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Staging Your Vacation Rental To Withstand a Tropical Climate

How you set up your vacation rental property affects the guest experience in a big way. Everything from furniture selection and placement to wall color and decor can turn any space into a sanctuary that guests will long to return to.

If your property is in a tropical climate, there are other things to consider besides aesthetics.

Tropical climates bring with it rainstorms, intense heat and overwhelming humidity – weather conditions that can do major damage to property and cost owners a fortune to repair.

It’s important to consider all the elements when setting up a vacation property in the south. Design choices have to account for all possibilities, keeping in mind the specific needs of surviving extreme temperatures and sometimes even natural disasters.

Property features should be planned meticulously so they stand the test of time (and weather).

The following guide walks owners through design principles custom built for the hazards that come alone with a tropical environment.

Furniture material

Whether your property is a 700-square-foot studio apartment or a 7-bedroom waterfront home, humidity can do major damage.

Wood is a popular material often featured in properties. It’s durable and beautiful. But wood is porous, so water is not its friend. Tropical climates bring a high level of humidity, which can cause cracking in wood finish as well as warp wood fibers. This process of absorption also makes painted wood easily peel.

Instead of wood – especially when furnishing outside – opt for alternative materials that can hold up in volatile weather.

Aluminum is lightweight and resists rust, the polyethylene in synthetic wicker makes it durable, and then there’s teak. Teak wood is essentially hardwood, but because of its high concentration of oils and rubber, it’s a type of wood that lasts.

There’s plenty of other options for your indoor furniture. Stick with polyester fabrics for sofas. Bamboo is also a great moisture-wicking choice.

Engineered wood is another material that actually provides a wood aesthetic without running the risk of developing mold and rot.

Still stuck on real wood? Use protective sealant and keep the air conditioner running cool even when the property is empty. A dehumidifier can also help control moisture levels inside. Ensure performance of dehumidifiers by cleaning the filter and placing the hose so water drains properly.

Interior accessories

Tropical weather impacts other indoor decisions besides furniture pieces.

Lighting is one instance where a volatile climate can work to a homeowner’s advantage. The tropics deliver a lot of water – and a lot of sun. Many areas offer solar options, so when available, install solar panels that can help power the property. The upfront investment is well worth the money saved in electric bills.

Windows and window treatments should also be considered when setting up a rental property.

Tint windows so inside stays cooler during the hottest times of the afternoon. You can also hang shades or curtains that block the sun from heating the interior like an oven. Making it so that the air conditioner doesn’t have to work so hard will also save on utility costs.

Another smart interior idea is to label supplies as well as where they’re stored. Include flashlights, batteries, radios – anything that helps guests feel safe during a power outage.

Provide emergency contact sheets that have directions to the nearest shelter in case of an evacuation. You may be thinking, “There won’t be any guests staying during those types of storms,” but you never know when a storm can brew without warning.

It’s not about scaring guests, but about making them feel that they will be comfortable no matter what happens.

Exterior protection

Safeguarding guests from natural disasters starts from the outside in.

Windows offer protection not only from the sun but also the storm. If it’s in the budget and the location calls for it, invest in hurricane-proof windows. This is pricey, but offers a peace of mind like no other (for guests and owners alike!).

Hurricane-proof glass alternatives are, of course, storm shutters. Make sure to write out directions for guests on how and when to close shutters. There are many user-friendly options, like accordion shutters, that are easy to close and lock.

Otherwise, you will need to arrange for staff to secure windows when the time comes.

In the case of a sudden severe storm, there should also be a simple process to storing and securing outdoor furniture. If you can’t take care of this for guests, guide them how to do it with clear instructions.

Make sure there’s enough space inside to make room for outdoor pieces. If guests are stuck inside, you’ll want to make them feel as comfortable as possible.

Unwanted visitors

Other outside influences can harm guests, and though they’re not as mighty as powerful winds and rain, they can be just as bothersome.

Protecting against annoying insects can be accomplished in a variety of ways. This may not be top of mind, but at the best, bugs can be a turn-off for guests. At the worst, they can spread disease and cause stressful visits to the emergency room.

Spraying and other forms of professional pest control go a long way. You should also encourage guests to follow trash disposal instructions carefully – make this easy so cleaning up doesn’t become a hassle.

Another strategy for protecting against tropical insects involves checking the exterior for any areas that are not draining properly after heavy rains.

All it takes is a small puddle, birdbath, or any other form of stagnant water for mosquitoes to make themselves at home, and mosquitoes are a nuisance that should be taken seriously as they can spread diseases.

You can also plant geranium, citronella, and other mosquito-repelling plants to help deter these pesky tropical invaders.

Planning for the worst – even if there’s only a slim chance of facing it – instills peace of mind amongst vacationers. It also allows you to minimize damage and offer guests a feeling of safety and preparedness that they will appreciate for years of renting to come.