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  • 10 ways to improve your sustainable listing without breaking the bank

    Sustainability is a buzzword most people talk about, but rarely execute on full. To create a vacation home that has zero carbon footprint is virtually impossible without a massive investment into alternative energy sources. This article is a guide to improve the sustainability of your listing, without breaking the bank.

    Composting

    This is so important for anyone looking to improve the sustainability of their listing. In the United States alone, 33 million tons of food is wasted each year. Food alone accounts for approximately 21% of all landfill waste, the largest percentage by far.

    Composting allows us to minimize this massive waste factor. Food and other organic waste are broken down and recycled into nutrient rich soil and fertilizer. Some of the ecological benefits of composting include:

    • Enriching soil, which in turn retains moisture and suppresses plant disease. 
    • Reduce the need for chemical fertilizer
    • Reduce methane emissions from landfills and lower your carbon footprint. 

    To set up your composting system, check out the EPA guide here: https://www.epa.gov/recycle/composting-home

    Eliminate Plastics

    Eco-conscience tourists have long removed plastics from their lives. To attract eco-minded individuals, it is important to take care of the little details that these types of travelers value. By minimizing or eliminating all plastic products from your listing, you will open the flood gates in your journey to having zero carbon footprint. 

    Support local artists & businesses

    Supporting the local community is important to ensuring the sustainability of your listing. A painting made by a local artist requires a much smaller carbon footprint to get to you than a Picasso that needs to be shipped in by armed guards from overseas. 

    Eliminate animal products

    Animal products for consumption or decoration are a tremendous source of waste. According to a study by the University of Michigan, eating one vegetarian meal per week can be associated with saving the equivalent of 1,160 miles of greenhouse gasses on the road. 

    To attract eco-tourists, it goes beyond the consumption of meat. Abstaining from leather goods and animal hide rugs are a great example of this. 

    Eco cleaning products

    The devil is in the details, and the supplies you select to help create phenomenal experiences are no different. Eco friendly cleaning supplies come in many forms, and are certified based on a variety of standards. 

    The EPA has designated a certification program that extends to cleaning supplies with a Designed for the Environment (DfE) label. Other labels you can look for include a “low VOC,” or “no VOC” meaning volatile organic compounds. For example, if you are looking for a disinfectant, look for products that contain citric acid, peroxide, or lactic acid. 

    Brands to look for:

    Connect your listing to the area

    When someone goes on vacation, they want to create experiences that will last a lifetime. When people want just a bed, they stay in a budget hotel/motel. When they want to explore and live like a local, they choose a vacation rental. 

    When thinking about how you can connect your listing to the local area, understand your surroundings to include activities that are sustainable. For example, if your listing is in a mountain region, consider promoting hikes to guests that the can embark on with a local guide. If you are near a wildlife preserve, consider ways for your guests to get involved with the establishment. 

    The more you can help your guests connect to the local area, the more you can leverage your sustainability mission in a certified way. It is always important to think about how the decisions you make with your listing reverberate through the local community. 

    Tell a story

    A very famous TED Talk by Simon Sinek dives into the power of why. He goes into the success of brands such as Apple, breaking their products down to what, how, and why. Their products are no different than anything else on the market. In essence, they are the same computers and phones that you can get anywhere. How they are made, is also no different to a certain degree. The major differentiator is their why. People don’t buy what you do, they buy into why you do it. Their why is to be on the cutting edge of innovation across all details, and think differently about consumer electronics than most brands do. 

    Apple prides their why on innovative products, excellent customer service, and a mission for a sustainable future. Your sustainable vacation rental should follow the same thought process. People won’t be buying into the fact that your home, may be a little bit nicer than the one next door. They don’t buy into how you clean every corner with a toothbrush on every turnover. These are expected by guests across the spectrum. What they will buy into however, is why you chose to place such an emphasis on sustainability, and the details that reflect it. 

    Interior design for the sustainable mind

    Eco-tourists have a very select way of designing their homes. One thing to note is their emphasis on the minimalist lifestyle. Eco-Conscious travelers are critical to the details of a home. They know that some outdated homes waste tremendous amounts of energy, and would be reluctant to stay in one. Compare that to a more modern home with clean counters, and recycled decor, these homes are significantly more attractive to the sustainable traveller. 

    One of the great added benefits of using recycled furniture over new, is the tremendous cost savings associated with it. Your creative capacity is also limitless through restoration and repurposing. 

    Minimize the electronics

    Many times when people choose a sustainable vacation destination, they want to get back in touch with nature and wellness. Electronics serve as a distraction from the surrounding serenity, and often is considered a negative impression to these travelers. 

    Consider highlighting aspects of your rental that promote wellness. Maybe that is a meditation room, or a collection of old board games. There is no need to have the latest and greatest technology for every activity. Many people will not even want to spend much time in the house itself. By eliminating the unnecessary electronic distractions, you create an environment that people can trust to be a sustainable destination. 

    Seed your garden of eden

    Gardening is something that many people enjoy as a recreational hobby. When it comes to sustainability, it is a tremendous plus to have vegetables grown on site. If you are able to grown an entire food supply for your guests in house, it will help you reach a near zero carbon footprint. 

    If building a greenhouse is not in your budget, consider planting vegetables along the side of your yard. Simple vegetables to grow include tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and lettuce. 

    Get a free consultation

    Get in touch to learn more about improving the sustainability of your vacation rental





  • Winter Weather Forecast for 2019/2020

    The seasons have changed and fall is upon us. More importantly for skiers, snow season is just around the corner. Every year, tremendous showings of superstition and tradition are displayed in hopes to persuade the snow gods for a blissful winter. 

    As the negative effects of climate change progress, Winters have become less predictable in their trends. In the last few years, 80 degree days in January have become all too common in New York. Sometimes the snow will even stick through July like it did in Colorado last winter. 

    Every year, the farmer’s almanac and the NOAA release their guides for what they predict the winter will look like. 

    Winter Temperature Forecast (NOAA)

    Winter Precipitation Forecast (NOAA)

    Based on these maps, the NOAA forecasts that the majority of the United States is expected to have above average temperatures this year aside from the northern mid western plains. Following the second map, they also predict that the majority of the United States will have an equal chance of above or below average levels of precipitation, aside from the northern mid western plains. 

    Based on these readings, expect a long winter of cold and heavy snowfall for Minnesota and the surrounding states. For the rest of ski country, it is difficult to say based on these readings. There is a reasonable chance to believe that the expected above average temperatures across the rocky mountains should not translate into rain. This is due to the already frigid temperatures across the region. For parts of the northeast, it would be safe to expect a below average ski season. 

    Farmers Almanac

    The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a tradition that dates back to the 1800s. They used patterns he noticed in sunspots to predict the climate in the forthcoming year. Their yields were based on patterns that arose every 11 years, tying them to weather patterns. 

    These methods have largely been debunked to pseudoscience. Nevertheless, it is always a wonderful thing to see Utah and the Rocky Mountains to have ‘low temps, deep powder.” 

    Although predicting the weather with 100% accuracy may never be possible, it is always fun to use these tools to hope for the best! Here’s to a great winter!

    Interested in learning more about how SOMA can help you get the most from your vacation rental?

    Give us a call at +1-435-962-9530 or email at info@somastays.com for more info!

  • From Zion to the Slopes

    Today we drove 5 hours from Zion National Park in St. George, Utah to Salt Lake City, Utah.  The drive was a stunning spectrum of endless red rock mountain ranges. Upon arriving in SLC, we felt an immediate peaceful energy and the opportunity in the air was palpable.  How can a place this beautiful, with this many tech companies, ski resorts, and activities still be so undiscovered? Was was it so affordable? It seems the value for what you get in terms of quality of life is so much higher than anywhere else I’ve been.  My intuition was validated by a friend of Will’s, who said he had spent significant time in 41 states, and settled on Salt Lake City for affordability and quality of life. THey were living in a 5bedroom home with a huge backyard and artist workshop for $2,500.  How is that possible? And if you’re a skier/snowboarder, there really is no better value. 

    In real estate, and airbnb management especially, it’s critical to find a good value market, and within that market, good value apartments/homes for purchase and lease.  We found a local coffee shop and began scouring the AirBNB listings to check listings to measure their pricing and quality. SLC seems to be a great place for AirBNB management with a lot of high priced listings and year-round events and activities.  Next step was to just try to live like a local, as well as like a tourist, to see what it’s like to experience the city. I went on Yelp and looked for a place to have breakfast– we landed at Sharon’s Cafe– an old-timers’ breakfast joint serving up delicious and simple breakfast– sunny side up eggs, sausage links, home fries, toast, and hot coffee.  The egg yolks were deep yellow (a great sign!), the sausages juicy and rich, the toast pre-buttered, and the coffee excellent– all for $12 including tip– not bad.  

    Another thing that impressed me was the local flavor of the restaurant scene.  Yes you have your chains, of course, but the coveted corner real estate in this enclave of Salt Lake City where I was staying (Holladay, UT), was not a Starbucks as I would have expected, but a local burger joint.  And the surrounding places seemed all local as well. We spent the afternoon working out of a really cool coffee shop called 3 Cups– again, great coffee, and chock full of Millennials on laptops, chatting, reading the paper, and not looking hungover (surprising for a Sunday).  Everyone seemed friendly and in good spirits, and not all that stressed (much different from NYC). All of this felt quite refreshing, and I could begin seeing myself spending some serious time in this city. Will must have been thinking the same thing because he looked at me and said “Man, I think we should make this place our HQ”.  “My thoughts exactly” I responded, “I can’t wait for ski season.”  

    That evening, we met Alex, who worked with Will as head chef at the Nantucket Yacht Club and who invited us to his new restaurant– Bartolo’s– for dinner.  We got there before it opened and chatted for about 45 minutes and I got a quick MBA in restaurant economics. I quickly realized Alex has a very sharp business mind to complement his skills in the kitchen.  I tried to apply my real estate interest to his own business, and offer any tips whenever I could, just trying to be generally useful. I love meeting local entrepreneurs, hearing their stories, and treating it like a business case from my days at UVA.  How can the business be improved? How can he create new streams of revenue? Cut costs? Improve sales and marketing? Is there anything of value we can offer? Luckily, Will was a sales guy at Yelp, and had tons of tips for Alex to improve his Yelp rankings, and I was able to help a bit on the real estate and leasing side.  Alex’s passion for his business was clear– he even constructed his own benches, put up his own tiles, and figured out how to save up to 70% on his restaurant machinery by striking a clever deal. I loved his bootstrap mentality because it reminds me of myself while I was building up my first several AirBNB apartments. We would find used furniture on Craigslist and get $3,000 couches for $300 or less.  I loved the hustle!

    After our chat, were both starving, and the long wait made it that much better.  Alex sat us down in the corner table and we ordered Quinoa and Kale salad with the most delectable vinaigrette, roasted asparagus dusted in parmesan cheese, homemade Rigatoni Bolognese that was mind blowing, and spaghetti with plump, juicy shrimp bathed in a lemon sauce and skirted with tuscan vegetables. A Brazilian native but of Italian descent, Alex’s depth of knowledge of Italian cooking manifested in deep layers of flavor in the zesty, rich sauces and perfect al-dente pasta.  After our meal, Alex graciously sent over a complimentary tiramisu which didn’t disappoint. The energy of the restaurant was casual, but classy, and very congenial. The guy sitting next to us saw our tiramisu, and sent one over to a group of friends who were sitting at a different table. The vibes were so friendly and perfectly in line with my overall experience of Salt Lake City. What a breath of fresh air from NYC. I think I can get used to this place…

  • The Road to Zion

    Zion National Park is one of America’s most hidden gems. Nestled in the southeast corner of Utah, deep in the heart of our national parklands, Zion brings in over 3 million visitors each year. The breathtaking views and mild climate also make the region one of the best places to retire in the US.

    The park is about 45 minutes east of St. George, UT. With approximately 200,000 residents in the metro area, St. George is one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the United States. As the city has grown, so has the demand for vacation rentals for transient city visitors and vacationers.

    In terms of pure short term rentals, the market competes significantly with RV rentals. Due to strict regulations in the higher density townships, short term rentals have found their way into the outer regions of the cities. This has forced the growth of unique stays such as glamping, which rent for upwards of $200 / night on Airbnb and HomeAway.