Sense of Place [Episode 7, Carolina Beach, N.C.]

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​Carolina Beach is a quintessential American family beach destination. Located about 30 minutes from Wilmington, North Carolina, it’s an 8-mile strip of oceanfront with huge new beach houses set up on stilts beside older wooden beach houses reminding everyone who’s boss.​

When going on vacation, some people want activities and non-stop adventure. In fact, that’s usually me: I usually want to experience everything a destination has to offer and there’s never quite enough time in the day to pack it all in! But there’s a whole separate kind of vacationer who just wants to relax.

For these travelers, a vacation rental is ideal because of spaciousness and privacy: it’s the central place where a group can hang together, but still have enough room to themselves — you know, not step on each others toes. It’s the complete opposite of huddling around a hotel bedroom or jam packing a mini fridge. And when I arrived in Carolina Beach, I had been traveling non-stop for 4 weeks, and I’ll be the first to admit: I was in need of some down-time with my team. Fortunately, Carolina Beach Realty specializes in this kind of vacation. And fortunately, its proprietors Jim and Jennifer Kits read between the lines.

I met Jim the first morning at my VR Luna Sea, an 8-bedroom behemoth located directly front and center on Carolina Beach. Jim arrived, as he tries to do as often as possible, with coffee and donuts. But most unusual was his path getting here. ​

Not long ago I knew next to nothing about Marbella as a vacation destination. I knew it was in Southern Spain and I knew it was on the coast. That’s about it. So when I arrived at the nearby Malaga train station from an amazing night in Madrid, I’d be meeting Borja Rodriguez a native of the area and one of the most forward-thinking vacation rental professionals in Spain.  I was pretty intent on letting Borja tell me precisely what to do. In the end, he’d teach me much more than that.

We met at the gate of the rental where I’d be staying, one of about 30 properties Borja’s company Vacation Marbella manages with white gloves. The rental complex was located about 100 meters from the lapping waves of the Mediterranean and was mostly what one would expect from a European beach complex: neatly manicured grounds, elevators with requests that you dry off before entering, a gate with a guard who is sometimes there and sometimes not. What was totally unexpected, however, about my vacation rental for the next few days was the level of standards and the business savvy Borja injects in pretty much everything he does.  

In a lot of ways, Borja represents a much greater trend of professionals in one industry leaving their well-paid jobs to get involved in the vacation rental movement full time. These people are finding the landscape of the profession that they thought they would do forever — in Borja’s case it was finance — changing in front of their very eyes and are therefore are encouraged to venture out and explore new, often-entrepreneurial lines of work. The vacation rental industry is such a good fit because it’s so new…nobody has been formally trained, and pretty much everyone got started accidentally…which opens up the door wide for opportunity and cross-pollination. In meeting the various friends, family, and colleagues who revolve around him — you sense that Borja’s adventuresome instincts seem to be rubbing off.

About the Author Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the Vacation Rental Marketing Blog and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings. Google+ | More Posts (230)