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What Is Vacation Rental Property?

Vacation rentals are private accommodations rented by travelers on a short-term basis as an alternative to staying in a traditional hotel. Rentals can vary from luxury homes to spare bedrooms. Depending upon the category, vacation rentals offer travelers more privacy, space, and opportunity to be part of the local lifestyle than a traditional hotel might. The global vacation rental market was estimated at $82.63 billion in 2022 and expected to reach $119.01 billion in 2030. The U.S. vacation rental market was valued at $22.7 billion in 2022. We were lucky, recently, to spend some time with Alanna Schroeder talking about her decade and a half owning and operating vacation rental properties.

A background in real estate and property management made investment in rental properties a logical choice; a love of hospitality made this investment successful. Her unique way of combining business and hospitality are on full display at thedistinguishedguest.com, the website she founded in 2012. Through the distinguished guest, Alanna is able to share her knowledge and experience with other vacation rentalists .

On her website, Alanna describes herself as “real estate investor, entrepreneur, educator, mama, friend, problem solver.” She left out “hostess,” which is where Alanna’s expertise intersects with down etc’s purpose—to provide the products and education that will allow our customers to create a memorable sleep experience.

Alanna’s Background Made Vacation Rentals a Clear Choice

Watching her father own and manage property in California lit the flame of her passion for real estate. Realizing people will always need places to live, to work, to shop, and to vacation, Alanna chose to study real property development and management at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Following graduation, she went to work for Prudential Real Estate Investors, where she traveled and learned from experts in the industry that owning real estate is “the ultimate problem solving” endeavor.

After leaving investment sales to raise her son and daughter, she decided to rent the second home she had purchased in Lake Tahoe, several years earlier, in order to cover its costs. Her previous experience made it seem natural to handle the business of property rental including negotiating and setting up lease terms.

Supporting Vacation Rental Owners and their Guests 

Not one to sit still, she began making bath kits for guests to the property, including necessities they might enjoy—or might have forgotten—like shampoo and body wash. When a renter mentioned in a review that these were the first of their kind in a property he’d rented, Alanna took the idea and ran with it, creating an entire company, www.thedistinguishedguest.com, to source hospitality products for sale to other vacation rental owners for their properties.

Alanna’s passion for her vacation rentals is reflected in her desire to share what she has learned while owning and operating short-term rental properties. Those new to the industry, as well as those considering entry, can learn from TDG’s Blueprint for Beginning Rentalists, which includes DIY templates and self-paced videos and workbooks. There are blogs with information ranging from ensuring vacation rental safety to creating a luxurious and hygienic hotel bed. Want to know about creating house rules to forbid firearms on your property or vacation rental tax tips? Her blogs will have the answers or point you in the right direction. Vacation rentalists can check out the companies and products she uses and trusts. These companies offer trade pricing to vacation rental owners.

We Share a Love of Hospitality and Providing Guests with a Memorable Experience

Alanna’s desire to educate is something she shares with down etc. With respect to linen programs, she recognized it was “something so many people don’t really know about or understand or realize, and that was always a really huge selling point for me that you guys can take on and continue to educate” customers.

When she discontinued direct sales of products on her website in favor of serving as an informational resource, down etc continued as one of the vendors she loves. Protective of her reputation, Alanna has kept this group of vendors small, limited to companies she has personal relationships with, because she knows they are experts in their fields who provide great service and products.

Alanna’s most recent rental property is in Sayulita, Mexico. Owning and operating a property in another country has had its unique challenges, but these are outweighed by the joy Alanna finds in visiting Sayulita with her family and in hosting other families to make their vacations special.

Sayulita is about an hour and 20 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta. Alanna’s 4-bedroom, 3-bath property is located on the quieter north side of the small beach town. Having grown up on the beach in Southern California, she was drawn to this property overlooking the ocean.  She recognized the tiny peninsula offered a limited amount of space, so it wasn’t going to invite large resorts. It also offered her son and daughter the chance to cruise around town and spend time at the beach, as well as to experience a different culture and to learn Spanish.

Alanna enjoys providing the backdrop for the beautiful memories guests make during their stays. The Sayulita property offers a place for multi-generational families to come and be together— not split up among different rooms or floors of a hotel. With the instant feedback that renters can give on social media, it’s important to cater to guests’ needs, and she does that by providing daily housekeeping and delicious bath amenities and sumptuous bedding. She has found a local manager who understands hospitality and the importance of connecting with the guests who visit. She lists the property on VRBO and Airbnb, as well as on The Sweet Life Sayulita.

The Future

In May, Alanna will complete the Executive Master of Management in Hospitality (EMMH) program offered by the Nolan School of Hotel Administration at the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University. She’s grateful for the opportunity to learn from discussions between professors and students of varying ages and experiences, as well as to share her own unique combination of real estate background and hospitality experience. Alanna is currently focused on finishing her thesis for her graduate program. She imagines creating an institutional investment tool to fund the design and building of properties for the vacation rental industry.

How Does Alanna Sleep Well

Alanna goes to bed early so she can get the eight hours of sleep a night she needs. She feels the effects of poor sleep, particularly when it’s more than one night. As she ages, she recognizes the importance of sleep more than ever. “We underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep and what it can do for us mentally, physically, emotionally,” she says. Having grown up going to the beach, she likes waking up to the son coming through the sheers. The rainy season in the Bay Area is tough for her; waking to the sun is another reason she loves her place in Sayulita.

Alanna focuses on creating a sumptuous and comfortable bed with great linens and pillows, whether for herself or her guests. She’s slept on down etc’s all white goose down pillows for years. “It’s really hard to find a good feather pillow.” Since she sleeps cool, she chooses to sleep with down etc’s all-seasons-weight down comforter. You can see Alanna’s other favorites among the products listed on down etc’s vendor page on the distinguished guest’s website.

Thank you to Alanna for sharing her experiences in vacation rentals with us. We wish her continued success and a future of great sleep.

-The Team at down etc

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