Monday, December 29, 2008

Chatting Up Spring Break On Sanibel Island

It must have been the special on NBC TV featuring Sanibel Island. I was in a Starbucks, far away from Florida the other day, and three female Latte drinkers were gathered together talking about where they were going to go on Spring Break with their husbands and kids. Sanibel Island was the center of discussion.

So, of course, being a vacation rental owner, I was all ears.

What I had heard as I sipped my Frappucino was not surprising.

The economy had kept them from making plans.

Now their kids are insisting that they should not pay the price for an economic down turn not of their making.

Luckily, said one particularly cheerful mom, her kids were young enough not to be looking for an action destination, but old enough to want to go some place warm. That lets me off the hook to take them to Atlantis, she went on to say, because they don't need all that activity just yet.

Another mom, not quite so cheerful, added that the household finances would simply not allow them to take any Caribbean vacation where they would be paying for 5 expensive round trip tickets. We need, she said adamantly, to go somewhere we can drive.

And the third mom responded that it was not her kids who needed to be busy all the time but her husband. He, she said, wanted to do something different every day, golf, boat, bike, shop. The beach alone would never be enough for him.

It was all I could do not to interrupt their conversation and suggest that Sanibel Island would be the perfect place for all 3 of their families, when the subject came up on its own. Fortunately, for my sense of decorum, the three women discussed the advantages of Spring Break on Sanibel and concurred it would fit all their needs ideally.

So they left with intentions to scour the Internet for condominium rentals for their respective breaks in March and April and I returned to my Frappucino, content with their decision and my resolve to mind my own business.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Avoid the Heart Break Of Missing Sanibel: Plan Your Spring Vacation Now

Don't ask me why it is that spring vacation planning is often left to the last moment. Every family knows that there will be a spring break at their local school and that many of them will want to be away, preferably away some place warm.

Several weeks in March through April are spring break sessions in schools around the country.

These weeks are undoubtedly the busiest weeks on Sanibel Island and other resorts in the sun.

Every one knows this.

Yet, each year with the arrival of February, I and other vacation property owners begin receiving inquiries for a place to stay during the week of their spring break.

Some times I have an availability, most times I don't. Infrequently I can refer some one to another vacation rental, most times that is not possible.

One week last March was completely sold out on the Island. There was not a room, condo, house or Inn to be found with a vacancy.

I know it was very frustrating for all those moms and dads who had visions of golden beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze and sun shining over an emerald green gulf. It was equally frustrating for me to have to keep responding in the negative about availability, not just for my own properties but in general.

So now that we are on the cusp of 2009, I am telling people in as many ways as possible that the time has come to plan your break. Despite the slacking economy, my bet is that a good portion of those families who like to be in the tropics for spring vacation are not going to forgo the experience this year. They may choose a
less expensive lodging or plan on eating more meals in or even opt to drive rather than fly to Sanibel, but my bet is that they will come, when all is said and done.

So don't disappoint your family, start your search now. You may not get a bargain on your condo pricing, but you will at least have a place to go when your holiday arrives. Avoid the
heartbreak of a missed vacation.

There are many sites on the internet where you can research condos for rent and see lots of photos to give you a good idea of what is available. There are the large vacation rental listing sites such as, and There are also smaller sites like and Googling vacation rentals sanibel will turn up lots and lots of results, and you can narrow your search even further by Googling
sanibel spring condo and other similar terms. also will have dozens of postings you can consider under the category vacation rentals Fort Myers, Florida.

If you prefer a more personal touch and actually want to speak directly to a person, there are vacation rental agencies on Sanibel where you can call and get a booking representative on the phone. One of the best of these is Sanibel Holiday.

Alternatively, most of the vacation rental condominiums on the Island have rental offices. If you know a complex where you would like to stay, you can call a toll free number and explore options over the phone.

Should you have a week in mind where you are finding very little availability, the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce often keeps a running list of vacancies on the Island.

Missing a vacation may not be a world class catastrophe, but it sure does help pick up the spirits to plan for one and get a respite from your normal routine. Routine on a vacation is not considered boring: it is more often regarded as bliss. Don't miss your bliss!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pet Friendly Sanibel May Really "Go to the Dogs" in March

In an earlier blog post I noted that Sanibel Island, Florida is one of the easiest vacation destinations to travel to with your pet. Accommodations are often pet friendly and beaches throughout the Island invite dogs on leashes to enjoy themselves. In addition, many residents on the Island have pets and while walking their dogs will most likely engage you in conversation (if you are amenable to same) about yours.

So there is no need to ever leave Fido or Tabby behind. You just need to assure that the property you are renting does allow pets and that you dialogue with the owner or manager about your pet and inquire as to the standard pet fee for that property. Pet fees are usually non refundable and are used to help the owner do a thorough or deep clean on your departure.

With all the amenities offered to your pooch on the Island, there is one more "goodie" that well may become a likelihood in March 2009. There will be two referenda up for vote by the Sanibel City Council in March. One will establish a dog park on the Island and the second will remove some land owned by the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) from the “Sanibel Environmentally Sensitive Land” area. The land belonging to SCCF is needed to make the dog park large enough to serve its purpose....allowing dogs to run free within the park, no leash needed.

Should the referenda pass, and many on and off the Island are hoping for this result, both renters and Island residents will have a great alternative to walking their leashed dogs on Sanibel pathways or island beaches and it reduces the possibility of owners feeling like they have to let their dogs off the leash on the beach. Here in the park, dogs will be free to run and meet other dogs. Social interaction between owners can also take place in a friendly manner. This is especially nice for older residents on the island. The only requirement in using the park is that the park pooches must be vaccinated for rabies.... and owners will be asked for proof of vaccination. Island residents, as well as visitors, who come to the park will also need to have proof of a valid license for their dog.

The Sanibel Dog Club, essentially the organization most concerned that the referenda pass, has pointed out that the re-dedicated parcel of property will be more attractive than in its current state as the dog park will have as its model human parks where landscaping is instrumental in making the area appealing. The Dog Club will be taking full responsibility for the upkeep of the park. There will be no cost to tax payers nor any fees to park users to pay to enter.

And for spring rentals on Sanibel, the dog park will be welcomed by those visitors who will have yet another chance to give their prized pooch the best of everything a vacation can offer. Even though the park will not be completed in March, the opportunities for further pampering may well be a reality after the March vote. As a vacation rental owner of two properties, one of which is pet friendly, I know the dog park will be considered an added value by those searching for a holiday destination where they can comfortably vacation with their treasured 4 legged companion. I am hopeful that the measures will be voted in and would wager a guess this will be a win-win-win for the town, its residents, its visitors and its vacation rental property owners. Oh, and let's not forget the pooches. They're gonna love it!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sanibel Hits Home Run in April for Baseball Fans

In an earlier post I mentioned the value of Sanibel in Spring time.

For die-hard sporting fans, there is another incentive to come to Sanibel in April. The season for baseball spectators begins in April, starting with the Boston Red Fox Spring Training.

The Southwest Florida area is home for spring training for Major League Baseball teams.

You can also see the the Fort Myers Miracle Baseball team. Here's a list of Spring training sites and phone contacts:

Boston Red Sox Spring Training
City of Palms Park
2201 Edison Ave
Ft. Myers, FL 33901

Tickets: (239) 334-4700
Administration: (239) 334-4799

Minnesota Twins Spring Training
Lee County Sports Complex
14100 Six Mile Cypress Pkwy
Ft. Myers, FL 33912

Tickets: (800) 338-9467
Administration: (239) 768-4225

Miracle Professional Baseball
Lee County Sports Complex
14100 Six Mile Cypress Pkwy
Ft. Myers, FL 33912
(239) 768-4225

The Miracle team is a member of the Florida State League.

Games are held April through August, but for your comfort and those of the players, you might well want to consider the near perfect climes in April and May. Weather on Sanibel in April is almost always sunny with temperatures ranging from a low of 62 to a high of 84. There's little rain, generally not much more than an inch. May is slightly warmer and slightly wetter, but still most pleasant.

And Sanibel, just a quick trip over the cause way to Fort Myers, is ideal for bicycling at that time of year.

So if you are a baseball fan, love the tropics, have a yen for a sunny day at the beach or on your bike exploring, think Spring on Sanibel!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Spring Into Sanibel

Thinking back on my travels, I have fond memories of spring like temperatures as winter in Rio de Janeiro transitioned into spring. I was living in this hub of samba and soccer and though the seasonal changes were nothing like we know them in the northeast USA, the transition of seasons in Brazil was subtle yet noticeable.

The Cariocans (Rio natives) would begin to shed their jackets and go sleeveless in the streets.

And life on the beach began anew.

One sure fire sign of spring in Brazil were the acrobatic feats observed on the shores in Rio as well as small coastal towns all over the country. The agility of the participants was awesome.

Though I have never observed the rites of spring in quite the same way on the Island of Sanibel, I have watched the dolphins perform similar acrobatics as the Gulf waters warmed under a stronger sun.

Observance of the passage of time in the tropics is a studied art. No winter snow storms or abundant flowering trees divide the winter and spring.

But the watchful eye will see more subtle changes.

The wind warms, the day lengthens, the shadows diminish.

And, of course, crowds disperse, restaurants become less populated and accommodations become less expensive.

The months of April and May are among the nicest to visit Sanibel, as we have seen year after year!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

On the Road for Christmas: A Magical Holiday on Sanibel

The first Christmas I ever spent away from home was on a trip through South America. It was my first Christmas on the road, but not my last.

That first Christmas eve on the road occurred while I was staying with friends of friends in Miraflores, an upscale suburb of Lima, Peru. It was a delightful place to catch my breath on a rather off, off road adventure where basic comfort was often a luxury. But there in Miraflores, the home was commodious and elegant. Beds were large with good mattresses and meals were convened with the ringing of a little silver bell which beckoned the staff from the kitchen.

It was warm that first Christmas on the road, as seasons are reversed with the USA, and everyone in Miraflores was outside celebrating on Christmas eve. I remember that at midnight fireworks went off as far as the eye could see and the tropical landscape was illuminated in bright spurts of various colors. I was in a foreign country but it did not feel strange. My hosts, however, sensing that I might be homesick gave me a Christmas present I will always remember, allowing me to call my family to say happy holidays.

My second Christmas away from home was in Merida, Mexico. A little older, I was with a romantic interest traveling through Mexico. On Christmas eve I was treated to a horse and buggy ride to see this tropical center of the State of Yucatan. The colonial and historic aspects of Merida made for a most pleasant and interesting ride through the charming, lamp-lit cobblestone streets which were lined with palm trees.

Both of those Christmas holidays were wonderful, and ones I won't forget.

But equally memorable and wonderful was the Christmas I spent on Sanibel Island, Florida.

The Christmas lights, the decorations on every building and seemingly on every palm tree, the good cheer of all the people visiting, the great purchases possible both pre and post the holiday and the ability to walk and bike and develop a tan when everyone back home was digging out their cars from under a major snow fall has kept that vacation fresh in my mind after all these years. It was magic in the making, and remains so in the memory of it.

And, when contrasted, the Sanibel Christmas was truly a familiar Christmas given the relative ease of vacationing in America---- where neither language nor monetary denominations needed translation.

Have your own Christmas on the road this year on the Island of Sanibel. Rates are down making it more affordable than ever, bargains in buying are everywhere, and the holiday lights are bright against the star-filled tropical sky.