Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sanibel: Moments to Remember

Every one has a special moment on Sanibel, one better and more memorable than all the others. It's not necessarily a BIG moment, but perhaps some little corner of the day where something happens that just makes you feel you are someplace really special.

Our renters often share these with us when they write to tell us of their stay in our vacation rental condo or vacation rental house, and we are delighted to know about their experiences.

Though the threat of hurricanes is real for all of Florida and most of the surrounding states, the actuality is that only 2 hurricanes have hit Sanibel in the last 45 years.

However, summer electrical storms, usually late day or evening "productions" are common. They often provide a dramatic and quite beautiful sound and light show. For us, that special moment on Sanibel came on a hot summer afternoon when we had been shopping in one of the Periwinkle stores and came out to find the typical summer rain rolling in. So we stood under a covering and watched this incredible electrial storm that filled the skies with bolts of lighting as buckets of water dropped from above.

Despite my fear of lightning, we felt safe where we were and the visuals were just awesome.

As it usually does, the storm ended in a matter of minutes as gulf breezes blew the clouds off the island.

The resulting image will remain with us as a quintessential Sanibel moment. The trees and plants were left wet and glistening and the pavements were steaming from the cool water, creating a mist that enveloped the landscape. I don't think I have ever seen the island more exotic or prettier in all our years of owning vacation rentals there.

I hope to post future anecdotes reflecting moments to remember on Sanibel as experienced by ourselves as well as by our renters.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Upcoming Events on Sanibel in October

There are no end of unique, diverse events on Sanibel. Here are few found on

October 16 - 31
We Love A Piano
Join the gang at the Schoolhouse Theater as they kick off the ' 08 - ' 09 season with an Irving Berlin musical revue! Visit for ticket information.

October 18 - 19
Jazz on the Green 2008
Jazz fans mark your calendars now for the 13th annual Jazz on the Green - two days jam-packed with the finest music that smooth jazz has to offer. Have fun and help a good cause! Proceeds go to benefit the Children&339;s Charities of Southwest Florida. Food and beverage is available and small coolers are allowed. A children's area will provide entertainment for the kids. For more information visit

October 19
24th Annual BaileyFest
Join in the fun as the Bailey Brothers once again show their appreciation to their customers with an afternoon of carnival games, music and lots of great food. From 1pm - 5pm in the Bailey Center parking lot.

October 19 - 26
J.N. "Ding" Darling Days
To honor the birthday of "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge's namesake, the Refuge will host nature photography workshops, birding and kayak tours, wildlife and environmental speakers, a Youth Day and other special events throughout the Sanibel community. The celebration culminates on the 26th with a family festival featuring free hot dogs, live animal presentations and free narrated tram tours through the Refuge.

October 25 - 31
Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival
A fall festival designed for canoe and kayak enthusiasts as well as eco-tourists, the festival that celebrates Southwest Florida's 100 mile marked paddling trail, the Great Calusa Blueway. This year's Festival will comprise a countywide series of events and activities across the trail, including: kayak fishing tournaments, several canoe/kayak races, paddling demonstrations, live music and festival events, guided tours, children's activities and archaeological and enviromental events. Head to for more information

If you are already planning to attend any of these events, we are offering a 3 week stay special for the weeks of October 4, 11, 18 at BOTH our condo and our house.

What's Your Idea of a Sanibel Vacation?

Gathering seashells by the seashore is certainly what Sanibel is best known for, but it is truly the tip of the iceberg.....or crest of the wave as the case may be.

There is so much more underneath!

If you just want to move from pool to beach to
bed, you can have the most relaxing time of your life on the Island. If that is what you prefer, you can be on island time every day of your vacation.

But if you are looking for activity, you will not be disappointed.

Sanibel does not have a great deal of night life. There's a jazz bar and restaurant, Ellingtons, a sports bar, Sanibel Grill, and there's the movie theatre, a playhouse, and, in season largely, some lectures and concerts at Big Arts.

But if you prefer to have a busy day, you will have a wide choice of activities.

Fishing, water sports such as kite sailing and board surfing, as well as biking are all easily accessible. Scuba diving around Sanibel is considered to be first class.

There are boat trips to other islands, parasailing, golfing, tennis, classes at Sanibel Sea School, and guided tours of natural sights as well as some
splendid bird watching that can fill your days with excitement and discovery.

One way to add value to your trip to Sanibel is to consider what kind of vacation you want, and then plan for it.

Collecting seashells is just the beginning.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Getting the Best Value AND Price on Sanibel Rentals

As the marketing "manager" of our two vacation rental properties on Sanibel Island, I correspond with dozens of vacationers each week. Despite the fact that I do all my marketing on the internet, the majority of rental inquiries are quite complex and one of the reasons I have created this blog is to try to help renters simplify their search.

As the economy totters and prices escalate, those still willing and able to travel are largely looking for a good value for their holiday.

But the best value is not necessarily synonymous with the lowest cost, at least in my experience it is not.

Having stayed in hotels, resorts and self catering condominiums, I have found myself regretting having taken a discounted or cheaper accommodation because of the lower cost. The money saved did not make up for the inconveniences and/or discomforts encountered. My husband and I insist on clean, convenient and comfortable in our own places because of our experiences with lodging that was lacking. It is never worth a couple of hundred dollars to us to sleep on lumpy mattresses, have no quality electronic equipment, be forced to eat out every meal because essential dishes and cooking utensils were missing and, (ugh!) encounter dirty and/or badly stained furniture and bed coverings.

So I ask lots of questions to establish the level of maintenance and supply of any place we, ourselves, rent for our trips and take no umbrage when renters do the same on our properties.

Similarly, when a renter politely asks if there might be a discount on our places, there is no insult taken. We all want the best deal possible.

But there should be a realistic approach to this process of negotiating.

If a renter is booking months in advance for a high season week, it is unlikely I am going to discount. Last minute bookings---- though risky if a renter wants to assure getting a quality rental---- are much more likely to produce some savings. However, if a week in question rents for, as an example, $1700, an "offer" of $500 will not be taken too seriously. It practically costs that much to carry a rental between utilities, cleaning, maintenance and commissions.

Similarly, when renters approach the subject of a discount based solely on their need for one ("I work for a non profit", "we are sending our kid to college", "I had a pay cut on my job"), I can easily empathize and feel for the renter. But not to the extent that I feel any need to cut my price.

Aside from last minute requests, those reasons I would consider discounts include return visitors, multiple week or multiple month bookings, an iffy week or month for a booking (such as September), a small party booking (only 1 person) or a referral from someone I know.

Like with all negotiations, arriving at a discount is more often than not based on cordial communication and each party getting something in return.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Accommodations on Sanibel Island

Ok, now you know where on the Island you think you want to be, but there is a catch!

If you want to stay at one of the island inns, and you want to be on Sanibel, not Captiva, you will have to restrict yourself to the mid island location. There are no inns on the quiet, west end of the island. As suggested in my earlier post, the west end of the island is the non-commercialized area of the island. The closest inns on the west end are actually on Captiva. Captiva is Sanibel's neighboring island, and quite lovely. But you will do yourself a service by comparing prices for inn lodging on both islands as you plan your trip.

Inns are great for short stays, generally not allowed in the condo rentals. Most condo vacation rentals mandate a rental of a week or more. Inns offer the luxury of having daily maid service and some offer a place to have a bite to eat. Only a few condo complexes have dining facilities. The majority are self catering, which means you do your own cooking and cleaning while you are on holiday. You should find your condo unit clean when you arrive, and if you leave it in good condition, you will not be charged in the majority of complexes for cleaning on your departure.

Also do your home work on condo complexes. If you absolutely must have a Gulf view accomodation, be sure the unit you have chosen offers same. There are many, many complexes directly on the Gulf, but some units do not offer the view.

If a Gulf view is not an absolute, you will find that there are complexes near the beach that offer more space and better pricing.

And, in regards to pricing, if you are vacationing for 4 weeks or more, you may find your best value in renting a private rental home.

Vacation homes on Sanibel are mandated by the town to be 28 day rentals. That makes for less competition than weekly rental condos, especially in off season. Explore your options if you are planning a month's stay on Sanibel as you well may find the best pricing on private homes for rent.

Tomorrow's post will explain how to get the best price AND best value out of your vacation rental.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Location Choices on Sanibel Island

You know you want to vacation on Sanibel Island. This unique resort island blends the tropics, adventure, romance and family fun perfectly. You know that spending your holiday time on Sanibel will give you maximum comfort and convenience as well as a remarkable view on nature. With more than half the island a nature preserve, yet offering a wide and interesting array of restaurants and shops, this is without a doubt your preferred destination.

Choosing Sanibel was the easy part.

More difficult is choosing your accommodation.

If you take the choices step by step and one by one, the decision will be much easier.

You know you want to go off island often to explore the surrounding area. Then you may well want to consider the furthest east end of the island. This area is home to the scenic Sanibel Light House and is closest to the causeway, the entrance on to and off of Sanibel.

Or perhaps you and your family much prefer being in the thick of social activity on vacation. You might be best off staying in one of the many complexes lining the Gulf. This area has many plantings and is closest to the core of restaurants and shops.

Maybe what you most seek is seclusion, a sense of being on some tropical hideaway, a closer relationship with the nature of the island. Then you will probably prefer the furthest west end of the island.

This end, closest to Captiva, is less densely inhabited and offers easy access to the Ding Darling Nature Preserve.

Once you have decided where on the island you most want to be, you will have many other decisions to make.

To help you sort out what condo complex, or whether you would be better off renting a private house, I will provide some further insights in my next blog post.