This episode takes us to Anna Maria Island, FL to meet Nancy and Michael McAleer, of Anna Maria Island Beach Life and hosts of Anna Maria Island Home Rental “Sirenia by the Sea.” In this Episode we explore the challenges of hosting a vacation rental remotely, and go searching for ‘Old Florida’, that blue-water, green-palmetto, shrimp-and-crab kind of place that just might still exist on the Gulf Coast.

The Property

We felt cozy and at home at the enormous, water-front Sirenia By The Sea.  Perfect for multi-generation families and larger groups looking for a quiet getaway. Supremely located as close as you can get to the Gulf of Mexico while perched on a deep waterfront for boaters.  The pool and hot-tub are sublime.  We wish we were there, right now.


When considering investing in a vacation rental home, there are two layers of research that Nancy recommends: the first is to investigate city data such as crime, household income, taxes...etc. The second layer is the more granular vacation rental deep dive: browsing the major listing sites to gauge the supply (inventory) and demand (occupancy calendars) of the local market. This is an unusually helpful aspect of the major listing sites like VRBO and Airbnb: one can actually predict, with a fair degree of certitude, how an investment will perform based on comparables.

When getting started in the vacation rental industry, it's hard to know exactly what guests will expect to be in your home. Nancy found that the easiest way to equip a vacation rental is to assume the role of "high maintenance" vacationer: while it may be a more expensive investment upfront, the "high maintenance vacation home" leaves little room for disappointment and commands higher nightly rates.

A lot of vacation rental owners manage their properties from afar. And thanks to technology, remote hosting is easier today than ever before. But more than just digital tablets and the internet, Nancy practices a preemptive style of management that begins way before the guests arrive. She combines that with simple phone/text correspondence to ensure that guests are taken care of as well (if not better) than if she was living next door.


When getting started, consider seriously the quality of items to put in your home. From a sheer investment standpoints, high-quality products that are durable end up costing you less in the long run: durable furnishings also generate 5-star reviews, which gives you the momentum and social proof needed to earn the investment back sooner rather than later.

What one single item gets featured the most in your reviews? Nancy says it's her towels. Splurging on extra comfortable towels is not just a way to generate 5-star's a way to command a higher nightly rate. Find "the little things" -- the items that don't cost an arm and a leg, but that really make a difference in the guest experience, and double-down.


This episode of A Sense of Place is sponsored by aBundle, a new e-commerce site that puts all the essentials in one place for vacation rental owners, managers and hosts.

To celebrate this perfect partnership, we invite you to save 20% on your first order at Use code SENSEOFPLACE through March 31st.

Key Episode Personality - Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy is a chef and owner of The Beach Bistro, an Anna Maria Island institution for more than 30 years.  His bar, 

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Key Activity

Fly fishing with Steve


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What was your biggest takeaway from this episode?  Do you have a question or comment about the show, or host, or destination?  Please write us below, or leave a comment on Youtube, Facebook, or hit us up on Instagram.


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