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Rustic Not Rugged

February 2, 2024

Rustic lodging accommodations are attractive to many park owners. They offer what we consider a "Low cost of admission." With no kitchens or baths, they can be set, leveled, outfitted, and rented the next day. While they offer a quick and easy way to add roofed assets to your portfolio, pay close attention to how they are staged, and marketed, as well as the ADR considerations.

- Outfitting a Rustic Retreat

In a world dominated by concrete jungles and fast-paced living, there's something undeniably enchanting about retreating to a rustic tent or cabin nestled amidst nature's embrace. The peace and tranquility that comes with being surrounded by towering trees, babbling brooks, and sweeping mountain views are enough to make anyone yearn for a getaway. Rustic cabins offer a chance to disconnect from the chaos of the modern world and reconnect with the beauty of the natural environment. However, guests still want to be able to enjoy the creature comforts of modern living. The photo below is from an AOS park, but pay careful attention to what is included in our "Rustic Cabin."

While there is no kitchen or bath, this cabin comes with an attractive water carafe, coffee maker, refrigerator, and microwave. It is far from the many, "Bare Bones," lodging choices on the market today. It has central heat and air, luxury hotel bedding, a workspace, and bed lamps with USB chargers.

- Not Disconnecting from the modern world

In today's hyper-connected society, it's important to find moments of respite from the constant notifications and digital noise. Rustic units provide the perfect escape, but weak Wi-Fi signals and unreliable cell phone reception issues are a guest nightmare, even in rustic retreats, Yes, outdoor vacationing offers a chance to unplug and immerse themselves in the simplicity of life, but most guests still prefer to check in on life while on vacation. Modern rustic cabins seamlessly blend the charm of the past with the comfort of the present. While they retain their rustic appeal, they also offer modern amenities that make the experience all the more enjoyable. Imagine curling up next to a roaring fireplace while streaming your favorite show on a flat-screen TV or enjoying a steaming hot cup of coffee after hiking. It's the perfect balance of roughing it and indulging in creature comforts.

- Marketing Your Rustic Lodging

Be real about what is and is not included. Nothing welcomes a bad review like high expectations and low delivery. One of my most problematic vacations came when I drove hours up a snowy road to a ski cabin, only to be surprised by the lack of pillows, linens, and blankets. We were forced to drive back into town to purchase linens. When we left the property, we had to leave these purchases behind due to luggage limits on our flight. Remember, rustic doesn't have to mean roughing it. Few things satisfy the body more than falling into a plush, comfortable bed at the end of a day. Make sure you offer hotel-type amenities in your rustic spaces.

- ADR Considerations

Rustic cabins have come a long way from their humble origins, but their ADR will likely be far below a full-service unit. Units with full kitchens and full baths rent more often, and at a high ADR than rustic units. This is just a fact, but it does not mean rustics cannot work. Be realistic about the ADR they will command.

Add ambiance to your rustic area by including common area amenities close to your units. Bathhouses, outdoor kitchens, common grills, and fire pit areas are amenities all rustic guests can enjoy. Don't be afraid to add some rustic units to your overall lodging options, just remember, "Rustic Does Not Mean Rugged,"