Fresh from a winter season that was by many accounts the “best ever,” Anna Maria Island accommodation owners and managers are preparing for a strong summer season.
“Our advance reservations are well above last year at this time,” said David Teitelbaum, owner of four resorts in Bradenton Beach.
“About 70 percent of our summer business is repeat, and when the visitor checks out one year, they make a reservation for the following year,” he noted.
Teitelbaum said the Memorial Day weekend was packed at his four resorts, and there has been no drop-off in June reservations.
“Usually May is a bit slow, but the Memorial Day holiday weekend was tremendous. In fact, May was one of our best ever,” Teitelbaum said. “And June reservations are ahead of last year.”
The summer season begins in earnest July 4, which this year is a Thursday, he said.
“We’re already getting rapidly filled up for that weekend. Most people will take a four- or five-day vacation because it’s a Thursday. We still have rooms, but I’d advise anyone coming to Anna Maria Island that weekend to get that reservation now, before it’s too late,” Teitelbaum said.
After July 4, business picks up dramatically, as August is the traditional month Florida families take a beach vacation, he noted.
“We’ve got no complaints about July reservations and there are a lot of advance requests for August. I’m expecting a well-above-average to excellent summer season,” Teitelbaum predicted.
Eric Cairns, owner of Cedar Cove Resort in Holmes Beach, agreed. His business was great over Memorial Day weekend and summer reservations July 4 through August are 12 percent above last year at this time.
“And last year was our best ever,” he said.
“We’re getting calls and emails daily for room requests,” he said. On May 29, Cairns had already taken 12 reservations for either July or August.
“It’s getting to the point where people should make their reservations now for August, rather than wait,” Cairns said.
“For a beachfront accommodation, I tell people if they want to come back next year to book now, and many do. In fact, some book two years ahead, just to make sure they have that same room and view.”
Cairns said he’s got a few open slots remaining in July and August. Reservations, however, are coming fast, he noted.
“We try to work with anyone who calls in for a room. If we don’t have one, we have a network we call to try and find an accommodation. We know how much people want to be on the island,” he said.
There are always some families and vacationers that come to Anna Maria Island on impulse, said Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce vice president Deb Wing.
“That’s where we come in. We keep an inventory of available rooms, whether it’s a minimum three-night stay or just an overnight accommodation,” Wing said.
“I will say that I’ve had nothing but positive reports from members about advance reservations for the summer, and most said May was much better than the past.”
For the August vacationer, Wing suggests getting on the telephone now or sending an email now to get a reservation.
“All indications are August is going to be a banner month, maybe the best ever August we’ve had. In my opinion, if May is any indication, the summer season is going to be way above average,” Wing predicted.
Mark Davis of Harrington House Bed & Breakfast Inn in Holmes Beach, said reservations for July and August have been coming at a “good and steady” pace.
“It couldn’t be better. It looks like it’s going to be a terrific summer, and May was well ahead of what we expected,” he said, although he does have a few single nights remaining in July and August.
“I don’t think they will last long,” he said.
Rebecca Barnett of AMI Vacations said summer visitors might have better luck if they plan a minimum week-long stay.
“We have a few vacation rentals left in July and August. They are going fast, but they are nice accommodations,” she said.
Deb Meihls of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau was pleased to learn of the visitor boom to the island for Memorial Day weekend and the coming summer.
It’s all in keeping with Anna Maria Island being that old Florida destination that families and others seeking peace and quiet are looking for.
“People everywhere now realize what a great family vacation this is. Even people who just want to get away and enjoy themselves come here. It’s the old Florida atmosphere you can’t find anywhere else but on Anna Maria Island that brings them, and they keep coming back,” she said.
The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce is ready to help visitors to Anna Maria Island who arrive without a reservation and are unable to locate suitable accommodations.
For assistance, visit the chamber office at 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach or call 941-778-1541.