From Our Family to Yours

Dear Beach Goers,

The past two months have taken a swift and severe toll on our country. We have been facing a health emergency that none of us have experienced in our lifetimes. As we continue to flatten the curve and work towards the goal of containing the virus outbreaks, the conversation has started to shift to how we as a nation can start moving forward. As a local family run business, serving other families, we are acutely aware of the need to keep our guests, owners, and staff safe, while also taking the necessary steps to start hosting our loyal, and deeply valued visitors once again. Internally, our objectives and planning are now moving to be proactive, rather than reactive, in advance of a much-needed summer season.

In 2015, my family and I left the Outer Banks and had an extraordinary opportunity to move to Topsail Island and purchase Topsail Realty from the Leesburg family. Topsail Realty was originally founded in 1974 to help friends and family take care of their beach homes while they were away. The company grew over the years under the watchful eye of Randy Leesburg, and became a highly admired vacation rental management company, not only on Topsail Island but throughout the state of North Carolina. When Randy was looking at retirement options, a mutual friend put us together to start talking. We knew immediately that this place and this company were special.

Over the last 5 years, we have slowly expanded off of Topsail Island and onto Pleasure Island (Carolina & Kure Beach) with another opportunity to acquire not one, but two great vacation rental businesses. In 2018 we purchased Blue Water Realty from Ron and Teresa Clontz, and Ocean Breeze Properties from Cindy Jacobs, three well-respected vacation rental and real estate professionals on the island. In doing so, we officially formed “Carolina Retreats”, our new company brand that now encompassed both islands that we serve.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2020, and at the time we were looking forward to another strong year. Guests were booking their vacation homes well in advance, and we were preparing and making investments behind the scenes to continue to improve the service levels that we as a company expect to deliver to our owners and guests. Little did we know that in just a few short months, our company, as well as our values would be challenged like no other time in our industry’s history.

The Governor of North Carolina’s extended Stay-At-Home order for the state is set to expire on May 8th. In addition to this extension, he has announced a 3 phase plan to fully reopen the North Carolina economy. The plan in its entirety can be found here. While we are encouraged with the May 8th date for the current restrictions to expire, it does not mean that everything will immediately go back to normal. Social distancing guidelines, limited operations of some shops and restaurants, and the use of masks and gloves will still be part of our routines under the “new normal” during the respective reopening Phases over the next couple of months. However, with our vacation rentals, sunshine, fresh salt air, and time with family will all be in abundance, no matter what Phase we might be in!

As of today, the Town’s of Surf City, Topsail Beach, and North Topsail Beach have their current short-term/vacation rental restrictions set to expire on May 8th at 5:00 pm, 9th, and 8th, respectively. Carolina Beach’s restrictions are also expiring on May 8th, and Kure Beach has set a date of May 22nd. With each successive extension of these orders, we have done our part and followed guidelines by modifying our availability calendar to not accept any new bookings within these timeframes, and rescheduled or refunded hundreds of other vacations stays that were impacted by the rental restrictions and beach closures. This has been no small feat, as it has a direct impact on everyone involved. From our guests to our homeowners, our cleaning vendors, employees, and every small business that relies on us to provide lodging in our areas. But, overall, our team has gone above and beyond in working through this difficult process and staying optimistic, and we could not be any more grateful.

To prepare for your arrival when these restrictions are lifted, and in anticipation of your questions around precautions that we are taking to make sure you and your family have a safe, worry-free vacation, our teams have been working very hard with our trusted housekeeping employees and vendors. We will be committed to following CDC guidelines for household cleaning as much as possible. As an example of what we will be requiring for the 2020 year, they will include:

  • Wearing disposable gloves and masks to clean and disinfect while in a property
  • Cleaning all hard surfaces using soap and water, and appropriate disinfectant chemicals
  • Increased cleaning of frequently touched surfaces. High touch surfaces include:
    • Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, electronics, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.
  • Use of EPA-registered household disinfectant
  • Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used if appropriate for surfaces
  • Use of alcohol sanitizing solutions with at least 70% alcohol may be used
  • Laundering of blankets and other soft items according to the manufacturer’s instructions in our commercial-grade laundry facility when appropriate, or using disinfectants that meet EPA-registered household disinfectant guidelines
  • We will be shrink-wrapping all sheets and towels sets and placing them on the beds, to reduce touch points during the cleaning process.
  • Other precautions as deemed necessary

In addition to your safety, we will be working with our in-house teams and vendors on taking all proper precautions to maintain their safety as well. This will be a work in process as we iron out all the logistics, and may very well slow us down on a busy turnover day, but we will not rush or cut corners on this process. As a father of three myself I feel we all can delay a few extra minutes to the start of our vacations having the peace of mind that our family’s well-being is a priority.

As we move forward, we are optimistic that we will resume somewhat normal operations by the time the rental restrictions are lifted in our areas. We will remain empathetic to the needs of our guests, as well as make sure we consistently communicate with our owners throughout the year on any extraordinary items that need attention. We may be a bit biased, but we truly feel if you are to take a vacation this year (and let’s face it, we ALL need a vacation) there is no better or safer place to be than a vacation home at the beach!

Again, thank you for all the comments, well wishes, and the encouragement some have extended to our team. They have been working under many different circumstances than they ever thought possible, but have pulled together and have done a fantastic job. We are grateful for all of you and will be ready for you when the time is right.

From our family to yours, we can’t wait to see you soon!

Best,

Mike Harrington
President/Owner
Carolina Retreats