National vacation-rental company Vacasa sets sights on Summit County
June 26, 2018
The husband-and-wife owners of Key to the Rockies weren't looking to sell the Keystone-based vacation-rental company they built from the ground up so long ago, but when a great opportunity came knocking on their door, they said they simply had to answer it.
The opportunity, said Mike and Julie Magliocchetti, was to simultaneously take some money off the table while boosting homeowners' revenue, offering their employees a benefits package they never could and staying with the business they built from scratch, albeit under a new name and ownership.
"We've seen a lot of property-management companies come and go," Julie said of the last 28-plus years at Key to the Rockies. "We've held our own, but now it's the time to look to the future. Change is good."
For the couple, the change was selling the vacation-rental and HOA-management aspects of Key to the Rockies to Vacasa, a global vacation-rental company, while retaining the long-term rentals and real estate portions of the business.
“I hate to use a cliché as a mom-and-pop company, but in the scheme of the vacation rental world, we were a mom-and-pop company in a very sophisticated industry.”Mike MagliocchettiFounder of Key to the Rockies
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Financial details of the sale were not disclosed, but the switch went live May 1 on Vacasa.com., and Julie described the transition as "seamless."
Vacasa is a national property management company with a growing portfolio of more than 8,000 vacation homes across the Americas, Europe and South Africa and over 350 homes throughout Colorado.
Both Mike and Julie said they weren't looking to sell anything when Vacasa's director of corporate development Sandra Brahn approached them about a possible deal. The initial conversation went so well the couple felt comfortable allowing discussions to progress, and as they did, Mike and Julie liked what they heard.
"We were quite impressed with the milestones they've reached in such a short time," Mike said of Vacasa. "They started the business in 2009 and now have become the industry leader in vacation rentals."
Plus, he added, the financials were great, the employee benefits were better, and after calling a couple other former owners who had sold to Vacasa, Mike and Julie were sure it would produce positive outcomes for everyone involved.
"To take some money off the table after 28 years, why not?" Mike said of the deal, adding that he and Julie also had a fiduciary responsibility to the homeowners they represented to maximize rental income, which Vacasa has a history of doing.
"I hate to use a cliché as a mom-and-pop company, but in the scheme of the vacation rental world, we were a mom-and-pop company in a very sophisticated industry," Mike said. "We sensed that, in the years ahead of us, we were going to either be moving forward or backward. You're never static, and we saw an opportunity to partner with a national leader that had the marketing clout, the marking savvy, that we had a difficult time bringing to the table."
Health insurance has also been a struggle for the small company, Mike said. With Vacasa offering a "very impressive" lineup of benefits, including life insurance, a 401(k) retirement plan and covering 100 percent of its employees' health insurance premiums, he and Julie were all-in.
"They pay it all," Mike said. "What company does that anymore?"
"We were just impressed with the whole thing," Julie added. "It wasn't a hard sell. This was more a partnership."
As a cherry on top, Vacasa also offered both Mike and Julie jobs, allowing the couple to come with the business they built even as it changes owners and they keep some pieces of it for themselves.
When Vacasa acquires a company, Brahan said, the company aims to keep the workers because "it's always better to go into a newer market with an existing team." In purchasing Key to the Rockies' vacation rentals, Vacasa noticed the business had been well established, was highly respected in the community and came with Mike's depth of experience in HOA management, "a big bonus" considering Vacasa is looking to crack into that aspect of the property-management business.
And Key to the Rockies isn't the first local vacation-rental company that's been bought by Vacasa. In December, Vacasa announced it had entered a partnership with Twin Seasons Vacations, based in Silverthorne.
As a result of that agreement, Vacasa took over management operations for Twin Seasons Vacations, including marketing, maintenance and housekeeping, booking and reservations, and local support for homeowners and guests while retaining Twin Seasons' staff.
Alexandria Plew, a spokeswoman for Vacasa, said Vacasa only acquires local companies with which they can create positive outcomes. “If we can’t,” she said, “we should not be continuing on that path with the company.”