May 11 Oil Spill Update!!!

Good afternoon everyone.  I wanted to let you know we have some new information from the CVB.  WE STILL HAVE NO OIL ON THE BEACHES AND NO SMELL IN THE AIR!!!!!  YAY!!!!!  We have gotten reports of tar balls, but we have not seen any on our beaches.  I am sure you have heard lots of talk about tar balls.  I wanted to give you a little information about these so you would be informed about what they are.  As I am sure you have noticed the national news ahas been rather deceiving about this entire incident putting everyone in a panic when very few places have had impact from this incident. 

So what is a tar ball????  I actually remember these from my childhood on the beaches in Pensacola.  Thes are the little pieces of tar that stick to your feet when you walk on the beach.  I was always told as a child these were from when the road broke up during the hurricanes, it is the asphalt.  It gets so hot on the beach and in such small pieces it just melts.    These also occurnaturally.  Without out lots of testing no one really knows where they come from.  I have vivid memories of picking these up and stepping on them as a little girl.  Some were hard, some were sticky, but we saw them so seldomly it wasn’t anything we really even paid atttention to. 

I am saying all of this to ease your mind about the latest news sensation.  These tars balls are nothing to fret about, but as always if there is a problem we will certainly let you know.  According to John and Tara no oil balls on our beach!!!!

 Check out the video they shot today

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!!!!

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.

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!!!!

Damage Fees…How to avoid them!

It’s pretty basic knowledge but let me give you a few helpful hints on how not to be charged damage fees while on vacation. Just a few things I have learned over the past couple of years working for owners and an amazing rental company at the beach.

10. Put breakables up high, out of the reach or bumps of little children. Just don’t forget to put things back the way you found them so you will not be charged for items housekeeping believes are missing.

9. If you don’t know how to use something ( like an elevator or appliance ) Ask!!!!! It costs nothing to ask how to use something and a lot to fix or replace it.

8. It is true honesty is the best policy. If you happen to damage or break something, be honest about it!!!! Just tell the owner or rental agency, they expect some things to be damaged throughout the year and appreciate your honesty. They may not even charge you if you come clean and admit you accidentally broke it.

7. Look through your room when you arrive! Document anything damaged or broken and let the owner or rental company know immediately. They will not charge you for damage that you find when you immediately arrive. However, they may if you don’t tell them, so be sure to do walk through.

6. Instant tanner, and tanning lotion TANS EVERYTHING!!!!!!! Including sheet, and towels. Just get a tan while you are on vacation, or put this on before you come on vacation. This also goes for HAIR DYE!

5. Don’t try to fix it yourself! No matter if it is a stuck disposal, broken blinds, or a remote that is not working . Call the person who rented you the unit & they will have a maintenance person to fix that problem.

4. Don’t take things from the condo out to the beach. Sand, salt air, and suntan oil damages everything from fabrics to metal items. Bring your own beach towels, and leave the owner ‘ s things in the condo.

3. If you bring your pet, make sure they are allowed. A pet fee is much cheaper than a damage fee, and sometimes they are refundable.

2. Elevators and beds are not trampolines! Jumping on a bed or in an elevator can cause serious damage – sometimes even thousands of dollars worth of damage. Just a note, most elevators have hidden cameras too, so be on your best behavior!

1. The most important suggestion I can give is treat your beach rental like your own or better. If you do this the rental company will love you and may even make special deals for you to come back every year, because you were such a great renter!!

Have fun on vacation!!!!!!