Topsail Realty Vacations announced this week it has acquired Blue Water Realty and OceanBreeze Properties, both of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach, NC. The roll-up of companies will now operate under the umbrella brand Carolina Retreats.
The addition of Blue Water Realty’s 60 homes and OceanBreeze’s 20 homes will bring Carolina Retreats’ total number of properties to approximately 300, making it one of the largest vacation rental management companies in the area. The company also owns the Loggerhead Inn, a 36-room boutique hotel in Surf City.
“The acquisitions of the companies on Carolina Beach were both strategic and opportunistic,” said Mike Harrington, founder and CEO of Carolina Retreats. “My overall vision when I came to Topsail from the Outer Banks was to one day build a powerhouse regional brand that could offer guests more diversified inventory, plus have more scale and resources for marketing and talent acquisition to provide the best owner experience possible.”
The acquisitions mark a big but unsurprising new chapter for Harrington, a long-time industry professional and leader. He started in vacation rental management with Hatteras Realty in 2005 and later served as CEO and general manager of Resort Realty, as well as president and board member of the Vacation Rental Management Association. He purchased Topsail Realty in 2015.
Harrington did his homework, he said, and although there were good companies throughout the southern NC coast, none were operating in more than one or two markets. “While each coastal town has its own unique identity, there was no overlap and consistent experience from beach to beach, which I think is highly frustrating to guests,” he said. “Our goal is to offer modern hospitality and vacation rental management that combines both tech and the best people to hit that sweet spot of income production and service from location to location than what is currently available. If we do it right, we think there is plenty of organic growth opportunities moving forward.”
The acquisitions came at especially good timing following Hurricane Florence. Harrington said market diversification had always been in the back of his mind, but the damage from the September hurricane made a case for not having all his eggs in one basket. Carolina and Kure Beaches are about an hour from Topsail and did not see the same level of damage. “It goes to show that with hurricanes, which is our main natural threat, that 30 to 40 miles between markets can have an enormous difference with potential damage,” he said. “Our take, especially now, is that finding ways to spread inventory around through adjacent or semi-adjacent markets is a new reality in risk management for our business in the long run.”
While Harrington has even bigger plans for Carolina Retreats, he said he has no desire to become a national brand. “Our goal is to be the absolute best in any market we operate in now and in the future within our niche of what we know. At this time, there is more opportunity than we can handle just within the Carolinas!” he said. “Also, we feel the name makes it much less intimidating to our owner base when all they care about is their home in their location. We are independent and local, and we want to portray that.”
Blue Water Realty was founded in 2002 by Ron and Teresa Clontz. “I think that Mike and his team are the perfect people to take over Blue Water Realty and lead it into the future,” the company’s former president Ron Clontz said in a release. “His extensive involvement and experience within the vacation rental industry, combined with their understanding of how to leverage technology and the ever-changing landscape of vacation rental marketing will greatly benefit all of our property owners and guests.”
OceanBreeze Properties was founded in 2007 by Cindi Jacobs. “While I love what I do and the people that I work with, it was evident that I needed help in order to provide the level of service and expertise needed in today’s vacation rental management world,” she said in a release. “In my discussions with Mike over the past year, I felt we had a very similar mindset when it came to how we view our clients as partners, and that was a very big factor for me. I feel very confident in the future of the company in such capable hands.”
“I am extremely excited for the opportunity to take over for Ron, Teresa, and Cindi in Carolina and Kure Beach,” Harrington said in a release. “By combining our resources and operations under a common brand, it will allow us to market on a more regional basis on a much more efficient scale.”
Blue Water Realty and OceanBreeze have combined under the name Blue Water Realty by Carolina Retreats and will operate out of Blue Water’s existing office in Carolina Beach led by Kelli Taylor. Jacobs will retire, Ron Clontz will stay on as an advisor until he retires later this year, and Teresa will run the real estate sales team. The entire Blue Water staff will remain on board. Topsail Realty Vacations has become Topsail Realty by Carolina Retreats and will run out of its existing office in Surf City.