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July 4 weekend coming with a bang

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Island beaches have beachgoers aplenty June 25 as good weather prevailed around the island area. With accommodation bookings up, beaches could remain crowded through the July 4 weekend. Islander Photo: Rick Catlin

Those thinking of finding an island accommodation for the July 4 weekend had better act fast.

Rooms are filling up, according to many island accommodation owners and managers, and the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce has had its hands full trying to find rooms for procrastinaters.

Marianne Norman-Ellis said phones at Mike Norman Realty, 3101 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, have been ringing constantly with people looking for accommodations.

“We’ve only got a few units left. They’ve been renting fast, especially beachfront units,” she said.

“We’ve also been getting emails galore and even walk-ins. We’re trying to help everyone find a room and enjoy the weekend,” Norman-Ellis said. “But with July 4 on a Friday, people have been booking for the entire week.”

“This is going to be the busiest holiday of the summer and should be even busier than last July 4,” she added.

Norman-Ellis said the agency is “doing everything possible to accommodate visitors,” including working with the chamber and other chamber members to find accommodations.

David Teitelbaum, owner of the Tortuga Inn, Tradewinds, Seaside, Tropic Isle motels and Old Bridge Village in Bradenton Beach, said he’s been amazed at how early people began making reservations.

“People booked more than a month in advance, and our reservations are looking really good this week. I know we’re going to exceed our occupancy levels of last July 4,” he said.

“And people are coming for the entire week, not just for the weekend. We’re almost booked solid and we’re scrambling to help people find an accommodation.”

At Anna Maria Island Accommodations, 315 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, the scene is just as hectic.

“Telephones have been ringing constantly the past few weeks, and the number of emails has loaded up our inbox every day,” said Susan Brinson, co-owner with husband Mike. “We’re doing everything we can to find accommodations for people that fit the days they want, but the options are going fast.”

Many people want waterfront rentals, and those units always go quickly, she noted.

“It’s going to be a busy, busy weekend and I think retail shops — the couple also own the Flip-Flop Shop and Candy Stop on Pine Avenue — and restaurants will see plenty of activity,” she said.

At the chamber office, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, chamber vice president Deb Wing said the number of people calling for a room has reached epic proportions.

“We’re having so many walk-ins, call-ins and emails that we’ve been busier than I can remember. And a lot of our members are already full for the weekend and just don’t have anything available,” she said.

A large number of callers are they can’t find anything, asking the chamber for help, she said.

“We’re trying as best we can,” Wing said.

Quite a few inquiries are for a one-night stay, and that’s hard to find with July 4 on a Friday, she said.

Still, the chamber will work with walk-in visitors looking for a room, she said.

Located at 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, Wing said the chamber’s office will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 2-3, but closed July 4-6.

“If you’re looking for a room on the island for this weekend, you’d better call now,” she said.

Wing also urged chamber members with available accommodations to contact her.

To reach the chamber, call 941-778-1541.

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