About Us

About Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals

Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals provides an entirely unique class of professional marketing, management and caretaking services previously nonexistent in the vacation rental market. We call it: Professional Rental By Owner – a comprehensive offering, combining the benefits and business acumen of a property management service with the personal, service-oriented touch of Rental By Owner.  Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals’ distinctive collection of vacation properties connects discerning travelers with quality property owners to provide memorable, confident, seamless, carefree experiences for everyone involved.
 
Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals’ Professional Rental By Owner service is the brainchild of two well-known industry veterans, Christine Karpinski and Jeff Marken.   When Karpinski (the indisputable Queen of Rental By Owner) and Marken (vacation rental industry pioneer) consolidated their personal vacation home collections marketing and management, they experienced groundbreaking economies of scale and business efficiencies that they’re passing along to home and condo owners in the Destin-area in the form of Professional Rental By Owner services.  
 
Jeff and Christine, along with their experienced team of operations, marketing, guest services, maintenance, and housekeeping experts, now manage the most distinctive vacation rental homes and condos in Destin, Crystal Beach, Sandestin, Miramar Beach and Panama City Beach, with a collective valuation of over $32 Million. They've been extremely successful in scaling the Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals home and condo collection, while still maintaining a personalized touch that provides travelers and property owners with the best experiences possible.

Own a Vacation Home in Destin? 

Your Destin vacation rental home or condo should be a blessing, not a burden. Too often, second homeowners hand over their well-loved properties to over-promising property management services, only to be left disappointed when they still find themselves having to worry about upkeep, cleanliness, guest screening and personalized guest services.
 
Stop worrying. Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals provides a unique class of service previously non-existent in the vacation rental market. We call it Professional Rental By Owner.  With our services, you'll benefit from the business acumen of a property management service, while being able to deliver the caring, personal touch of a Rental By Owner experience to each and every guest who stays in your vacation property. Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals treats your home to the best marketing, guest screening, management, caretaking, and guest services in the business. You can scour the globe and you will not find a team anywhere with more experience, know-how, passion or expertise in the vacation rental industry.
 
Our transparent management processes and clear, consistent communication will give you confidence in our services, and our services will allow you to make the most of your vacation home investment -- without having to worry about the details. Backed by more than 20 years of experience and research, we have this process down to a science, and we've perfected the formula to maximize your ROI. Our expertise in marketing and preparing your home or condo for rent will command higher revenues, and attract the highest quality guests who will treat your home as if it were their own. It’s not just a game of heads in beds for us; it’s about putting the right heads in the right beds.
 
The bottom line is, Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals is an extension of you. Working with us means turning your Destin area vacation rental home or condo into what it was meant to be – a successful, worry-free investment, and a haven for creating unforgettable experiences with friends and loved ones.
 

Meet Our Team with Unmatched Experience

Christine KarpinskiChristine Karpinski
Chief Executive Officer, Co-Founder, Queen of Rental By Owner
Christine wrote the book on Rental By Owner...Literally. Backed by 20 years of experience and research, she has turned the vacation rental business into a science, and her eye for vacation home and condo marketing is as sharp as her wit. As she built her dynasty of vacation rental properties (renting them without the use of a property manager), she became the undisputable Queen of Rental By Owner.  Christine also worked for HomeAway,Inc (the company that owns VRBO.com, VacationRentals.com, HomeAway.com ) She played an integral role in the development and growth of vacation rental juggernaut with her greatest accomplishment as the work she did for the acquisition of VRBO.com. Christine has as since joined Jeff Marken as co-founder of Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals. She rules the industry with a Midas touch, turning every property she manages into absolute gold. Christine is based in Austin, Texas (but she is in Destin 4-6 months out if the year) is married with one son and two dogs, Trumpet and Piccolo, and in her downtime travels with family and friends and reads everything she can get her hands on.
 
 
 
Jeff Marken
President,  Chief Operating Officer, Co-Founder, Vacation Rental Captain
Jeff built VRBO.com…literally.  He was the first website developer for VRBO.com.  Jeff has been in the travel business for over 30 years. He spent much of his early career working for major airline companies (Eastern Airlines, United Airlines) and vacation rental companies, like VRBO.com (he built the VRBO website from the ground up) and Owner Direct Vacation Rentals.  He has spent the last several years building his portfolio of vacation rental properties, perfecting the rental processes and forming Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals with Christine Karpinski. As a pilot, Jeff has a great eye for the big picture. His bird's-eye view allows him to see over projects holistically, but his thousand-point pre-flight safety check keeps him meticulous and detail-oriented -- these qualities translate into everything he does. Outside of work, Jeff enjoys traveling, piloting aerobatic maneuvers, and spending time with his wife, daughter and his two dogs, Ladybug and Gracie.

Valerie Rogers
Marketing Services Manager,  Customer Service Angel
Valerie has been involved in the vacation rental industry since 2002 and is an experienced vacation homeowner herself. She began her career at VRBO.com as the first employee whose sole focus was Customer Support, and then moved on to work for HomeAway, where she retired in 2013 as the U.S. Manager of Email Support. Now at Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals, Valerie wears many hats. Her responsibilities include managing property pages, managing directory site listings and calendars, and performing various administrative duties – but her true powers (which are seemingly not of this earth) lie in the realm of customer service. Valerie is a Customer Service Angel, and through her years of professional experience in the vacation rental business and personal experience as a vacation homeowner, she has developed the distinct ability to pair travelers with the PERFECT rental property for their vacation. Outside of work, Valerie loves reading, knitting, yard-sale shopping, traveling, and adding to her "future grandchildren" stash of toys, movies, books, etc. She is happily married with three grown children, her little dog 'Bebe", and three "grand-dogs," Bruno, Roxy and Rhino.

Sherry Taylor
Guest Experience Manager, Hospitality Ninja

Sherry comes to Sugar Palm Rentals as a veteran staff member of Christine.  She has been cleaning, maintaining and inspecting for Christine for over 10 years. Because she worked so closely with Christine, she knows exactly how to uphold the highest standards in cleaning.  Her daily responsibilities include managing Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals housekeeping staff, managing linens and property inventory, completing property reservations and tending to guest services and needs. Sherry's number one priority is ensuring the guest experience is nothing less than perfect, and she handles the details with ninja-like precision and skill. In her free time, Sherry enjoys spending time with husband, family and friends, relaxing her special getaways with her sisters.

 

Kim Monge
Guest Experience Manager, Hospitality Ninja
Kim has been in the vacation rental industry for 21 years. Her daily responsibilities include managing Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals housekeeping staff, managing linens and property inventory, completing property reservations and tending to guest services and needs. Kim’s number one priority is ensuring the guest experience is nothing less than perfect, and she handles the details with ninja-like precision and skill. In her free time, Kim enjoys spending time with family and friends, relaxing at the beach, and entertaining her three dogs, Abby, Pumpkin and Phoebe.
 
Bruce Pekarski
Maintenance Services Manager, Property Wizard
Bruce has been in the vacation rental field for 18 years. At Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals, he is the Property Wizard and Maintenance Services Manager. Bruce's daily responsibilities include inspecting units for maintenance issues, completing work orders and seeing to guests' needs, and he is know for his ability to solve problems and fix up properties with a magic touch. He is happily married to his wife Laura, and has two children and two step children, three granddaughters, two dogs and two birds. In his free time, Bruce enjoys spending time with friends and family, riding motorcycles, lounging at the beach and doing charity work.
 
Vanessa Lucas
Property Onboarding Manager, Logistics Savant

Vanessa has extensive experience in both project management and customer relations. When Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals takes on a new property, it needs to be brought up to Sugar Palm Vacation Rental standards – this is where Vanessa comes in. She is a logistics savant, and manages every detail of property onboarding down to a T. Her day-to-day responsibilities include reviewing inventory of items needed at each property, equipping and decorating rentals, researching, budgeting, and assisting with guest inquiries and reservations. Her extreme attention to detail is vital in ensuring each and every guest experience lives up to the Sugar Palm Vacation Rental standard. Vanessa is also based out of Austin, Texas (but comes to Destin whenever we have new properties that need her attention) is married with two college-age boys and a 12-year old beagle named Maxwell. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, sewing, watching college football and working on projects around her house in Austin, TX.

Rae Schilder
Operations Manager, Bookkeeping Manager, Master of dotted "i" an crossed "t".  

Rae comes to Sugar Palm rentals with over 18 years of experience in the hospitality industry.  Rae's responsible for all things operations related.  She's the one who works behind the scenes to make sure that everything at Sugar Palm Rentals is running smoothly.  She's also responsible for making sure all the vendor's and owner's bill are properly accounted for and get paid.  Can you imagine the bills you get for one home?  Imagine managing all the bills for nearly 50 homes!  Rae makes sure that all of our guest's reservations are paid and accounted for.  She also weeds through a gazillion Home Depot and Lowes receipts to make sure they are properly  allocated to the correct property.  Rae is also a speed demon at writing checks, she's responsible for writing all the checks to our vendors,  contractors and homeowners.  Rae's passion is with dealing directly with our guests.  She loves to roll up her sleeves and take reservation calls and she's been known to make friends with guests staying in our homes.  Rae is a loving mom of loving children and is one of the rare natives who was born and raised in Destin.  She enjoys spending time with her children and relaxing at home. 

Holly Viola
Reservationist, Social Media Enthusiast

Holly comes from a background of advertising, promotion & marketing.  After being in the music business for 15 years, her family uprooted from Baltimore, Maryland to Destin, FL purely for the squeaky white sand, Gulf and the great schools.  Her love for her chosen homestead will come across as she's answering the phones and responding to email inquiries.  Holly's responsible for the full guest communication chains. Once you have booked a home with us, you'll need directions, door codes, rental agreements, and information about the area--Holly makes sure that you get everything you need to enjoy your stay.  She's also responsible for all of our social media---posting those beautiful sunset shots she snaphots as she's walking on the beach. She is married with two sons, and has two purebred Ragdoll cats named Miley and Sophie. She loves the beach, shelling, snorkeling, cat rescue, watching the Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and never misses a weekend at the movies with her family.

Cierra Robbeloth
Reservationist, Social Media Enthusiast

Cierra comes to Sugar Palm with experience in the hotel industry (oh oh! did we just mention the forbidden "H" word). She's responsible for all things reservation related.  Cierra is on the phone alot!  Cierra is responsible for the full gamut of guest communications, from responding to inquiries to calling you to let you know your home is ready when our guests arrive.  She's also responsible for posting on Facebook and other social media channels.  Cierra is also Destin native.  On her off time, she enjoys hanging out with her boyfriend and friends.

Mary Jane Durkin
The Beautification Specialist, So Sinkin' Cute Home Designer

Mary Jane comes to us with many years of experience in making all things beautiful.   As a gifted artist, painter and home decorator, we are lucky to have her on our team.  She's responsible for choosing colors, furniture, and creating many original pieces of artwork that make Sugar Palm Rental's homes so uniquely beautiful.   She's also the co-owner of So Stinkin' Cute art studio and gift shop in Niceville, Fl.  Mary Jane lives in Destin and when she doesn't have a paint brush in her hands, Mary Jane likes to spend time with her daughter and husband. 

Sandy, Chris, Willa,
Housekeepers, Cleanliness
Fanatics
Sandy, Chris, Willa, Sherry are all experts in property upkeep. Quietly working backstage to keep Sugar Palm Vacation Rentals afloat, they handle the lead-up to guest arrival impeccably, completing a variety of integral tasks including cleaning, sanitizing, equipping houses with proper guest supplies, alerting the management team to maintenance items, and more.