The expansion of national companies moving into what had largely been a locally-based mom-and-pop business community in the county has continued into the vacation rental business.
In a news release earlier this month, Vacasa, which describes itself as North America’s leading vacation rental management platform, announced that it will “significantly expand” its local investment by assuming management of Resort Vacation Properties’ premier vacation rental homes and townhouses.
The release said Vacasa has cared for about a dozen homes on the island since 2018.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Molly Craft, a spokeswoman for Vacasa, said the company is extending employment offers to the company’s approximately 50 employees, who are mostly in operations, such as housekeeping, maintenance and local management.
She said Vacasa plans to retain the check-in office on West Gulf Beach Drive, as well as the commercial laundry facility.
It is not clear what effect the purchase by Vacasa, whose subsidiary Vacasa Florida LLC maintains the license for the company’s Florida real estate brokerage, will have on Resort’s customer base and the terms of its existing contracts with homeowners.
“The addition of these high-quality homes will significantly expand the company’s local services and operations,” read Vacasa’s release.
Resort Vacation Properties of St. George Island is owned by long-time operators Dana Ingalls, Diana Prickett and Barbara Mathis, who between them have more than 75 years working in the vacation rental industry. They purchased the company from its previous owners in 2005, along with two additional partners who have since retired.
“Through their commitment to homeowner and guest service, the partners grew Resort Vacation Properties into the largest vacation rental company on Florida’s Forgotten Coast, offering a beautiful selection of homes at a variety of price points,” read the release. “The vacation rentals span the island from the amenity-rich St. George Plantation neighborhood, where a majority of the inventory is, to the centrally-located Gulf Beaches and serene East End.”
The St. George Island homes will be integrated and available to book on www.vacasa.com later this year, they wrote.
“My goal was always to own my own business, and running Resort Vacation Properties with my partners for the past 15-plus years made that dream a reality,” said Prickett “But this business is a lot of work and I’m at the point where my family is growing and I want to dedicate more time to my grandchildren.
“We had been contacted by interested buyers for years and we all decided it was time to start paying attention to offers. Fortunately, we found the right partner in Vacasa,” she said.
“Initially, when we discussed selling, I thought I would buy out Barbara and Diana, but this industry is changing,” said Ingalls. “The value that Vacasa brings to the table, in terms of growth opportunities for employees and advanced marketing that will benefit our homeowners, will make an impact in ways that we couldn’t as a small company.
“From the beginning, Vacasa has been committed to keeping our teams and making the transition as smooth as possible for homeowners, and that’s what sold us,” she said.
“Resort Vacation Properties is the market leader for a reason and Diana, Dana and Barbara have built an incredibly strong business on this unique stretch of Florida,” said Zac Monahan, vice-president of corporate development at Vacasa.
“We’re excited to learn from the team over the next few months to maintain the company’s operational excellence, but also introduce homeowners, employees and returning guests to the marketing capabilities and technology that have helped make Vacasa a national leader in vacation rentals,” he said.
“While we look forward to introducing Resort Vacation Properties homeowners to Vacasa’s advanced marketing capabilities and technology, our goal is to make this transition as seamless as possible. We’re extending employment offers to keep the trusted teams in place, and have not changed the management fee,” Monahan said.