Friday, October 31, 2008

Sanibel Island Economics 101

Being in the vacation rental business on Sanibel Island I often think back to my childhood vacations and wonder how we ever survived as a family of four in a hotel room. Even the most spacious hotel rooms lack the space required to allow each family member to claim their own private space, not to mention the fact that many hotel rooms don't have kitchen areas. I fondly remember a trip to Myrtle Beach where my brother realized my parents had been "tricking" him out of one meal a day. I still haven't figured out if this was done to save money since eating out was a necessary evil due to our room not offering a kitchen, or if it was a time restraint situation since we were trying to pack as much fun into a day as possible. In any event I'm sure it's a conundrum that many families find themselves in when staying in a hotel versus a fully equipped condo. Eating out is not only expensive but it takes up time that is better served soaking up the sunshine at the beach.

In the current economic climate we felt it might prove helpful to point out the advantages to renting a Sanibel Holiday fully equipped condo or home while vacationing on beautiful Sanibel Island.
  1. You can save hundreds of dollars during a one week trip by preparing most of your meals in your home or condo rental. A family of four could spend on average $70 a night just for dinner at a restaurant, which adds up to $490 for the week!

  2. Most condo and home rentals provide in-unit washers and dryers which allows you to pack less. This saves you on those pesky luggage fees that many airlines are charging these days.

  3. Many condo and home rentals have weekly rates versus nightly rates which can add up to huge savings. Nightly hotel rates are normally inflated to cover cleaning and turnover costs.

  4. With the extra space that a condo or home provides a family can really spread out and have fun. Most two bedroom units provide two, if not three, televisions which means the adults can watch a movie of their choice while the kids watch what they want. Plus, the dining room table is a great place for family game night.

Think of all the money your can save by spending a few fun nights “in” while you are vacationing. It’s also a great way to reconnect with your family and friends, something most of us don’t have enough time for these days. Sanibel Island is the perfect place to have a fun, affordable vacation. Visit us today and see just how great a retreat to paradise can be!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to Live on an Island....Sanibel Island That Is!

"I think that there’s no truer place than an island. Whether it’s a sandbar or a bubble-up of volcanic rock or a jut of tropical coral, an island stands only by some whim of fate, given a chancy foothold among the chaos. When I go to an island, I know that I’m in that state of grace in which anything can happen.”
— from How to Live on an Island, by Sandy Gingras

There is a popular book for Islanders called How to Live on an Island, written by Sandy Gingras. Whether you live on Sanibel or simply visit here often it is likely you have seen it around. How to Live on an Island gives it's readers an opportunity to reflect on the simpler things in life and acts as a gentle reminder to enjoy them.

Island living takes practice. It's not easy to slow down in today's hectic, fast paced world but Sanibel (and Sanibel Holiday) make it easy. We often hear at check-in that people actually feel their blood pressure go down once they pass the toll booth. As you drive down Sanibel's picturesque main drag, Periwinkle Way, you finally realize after a long days travel that at last you are on a well deserved vacation!

One of Sanibel's most attractive features is it's slower pace. With this in mind, we feel there are several things that visitors to Sanibel MUST do to have an authentic island experience:

Dine out at any one of the eclectic eateries that abound on the island. They offer something for everyone including fresh local seafood, fine European cuisine, boardwalk style hot dogs, homemade ice cream and decadent desserts. Some of Sanibel Holiday's favorites are Traders, Timbers and the Mucky Duck.

Leave your car in its parking space and explore the island on two wheels. Biking is the preferred mode of transportation on Sanibel. Twenty-five miles of bike paths wind their way alongside the main roads, allowing you to easily get from one end of the island to the other.

Be sure to visit the "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge and see the many species of birds and animals that call Sanibel home. Bird watching is a national past time and there is no better place to do it than Sanibel Island!

Grab a good book from the Sanibel Island Bookshop, a comfy beach chair and an umbrella then stroll down to the Gulf and spend the day reading. You may even see some dolphins frolicking close to the shore. (Don't forget your sunscreen!)

Take a kayak tour with Tarpon Bay Explorers. There is nothing more peaceful and serene than kayaking with a naturalist through the mangrove forest. Learn about Sanibel's unique back-bay ecosystem while surrounded by the wildlife that Sanibel is famous for.

A Sanibel sunset is the perfect ending to a perfect day! The best way, in our humble opinion, to witness this majestic moment is on a sunset cruise with Captiva Cruises. The Sunset Serenade Cruise offers live music and a full service cash bar.

At Sanibel Holiday our goal for our guests is the perfect island experience. This of course starts with helping pick the perfect accommodation for you and your family but we don't stop there! Allow us to make recommendations and even reservations as part of our concierge style services to help make your vacation unforgettable!

Sanibel Sunsets

Crimson, golden, pastel hue,

Sinking into waves of blue.

Bright, brillant arrayed in glory,

Much too short-like a perfect story.

Photos capture the fleeting light,

but warmth only felt when you witness the sight.

Awed by the moment. Sad it couldn't last,

Beauty only realized once it's past.

Judging by the joy they give,

Sunsets mimic a life well lived.

Rent & Relax with the Pros at Sanibel Holiday

Your vacation is our business!

Relaxing. Refreshing. Rejuvenating. That's the kind of vacation you get when you rent from the professionals at Sanibel Holiday. You tell us what you want. We give you options. Lots of options. The following Q&A section helps show how our experience, knowledge and expertise will give you the perfect worry-free and surprise-free vacation:
Q: How long have we been in the vacation rental business?
A: We have been exclusively renting properties for over 20 years on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Q: What are Reservation Specialists?
A: Friendly, trained, and knowledgeable staff ready to assist you in booking your vacation. Each Reservation Specialist is intimate with every unit in our rental program so that we can accurately and honestly recommend a property. Our goal is to find the “best” fit for your group and for your budget.

Q: Where do the rental properties come from?
A: All properties are privately owned. Every unit needs to meet our high standards before they are accepted in our rental program.

Q: What are your standard check-in procedures?
A: You will check-in at our office conveniently located in the heart of the Island. There you will be greeted by one of our staff that is ready to assist you in the easy check-in process. We will have your keys, arrival information, maps to the unit, and all other pertinent information ready for you when you arrive.

Q: What if I am arriving after your office hours?
A: Don’t worry about being late; we have an after-hours lock box located just outside our door with all of your check-in information and most importantly your keys in a large envelope.

Q: Are the units clean and have linens?
A: Our properties meet the highest standards for cleanliness and quality. Our linens are commercially sanitized and each unit is inspected prior to your arrival.

Q: If there is a problem who do we call?
A: We respond to problems immediately and are open 6 days for your convenience. We have aligned ourselves with licensed professionals to service our properties in a timely and professional manner. We are available 24/7 should you encounter any issues after normal business hours.

Q: Do you offer Travel Insurance?
A: We do offer optional travel insurance and send the information when you book your travel plans. We highly recommend the travel insurance as it protects our clients in the event of an unexpected cancellation due to an emergency situation.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Have you found "it"?

I enjoy plants and gardening quite a bit. It’s fun to go to a garden center and look at all the different varieties of flowers, vegetables and herbs that are on display. I usually go with the intention of buying something to add to my garden but sometimes I just go to look around. Inevitably that’s when I round a corner and the most gorgeous plant is sitting there looking at me. It seems to be saying “you know I’m the one, please take me home.”

It’s the same way with shelling here on the islands, sometimes you’re just walking along the beach and you happen upon a shell that you know is “it”.

People the world over know Sanibel Island is one of the most famous shelling beaches on the planet. Currents from the Gulf of Mexico bring a variety of unique and rare shells to our shore, and the curved shape of the island helps keep them here. While there are a lot of shells on the beach today, there were many, many more back in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.

A documentary on Sanibel Island produced by WGCU shows pictures of beachgoers searching through mounds of shells that look to be 2-3 feet high. Can you imagine doing that? The “Sanibel Stoop” probably wasn’t as strenuous as it can be today!

One of the rarer shells that can be found on the island is the junonia (Scaphella junonia). This shell is white to pinkish white with brown square spots that encircle the shell. If you find a junonia while you’re shelling you have found a real gem!

Joanne and Fred Brauns, guests of Sanibel Holiday, have found THREE - yes three - junonias since their arrival on October 1st.. You might think “oh, it’s just a shell”, but it’s so much more… you’ve found “it” and that’s a great feeling!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Top Ten Reasons to Vacation on Sanibel Island... David Letterman Style

10. You can become locally famous if you find a rare junonia seashell.

9. You don’t have to pack a winter coat to go on vacation in February. (The average high temperature is 77 degrees!)

8. You can fish all day long and then have your fresh catch cooked for you at the Lazy Flamingo.

7. Where else can you attend a craft fair devoted entirely to seashells? (The 72nd Annual Sanibel Shell Fair and Show will take place March 5-7, 2009)

6. You might run into someone from your hometown who’s here vacationing too.

5. You don’t have to worry about running a red light. (Sanibel Island doesn't have any traffic lights and our speed limit is a relaxing 30 miles per hour)

4. There’s more wildlife per capita than people on the island. (For close-up encounters with the critters, visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge.)

3. You never know when you’ll run into someone famous. (Famous weatherman Willard Scott and celebrities including Kevin Nealon, Wilford Brimley and Chris Berman have all been seen on the islands and luckily for them, we don't have a map showing you where the stars' homes might be located.)

2. You can amaze your friends and co-workers when you get home by showing them the Sanibel Stoop.


You don’t have to stand in line to ride the flying teacups on the Mad Tea Party ride at that big theme park in the middle of the state!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vacation Is Harder When You Live in Paradise

I just got back to Sanibel from vacation and I have to admit working at Sanibel Holiday and being on the island has spoiled me. For instance while on vacation I needed to use the Internet -that's not too much to ask is it? In our modern age using the Internet once or twice during a week long vacation does not make me a Webaholic!
Anyway, I was shocked to discover that it cost me $0.75 per minute in addition to a $3.95 activation fee to use a computer terminal with Internet access. Needless to say I didn't do much surfing on my little hiatus since I didn't have any arms or legs to spare.
This price tag came as a rude awakening for me since at Sanibel Holiday not only do we offer WiFi and high speed access in a large number of our rental units, but we also offer these same services to all of our guests with our in-office Internet access.
Sanibel Holiday's guests are also welcome to use our office fax machine, copier and printer-all at no charge. If only all vacations were so user friendly!
Actually come to think of it one aspect of my vacation was easier since I moved to Sanibel-the coming home part!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Indians, Pirates and Vacationers, OH MY!

This wonderful place we call paradise has been here for centuries.
Sure it looked different than it does now, but it was home to a few other folk before it was “settled” in the 1800’s. Who were these early inhabitants? The Calusa Indians (Calusa means “fierce people”) were the first documented inhabitants of our island and their influence can be found all over Southwest Florida, including the Mound Key Historic Site near Fort Myers Beach and the community of Pineland on Pine Island.
The Calusa that survived diseases such as yellow fever and measles carried by the European settlers eventually left the area for Cuba and other points south, and the tribe ceased to exist by the late 1700’s. Legend says that Sanibel and its surrounding islands then became a haven for pirates, most notably Jose Gaspar. Who knows what pirate bounty is buried beneath our shell-strewn beaches?

So when was the island “officially” settled? Technically speaking, not until the 1870’s but, as early as 1833, pioneer settlers were on Sanibel and petitioned the U.S. Government to build a lighthouse at Point Ybel, known today as Old Town on the east end of the island. This wouldn’t materialize until after the Civil War; and the decades in between saw the Seminole Indians making their home on and around the island; keeping fisherman and would-be settlers from putting down roots. In 1870 Sanibel Island was deemed a lighthouse reservation by the federal government, and in 1884 the Sanibel Lighthouse began to light the way for ships sailing the Gulf of Mexico. It has remained in continuous operation since then and still provides direction for maritime travelers around the island.

Stay tuned for Part 2 - “Sanibel’s Agricultural Past and the Arrival of the Seasonal Vacationer”.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sanibel Holiday Employee Nominated for E-Award

Have you ever met a person that goes above and beyond in everything they do? People like this are rare, but I know someone exactly like that and I am proud to call her my friend. I’d like you to meet Jolene Young, Housekeeping and Maintenance Supervisor for Sanibel Holiday. Jolene was nominated for an E-Award, a prestigious honor bestowed upon a few select individuals by the Lee County Visitor and Convention Bureau. Employees from all areas of the hospitality industry are eligible for nomination, and hundreds of entries are submitted every year. Jolene, being the shy and humble person that she is, was very surprised when she got the call telling her she was nominated; and we were all elated when we found out!

What makes Miss Young so special? It could be that she always has a smile on her face no matter how many crises she has handled before lunch. She has been known to help a guest with their luggage when moving between units or make an extra trip to check on a vacant home although she just inspected it three days beforehand.

Sanibel Holiday guests know that the things Jolene does are far beyond what others with similar responsibilities do; both they and our owners frequently tell us how appreciative they are for everything she does for them. To her, it’s not just about making sure a unit is clean and has everything it needs; it’s about ensuring that every guest has a memorable vacation. She views our guests and owners as part of her extended family, and her co-workers truly respect and admire her. She’d do just about anything for us, and we would do the same for her. As one owner so eloquently told me recently “she’s good people”. Congratulations Jolene on your nomination, you’ve earned it!!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sanibel's Friendly Fin Sightings

Have I mentioned I love dolphins! They are my favorite creature-hands down-aquatic or land loving. Not only are dolphins extremely intelligent, beautiful and acrobatic, but they strike me as so friendly. Of course you cannot approach a wild dolphin by law both for their protection and yours; however, on Sanibel you can watch them frolic in the waves in just about any Gulf side location. Actually I was in one of the rental properties that Sanibel Holiday manages just the other day and saw a dolphin moseying along in the water not far off of the beach. I thought to myself how cool is it to work for a company that requires it's employees to see the properties. Sanibel Holiday's goal in this requirement is that all of the agents in our office are educated on each individual property. The advantage to an employee like me is that we get to experience in a small way the same wonder that a guest feels when they spot their favorite animal floating by right from the living room of their vacation accommodation!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Evolving From a Sanibel Guest to a Native

Having vacationed on Sanibel and now working at Sanibel Holiday (a vacation rental agency on the island) has given me a different perspective on accommodations.

Of course since I was a guest in the past I know what I need and want in a rental. Working with Sanibel Holiday has made me realize that achieving those desires is not only possible, but varies from person to person.

I think across the board every person requires a clean, comfortable rental at a fair price. Yes, these do exist! In my experience one of the biggest obstacles to procuring the perfect accommodation is the actual search process.

This can be an exhausting endeavor, but working at Sanibel Holiday has enlightened me to the fact that it does not have to be. One key to simplifying the process is a user friendly website.

Guess what-Sanibel Holiday has one (okay, okay no more shameless plugs). Seriously, though I hate websites that require a guest to enter dates before allowing them to see properties. Not only does this block a guest from browsing all of the properties an agency offers, but it also indicates that a vacation is planned before discovering desirable accommodations.

Isn't that the most important part? If you are like me and enjoy a completely frustration free vacation planning process check out Sanibel Holiday's website at