Thursday, March 22, 2012

Heads Up on Sanibel Rentals

It happened again today.

In fact it's been happening all week.

Well to be honest, the trend is at least 2 months old.

Sanibel Island is getting sold out.

Yes, we are serious about this, and it's not just the week of March 31 which gets pretty much booked solid every year.

We also have properties that are booked for the whole summer. And our pet friendly houses for winter 2013 are just about G-O-N-E. At this moment, we have one pet friendly home open for March. All the others are booked for both February and March 2013 and with little availability for either January or April.

As a result of this heavy, non stop booking trend, we are finding a fair amount of frustration on the part of rental guests. They find that not only are they not able to find any "bargains" , they are not able to find any vacancies at all.

Now you may be thinking that this is little bit of hype to get you to plan early and book soon, and certainly that is the intention, but we are speaking the honest truth. And, to be totally honest, it does not matter that much (if at all) to our bottom line whether you book a year in advance or a day in advance.

But we do want each and every one of our guests to have the best experience possible while visiting Sanibel. That objective is best achieved when the guest gets to choose the kind of place where they want to spend their holiday, rather than just having to accept what ever is left when the dust of bookings settles.

OK, nuff said. Just a word to the wise....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

LIONS and F.I.S.H. make Sanibel Rich

Sanibel Island, for its size and population numbers, (low even in busy high season when snowbirds return to their tropical nests), is one of the most generous locations in all of Florida.

There is formalized giving and just impromptu generosity as well. There are large gifts from the bank and small gifts from the hands. But all gifts are gifts from the heart.

We have highlighted a couple of organizations in the past for the good work that they perform and would like to focus on two others in this post.

Chartered in 1967, the Sanibel Captiva Lions club is a small group with a big reach.

Service to people who are visually impaired or totally blind has always been one of their most significant programs. For example, Lions operate the vast majority of eye banks throughout the world with three right here in Florida.

An all volunteer organization under an International Association of over 1,309,600 members, where they enjoy fellowship with other Lions, plus developing their skills and service capabilities. Last year Lions contributed over $600 million to charities and over 30 million hours of volunteer service.

Each January they hold a Golf Tournament at Beachview Golf and Tennis Club on Sanibel. Each March they hold the Arts and Crafts Fair at the Sanibel Community Center which brings artists and artisans from around the world to display their creations. And each April they hold a Pancake Breakfast, to raise money solely for the Lions Summer Camp Scholarships for the Handicap Sponsors.

Other events include Christmas Tree sales and Fish fry parties.

And speaking of fish, we want to give a strong nod of approval to another group on Island who definitely cast about to throw their lines of assistance far and wide.

Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) was established to lend a helping hand to those in need who live, work or visit Sanibel and Captiva by providing free services such as transportation, food pantry, meal delivery, health equipment, and emergency financial assistance through a group of volunteers who care about enhancing the quality of life for all those who request help.

In 2011 F.I.S.H. served over 750 clients on Sanibel and Captiva, and with their 200 FISH volunteers they delivered the following services:

  • Provided transportation for almost 300 medical related appointments
  • Delivered 2,650 hot meals to 39 clients
  • Loaned 371 pieces of medical/health equipment
  • Made 901 daily reassurance phone calls
  • Regularly visited 11 housebound clients
  • Encouraged 295 participants to our monthly Friendly Faces Luncheon
  • Provided 174 holiday meals
  • Assisted 33 elderly or disabled clients with Hurricane Preparedness
  • Helped 32 young people with Youth Summer Scholarships
  • Had 121 families use our Food Pantry
  • Provided $176,227 of emergency financial assistance and client support
  • Provided 46 children with weekend food through our Backpack Program

The F.I.S.H. Walk-In Center is now a designated United Way House and can offer enhanced services to clients. Several United Way agencies in Lee County are working with F.I.S.H. of Sanibel to develop more effective, cost-efficient social service programs.

If you want a closer, more personal look at how F.I.S.H. lends a helping hand and to whom they extend their assistance, there is a page at their website that provides a brief bio of some of their clients.

We applaud the LIONS and the F.I.S.H. organizations for all they do and the many other groups on Sanibel that tap into volunteers to help both the humans and animals who live on or visit our beautiful Island Paradise.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sanibel Island School Ranked Highest in State

The claim for years has been that small classrooms provide more quality. On the issue of student performances, less is more.

Now that formula appears to be the case for the overall performance of a school.

The Sanibel School, certainly one of the smaller schools in Florida, is the best place to get an elementary/middle school education in the state, according to Florida’s first-ever school rankings released recently.

The state Department of Education posted its best-to-worst special ranking of Florida’s 3,078 public schools, and the Sanibel Island school was the only Lee and Collier County institution to get a top-10 ranking.

Sanibel was the top-ranked combination school for elementary and middle school students.

The state ranked the schools based on the number of school grade points they received for the 2010-11 school year as part of the state’s school grading formula.For elementary, middle and combination schools, points are earned based solely on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, with points given for the percentages of students scoring at grade level or better on the FCAT or making learning gains.

For high schools, FCAT points are added into scores on non-FCAT components, such as graduation rates and participating in advanced classes.The state is touting the new rankings as an easy-to-read list that lets parents, taxpayers and others know how well their school or district is performing.

While this is all great news for anyone considering living on Island and sending their kids to the Sanibel school, the advantages go well beyond that.

A good school system is a benefit to the town where it is located. Of course it makes the area more desirable, but it makes it more livable as well.

When parents are intent on living where their children get the best education possible, they are often activists in their community, helping to build the town's infrastructure to be safe and child friendly. Better schools help to drive better libraries, as one example, and the Sanibel library is one of the highest rated in the state. And better schools more often than not create a school population that is curious about and helpful toward the area.

All of these factors enhance even a vacation rental guest's stay.

Sanibel is an island, but it is not an Island onto itself. It is involved in the greater community surrounding it and taking in all those aspects of society that create the most hospitable environment possible.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Upcoming Events at Sanibel Stoke the Fire of Interest

Most island getaways are content to let the simple pleasures of paradise delight those who come to the island. That is not the case on Sanibel and Captiva where exceeding expectations is our motto. And, a recent travel survey shows that locations offering community activities tend to be the places people like to visit repeatedly. Sanibel and Captiva offer many events that allow island residents to mix, meet and mingle with guests.

Though events are held year round, the winter/spring time frame is the most prolific of times on the Islands.

This March and April are no exception. If you are visiting this Spring, you will be delighted. And if you don't have plans in hand, we hope that you will be ignited!

Here's a small sample of what you can expect:

The Sanibel Music Festival is held every Tuesday and Saturday during the month of March at 8pm on both days. The event brings together accomplished and award-winning musicians from around the world. The performances take place at the Sanibel Congregational Church at 2050 Periwinkle Way.

The Black Maria Film & Video Festival at Big Art is named after the world's first movie studio created by Thomas Edison and showcases a diversified collection of contemporary award-winning films on Monday, March 21st.

It Runs in the Family is a show that will take place at Big Arts from March 21st through 26th and feature the farce of Ray Cooney. Admission is $30 per adult, with children under 16 paying $20.

Starting on Wednesday, March 30th Estates and Captiva Cruises will be offering boat cruises from Captiva Island to Edison & Ford Winter Estates. The cruise will include a tour of the estate. Tickets are $60 for adults and $50 for children. Non-members pay $10 extra.

The Spring Festival will officially welcome spring to the island on Saturday, April 3rd. Children can get an early start on Easter with Easter egg hunts and other activities at Sanibel City Park. Other activities include a bounce house, pony rides and face painting. Word on the island is that the Easter Bunny will make an appearance and be available for photos. The fee is $10 with an armband allowing access to all activities. Proceeds go to the Children's Education Center, which benefits schools on the island. An Easter parade is planned for Easter Sunday on April 24th.