Casa Ybel Resort

Sanibel Island, Florida

Move over Paris – Sanibel is tops in world

Written by
Laura Ruane, & Dennis Culver,

Pittsburgh residents Jeremy Rosen and Susan Crouch walk along the beach on Sanibel Island on Tuesday. They said the island is one of their favorite vacation spots because it is peaceful. / Dennis Culver/

The dean of U.S. travel writers ranks Sanibel Island first among his 10 favorite places to visit — in the world.

That’s above the island of Bali and Paris, which are Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, on Arthur Frommer’s list.

To be sure, it’s high praise from Frommer, who in 1957 published “Europe on $5 a Day,” which is credited with changing the way a generation of Americans visited Europe.The book launched one of nation’s the biggest lines of travel guides, under Frommer’s name.

Tourism promoters in Lee County, not surprisingly, are thrilled about the compliment, and the media and visitor buzz it is creating.

“It’s perfect timing,” said Ric Base, president of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce. In a few weeks local tourism’s winter high season kicks in. That’s when demand — and lodging rates — are the highest.

Reservations for island lodgings and vacation rentals already are looking very strong, Base said. Frommer’s remarks can help sustain the momentum, according to Base.

About a year-and-a-half ago, chamber staff gave Frommer a “behind-the-scenes tour, all over the islands,” Base said, adding that Frommer is a longtime repeat visitor to Sanibel.

Writing for his Dec. 28 blog, Frommer calls Sanibel an “idyllic haven of white-sand beaches, condos whose sea-front apartments are available for weekly rentals, excellent restaurants, good shopping.” He then singles out for special praise, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, “visited by thousands of birds of every species, who bask in the sun after diving for fish and are one of the great natural sights of wildlife in America.”

Frommer’s remarks also appeared in a column he writes, and which a number of newspapers across the country use.

Favorable remarks “from a person of Arthur Frommer’s caliber means they will be repeated in a number of media outlets. The reach will just grow and grow,” said Lee Rose, a spokesman for Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.

This isn’t the only recent accolade from important travel sources. TripAdvisor recently named greater Fort Myers as No. 3 among of the “15 destinations on the rise,” based on a significant increase in user reviews for the area on the travel Web site over the past year. Sanibel and sister island Captiva were also recognized by readers of TripAdvisor when they were named the “Top 25 Beaches in the United States & the World” in TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice 2011.

Some visitors to Lighthouse Beach late Tuesday afternoon didn’t hesitate to add their endorsement of Sanibel.

“It’s beautiful,” Jeremy Rosen and Susan Crouch of Pittsburgh said in unison.

“We just love the area,” Crouch said. “We are planning on moving down.” She said they learned about the island through word-of-mouth recommendations.

St. Louis-area residents Camie and Roy Northcutt said they honeymooned on the island 25 years ago, and have been coming back ever since.

Camie Northcutt said she loves the shells, the cleanliness of the beach and the minimal commercialism.

Ray Northcutt said he enjoys the quiet: “It’s not so much a crazy college beach,” he said. “It’s a laid-back beach.”

We’re Number One!

January 12, 2012
BILL SCHILLER ( ) , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home, but sometimes, there’s good reason to brag. While the picturesque paradise that is Sanibel Island is well recognized by anyone who lives or works here, the community may attract a number of new admirers due to the release of several new reports that further herald Sanibel’s status as the most desirous of Florida destinations.

In a recent U.S. News & World Report ranking of the eight best beaches in Florida, Sanibel shined as the #1 spot. Neighboring communities like Naples (#2) and Fort Myers (#8) were included on the list. In accompanying text, travel writers said, “You’ll be hard-pressed to find a place in Florida with quieter and clamer shores than Sanibel Island.” Pleasant weather and low-cost lodging venues were credited with making Sanibel enjoyable all year long. Online media attached with the article also paid tribute to area attractions such as Captiva Island, the shops along Periwinkle Way, programs at Big Arts, Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum and J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The multimedia presentation is available on the Internet at

Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel secured distinction for itself in a Top 10 of Most Secluded Beaches as surveyed by principals of the popular travel website known as “ Bowman’s, which is located along a corridor of the San-Cap Road took top honors. It was regarded as a great place to find shells, but not a lot of competition from other shell collectors., which is reportedly the world’s most widely-used travel-related website, also recently announced their Top 15 U.S. Destinations for 2012. These were determined through a poll of TripAdvisor travelers and editors.

Fort Myers, which ranked in 3rd Place, was distinguished among the top vacation hot-spots. The accompanying text, however, regarded Sanibel and Captiva among the area’s top attractions.

Of course, Sanibel and Captiva remains first and foremost in the hearts and minds of so many who live here, but such polls have been shown to influence destination choices made by tourists. Given the degree that this community achieves favor in this kind of national reporting, locals may soon see even more visitors with which they can share their love of Sanibel.

Long Time Employees and Co-Workers Promoted to Casa Ybel Resort Management Team

Casa Ybel Resort, a 23-acre full service resort off the coast of Southwest Florida’s Sanibel Island has promoted Lea O’Brien and Sean Ramsey to Event Coordinator and Restaurant Manager for its Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant.

Since 2006, Lea O’Brien has co-supervised the Food & Beverage operations at Coconuts Poolside Bar and Grill and has been front and center to Casa Ybel Resort’s many annual visitors.  Lea’s guest service ability and attention to detail make her an excellent candidate for the Event Coordinator position. She will work closely with Casa Ybel’s clients and staff to coordinate every aspect of an event to make sure it runs smoothly and successfully.

Sean Ramsey who has been recently appointed Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant Manager, is no  stranger to Casa Ybel’s Food & Beverage Department.  Having been one of its fine-dining servers since 2003 and later Dining Room Supervisor, Sean continues to share a wide-ranging  understanding of food, wine and its preparation.  With his prior role in providing the  premier Thistle Lodge experience and the  help of fellow management team members, Sean will  maintain Thistle Lodge Beachfront Restaurant’s reputation for Best Beachfront Dining on Sanibel Island. Both Sean and Lea will continue to work under the direction of Dennis Riley, Food & Beverage Director for Casa Ybel Resort.
According to Froilan Ramirez, General Manager of Casa Ybel Resort, “Both Lea and Sean have an excellent working knowledge of the Resort and its Food & Beverage Operations.   We are committed to continuously enhance the guest and owner experience.  Lea and Sean’s promotions reflect our commitment to our associates as well. They will complement our strong Casa Ybel Resort management team.”

2011 Turtle Nesting Season at Casa Ybel Resort

With each summer season on Sanibel Island there is growing anticipation for the moment the baby turtles hatch and crawl together to their ocean home by moonlight. The nesting begins in May and the hatching can continue into October. This year, along the Casa Ybel beach we were home to four different nests which each hold approximately one hundred eggs.  They were each marked off to give caution and awareness to beach-goers until the hatching.

Most of the baby turtles hatch from their eggs and with their combined movement and escape they are able to free themselves from the sand that is packed on top of them by their mother. Every morning during season, the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation (or SCCF) volunteers go to each of the nests to inspect for activity.  If any turtle tracks are observed, the nests are inspected and counted.  If any baby hatchlings are left, they may need a little nudge and encouragement to make it out to sea. We were fortunate to have one of our nests hatch recently, and further, the opportunity to observe the volunteer inspect the nest to find that a few did need our help. 

As we cheered for the little turtles, we captured the exhausting experience of one little one to share with you.  The pictures we snapped from this event, and being a part of nature excited our staff and guests, and helped to bring us all together on this island that cares so much about preservation.  We can only hope that our little turtle returns some day to lay her own nest and continue that circle of life for us all.

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Sun and family fun abound on county’s beaches

As reported by Drew Winchester 5/31/11 Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Lee County has miles of pristine shoreline and family friendly beaches, offering the kind of outdoor opportunities that thrill nature enthusiasts and casual sun catchers alike.

By and large the beaches of Lee County offer the kind of family fun that attracts people from around the globe.

Some come to Lee County’s wonderful beaches and stick a toe in the water, or grab some sea shells, glide along the surf on a skim board or just sit in a chair with their favorite beverage while the sun sets in a fiery majesty over the Gulf of Mexico. And relax, you’re on beach time now!

The Beaches of Sanibel and Captiva

There are likely no more famous and renowned beaches in Lee County than those of the barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva.

People travel thousands of miles just to comb the sugar white sands for legendary sea shells like the Junonia on Sanibel Island, where the shores have been protected from high rise condos and developments that plague the sands on much of the east coast.

Residents and environmental enthusiasts have worked for years to keep those beaches – and the islands – protected, pushing hard make sure the island stayed as welcoming and pristine as it has for generations.

Lighthouse Beach might be Sanibel’s most iconic beach, due largely to the lighthouse that sits on the island’s southern tip.

Bowman’s Beach may be the island’s quietest beach. Situated toward Sanibel’s northern end, Bowman’s offers barbecue grills, outdoor showers and plenty of parking for families who want to enjoy the natural splendor.

Sanibel also offers sandy fun at Tarpon Bay beach, located at the south end of Tarpon Bay Road.

There is also ample, and free, parking along the causeway which leads to the island. Restroom facilities are also located along the causeway for family convenience.

Captiva is even more exclusive than Sanibel, but the beaches are just as beautiful and pristine.

Blind Pass Beach, or Turner Beach, offers a unique opportunity to visit both the Sanibel and Captiva side of the beach, as the two islands are separated by channel that was opened by a hurricane many years ago. Actually, locals struggle to keep that channel open from time to time, but sunworshippers, anglers and shellers alike are drawn to Blind Pass Beach to sample a truly tropical island experience.

Further north, Captiva Beach has limited parking but views of the sunset are spectacular, as well as the beach’s location to Captiva’s shopping and dining center, as well as a library and the Chapel By The Sea, a historic and scenic church just a stone’s throw from the white powder of Captiva Beach.

For more information visit

Coconuts Memorial Weekend Picnic Buffet


Memorial Weekend Picnic Buffet

Mark the start of Sanibel Island’s Summer vacation season at Casa Ybel Resort this Sunday May 29 from 11:30-4:00p at Coconuts! Enjoy items like made to order burgers, St. Louis Style Pork Spare Ribs, Buttery Corn Cobbettes and more!

Listen to Danny Morgan and friends from 1-4pm for cool tunes while sipping on cold drinks from our Coconuts Bar! See you there.

The team at Coconuts, at your service!

Tying the knot, Sanibel style

This junonia was "planted" on the beach by Michael Grey to propose to his fiancee Julia Dressler. The couple was married in April at Casa Ybel Resort surrounded by friends and family.

As reported in the Sanibel Captiva Islander Newspaper on May 6, 2011

On Jan. 15, 2010, The Sanibel-Captiva Islander contained a charming article about a young man from Pennsylvania who proposed marriage to his sweetheart by ‘planting’ a junonia on the beach with his “will you marry me?” message printed inside the shell.

On April 9, Julia Dressler and Michael Grey made good on the promises from 15 months ago and tied the knot in style at Sanibel’s iconic Casa Ybel Resort.

The bride was escorted to the 4 o’clock beach ceremony site by her parents, Suzanne and Barry Dressler of Jeffersonville, Pa., and Sanibel. Awaiting them were 75 guests who had assembled from as far away as Washington State and as near as Sanibel. As the bride approached, a spontaneous cheer went up from the guests, surprising all.

Awaiting them was the groom, accompanied by his best man, Josh Weigner of Boston, and Julia’s Matron of Honor and cousin, Erin Intessimoni of Waterford, N.J.

Sanibel resident and owner of Weddings by the Sea, Patricia Slater, conducted the ceremony uniting the couple. The very personal insights of Slater’s service included the couple’s love of the island and of finding that special junonia discovered on the beach at Sanibel Moorings, where the bride’s parents have owned their home-away-from-home since 1985.

The Matron of Honor proclaimed a reading from Sacred Scripture, the First Letter of John, in which God is acknowledged at the source of love. Mrs. Intessimoni also offered a Nuptial Blessing, on behalf of all those present, near the conclusion of the ceremony.

The couple’s vows amused the gathering with their whimsical yet deeply-heart-felt commitment.

The bride, a die-hard fan of the Philadelphia Phillies, promised that the groom would always be her MVP, that she would share their road trip of life together through many championship seasons.

The groom, a collector of antique Jeeps, promised a life of love and excitement that would be as much fun as driving a rugged trail Jeep with no windshield, no doors or top! The couple obviously knows the value of a sense of humor within married life.

Bride Julia Dressler and groom Mike Grey are flanked by their best man Josh Weigner of Boston and matron of honor Erin Intessimoni of Waterford, N.J

Following the ceremony, guests enjoyed a cocktail party on the Great Lawn with butlers serving the couple’s signature drink, Sanibel Sunset, immediately upon arriving off the hot, sunny beach. Hors d’oeuvres were enjoyed, and tropical music by Clint Wiley delighted the guests until dinner was served under a magnificent tent. Chef John Wolff, of Thistle Lodge, served a delicious plated dinner featuring a duet of Filet Mignon with a red wine demi glaze and Florida Grouper with a key lime-infused butter sauce.

The stunningly beautiful wedding cake, created by Mason’s Bakery, was a three-square-tiered tower of citrus fillings of key lime, lemon, and orange amid white cake topped by butter cream icing and white chocolate seas shells.

The tables were adorned with aqua table linens, orange napkins, sand dollar place cards, and gorgeous tropical bromeliad centerpieces created by Sanibel resident and horticultural expert, Judy Hicks.

The bride and groom and all the wedding-goers danced the night away to the energetic music of Clint Wiley’s None Other, six-piece rock band of state-wide renown. It was a gorgeous, starry night with Gulf breezes cooling the dancers. The band ended the festivities with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” which brought down the house.

All of the images and memories of the day’s events were captured by highly respected Sanibel photographer, Nick Adams. It was a perfect day comprised of dozens of details all expertly overseen by Casa Ybel’s Wedding Coordinator, Jennifer Dube.
After a “Morning after Mimosa Party” at the Dresslers’ home on Sunday morning and spending a relaxing day with friends and family, the couple departed on Monday for the docks at Fort Lauderdale. Awaiting the newlyweds was an 11-night cruise on Celebrity’s Equinox balcony state room and concierge class service to the countries of Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, and Grand Cayman Islands. While there was no television reception of Phillies games, the couple did experience two shore excursions of Jeep-adventuring through the rain forests in Central America!

On April 22, the couple flew north to take up residence in their new home in Skippack, Pennsylvania. But their hearts belong to Sanibel and it won’t be long until they return to the place they love best.