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Hidden Gems: Meet Alison & Julio Sanchez of Cardiff Vacations

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison & Julio Sanchez.

Hi Alison & Julio, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My name is Alison Sanchez; my husband and I are the proud owners of Cardiff Vacations. Julio is originally from Guatemala and gained US citizenship on the USS Midway after serving in the Marines between 1994 and 1998. We have been married for 20 years now, and we own three vacation rentals and rent them out to people worldwide.

We fully renovated and refurbished my family’s duplex transforming it into a luxury vacation rental featured in media – in TV shows and various home-decor magazines. All our vacation rentals are located close to the most beautiful California beach areas in a pristine natural setting and close to world-famous surf spots and the lively city of San Diego.

My parents got married in Detroit, then moved to San Francisco and to Southern California in Cardiff, where my dad’s sister lived. My parents built this duplex; it was their home, the last place where they lived. After my father’s death, my mom was left alone, and when she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2006, we decided to move into the duplex to look after her. She passed away in 2016, but I could not sell the duplex; too many memories were tied to it. After lengthy discussions, we came up with the idea to make the best of it and create a complex of vacation rentals, to share with the world something that my parents loved.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The houses were pretty old, so we had a lot of conversations with Kitchy Crouse of KC Interior Design – a lot of planning since we were new to all of this, but it was a very rewarding process. We remodeled the properties room by room; it was a challenging project that lasted over a year.

Now, the Cardiff Parkhouse-Penthouse is a newly remodeled 3-story duplex by Kitchy Crouse of KC Interior Design. Spa-like bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, and custom furnishings make these rentals a must for a memorable vacation in the San Diego area. It was hard work, but now that our condos are featured in home decor magazines and used in TV shows, it is worth all the time and effort.

We’ve been impressed with Cardiff Vacations, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We rent all three houses to couples, families, groups, surfers, or professional travelers like the military, nurses, or corporate. Each year we welcome around 3k people, but due to the pandemic restrictions, 2020 has been a bit slower on business. What differentiates us from other similar businesses is that we offer a homey feeling and flawless customer service.

When people book our vacation rentals, Julio comes up with a well-set itinerary, depending on the season. Whether it’s summer or winter, he looks up everything that’s going on in Cardiff-by-the-Sea and its area up to Carlsbad and down to San Diego. My husband sends out emails and lists all points of interest in the area: local eateries, small gift shops, things to do in the daytime, and nighttime activities. We do everything in our power to make our guests’ vacation experiences unique.

Networking and finding a mentor can have such a positive impact on one’s life and career. Any advice?
After we finished remodeling the houses, we were done with our savings. So we focused more on word-of-mouth marketing to attract guests from the nearby states. A significant shift came in 2018 when we started our website and invested more in increasing our online presence. We achieved that with various digital marketing techniques and through listings on all the major booking platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and VACASA.

Until 2018, we didn’t realize the importance of a solid online presence, but when we decided to go online, we immediately saw the results in our bookings. Now, we are working to maintain our online presence through distinct carefully-planned scenarios, social media presence, and strategic partnerships with local businesses.

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