortunately this was not the forever house for us as I had anticipated. The search continues and I'm hopeful we will find it! I'll leave you with a few photos from our trip!
Always on beach time...