Oil Spill Update 04/28/10

Oil Spill Update and Talking Points 4-28-10, 12:15 p.m.

Like everyone along the Gulf Coast, the CVB is monitoring the clean-up of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and relying on official updates from the on-site incident team as our source of information. The following are the most recent talking points we’ve compiled for our staff. We encourage you to pass them on to your front-line team and anyone else fielding questions about the spill.

  • There is no shoreline impact anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico, nor is any forecast for at least the next 72 hours. There is no official forecast beyond 72 hours.
  • The responders on-site at the spill have scheduled “a controlled, on-location burn to begin at approximately 11 a.m. CDT today—a strategy designed to minimize environmental risks by removing large quantities of oil.”
  • State-of-the-art equipment is in place to respond if there is any movement toward any area of shoreline along the Gulf Coast and local experts are monitoring wind and water conditions. Officials in Gulf Shores & Orange Beach have a coordinated response plan in place if it becomes necessary for our area.
  • Official information is being posted by the response team (Coast Guard, Homeland Security, NOAA, Department of the Interior, BP and Transocean) and updated several times each day. The site is https://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.
  • We will continue to monitor the incident and post information IF coastal impact becomes an issue.

Local Up Date on Gulf Oil Spill

April 27, 2010

Local update on gulf oil spillThe CVB is monitoring official channels of information about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Following, are the most recently updated talking points we have provided to our staff. We encourage you to pass them along to your staff or anyone fielding questions about the oil spill.We will continue to post updates as they become available.

1) There is no shoreline impact anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico, nor is any forecast for at least the next 72 hours. There is no official forecast beyond 72 hours.

2) State-of-the-art equipment is in place to respond if there is any movement toward any area of shoreline along the Gulf Coast. Local officials have their own coordinated response plan in place IF needed for the Gulf Shores & Orange Beach area.

3) We will continue to monitor the incident and post information IF coastal impact becomes an issue…

The Stars are Out!!!

Starfish that is!!!!  It is rare to find a starfish on our beaches, but this year, we have had the blessing of them venturing out of the water on our beaches several times.  One of the couples who have lived here from the beginning mentioned they had only seen them 4 times in the last 10 years.  this experience was rare indeed!  In early February two of my very best friends came down to visit and during one of our very cold walks on the beach we must have found 50 sea stars, as they are technically known.  We presumed they had been stunned by the sudden drop in temperatures because when we picked them up they moved still.  We spent several hours that afternoon tossing our starfish back into their watery home.  It was my friends birthday and she considered it one of the best birthday gifts she had ever had.

Just a few weeks ago, the locals I mentioned above, James and Ciel,  found more starfish on our beach.  These stars had been out to long to rescue.  Instead of leaving them for the birds, they decided to bring them home and dry them.  Now they have beautiful reminders of these unique visitors  to our beach.

I hope on your next visit you get to have a great experience with the beautiful wildlife that surrounds us each day here at the beach!  See ya soon..

Come play on the white sandy beaches, but beware!!!

One of the unique things about staying on the Gulf Coast, is the white sand on our beaches.  This stunning white sand is composed of quartz and is highly reflective.  Be sure to wear your sunscreen even on overcast days.  The sun will burn you under an umbrella by reflecting off of the sand.

Of course the sand makes a beautiful back drop for photos and weddings.  You can build excellent sandcastles and it is easy to pick out the wide variety of seashells  from the white sand.

Did you know that the sand is also extremely easy to get stuck in????  We see literally hundreds of cars, each year, stuck in the sand.  So this is a heads up guys,  Don’t pull off of the road!!!!  Don’t pull down sandy driveways, or turn around off of a paved road on to sand.  The only way these maneuvers are possible is with a 4 wheel-drive and I have seen several of those buried up to their axle too.

I’ve been told the sand on this part of the island is shaped a little different than on other parts or the coast.  Because so many rivers exit out into our bays and off of the coast much of the sand gets smoothed just like a river stone.

Come and enjoy your beautiful sunny vacation, but beware of that sinking sand!!!!

Rental By Owner or from a Rental Company????

We often get questions about the advantages of renting from a rental company verses from an owner directly.  Well,  both have their advantages.  Speaking from the rental company side the advantages we see come from the problems people who rent from owner mention to us as they come through.  We are here on site if there is a problem big or small we are here to help!  If you have to change rooms for some reason, say a leak, we have a large selection of properties to offer you in place of the problem room.  A rental company is just a phone call or a few steps away, where as most rental by owners are a phone call away but often in another state with just a cleaner to help you with problems.  Having a rental company  is handy for information, or if you happen to lock yourself out, or just the strange emergencies that come up.  We have people stop for everything from resturant suggestions and clogged disposals  to Jellyfish stings, and missing bottle openers.  The nice part about a rental company is they have a staff of people close by to help with any and all problems.  Because of the large stock of condos we can often match or beat the pricing of a Rental by owner and provide additional service that guests want and need to make their stay worry free!!!!

10 Tips for Planning your Beach Wedding

It is that time of year again, I talk to a new Bride to be every week.  They are all so very excited and looking forward to the warm days on the beach with friends and family, celebrating their marriage.  I have found that everyone in the planning stages of a wedding run into the same problems.  I wanted to give you a few pointers, from my experience over the last few years with brides, that will help you breeze your way through the rough planning stages. 

1.  Try to avoid a Saturday wedding!  I know Saturday is an easy day for travel but it is a crazy day to try and get in a beach house for a wedding.  Most beach houses rent from Saturday to Saturday during the Spring and Summer months.  So you would either be checking in or checking out the day of your wedding, unless the house was booked for 2 weeks, which is often cost prohibitive during the summer months. 

2.  Be prepared to rent a house for an entire week.  Again during the Spring and Summer months most houses only rent for a week at a time so be prepared for that full week rental. 

3.  Consider picking a date that is off peak season, such as early May or after Labor Day in September, or October.  Usually the weather is better during those months, not so hot, and the rental rates are lower for you and your guests. 

4.  See if the company you are renting with has any wedding packages or specials available.  Often companies will give a little discount for everyone in the group if you rent multiple properties.  They have rentals and you and your guests get a discount.  Everyone wins!!!

5.  Remember the temperature and humidity when picking our your attire.  It can be well above 90 even at sunset in the summer months with 100% humidity and no sign of rain till after dark.  Large satin dresses and tuxedos will make for a very warm evening!!!

6.   Shoes!  Certainly check out the beach in person before you tell your guests that shoes are optional.   Most beaches are better to walk on barefoot and not fill your best shoes, and reception with sand.

7.  Allow for the elements!  You are having an outside wedding, it could rain.  See if the house would allow you to have the wedding indoors, or have an alternate location for your ceremony.    Be sure to let your guests know where that will be and have a plan to get the word to them of the venue change.   Also, Because of the wind and wave noises music is difficult to hear at a beach wedding.   You have a couple of choices running a long extension cord and playing recorded music, or having live music which is beautiful but the salt air and sand can make a difference in the sound of their instruments.

8.   Have a helper!  Destination weddings are tricky, trying to plan everything from a distance.  A trusted friend or wedding planner is always helpful, so you are not dealing with every little detail the day of your wedding.  If you do ask a friend for help be sure to thank him or her with some down time to enjoy the trip too, maybe a massage or a nice dinner out away from the wedding. 

9.  Beaches are considered a National Treasure and should be treated as such.   Remember you are going to someone elses home to get married.  The locals of the area take a lot of pride in their beaches and will not welcome you and your guests destroying local plant life to get the perfect picture or littering by accident.  Remind your guests where they are going and that you want to leave it as beautiful as you found it.  Be sure to ask about local rules or fees for beach use and about overflow parking!!!  If you are getting married in a small closed community maybe make a donation to beach restoration in that area.  It is a great way to leave a positive mark on a beach that means so much to the two of you. 

10.  Finally,  even if you are not on an island the locals are probably on Island time.  Everyone works really hard and want you to have a beautiful meaningful ceremony in a timely manner, but they most likely will not get stressed out or run to get anything done for you no matter what you pay.   They have been here and done this many times and know what it takes to get the job done.   Take a lesson from them, take a deep breath, know your wedding will be amazing, and relax you’re at the beach!

Family Road Trip Ideas

Planning your next Fort Morgan beach vacation can come with a lot of joy, excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, these feelings can be overshadowed by the road trip needed to reach Fort Morgan or Gulf Shores Alabama. While some kids and teens travel very well most will need extra attention in car rides over 3o minutes. As a parent you will need to have everything planned from movies to games to snacks.

Parents need some extra planning to help ensure the car ride is as pleasant as the beach vacation. While planning road trips is easier said than done, we have listed some family road tips below to help turn those car rides into more enjoyable experiences. Pay attention because who wants to start and end their beach vacation on a sour note?

Tips For Teens

  • DelegateSometimes giving an older child a job will help occupy their time. You might be surprised at how serious they take this position. Ideas include planning rest stops, co-piloting, or controlling driving route.
  • Electronics – In this ever changing digital age, you never need to leave the house without some type of portable electronic. This includes DVD players, Ipods, and now laptops fall into this category.
  • Snacks – Who doesn’t enjoy eating some food?

Tips For Parents

  • Rent A Car – Not all cars are suitable for long trips. Vans and other larger cars can relieve a lot stress related to a several hour road trip. Some new vans/cars are quite suitable for road trips. They include cup holders, more space, and built in DVD players. Plus, their will be less wear and tear on your personal car or van.
  • GPS Devices – While we do not completely recommend following these directions to your specific property, GPS devices are surprisingly accurate for most road trips. You will most likely need to follow Sunset Properties directions upon arriving in Fort Morgan as houses are not always accurate.
  • Plan For Mistakes – Making great time does not need to be a priority as it will add stress to the rest of your family. Plan for things not going well, extra traffic, or some rain storms. Enjoy the extra time with your family and make light of the situation. Having kids should remove expectations of perfection.
  • Short Breaks – Stopping every few hours can help eliminate the inevitable “Are we there yet” from your kids? Having this places planned will give your kids something to look forward too. Plus, it should help some very stiff legs.

Tips For Kids/Toddlers

  • Games – This might be the easiest thing to help entertain kids. Unique car games include 20 questions, I Spy, or the License Plate game. Kids love these type games and it can help take their minds off the long road trip to the beach.
  • Extra Supplies – For younger babies and toddlers there are few extra necessities that you will need to pack. These necessities include bottles, wipes, snacks, medicine, and blankets.
  • Departure Time – Planning your departure time can have a huge impact on the success of your car ride. IF you child takes a two hours nap in the morning plan your leaving time at the beginning of nap time. What a great way to eat-up some free time.
  • DVD Player – This type of electronic babysitter can become very helpful for shorter car rides.

Activities for Men in Gulf Shores / Ft. Morgan

Ok  guys I know you want a break just as much as the rest of your family and maybe you would like some special things to do just for you.  Have an adventure or just relax with a line in the water.  I’ve got some ideas for you!!!

Beautiful beaches are not all there is to enjoy in Gulf Shores. 

1. Golfing; for all of the golf enthusiasts out there! There is a golf course minutes from anywhere you stay in Gulf Shores and levels of difficulty that range from beginner to professional.  Most courses are reasonably priced and offer specials that include carts if you’re not up for the walk in the humidity.  Check out Gulf Shores.com for a list of local courses and specials.

2.  Fishing; weather you are ready for an adventure on a boat or you like to fish off of a pier or the beach you have opportunities surrounding you.  Some of my favorite memories as a little girl are fishing with my Dad so this might be something to do with the kids to make some great memories!!  You can charter a boat for a day or for a shorter half day trip.  If it is a longer trip they usually include food and will take you where the fish are biting and provide your license and all of the rigs and tackle you need to bring home a great catch.  Some of the captains will even grill your fish for you for lunch!  The prices are based on the length of time you are on the water and how far you go out.  There are several great piers in the area that are fun to fish off of  for a minimal fee.  You do have to provide all of your gear for this type of fishing and don’t forget you fishing license.  Surf fishing is always fun too, and one of the more popular ways to fish in Ft. Morgan.  You just need to be careful of swimmers, and be sure to pick up a fishing license!  You can purchase a fishing license over the phone or at most local bate stores. 

3.  Water Sports; for you guys who are looking for an adventure, you have everything from para-sailing and jet skis  all the way to kayak rentals or scuba diving.  All of these activities come with risks but they are all lots of fun too.  You can find providers of water sport rentals or activities at Gulfshores.com.  Most of these activities are offered on an hourly basis.  Be sure to go with a company that has a good reputation and trained guides.

4. Nature / Wildlife activities;  because of the amount of coast line and wildlife refuges located in this area you have numerous opportunities to enjoy wildlife in their native habitat.  You can go on a Dolphin watching cruise or a nature hike on one of the islands many hiking trails.  Depending on the time of year you can experience different types of nature that migrate through or hatch right here on our coast.  You can see sea turtle hatching’s in the fall, bird banding and migrations in the Fall and Spring, even things like manta ray and different types of sea snails migrate through the area at different times of the year.  All of these are amazing.  Try to catch one of them while you are here. 

5.  History; for all of you history buffs, did you know there are two Civil war era forts in the Gulf Shores area?  What about the Native American settlements???  There is a huge Naval history an AMAZING museum about 40 minutes away.  This area has a long and very proud history and the list of places to see and experience is a little overwhelming.  Try not to miss the candle light tour of  Ft. Morgan, and the Naval Air station Museum in Pensacola.  The Gulf Shores Museum has some great information about the Native population in Gulf Shores along with settlers that followed and the widely varied heritage they brought to our area.                      

There are many more things that can be added like massages, shopping, and amusement parks!  This is just the short list guys!  If you are looking for a specific activity ask at the front desk, We are happy to help!!!!  Be sure to spend some time on the beautiful beaches but try to take some time and enjoy an afternoon doing something just for you.

Why Travel Insurance???

Why should I get travel insurance????  I get asked this questions daily.  There are several really good reasons but the most important one is you never really know what is going to happen, and those unknown things are what travel insurance is for.  

For example, the travel insurance we offer through CSA covers things like if your children or a member of your family gets sick just before you travel to the beach.  I know in the past insurance has helped several families in this way when the little guys get the flu or break an arm, or if a parent becomes ill and they suddenly have to leave.  Remember this is still insurance and you will have to fill-out claim forms and give proof, but it can certainly help you with the unexpected. 

Another time I have seen it extremely helpful is during hurricane season.  We don’t even like to say the “H” word around here, but the reality is that it does happen and we can only predict them when they are just a day or so away.  The last major storm that came through our area when we had lots of guests was right around Labor Day of 2008.  It was not bad but the roads were closed for a day and traveling was extremely difficult.  Everyone who purchased the insurance within their rules was given money back for the parts of their vacation that they missed. 

Travel insurance is certainly something to weigh carefully.  When you are making your vacation plans just give us a call.  We can answer your questions and email you some information about travel insurance to help you make an informed decision.   We are happy to help!!!!

Ocean’s Resturant opening soon….

I mentioned not long ago that our favorite pizza place in Ft. Morgan is opening a restaurant.  Ocean’s will be opening in January, the tentative date is the 4th!  We are so excited that our friends dream is finally happening.  I stopped by the restaurant yesterday to see how things were progressing at the restaurant.  Our friends and Becky our Office Manager were finalizing the menu and doing some final touches to the interior. 

The warm coral colors and large fish tank screen set the tone for this family restaurant that boasts local seafood, and hand cut steaks and all sorts of savory sides and tempting desserts.  For those of you who are coffee connoisseurs they will have an outstanding variety of speciality coffees.  Ocean’s also boasts a fun  bartender with lots of experience, award winning Chef and live music. 

The schedule is not completely set as of yet but they did want me to tell you about some of the specials.  Starting this winter Monday is Prime Rib Night!     Brent Burns will be entertaining Tuesday nights when Ocean’s will be serving “All You Can Eat Shrimp.”  Bring your condo key for a Free,  Fried Pickle Appetizer when you show your Sunset Properties key tag.  We will be sure to tell you about the current specials as they come along.   Don’t miss this great new addition to our dining choices in the Fort Morgan Area.