Understanding Vacation Travel Insurance: How to Protect Your Investment with Red Sky Insurance

Vacationer Safety Is Our #1 Priority

As beach vacation experts for over 40 years on the North Carolina islands, (Pleasure Island, Topsail Island) we have seen it all. From seasonal rain to strong force winds, our sole concern always; is the safety of our guests. We value everyone’s including our own vacation specialists and always go beyond necessary precautions to ensure safety.

We heavily monitor all activity and continue to keep all vacationers in constant communication of any potential storms. We find it important to take this time to inform you again of your travel insurance policy. If you have opted out during your initial deposit period you are in luck because there is still a window to purchase vacation insurance prior to arrival! To learn our complete policies on cancellations and Red Sky travel insurance, visit our FAQ Page.

Providing a sense of comfort for decades, Carolina Retreats proudly offers Red Sky Insurance for all of our North Carolina vacationer. Some of their highlights include:

Covering trip cancellation or interruption due to:

  • A named hurricane or other natural disaster
  • Uninhabitability of the destination vacation home caused by a natural disaster
  • Uninhabitability of your primary residence or your traveling companion’s primary residence caused by natural disaster
  • Sickness, injury or death of you, a family member, traveling companion or service animal
Red Sky Insurance Policy FAQ

For complete information on Red Sky FAQ and an example of their Travel Protection Policy, please visit the links below:
Sun Trip Preserver Travel Insurance FAQ

PDF of Travel Protection Policy

PDF Table of Contents from Travel Protection Policy

We hope that we are incident free this year but want to make sure all our of guests are well aware of all policies and options. Remember: If there is a mandatory evacuation, tenants must promptly comply with the evacuation order and take all their possessions (including all food) with them since re-entry cannot be guaranteed.

If you have any questions regarding your upcoming vacation, do not hesitate to call us at (844) 567-9779 or visit us online at www.carolinaretreats.com.

Owner Statement Tips & Tricks

Hello Home Owners, and welcome to summer!

We have a lot of new owners that came aboard this year, so I wanted to take the opportunity to give a brief tutorial on how to decipher the owner statements, and give a few pointers on where you can look on the Owner Portal for additional clarification.

Each month, I will upload both a monthly statement and year-to-date statement for your property. When a reservation is booked, the guest is required to pay half of the rent up front, along with Travel Insurance if purchased. Our software posts transactions in real time, so when the reservation is confirmed, the first half of the rent will be posted to your owner statement. The second half of the rent and any pet fees are posted after the guest departs, and the full balance less commission as well as any expenses incurred, is paid on the last day of the month of departure.

Due to the first half of the rent posting when the reservation is confirmed, the monthly statement may only reflect half of the rent for each guest stay as the deposit will be on the statement for the month in which the reservation was booked. This is where both the year-to-date statement and owner portal can be helpful! 

The year to date statement will group all transactions for each stay together, showing all of the rent and commissions for each stay as well as pet fees. Another spot to easily find the gross rent and commission for each stay can be found on the booking summary on the owner portal. When that link is clicked, you can filter the results to be grouped by month. This will show both the gross rent for each stay, as well as the net rent. Pet fees and expenses can be found on the monthly- and year-to-date statements. With all transactions posting in real time, the first payment of the season may include expenses for work orders that were closed in a previous month.

We apologize that we have not yet been able to upload both of these statements to the owner portal. I spoke with support on Monday and there is a ticket into development to fix the issue. If you would like a copy of the year-to-date statement or did not receive the monthly statement when they were sent via email, please let me know and I will manually send one to you. I know that the statements generated by our software can be a little confusing at first, so if any additional clarification is needed, please don’t hesitate to call or email me and I am more than happy to assist!

We’re looking forward to a great season, and thank you for choosing Topsail Realty to manage your property!

Jessica Scarborough


Jessica Scarborough, Accounting Administrator


An Effortless Vacation “Experience”

I guess Bob Dylan was right, “The Times They Are A Changin”. Topsail Island is certainly seeing rapid change! The rapid growth in real estate both residential and retail is astounding. Just a few years ago we thought that Harris Teeter was a big deal. Now we have a Walmart and a new Publix. The boom in new construction on the island is certainly creating more competition in the vacation rental business.

To be successful we have to embrace change and try to stay ahead of the trends in the vacation rental market. At Topsail Realty we pride ourselves on doing one thing well. We only do vacation rentals.

People these days want instant gratification. It starts with a state of the art website for ease of online booking, and a secure Guest Payment Portal for electronic payments and e-signatures. Guests love the convenience of keyless entry. They appreciate checking into a property with a complimentary linen package with beds made prior to arrival. This year Topsail Realty has invested in our own commercial laundry facility. We now provide our own sheets and towels.

What we are trying to do is create a “Turn-Key” vacation experience. Life can be stressful. We all could use a vacation from time to time. Topsail Realty wants to make it easy, for both your guests and you!

Please do not hesitate to email or call me if I can help you with anything. Have a great Summer!

Danny Williams


Danny Williams, General Manager


Four Easy Ways to Have Your Vacation Rental Guests Return

Pleasing your guests and offering more than the competition doesn’t take a whole lot of time or money. Far too many companies only focus on the bottom line. The personal touch makes a big impression on guests. Moving the personal touch up the priority list and making more of an effort to make sure their every stay is a great one, will set you ahead of the pack.
Here are some tips on how you can help your guests have a thrilling time with you and have them coming back for years to come.

1. Try to Think Like a Guest

If you were going to stay in your house, what type of experience would you want? What amenities would matter most? What information could you provide about the local area to make a guest’s stay easier? How close is the nearest grocery store?


2. Don’t Make Your Guests Guess

Don’t assume that the guest knows everything they want to do, where they want to eat, or how to get a hold of you, etc. Providing this information in printed form is a great idea. It’s also a good idea to have all of the contact information they might need accessible in case of an emergency.


3. Add a Personal Touch

One of the easiest things you can do to make a positive difference is to add a personal touch to your vacation rental. Leave a handwritten note for your guests, thanking them for their stay. Another idea is to leave them some fresh flowers, wine or a box of chocolates. It doesn’t take much money or time to make a big difference!


4. Stay Connected

Keep in touch with your guests afterwards and make sure that they know about events and attractions in your area. In this age of social media it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. Reward your previous guest’s loyalty with discounts, extras, and special deals or savings.


The most important aspect of any business is to put your customer first. Proactively anticipate their needs and do whatever you can to let them know they are a priority. Everyone likes to feel like they’re important, so if you treat your guests like royalty, they will return again and again.



8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests

With the summer months about to arrive, things are going to get extra busy for homeowners who rent their properties out around Topsail. Those with multi-bedroom homes will likely be renting to larger groups which can mean bigger bucks but also more work.

The following eight tips will help you prepare your home for the influx of summer vacationers to ensure they have the best rental experience ever.

1. Plenty of Bedding
Have all bedrooms well stocked with quality, ample bedding. Include at least two sets of pillows per bed, mattress pads and high-quality sheets. Keep extra blankets in the closet so that your renters won’t have to forage for bedding.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
2. Deep Clean
Whenever you have new renters coming in, always hire a cleaning crew to give the house a deep clean, which includes making the bathrooms spotless, washing all the linens, wiping down the fridge, and so forth. It’s important to clean your home every time renters leave, in order to make it super clean and ready for the next guests to arrive.

3. People Love Extras
Who doesn’t forget at least a few things when traveling? Please your guests by supplying a few of those most often forgotten items — be it a toothbrush, shaving cream, or shampoo. Outfit all of the bathrooms with toiletries to make your guest’s stay more comfortable. Go the extra distance to take care of your guests beforehand, and they will be more likely to leave you a stellar review afterwards as well as return in the future.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
4. Pool and Hot Tubs
If your vacation rental has a pool or hot tub, make sure that it is fully operational for your guests. These are some of the most popular features that attract renters to a home, and nothing will dampen their spirits more than a broken tub or a pool without heat.

5. Entertainment
Despite the fact that your vacation rental guests will most likely be spending much of their time at the beach, there will be periods of downtime where they are relaxing in the house and may seek ways to entertain themselves. Leave some board games or a deck of cards in the living room that they can help themselves to.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
6. Internet and Cable
If you don’t offer Internet and cable it will severely impact your ability to keep your property rented. Make sure the internet access and cable are both up and running so that your guests won’t run into any issues while staying at your house.

7. Adequate Lighting
Do a once around your rental to be sure all the lights inside and outside the home are working. Replace broken bulbs and aim for softer lighting. For yards, add inviting outdoor lighting so that guests feel safe and comfortable spending time outside.

8 Tips to Help Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Summer Guests
8. Safety Matters
It’s wise to have a first-aid kit available on site. Also leave a list of emergency numbers on the kitchen counter, a printed sheet of what to do in case of a hurricane, and a working fire extinguisher on hand. Adding a functional flashlight in a kitchen drawer isn’t a bad idea either.

Follow these 8 tips and you’ll have happy guests who will return year after year while giving you rave reviews!

The Difference Between Vacation Rental vs Investment Property

If this New Year has your focus on investing in real estate it’s important to know the differences between a vacation rental and an investment property as what it means to own one.
The Difference Between Vacation Rentals vs. Investment Property

What is a vacation rental?

The term vacation rental is used to describe a privately owned furnished home, apartment or condominium that is rented out for short periods of time. Typically a vacation rental is for rent on a weekly or during off-season on a monthly basis.
Families and other vacationers often use vacation rentals as an alternative to hotels to get larger accommodations offering better amenities. Vacation rentals are rising in popularity because of their ability to offer more space and more privacy at a cheaper price than a typical hotel room.
It’s becoming increasingly popular for people with properties in vacation spots to rent them out for periods of peak vacation times such as spring break, the summer months or winter holidays. The appeal of additional income from a place you already consider home, is attractive to many.
If you have a property you’re considering turning into a vacation rental it’s important to have your home ready with everything a vacationing family would need. Read our other blog posts such as “Vacation Home Interior & Exterior Checklists”, “4 Surefire Ways to Make Your Vacation Rentals Stand Out Online,” and “Well-Stocked Vacation Rentals Get Far Better Reviews.”
Lots of photographs, well written descriptions, and awesome reviews are all very important in keeping a vacation rental occupied 100% of the time you have it available.
The Difference Between Vacation Rentals vs. Investment Property

What is investment property

Investment property is a house, apartment, or condominium that you’ve purchased for profit gain. It could be a property that you purchase, rehab and then re-sell for a profit or it could be a property you purchase with intentions of renting it out.
Regarding tax purposes, if the owner’s time spent in the second property is limited to 14 or fewer days or 10 percent of the time it’s rented out to other people, it’s considered a full-time rental or investment property, where the ultimate goal is to generate income.

Vacation Rental vs. Investment Property

With an investment property the goal of owning the property is purely to use to make money full time without ever living in it themselves. With a vacation rental, it’s a property that is usually a vacation home or second home that the owner can rent out short term to vacationers when the owner is not using the property.
We hope we’ve clarified the differences between a vacation rental and an investment property. You might just be surprised to discover you already own a vacation rental that you just happen to call “home.”


Survey Says…What Today’s Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

More people than ever want to travel the country and when it comes to accommodations they don’t want to settle for a basic hotel room or campground. Private vacation home rentals are becoming more popular than ever not just with Baby Boomers but for Millennials, too. From home-sharing sites to luxury vacation rentals, travelers prefer a more customized approach to their annual vacation. Today’s travelers are not interested in living in a single room such as a hotel provides.

Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental
Based on recent surveys by Home Depot and Tripping.com the following data shines a brand new light on vacation home rentals that owners need to pay attention to.

• Of all people surveyed, 79% have rented a vacation home in the past so it’s not new to them.
• Of those, 46% have rented a vacation home in the last year and 52% plan to rent a vacation home in the next year.
• Boomers and Gen Xers are driving the biggest share of rental growth, with a 17% expected increase in those who plan to rent this year vs. last year.

Size Isn’t That Important

Vacation home rentals of all shapes and sizes are an appealing choice for travelers. A larger home, while netting you more income, is not necessarily the most preferred vacation rental. While single family homes are a great fit for travelers with children, smaller and more economical formats are more popular with singles and couples.

Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Coastal Locations Matter Most

As far as location, the beach is preferred by most travelers, with 74% of respondents preferring to spend their vacations on the coast. There are 83% that simply prefer to be near water — whether the ocean or a lake. Alternatively, 51% and 35% prefer mountainous and city vacations, respectively.

Who Are These Travelers?

The expectations of travelers regarding their vacation accommodations vary based on age, gender and family situation. However, there are a few commonalities that transcend across all vacationers surveyed.
Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Millennials want luxury.

• Millennials have expensive tastes—12% plan to rent a villa/estate in the next year vs. only 6% of Boomers and 9% of Gen Xers.
• Older generations, in spite of having higher incomes, are more likely to have stayed in smaller format homes like cabins or cottages than Millennials (75% vs. 64%).
• Millennials are most likely to rent a vacation home with friends (48%). Vacation rentals for the purpose of bachelor(ette) and girls’/guys’ weekends are also popular among both female and male Millennials at 35% and 34%, respectively.
Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Women prefer beaching it with friends.

• Women prefer the beach more than men (78% vs. 68%) while men have a higher preference for mountains than women (53% vs. 49%).
• Women are more likely to rent a home with friends (40% vs. 34% men). Nearly 30% of women have rented a vacation home for a gals weekend with friends (vs. 21% men for a guys’ weekend).

Vacations are a family affair.

• Families matter since 90% of people who rent vacation homes to so with extended family and 36% bring children.
• Family reunions are the top special occasion (41%) for which people will rent vacation homes.
• Homes with equipped kitchens was the biggest reason 71% of travelers with children said they chose a particular vacation rental.
Survey Says…What Today's Travelers Want in a Vacation Home Rental

Pets are family, too.

• Half of all vacation renters look for pet-friendly homes.
• Of those, 40% are willing to pay a bit extra for pet-friendly accommodations, most importantly outdoor space (81%) or a fenced-in yard (73%).

What matters most of all.

While it’s only natural that different types of travelers look for different features in a vacation rental home, most people want the same basic things. The top four features that make a vacation home appealing to a renter is: accessibility to a kitchen, value for the money, privacy and ample space to move around.