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@Work:Windspree Vacation Homes

Feb. 17, 2005 – Windspree Vacation Homes owner Karen Baranowski, 47, started out in the vacation villa business more than two decades ago when she worked for Gail and Bill Imbrie at Imbrie Management and Design. That company was renamed Windspree when Sue and Hank Frederickson bought it, and Baranowski stayed on as staff.
In 1997, she bought the company from the Fredericksons and kept the name.
"It's been on-the-job training for many years," Baranowski said.
Within a few months of taking over Windspree's helm, Baranowski had the company's Web site up and running. She said that business began to blossom right after she went on-line.
More than a year ago, she moved the office out of the bottom half of her Coral Bay house to a top-floor office at the Town and Country Building in Coral Bay.
She likes the fact that her house is in Coral Bay, her office is in Coral Bay and all 23 of her houses are in the Coral Bay area.
"I didn't want to run around any further than I have to," she said.
Baranowski, like most of the villa managers on St. John, greets guests at the Cruz Bay ferry dock, keeps tabs on villa maintenance and is on hand to answer questions and solve problems that arise during a guest's visit.
She does it all with a staff of two in the office, three maintenance workers, four cleaning people, a pool cleaner and an exterminator. She contracts out with a plumber, an electrician and a carpenter.
Every day is different, as aspect of the job that keeps Baranowski interested.
"And I'm blessed with really nice and pleasant owners," she said of the people who own the villas she manages.
She said she enjoys meeting the guests when they arrive on St. John. She said they're always excited about their St. John vacation, and the people are interesting.
Baranowski and her husband, Steve, moved to St. John from their native Chicago in 1980 after vacationing here with friends Kay and Mickey Raimondi. Coincidently, Kay Raimondi now works in the Windspree office.
Children Tiffany, now 22, and Richard, now 16, soon came along. Baranowski said Tiffany is now working in a Chicago gourmet pet supply store and will soon be off to massage therapy school. Richard is a student at St. John School on Gifft Hill.
As for Baranowski's spare time? Well, there isn't much, particularly during the busy winter season. But when she has a few hours off, you'll find her out in her garden growing ornamental plants.
"I have quite a bit of orchids, and they bring me great joy," she said.
To see what Windspree has on its property list, visit www.windspree.com or call 693-5423.

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