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Date of Issue: July 03, 2009

Island ready for full house this holiday weekend

As Anna Maria Island tourist accommodation owners and managers look forward to the July 4 weekend with many locations already sold out or at near capacity, the summer season could be even better than last year.

“We’re already booked solid for this weekend,” said David Teitelbaum, who operates the Tortuga, Tradewinds and Seaside motels.

“And based upon what we had in June and what we are expecting in July and August, we are way ahead of last year, which was a banner year,” he said.

People waiting to the last minute to plan a July 4 weekend on the Island perhaps shouldn’t wait so long.

Tom Buehler at Haley’s Motel, Holmes Beach, said he only has a few units left for the holiday weekend, and expected those to be taken quickly.

“We are filling up fast. It’s been a good summer and going to be a great weekend,” he said.

Likewise at the White Sands Resort in Holmes Beach, where Jeff Gerry said the summer business has been “very good.” He is booked 100 percent for this coming weekend.

A few rooms for July 4 remained at the Club Bamboo Resort in Bradenton Beach last week, but were quickly taken by enterprising visitors by the end of the week.

Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman said visitors can check with the chamber if they can’t find a room.

“We have a few vacancies for this weekend, but at the rate they are going, I wouldn’t wait until the last minute,” she said.

At the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, marketing manager Jessica Grace said it’s good news to hear that the Island is going to be full this weekend.

“Summer is when we traditionally market to our drive-up market, people from Florida with families looking for a vacation. So far, it’s been going very well,” she said.

The BACVB will continue to advertise in Florida publications and media outlets, and Grace said she expects August to be quite busy, particularly since Florida public schools don’t open until the last half of August.

Between 2001 and 2007, the Florida Legislature mandated that public schools open the first week in August, but pressure from the Florida tourist industry — which relies heavily on Florida residents vacationing at the beach in August — forced the Legislature to move the opening dates back two weeks.

The results were significant for Anna Maria Island. From an occupancy rate of 32 percent in August 2006, Island occupancy climbed to 50.7 percent in August 2007, the first year since 2000 that Florida schools did not reopen until the last week of August. Last August, Island occupancy was 49.5 percent.

Based on the current occupancy for Island accommodations and from reports of owners and managers, the BACVB summer advertising campaign is off to a good start.

The BACVB reported occupancy at Island accommodations in May 2009 was 62.2 percent, up 3.7 percent from the May 2008 figure of 58.5 percent, and 10 percent from the 52.2 percent recorded in May 2007.


Need a room?

For information on available accommodations on Anna Maria Island for the July 4 weekend, call the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce at 941-778-1541.