Your First Year with a Vacation Rental

There’s a lot that goes into setting up your vacation rental. But once you’re online and ready for reservations, what then? The first few reservations can be both exciting and intimidating, but what about the first few months or years? Don’t stress from the unknown; we’re happy to give you a breakdown of what to expect so you can plan accordingly and succeed right away!

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The Best Time to Begin Your Vacation Rental

A lot goes into your vacation rental’s availability. It takes time to get a home prepared for reservations. If you’re buying a home, the process can be extended as you search the market, work through closing and furnish the home.

However, knowing a good starting date can get you up and running with little to no time between listing and your first reservation.

Before You List

One small aside before we jump into it: My first piece of advice is to get the home completely ready before you list it on sites like Airbnb or Vrbo. You never know if someone will make a reservation for that night (I’ve seen it happen), so you don’t want to scramble to finish projects, clean or stage the home before guests arrive. 

Spring is Best

As many of us know from the traffic flow through Colorado Springs and Woodland Park, summer time is peak tourism season in the Pikes Peak region. This is why I suggest new vacation rentals come “on the market” just before summer in February-April. If you’re closing on a home, shoot for this time frame!

You’re likely to get some weekend reservations for February and April, and you may see a little uptick in March for spring break. Spring is also when I see an influx of summer reservations hit our books. Preparations for summer vacations begin in the spring, especially for those traveling to Air Force Academy or college graduations. Your summer calendar will start to fill in, and if you have some reservations (and reviews) from the spring to entice potential bookers, your summer will book up nicely!


Beginning your short term rental during the summer can be effective, but stressful. The demand from travelers may leave you scrambling to get things done before people arrive. Make sure you have a plan for resetting the home after each reservation, or you may find your calendar filling up faster than you can handle. This is where having a manager with a team comes in handy! We have the resources to get your home listed quickly (to take advantage of the remaining summer season), and we can take care of back-to-back or last minute reservations when they start rolling in!

The spring and summer months should help you build lots of good reviews to keep those winter reservations coming in!

Fall and Winter

If you start your short term rental during the fall or winter, you may long for those long lines of summer tourists! As school starts, the demand for vacation rentals goes down. You may find some holiday and weekend reservations, but expect to do a lot of the heavy lifting financially during the fall and winter the first year.

The Benefits of a Vacation Rental Manager

In a world with Airbnb and Vrbo, everyone can rent out their home.

It’s a great way to earn money back on your investment, and one we wholeheartedly support! But not every Vrbo or Airbnb experience is created equal.

Airbnb calls homeowners on their site “hosts,” and so much of what makes a vacation rental great is the host, or in our case, the manager. Many homeowners have full-time jobs and may even live far from from their rental; too far to keep an eye on the property or be helpful to guests. Vacation rental managers can keep your property and your guests happy with each reservation.

Here are the top 5 reasons to use a manager for your rental property!

1. It’s Our Job 

As vacation rental managers, it’s our full-time, 24/7 job to take care of these properties and those in them! We have the time, resources and experience to know what each house needs.

2. Get What You Expect 

This goes for our owners and our guests. Our partnership with our homeowners is straightforward. It’s not our goal to nickel and dime anyone. It is our goal to go above and beyond! We’re here to work with you to make your property an oasis for those in it.

The same goes for our guests. We want their trip to be straightforward and easy. We accomplish that with standards they can count on. They can expect fair pricing, a pristine cleaning, timely responses from us, and for their time in your home to be everything they hoped for–and more!

3. Customer Service 

We’re here for guests. If that means setting up reservations, bringing extra supplies, answering questions around the clock, or providing great recommendations for the area, we’re on it! PS: We’re here for you too. Call anytime; we want to talk about anything on your mind.

4. Maintenance 

We don’t want anything to go wrong during a reservation, and neither do you–or the guests! We do all we can to handle problems ourselves at no cost. If we need to call in reinforcements, we will! We can handle the logistics of maintenance work and the reservation schedule to keep intrusions on guests to a minimum and get issues resolved quickly.

5. Aaron and Lauren

Our greatest resource to you and the guests is us! We’re in your property after each check out. Naturally, we check for things like wear and tear or damages. We also listen to guest feedback and make necessary changes. We check on the cleaning to make sure nothing was overlooked. And finally, we’re there to think ahead. We plan not only for the next reservation, but reservations a year from now. We try to detect things that may become an issue in the future. And we also think of ways to make the house better whether those are changes you can make to the home, or changes we can make in our services.

If you want to learn more about the management services provided by Out West Vacation Rentals, give Lauren a call today at 719.581.7474 or reach out to us online here.

11 Mile Marina

Eleven Mile Reservoir is a favorite summer destination for the locals!

11 Mile Marina is the perfect place to spend some time on the water in Colorado!

The marina is located just an hour outside of Colorado Springs in Lake George, Colorado. It’s an oasis for visitors and locals alike.

Eleven Mile Reservoir

11 Mile Marina is situated right on the shore of Eleven Mile Reservoir, so there’s no better starting point for all things water! Kayaks and canoes are available to rent, or even a pontoon boat. You can set sail for some sight seeing, or test your luck with a fishing pole. Eleven Mile Reservoir is part of Eleven Mile State Park. Feel free to hike or bike around the reservoir once you’re back on shore!

Rental Rates

Pontoons hold 10 people. Rental rates start at $150 for two hours, and go up based on size and duration of rental. Fuel charge is based on usage.

16-foot Lund fishing boats hold 5 people. Rental rates start at $89 for two hours. Fuel charge is based on usage.

Canoes and kayaks start at $40 for two hours.

Life jackets and whistles are provided (and required) for each person on the boat.

Fun in the Sun

We love kayaking around Eleven Mile Reservoir. Time flies with mountain views, rocky outcroppings, fish jumping and clear waters all around! It’s a perfect day trip, or even half-day trip. Kids are welcome!

Bring lots of sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat to protect yourself on the water. Our last trip was in July, and I wore long sleeves to help protect from the sun. I wasn’t hot and was glad for the extra protection.

Also, bring a water bottle to throw in the boat. I’ll suggest snacks, at least in the car. You’ll be surprised how hungry you are after a couple hours of kayaking or canoeing.

Things to Know

Fishing licenses are required for anyone over 16 and can be purchased at the marina. A State Park day pass ($8) is required for use of Eleven Mile Reservoir and is available at the marina.

Storms over the reservoir tend to roll in and out during the day, but mostly in the afternoon. I suggest getting an early start on the water to avoid the rain. During the summer, you may want to call ahead to make a reservation, or check availability of the boat you want.

The road to 11 Mile Marina is bumpy! Make sure your car can handle a bumpy mountain road.

Please note, swimming in the reservoir is not allowed. The water gets to about 50 degrees; even in the peak of summer it’s too cold to swim.

4224 County Road 92, Lake George | | 719.748.0317 | Hours: Saturday/Sunday 7am – 7pm • Monday-Friday 8am – 6pm

The Space Foundation Discovery Center

The Space Foundation Discovery Center is located on the west side of Colorado Springs. It’s a great place for kids to spend an hour learning and exploring Earth’s oceans, Jupiter’s moons and everything in between.

The Discovery Center combines the excitement of space exploration with STEM-focused activities. Learn what life is like on the International Space Station while creating circuits and perfecting paper airplane aerodynamics. Then dive under the sea to drive submersible cameras and learn how NASA prepares for space travel by exploring the ocean.

The Discovery Center is great pit stop on the way to lunch with kids. My five year old had fun and even more fun in the gift shop!

Admission is inexpensive at $2 for toddlers (2-4), $5 for kids (5-17), and $10 for adults. Parking is easy and free. | 4425 Arrowswest Drive | Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The Coffee Cottage

Stop by the Coffee Cottage for unique seasonal drinks like this custard latte–with a blend of eggnog, vanilla and cinnamon to put you in the holiday spirit! Photo Credit: @thecoffeecottageco via Facebook.

The Coffee Cottage is new in town, but has already found a special place among the locals.

They boast all organic coffee and pastries hoping to appeal to a health-conscious niche market in the small town of Woodland Park, but they succeed in serving great coffee to everyone who walks through the door.

Located in the group of shops near City Market grocery store, you’ll find them under the “coffee” sign near another Woodland Park favorite, AJ’s Pizza.

All organic and locally made. These “poptarts” are yummy and kid-approved.

Their owners take pride in their work and the things they offer; they have some unique treats as well as many of the coffee shop staples you’ve come to expect. But their coffee roast has a unique flavor that will mix up your normal order.

We’ve had several things from the Coffee Cottage including cappuccinos, lattes, flavored drinks, unflavored drinks, iced, hot–you name it. I think it’s well balanced and smooth, but the coffee they use has a hint of a smokey taste. It makes me feel like sitting around a campfire with a warm blanket and a warm cup of joe! I really like it, and because I only stop by when I’m “up the hill” – as those of us from Colorado Springs say when we visit the mountain towns up Ute Pass – it’s a pleasant surprise every time I return.

Have your coffee or tea your way, then grab a board game for some old-school fun.

The shop continues to grow; this is their first year in town, so they’re still getting settled. And I’ll be interested to see how the shop evolves and flourishes. The shop is filling in, and there are several regulars who use the space to study, have meetings or sit and relax. The Coffee Cottage also has a strong community mindset by lending a helping hand to other small creators in the area by displaying and selling local crafts, jewelry as well as other products.

I give the Coffee Cottage an 8/10. A solid score for their first few months in business.

Drive Through: No – plenty of free parking, though.

Kid Friendly: Yes – they can whip up a mean hot cocoa and there are some toys and games to play with, too. They really want everyone (even busy working moms with kids in tow) to stop by.

757 Gold Hill Place, Woodland Park, CO 80863 |

Echo Canyon River Expeditions

Echo Canyon River Expeditions based out of Canyon City, Colorado.

Y’all, we had a BLAST with Echo Canyon River Expeditions.

As a rookie, I was apprehensive about this trip. I thought I was getting in over my head. Pun fully intended. I was convinced I would spend the trip flying through the air and into the Arkansas River. Aaron had gone before, so he tried to reassure me. But he’s taller, stronger and generally less inhibited than me, so… I didn’t believe him!

Let’s Go!

We chose an advanced group tour through the Royal Gorge in Canon City, which boasts lots of paddling, fast waters and level IV rapids! Aaron and I went with four friends; with our guide, that brought our boat total to seven.

We arrived in Canon City in the morning to check in, sign waivers, and get fitted for helmets and life jackets. They also have wetsuits, if you want. We went in early July, and the water and weather were warm. Our guide said that the 4th of July time-frame is typically when the water gets warm enough to go without a wetsuit. We were advised to wear moisture-wicking fabrics that would dry easily like swimsuits or exercise apparel. I’m a wimp in cold water, but I was never cold. In fact, we were never wet for very long with the sun shining. Please remember your sunscreen! Faces, necks, ears, and, if you’re wearing shorts, the tops of your legs will need it! I’ll also remind you to bring dry clothes, towels, sunglasses, snacks and water. You may want a snack while you’re waiting for your group to head out. For a half-day tour, we were on the water for a few hours, plus we arrived an hour early. That left a lot of time to get hungry. The Royal Gorge location has a restaurant, but if you want something before you go, order early–they’re busy! You can take water bottles on the boat with you.

Shipping Out

Around noon, we (and about 30-35 others) boarded a bus to go to our starting location. We got a brief safety run down, as well as general instructions on how to paddle and what to expect on the river. We got off the bus, were assigned a guide, and got ready to go. Our guides checked our life jackets one last time, did their own versions of the safety instructions and reminded us of the basic commands they use. Our guide was Berto, and guys, request him! He was funny, had a lot of little facts about the area and the river, and he was very laid back, so for a first-timer he was great.

We never tipped over, or flew out of the boat. I don’t think they can guarantee that every time; the river changes, weather changes and things happen, but no one in our entire group of 5-6 boats-full had a bad time. I know for certain that all 6 from my boat are eager to go again. It was fun going over some rapids and trying something new, and the Royal Gorge was amazing to see from the river.

Extra Info

We were bussed back to our starting location, and had some lunch at the restaurant. They have photographers lining the shores as you paddle by (and a GoPro on the front of the boat), and you can purchase photos after the trip. Leave your phone in the car. You won’t have service, so unless it’s super waterproof, just leave it. The check-in desk will keep your keys, so you don’t have to take those either.

Just an FYI, the guides do accept tips (though it’s not required), so you may want to bring some cash.

Let’s Go…Again!

All in all, we had a great time. 10/10! Echo Canyon offers tours for all levels of difficulty and all age ranges (starting at 4-5 years old). They have tours in Canon City through the Royal Gorge and in several mountain areas around Colorado including Vail, Breckenridge, Buena Vista and more.

For more information, you can find them online. You can book your tour on their website, or give them a call to ask questions and find the right trip for you.

800-755-3246 | [email protected] |


The Perk Downtown

The Perk Downtown is located off of Tejon Street in the heart of Colorado Springs. Photo: @ThePerkDowntown via Facebook.

Colorado Springs is home to great coffee, and the Perk Downtown is a prime example. This fun and bustling cafe has great drinks and food which rank among the best in town. As you might expect, it’s located in the heart of downtown Colorado Springs on Tejon. Tejon Street is home to lots of local shops and restaurants as well as being the premier route for all parades and downtown celebrations.

Add to the chalkboard while you’re there.

The location creates a fun atmosphere because there are always people there with you. It’s energizing, and not just because of the caffeine! We went for the first time on a cold spring day, and it was easy to get warm inside. In warmer weather, it’s fun to sit outside and people-watch on Tejon Street, or there’s seating upstairs and on the roof for better views.

Our kids had a great time!

We took our kiddos and they had some hot cocoa while we had coffee. And I have to give props to the staff for understanding the habits of 2- and 4-year-olds. The cocoa came in to-go cups with lids. Parents get it. Lids.

Very smart.

The best soy latte I’ve ever had. I’ve tried to replicate it at home, I’ve tried to find a better one in town. So far, I can’t!

For those who don’t do dairy, I had a soy latte that has yet to be topped.

I’ll just throw this out there too, they serve cocktails. Bloody Marys and mimosas (among other things), for those of you who may be interested.

We give The Perk Downtown a 10/10. Great location, great options and fun atmosphere.

Drive Through: No – Parking meters in the downtown area take credit cards, and are free before 8 am and after 6 pm, Monday-Friday. They are free all day on Sundays and city holidays.

Kid Friendly: Yes

14 S Tejon St, Colorado Springs, CO 80903 |

Pikes Peak Bike Tours

Get ready for a thrilling downhill ride with Pikes Peak Bike Tours.

The best way to experience Pikes Peak is on a bike! I’ve been to the top several times, but this was my first time coming down on two wheels instead of four.

Get Ready

Our guide Dan is ready to roll.

The day starts at the shop where everyone checks-in and grabs breakfast. From there we’re given a demonstration about the bikes, and pile into the vans for our ride up to the Peak.

The guides were fun and full of energy. Here’s my group leader Tyler.

Pikes Peak Bike Tours has truly great guides to lead you on this adventure. Our guides, Wes, Tyler, Dan, Calie, and Austin, were very personable, and spoke to everyone as if we were long-time friends.

Wes and Tyler lead my group, and as we drove, they kept the conversation going with fun tidbits about Pikes Peak and the surrounding area. They discussed what we could expect from the weather and also what to expect on the trip back down.

The Summit

At the top, we spent 15-20 minutes to visit the gift shop and take in the view. I wish we had a few more minutes to take photos at the top, but I was excited for the ride to begin.

My friend Daniel and I were ready!

It’s very cold up on the Peak year round, so make sure you bring a sweater and a windbreaker. PPBT has loaner gloves and some spare clothes, but it’s best to come prepared. Sunglasses and sunscreen are always good things to wear for any activity in Colorado.

Soon the bikes were unloaded, and we were given a few minutes to ride around to gain our mountain legs for the trip to the bottom. We had one more safety/instructional huddle, then we were split into two groups, fast and slow. You pick your group based on your comfort level. The slow group allows people to travel back down at their own pace. Our fast group guide, Tyler, explained we would be traveling at speeds around 25 miles per hour most of the way down.

Only One Way Down

The views really are second to none.

Tyler led the group the whole way down; Wes followed in the van. The slow group was sandwiched between the other two vans for the trip down. Anytime cars needed to pass, we pulled off to the side of the road. I never felt nervous about the cars because our guides were so at ease and handled the whole group really well. We took a few stops along the way for photos and to let everyone catch up. If you wanted to switch the group you were in, you were allowed to switch at these stopping points.

There are three short climbs on the trip. Our guides had no problem tossing a bike back up on the van to chauffeur reluctant participants uphill like a V.I.P.

Once we made it to the bottom, everyone piled back in the vans, and they drove us to Old Colorado City for lunch. The meal and tip for the server are included in the ticket price, so you can walk in, sit down and eat without worry. After lunch, you return to the shop, where the trip ends. The group I ate lunch with decided to walk the few blocks back to the shop. The walk was a nice way to stretch my legs after being on the bike that long.

When Can I Go Again?

I had such a great time, and no matter how many times I reach the summit, the view always takes my breath away.

Going up and back down in a car is a nice experience, but to come back down on a bike with no walls or windows is exhilarating. The rush of the cold wind, and the steep views from all around are some of best experiences I’ve ever had. Not to mention, when you get back to town, you can look up at Pikes Peak and say, “I rode down that on a bike!”

I have to give a HUGE thank you to the staff of Pikes Peak Bike Tours for an amazing trip. PPBT has even more ways to experience the area with tours along Gold Camp Road and even special event tours like their Fourth of July Fireworks Ride. I’ll definitely be coming back for another trip!

Pikes Peak Bike Tours | | (719) 337-5311

Farmers Markets in the Pikes Peak Region

What better way to embrace Colorado in all its glory than to dine on locally grown food? Ladies and gentlemen, it’s farmer’s market time. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.

Please promise me you’ll try some Palisade peaches before you go home.

Colorado Springs Farmers Markets

Information from


Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Blvd; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; July – October


Fountain Farmers Market, 116 S. Main St.; 2 – 7 p.m. May 30 – Aug. 1

Canon City Farmers Market, Veterans Park; 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.  June 6 – Sept 26


Briargate Farmers Market, 7610 N. Union Blvd.; 9 a.m. -3 p.m. May 23 – Oct. 10

Western Museum of Mining and Industry, 225 North Gate Blvd; 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; July – October

Colorado Farm & Art Market at the Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St.; 3 – 7 p.m. June through mid October

Fountain Community Market, 116 S. Main St.; 2 – 6 p.m. June 7 – August 27


Memorial Park, 1605 E. Pikes Peak Ave.; 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. TBD

Banning Lewis Ranch, 6885 Vista Del Pico Blvd.; 3 – 7 p.m. June 7 – September 13

Manitou Community Market, Soda Springs Park; TBD


Buffalo Bicycle Lodge, 2 El Paso Blvd; 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. June 8 – September 7


Personal FavoriteOld Colorado City Farmers Market, W. Colorado Ave & 24th St.; 7 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. June 9 – October 20

Monument Hill Farmers Market, 66 S. Jefferson St.; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. May 26 – October 13

Colorado Farm & Art Market at Margarita at Pine Creek; 7350 Pine Creek Rd.; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. June through Mid October

Colorado Springs Flea Market, 5225 E. Platte Ave; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The Promenade Shops at Briargate, 1885 Briargate Parkway; 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. June 9 – September 29


Downtown Colorado Springs, Acacia Park, 115 E. Platte Ave.; 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. June 25 – September 3 (free parking meters on Sundays)

Cordera, 11894 Grandlawn Cir.; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. June 3 – September 16

Colorado Springs Flea Market, 5225 E. Platte Ave; 7 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Spencer’s Lawn & Garden Center, 1430 S. Tejon St.; Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Woodland Park Farmers Markets

Information from Teller County Farmers Market Assoc.


8 a.m. – 1 p.m.

There is a summer farmers market in Woodland Park, in Memorial Park / Henrietta Avenue near the Cultural Center. The market begins the second Friday in June and goes through September. You can park across from City Hall on South Avenue, at the Senior Center (please leave spaces for seniors close to the building), next to the Ute Pass Cultural Center, in Bergstrom Park off Hwy 24, and at various public parking lots in downtown Woodland Park. It’s easy to park on a residential street and walk to the farmers market.