SANIBEL, Fla. (AP) — A former World War II warship that got a new life as an artificial reef is now an underwater art gallery.
Laura Ruane, firstname.lastname@example.org & Dennis Culver, email@example.com
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 frommers.com 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.”
January 12, 2012
BILL SCHILLER (firstname.lastname@example.org ) , 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 www.travel.usnews.com.
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 “shermanstravel.com. 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.
TripAdvisor.com, 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.