I don’t know about you, but Hurricane Irma and a week without electricity was a bit taxing on the nerves. But as I drove along Anna Maria Island, noticing the remaining debris of downed palm trees and landscaping scraps lining Gulf of Mexico Drive, the frightful memories of Irma quickly faded and I was delighted to find a little pocket of seemingly untouched paradise on Longboat Key.
The Sea Club 1 sat in all it’s splendor on the Gulf of Mexico with its wonderful sparkling pool and private white sand beaches. It was a bright, reasonably dry sunny day and I immediately got out of the car and walked in to the lobby and said, “I need a vacation…”
Chris Bushman, resident site manager, looked at me with curiosity. I was half joking, since I was actually there for the interview, but now that I know about the place I’m sure I’ll book a weekend retreat soon. I owe it to myself. And I was blown away by the value. For less than the cost of a regular hotel room, you can rent an adorable studio complete with living area, kitchen, bedroom area and a private porch or balcony facing the beach for $97 a night (2 night minimum). This special runs through December 14 and is part of the Sea Club 1’s 40th Birthday Party.
“We have a lot of couples that come from Sarasota just for a weekend retreat,” Chris said. “This is a quiet, friendly, family oriented spot…it’s a relaxation property, not a party property.”
Quiet was the operative word for me and I’ll admit it was really peaceful out there. The 24 individually owned condos sit between two quiet buildings and it’s “U” shape contains the common area of the pool and bbq spot, leading to the private beach. Chris showed me one of the studios and I was ready to book it. It was adorable and while each one is decorated differently, this one had a cozy little bistro for two area tucked into an alcove off the kitchen. Adorable.
Sea Club 1 actually used to be The Tropics motel and was originally built in 1954. The 40th birthday special pertains to its conversion to Sea Club 1 condominiums in 1977. It’s location in the middle of the 10-mile Longboat Key makes it convenient to go play at St. Armand’s Circle to the south, or Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island to the north, all packed with plenty of shopping and dining diversions. And as anywhere on the island, outdoor recreational opportunities abound, from renting a kayak to chartering a fishing boat.
Chris and her hubby Bill live on the property, which makes it convenient and provides a feeling of safety and is a great convenience for their guests. Chris said they thought they’d take the position for a couple of years…but are now in their 14th year.
“This is like one huge, huge extended family,” Chris said as all of her guests have gotten to know one another throughout the years and she and Bill welcome them back every year. From the inlanders coming from Tampa for a beachside vacation in the summer to the snowbirds from all over the world in the winter and spring, Chris said they book the next year when they’re checking out.
While a one-year-ahead reservation is best, you’re likely to find an opening this summer season if you want to book a spur-of-the-moment retreat. Come out and celebrate with gratitude this wonderful spot that survived the hurricane. It’s got great curb appeal – since it’s Bill and Chris’ backyard…they keep it pristine.
Find out more by visiting the Sea Club 1’s new website (designed by Sande Caplin & Associates) at www.seaclub1.com or by calling 941-383-2431. Be sure to ask for the 40th Birthday 20% off special.
Photos by Patti Pearson, cvplus.com, Sarasota Post