Beachwalker Rentals has been managing luxury vacation rentals in the area since 1984. Vacasa South Carolina has been operating since 2017. Its parent company was founded in 2009 and is based in Portland, Ore.
“Vacasa South Carolina will offer homeowners and guests the same great local care they’ve grown to know and expect, paired with the operational efficiency, and booking and marketing capabilities of a national company that can help Beachwalker address the demands of the changing vacation rental industry,” Alison Barker, former owner of Beachwalker Rentals, said in a statement.
Barker and her mother, Gail Vandall, purchased Beachwalker Rentals from its original owners in 2005, and Barker said she’s loved helping to grow the company.
“I didn’t ever intend to own a vacation rental company,” Barker said. “It just so happened that my mom had this opportunity and I could help her, and so I went into it thinking, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to take up that much of my time,’ but over the years it’s taken up a lot of my time.”
Vandall retired from the company last year to deal with health issues, and Barker said she reached a point where she felt she needed to do something different to keep the company growing competitively.
“It just seemed like the right time, the more and more I talked to Vacasa and heard about all the things that they could do for the company that as an individual ... business owner, I couldn’t do,” Barker said.
Barker said the acquisition will expand the number of outlets on which homeowners can market their vacation rentals because of Vacasa South Carolina’s access to a national marketing team. That could also make it easier for guests to book a rental property, she said.
Vacasa South Carolina is also retaining all of Beachwalker’s employees, which Barker said was one of the deciding factors in selling the company.
“I never would have sold if I thought they were going to lay off even one person,” she said. “I mean, that was super important to me. That was my No. 1 priority. ... I wanted to make sure all the employees were protected and that the homeowners that have been with me or been with Beachwalker, for some of them over 20 years, were going to be put in the same place or better than they were if it was just Beachwalker, the standalone company.”
Barker and a spokeswoman for Vacasa South Carolina declined to discuss the financial details of the acquisition.
Barker remains a partial owner of the Church Street restaurant Tommy Condon’s, which she purchased with her brother and another investor last year, and she has three rental homes that will be managed by Vacasa South Carolina. Barker said, though, that she’s looking forward to an early retirement and spending more time with her daughter, who’s still in high school.
“It’ll be nice not having to check my emails and texts and stuff all the time worrying about something happening at one of the properties on Kiawah,” she said.