About Me

I was jolted out of a dead-sleep by the William Tell Overture.  What I thought was a clever ring tone for my “emergency” cell phone lost its humor at 1 a.m. in the morning.  In response to my groggy “hello” was a very agitated security guard telling me that one of my tenants had locked herself out of her vacation home …. without any clothes on!  Hastily dressing, I grabbed my ring of emergency keys and dashed out not knowing what to expect.  The plan was to pick up my tenant at the guard-house of the country club where she was staying and deliver her and a set of keys back to her vacation home.  I braced myself for what I anticipated would be a very embarrassed and very upset guest.  As I approached, from the guard-house emerged a tall and extremely beautiful woman, head up, shoulders back proudly wrapped in a mattress pad just as a queen wears a royal cape.  I will call this “Sue’s Story.”  Waving her thanks to the two security guards, Sue jumped into the passenger seat of my car before I had a chance to pull over and, thank goodness, she was laughing!  She explained, “I shopped all day at the Cabazon Outlet Stores and returned to the condo tried, hot and thirsty.  I pulled into the garage and immediately went inside, closed the blinds, stripped out of my clothes, poured a glass of wine and sat down to cool off and watch the late night news.  Before going to bed I decided to unload the car.  I propped open the door between the condo and garage with the fire extinguisher and made several trips between the condo and my car.  I was retrieving my last bag out of the trunk, the mattress cover, when I heard the fire extinguisher slide across the floor and the door slam shut.  The door was locked … keys in my purse … inside the condo!”  This poor woman sat in the garage, wrapped in the mattress cover, lights off and garage door wide open for two hours until she saw the security guard in the patrol car making his rounds.  She ran out and flagged him down!  As we got out of my car Sue parted her Bed, Bath and Beyond cape and showed me that she was indeed wearing undergarments which looked very much like she had dressed to go swimming.  Sue explained that “this is one of the funniest things that have ever happened to me.  My husband made a trip back home for a meeting but will return in a couple of days.  Please don’t mention this to him … he would be so embarrassed.”  Sue and her husband returned several times after that and Sue and I always had a bit of a laugh about her exciting shopping episode.  As far as I know, Sue never told her husband.  Post Note:  I changed my emergency ring tone the next morning.

I have so many stories to share with you.  Sue’s story is one of my favorites.  But one fact I have learned through my eighteen years in this crazy business is you never know what will happen next.   No two days, no two properties, owners or guests are ever the same.  From lost keys to leaking toilets to mysteriously blinking lights to broken air conditioners in the middle of the night at temperatures of 110 degrees and above, during our rental season there is never a dull moment.  One thing remains constant, everything is an emergency to the person reporting the problem and it is our responsibility as vacation rental managers to rectify these problems as quickly as possible … no matter how insignificant it may seem … before they grow.  I will get into many examples of these occasions in my future posts.

As you may have guessed by now I am a vacation rental manager.  I am the owner of a growing vacation rental company located in the heart of the Coachella Valley, better known as the Greater Palm Springs area.  I have been in this industry in this desert for over eighteen years and have witnessed and experienced the ups and downs, trends and growth of vacation rentals throughout the world.  After being employed as a vacation rental manager for 13 years in May of 2008 I opened the doors of my own company, Vacation Rentals of the Desert.  As you will remember, Fall of 2008 our economy took a nose dive and of course took with it the entire U.S. travel and hospitality industry.  As a new business owner, I was nervous.   This was a disaster to my developing company.  All the hard work in advertising, signing up new rental properties, booking reservations and growing my company suddenly took a 180 turn.  Fearful guests called to cancel and in a matter of days, Vacation Rentals of the Desert was in danger of failing.  Looking back to those early days I now view what I thought was a disaster as a major change in the industry and a contributing factor in growth and success of my company.  In those last days of 2008 I spent many hours talking to my home owners who despite their disappointment in guest cancellations absolutely understood the challenges we were all facing.  As property values continued to drop I started getting calls from owners who had never rented out their private second homes.  They were interested in offsetting some of their overhead costs until the property values returned.  Many property owners were up-side-down and selling their second homes was just not an option.  I dug my heels in, determined to weather the storm, signed new properties and continued to advertise my growing list of vacation rental properties.  Then in January 2009 when the stock market began to level out and the snow was heavily blanketing the northern states and Canada … my phone started ringing again.  I was relieved, this time the calls were from prospective tenants anxious to escape their cold climates.  Bless them all … they called.  But of course they wanted to negotiate and work with me on affordable rental rates.  Traditionally vacation rental companies in the desert posted rates and stuck by those rates … take it or leave it.  So I learned to negotiate, I talked with owners and prospective tenants.  In these negotiations I developed stills and relationships that I had not had before.  This is how I grew Vacation Rentals of the Desert and this is how I continue to do business today.   The properties we represent are one of the owner’s most valuable possessions.  I do not have a single owner who views their property as an investment only.  All my properties are highly valued and loved by their owners.  There is a piece of each owner’s heart within their vacation home.  On the other hand I work with tenant/guests who have worked and saved throughout their lives to enjoy their retirement years vacationing in our beautiful desert during the winter months.  We also have many tenant/guests who are still in the work force and work throughout the year and can only enjoy a few days or a week of our spectacular weather.  I believe both owners and tenant/guests are entitled to a higher standard of excellence and personal attention which may be viewed by some as “coddling” but to me, and now my successful vacation rental company of six employees, is simply viewed as a matter of caring about the people we work with and the properties we handle.  In our company “going the extra mile” is not a goal … it is just routine in our business.  I also attribute a great deal of our success to the wonderful people I am surrounded by … my dedicated staff, my trustworthy contractors and my always supportive family.

And so, as crazy as it might sound … I love this business I have chosen despite the daily challenges, conflicts in personalities, things that make you same hummmm and things that keep you awake at night.  As any mother might say … I love my baby.

Vacation rental markets vary in many, many ways.  Seasons, activities, weather, rates but despite the variations there are many, many similarities and standards.  While many rush to ski destinations during the winter or beaches during the summer our height of season is December through April (give or take) when our spectacular winter temperatures remain in the 70s and 80s.  Snow-capped mountains surround the valley in stark contrast to the warm shorts and sandals weather we enjoy throughout the desert cities.  Instead of a “snowy ride to grandmother’s house” on Thanksgiving Day we are more likely to celebrate with BBQ turkey by the pool with family and friends.  Our typical tenant/guests are escaping from the cold and snow and shoveling to our warm desert.  On the flip side … during our summer months, June through August, vacationing guests are practically non-existent.  Our temperatures can hover between 110 to 120 and year-round residents’ dash from air conditioner to air conditioner.  So keeping in mind the vast differences in vacation rental markets, in this blog I hope to share some of the lessons I have learned throughout the years that will encompass all markets, including hints and tips and more than a few unforgettable experiences.  For owners of vacation rental properties whether within my company, with other companies or owners who manage their own properties, I hope to share insights into improving your rental volume and perhaps a glimpse into the thoughts and motivations of your tenants/guests.  To tenants I will share some of the best ways to identify your “perfect” vacation home, questions to ask, how to recognize “red-flags” and I even have some funny stories that I think you will enjoy!

I welcome my readers to share their own experiences, insights and comments and join me in growing what I hope to be a helpful, educational and enjoyable “web log.”   If you would like to reach me directly you are welcome to email me at Vacation Rentals of the Desert.


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