4 STEPS TO MAKE YOUR SITE RUN THROUGH WINTER
We are currently having a radiator showdown here at Tree Tents HQ… who shall be the first to break and reach for the switch. Not the classic, exciting Western we all know of but more the classic ‘I don’t want to admit it’s getting cold’ scene. But alas, the warm porridge in hand and steam coming off the morning coffee is saying otherwise. So it’s got us thinking… There are loads of ways to recommend how to make sites run through these colder months and really make the most of them for guests.
Winter is one of the most magical times of year. It offers beautiful winter skies and crisp air, frosted hedgerows and sparkling woodland, not to mention the excuse to sup endless hot chocolates (or maybe something of a more stronger ‘mulled’ variety).
If your site is well prepared, you can harness the heightened sense of adventure that winter provides and offer a beautiful and rare experience without the worry of guests moaning. It will also make the most of your site and facilities and provide you with a more consistent income stream throughout the year. Brrrrliant no?
So here are some hints and tips we have thought of to help boost your site during the long winter months and create memorable experiences to warm anyone’s soul. Just like flicking that radiator switch on with a confident flourish.
1. Make winter a selling point
Firstly, why not offer your guests activities that just aren’t the same in the summer. Keep things fresh like the changing winds outside.
Sunbathing is most probably off the cards but here are some ideas:
Hiking: Winter can transform landscapes with additional mist and frost, making simple walks seem even more magical. The perfect excuse for guests to get those massive knitted socks out and stuff their feet into good solid hiking boots. You can update your website and social media from season to season with photos of the present landscape to show off the beauty on offer and encourage people to get out and explore. For example; a frosted field glittering in the light to trees bare but still beautiful as they reach for the skies.
Wildlife: With decrease in food and shelter, winter-life can be tough for our little woodland friends. Help them out and make your guests feel as though they’re in a wildlife heaven.Try putting bird feeders up around the accommodation and let guests awake to bird song. A little side (song) note here is that our Birdhouse structure has been designed to have a little built in bird feeder for our feathered friends to enjoy a snack with a view from.
Also look to the mud! Mud can mean it’s much easier to distinguish pawprints left on paths and the decrease in foliage will make it easier to spot an animal neighbour. How about leaving your guests a book on prints and a pair of binoculars and turn them into wilderness experts by the end of their stay!
Winter survival training: To attract the real adventurers, you could organise basic survival workshops. If you don’t have the knowledge yourself, find a local expert to team up with.
1) how to make a fire when everything is damp.
2) how to make a shelter from a storm.
2. Ensure site infrastructure is winter-ready
Just like the changing of the seasons, mud and frost are inevitable! Plan ahead to avoid stressful situations arising.
Mud and access: If your holiday-let is off the beaten path, pre-empt water flow and create drainage solutions. Reinforce the most used paths that are likely to turn into puddles, particularly by the entrance of buildings.
- If they’re not one unit – the access to and from the living area to the bathroom should be a proper path. We recommend looking into laying a path or putting down wood chip so that guests don’t have to associate mud with going outside. If you do lay a path, make sure you don’t forget that it will likely get icey over winter and no one wants to do a comic fall.
- Provide a place for waterproofs and muddy boots. If guests are coming back from a walk, the first thing they’ll want to do is get out of their muddy clothes. If you don’t provide enough coat hooks and boot storage, expect muddy floors and soggy guests. A plus is that all our structures have helpful/clever storage.
- Lastly, remember it can get dark surprisingly early. Ensure that paths can be lit easily, or provide guests with decent torches.
Frost: Our cold friend that pinches us in the back. Pipes are important to think about when it is getting to frosty weather. Try to avoid your pipes getting frozen by turning them off at the water source when not in use. If they do get frozen, try not to burst the pipes by adding more pressure to them. Instead, look up tips on how to defrost them.
3. Cosiness: the most important thing (Hygge inspiration)
The art of cosiness comes down to three main “musts”: warmth, lighting and food. Offer your guests more than you would in the summer months to ensure that they’re warm and comfortable.
Hygge is the Danish art of cosiness, with blankets and favourite jumpers to snuggle into and lots of warm beverages. It is all about the simple pleasures.
All our structures are designed to keep guests warm and cosy whatever the weather.
Woodstove: It will be very cold outside but that doesn’t mean it has to be cold on the inside. The woodburners we use in our structures ensure that you can quickly make a place toasty and snug in a matter of minutes. Give clear instructions on how to operate the woodstove and leave a written copy for guests to refer to. Go that little bit further and set the fire so that it’s ready for them to just light when they get in and offer to set it again for them ready for their return if they go out for the day.
Eco-logs: We always recommend using eco-logs for wood stoves. Their low moisture content allows them to release heat faster than conventional logs. This also means they burn longer because their weight is made of fuel, not water. They also take up less space and make much less mess!
Underfloor heating: One way we make our structures ideal for winter conditions is by installing underfloor heating mats under the rugs. Leave them on at night to stop the cold coming in through the floor. It means that even if the temperature does drop through the night, the first thing your guests do is put their feet on a warm floor and not having to do the cold tiptoe dance.. It’s the small things…
Insulation: Ensure accommodation structures are as insulated as they can be. We use high quality insulation in our structures as well as offering varying degrees of insulation depending on the location’s climate.
More warmth: Add extra blankets, rugs, hot water bottles… anything you can think of to make your guests think that they had more than enough warmth during their stay. Really hygge it up!
4. Extras: go the extra mile for your guests
Ensuring your guests are warm is one thing, but by going the extra mile, your guests will feel just as pampered as a summer escape.
Food: There are so many comforting and tasty foods out there! How about providing your guests with hot choc, marshmallows and comfort food on their arrival. And ensure they have access to hot meals. Whether it’s a cooking area that’s sheltered or a service you provide – warm food after cold days is important. Direct them to local pubs and restaurants and give them as much information as you can. Print out the menus and give them the phone number to make it as hassle-free as possible.
Check in on them more: Check in on them slightly more than you would in the summer. Bring them a flask of hot coffee and biscuits daily. Make sure they’re warm and catered for.
Prepare for rainy days: Bring out the board games! (there is the option of a great pun here but it is groan worthy of the highest standards, ah go on then… “boardgames – help end guests boaarrdom!”) Another idea is leaving them a list of things to do on a rainy day. This is important throughout the year but winter can feel particularly claustrophobic if not accounted for during winter months when it gets dark early.
Prepare them: Send them a weather forecast and a reminder of what they should bring in order to be prepared for cold weather a week in advance. E.g. waterproofs, bedding if not provided, wellies, hat. Also state that, while it’s unlikely, if weather conditions become unsafe, that you might have to reschedule bookings.
Winter needn’t be a hindrance to adventure, it should be an asset. With enough planning, you can prepare your site for year-round enjoyment.
Please email email@example.com if you are interested to see what our structures can bring to your site, even during the winter months and the different options we offer to help them run all year round.
Radiator update: they are warming up nicely. Let’s all stay warm and happy in the colder months while still getting out and enjoying the marvellous outdoors!