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Home > About Sunburst Beach Vacations

About Sunburst Beach Vacations

Sunburst Beach Vacations offers property management services for vacation rentals and real estate sales and marketing through the Sunburst Group at Davis Properties. Sunburst was founded in 2001, incorporated in 2003 and now manages 125+ vacation homes along NW Florida’s South Walton Scenic Highway 30-A

Perfect in South Walton

Bulldog 100 Award

Voted Finest on the Emerald Coast

Best of South Walton Award

BBB Accredited with an A+ rating

  • 2014 Sunburst Beach Vacations was named a "Top Finalist”, along with the Pearl and Watercolor Inn in the Accommodations category of the first annual Perfect in South Walton 2015 Best of the Best Awards. This award, given out by the South Walton Tourist Development Council (TDC) and voted on by Owners and Guests, is a gratifying validation of our goal to be the best vacation home management company on 30-A.
  • In 2012, 2013 and 2014 Sunburst was named to the "Bulldog 100, Fastest Growing Businesses" by the University of Georgia Alumni Association.
  • In 2011 and again in 2012 Sunburst Beach Vacations won the "Finest on the Emerald Coast" conducted by The Northwest Daily News for their annual awards under the category "Vacation Rental Company" for the entire Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida area. As well in 2009 (the last year this poll was conducted) Sunburst was named "Favorite Vacation Rental Company" in an online "Best of 30-A" poll conducted by southwaltonscene.com
  • Sunburst Beach Vacations is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business and rated (as of January 2013) an A+ by consumers on the BBB website.
  • Sunburst is actively involved in the local 30-A Community and it Owners and Associates have been and are currently serving on Boards for our communities’ schools, youth sports programs, arts and churches.
  • Sunburst Beach Vacations is a major Sponsor of the Seaside Neighborhood School and its Half Marathon, the Seaside Repertory Theater and the 30-A Songwriter’s Festival which is run by the Cultural Arts Alliance.

About the Founders and Management Team

Sunburst Founders Steve Howard, Payson Howard and David Leuze have known each other for over 35 years and have extensive backgrounds in marketing/advertising, computer networks/professional organization and finance/accounting respectively. Steve and Payson, through her family has ties to the Seagrove area that date more than 60 years.

Steve Howard is the Founder and Managing Director, and the Partner in charge of oversight and direction of Sunburst Beach Vacations including all new business, vacation home inventory and composition, homeowner relations, rental pricing of homes as well as all marketing and advertising programs including the website, newsletter (Sunbursts at the Beach), e-mail blasts, sponsorships, preferred partners program and home owner relations.

Steve has an ABJ degree in Advertising from the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia and spent close to 20 years in the marketing/advertising world beginning with McCann Erickson Worldwide, Whittle Communications and 14 years with New York Times owned GOLF DIGEST Magazine.

Steve and his wife Payson, with their sons Grant, Wade and Shawn, moved to 30-A from their home town of Atlanta in 2002 and are actively involved in the local community. Steve has coached several little leagues and middle school baseball teams and currently serves on the Board of the Seaside Repertory Theater.

Payson Howard – Founder and Director of Property Operations

Payson supervises vacation managers, reservationists, laundry manager and admin assistants. She also provides all information for the website including photography and copy, and maintains all internal operational documentation as well as dealing with owner relations regarding specific home functionality issues. She oversees housekeeping and is a Manager on Duty.

She received her BBA degree from the University of Georgia with a major in Management Information Systems. She spent her corporate career performing computer consulting work for Deloitte & Touche and later network management and support for Georgia Pacific. After moving to Florida, she became certified to teach middle school math and taught at South Walton Middle School before joining Sunburst. Payson has grown up with Seagrove Beach as her family has had ties in the area for over 60 years. She thoroughly enjoys everything the area has to offer. Payson has been married to Steve for over 30 years. With their sons Grant, Wade and Shawn this family lives and breathes the beach, boating and fishing. Come by the Sunburst office or check out her slide show of photos for a family time capsule of the South Walton 30A beaches.

David Leuze is the Founder and Director of Finance and Administration and the Partner who oversees all financial functions of company. This includes all homeowner statements, credit card processing, payroll, all subcontractor and vendor payments and maintenance work orders. Corporately he is in charge of human resources, office equipment purchase, company insurance and taxes.

David holds a BS degree in Accounting from the University of Tennessee and began his career as a CPA in Atlanta with Ernst & Whinney. While his expertise focused on small and emerging business, he also spent considerable time with Fortune 500 companies. David’s corporate background includes a stint at Coca-Cola Enterprises, where he assisted in the areas of corporate consolidation and mergers and acquisitions. He spent more than a decade as the Controller/CFO of Leland Inc, an Atlanta based software developer and reseller.

David and his wife Leigh, moved their family, Jacob, Grant and Daniel, to South Walton more than 15 years ago. They have been actively involved in the local community. David has served on several local boards, has been a volunteer coach with youth sports programs, and has taught youth Sunday school classes for many years. Currently, he serves on his church Finance Committee.

Emily Conant– Manager of Guest Services

Manager of Concierges for Sunburst Luxury Collection, Guest relations and reservationist. Manager on Duty.

With Sunburst since 2005, Emily has grown alongside the company and does a little bit of everything, from booking guests to helping plan details of their vacation as a Concierge. While overseeing our Luxury Collection, she enjoys helping guests get the most out of their time on vacation and making lifetime memories at the beach. She fell in love with the white sand beaches and crystal clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico while vacationing in Santa Rosa Beach many summers as a child. At age 13, she was fortunate enough to move here with her family and call it home. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family. When not working, she enjoys taking full advantage of all the things that make our area unique—including kayaking on our coastal dune lakes, boating on the gulf, jogging on the bike path, enjoying our restaurants and, of course, relaxing on the beach.

Vijay Cohoon – Manager of Operation Services

Oversees and schedules all maintenance tasks on vacation homes and Sunburst office, liaison with outside service providers, coordinates state resort dwelling inspections, sets up homes for rental program according to Sunburst and State of Florida standards, coordinates annual maintenance program.

Before joining Sunburst Vijay spent 6 years, first as Maintenance Manager and then Manager of Operations at Seaside Corp. and has an excellent reputation with Owners, Guests and subcontractors in our area.

He is married to Tracey, who works at Sacred Heart hospital and has one high school aged daughter, Katelyn at South Walton HS. Before moving to Seagrove, Vijay and his family lived in Kentucky where he worked for Dean Foods as a Production Leader and before that he was in the United States Marine Corp.

About our Associates

Jerri Bryant – Senior Vacation Manager, Real Estate Broker

Guest relations, reservationist, realtor relations, Sunburst Luxury Collection Homes database management, real estate marketing and database management for Sunburst Group @ Davis Properties, key management and ad inquiry follow up. Manager on Duty.

With Sunburst since 2007, Jerri has her hand in just about everything Sunburst. With a 30-year background involving office management, accounting, rental management, resort development and real estate sales – with bartending, waitressing, newspaper throwing and firefighting thrown in for part time fun over the years - Jerri was born in Northeast Alabama and enjoyed an early life full of summer adventures in Florida, Virginia, Arkansas and California. After experiencing several years of Texas living, she moved to Santa Rosa Beach in 1990 and has been happily settled ever since. Married for 20+ years to her anam cara, Jerri loves reading, traveling, girls nights, all things Irish, Auburn football and spending time knocking around on her Alabama farm.

Julia Edwards – Senior Vacation Manager

Guest relations, reservationist, online bookings and ad inquiry follow up. Concierge for Sunburst Luxury Collection. Wedding specialist. Manager on Duty.

Julia started part-time with Sunburst in 2008. After graduating from Florida State University in 2010 with a degree in International Relations, Julia has been with Sunburst full time. She works with our guests from the booking process through departure and beyond. She is one of the Concierges for our Luxury Collection of homes and as such, she strives for excellence in ensuring our guests have nothing short of a fabulous vacation. Julia’s attention to detail and caring nature has made her an asset to the Sunburst team. When not working, she enjoys watching our local bands play, attending local art shows and festivals and doing anything involving the beach with her dachshund, Remmie, and Phin, a hound mix, tagging along.

Kara Deonarine - Vacation Manager

Guest relations, reservationist, inspector and online bookings. Concierge for Sunburst Luxury Collection. Manager on Duty.

Kara was born and raised on the Emerald Coast and is proud to call herself a native Floridian. She attended school at Florida State University where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management from the Dedman School of Hospitality. She interned for Sunburst during the summer of 2014. In the Spring of 2015, immediately following graduation she began working full time for Sunburst and couldn’t be more thrilled to call the emerald coast home again. In her spare time she loves running and exploring the outdoors with her English Setter, Sailor, spending time with family and friends, boating at Crab Island during the summer, and watching the Seminoles play during football Season.

Maria Bianchi – Vacation Manager

Guest relations, reservationist, payment processing, inspector and online bookings.

Maria was born and raised in Tampa Florida, attended Florida State University, received her Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management in 2015. She began working at Sunburst in the fall of 2016. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, enjoying the beach, experimenting with new recipes, binge watching Netflix, and cheering on the Seminoles during football season.

Victoria Nordness-Vacation Manager

Maintenance Staff

Barry Garea

A native Floridian, Barry graduated from Ft. Walton Beach High School, went to undergrad at the University of West Florida and earned his Master's degree from the University of Florida. Married for 26 years to Jen, they have 3 children. He enjoys outdoor activities and water sports (fishing, boating, skiing). He previously owned and operated a rain gutter business for 10 years.

Tom Bryant

A native of Northeast Alabama, and an alumnus of Auburn University, Tom previously lived in Colorado Springs and Orlando prior to moving to the Emerald Coast in 1985. After 17 years employment as a musician at Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar and Grill, Tom retired from the full-time music scene to pick up a hammer and spent the next 14 years as a maintenance technician and carpenter. Tom joined Sunburst in 2016 where his wife, Jerri, has worked since 2007. If you’re lucky, you can still catch him playing music occasionally along Scenic 30A and in Destin with his former bandmates.

Tony McGee

Tony is from Dawsonville GA where he worked construction for many years. Tony moved here in November to be closer to his father who has lived in the area for a number of years. He loves living along the Emerald Coast of Florida and we are happy to have him join our maintenance team.

Mark Smith

Sean Gray

Laurel Abbe – Office Manager & Marketing Coordinator

General administration: purchasing, marketing assistance and guest communication.

With Sunburst since the summer of 2012, Laurel does a lot of little things around the facility that help to make it run smoothly. Laurel has many years of experience in corporate event management, marketing and developing website/e-marketing content. A Florida native born in Miami, she has travelled extensively and lived in California and Colorado but came back to Florida coast with her family in 2002 and has called Blue Mountain Beach home for 15 years now. Laurel is an avid fan of the 30A beaches, frequently volunteering for CAA events, beach clean-ups, Eden Gardens. She and husband Bruce spend as much time as possible on the South Walton beaches.

Luxury Collection Concierges

  • Emily Edwards Conant- Manager of Concierge Services
  • Julia Edwards
  • Kara Deonarine
  • Tina Rice

Vacation Home Inspectors

  • Jen Kelly
  • Barbara Riddick
  • Roger Carson

Laundry / Housekeeping

  • Tunde Slade - Laundry and housekeeping
  • Wanda Roberts - Laundry and housekeeping
  • Jen Garea – Part time manager of laundry and housekeeping Deep clean inspector
  • Multiple housekeeping crews - all independent contractors

Sunburst Group at Davis Properties-Real Estate

Steve Howard (Realtor, CPMS) and Jerri Bryant (Broker Associate, CPMS) - Real Estate leads from owners and guests directed to Sunburst Group @ Davis Properties agents (Tom Hidell, Michelle Joly, Rachel Lefebure) after initial contact, real estate marketing, real estate prospect database management.

Updated December 2016

Sunburst Beach Vacations
59 Canal Street, Santa Rosa Beach, FL  32459
Office: 866-310-5718 or (850) 231-6954