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amiFlorida's gulf islands and the best beach in the US
Watford Observer - Watford Observer » Leisure » Travel »

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ruth Brindle continues her Sunshine State vacation. After all the action of Orlando, she finds the perfect place to relax.

After five days of full-on activity in Orlando my husband and I set off for the gulf coast and, while many Brits head for Clearwater and St Petersburg, we were keen to go further south to the islands of Anna Maria and Siesta Key.

Just two and a half hours from Orlando, these barrier islands are the perfect retreats. Anna Maria Island is seven miles long and in places you can even see from one side to the other. The sea is an inviting light green and the laid-back lifestyle feels like going back in time. No high-rise buildings – three stories is the highest allowed, with white sand, clear waters, relaxed dining, superb seafood and the chance to do, well, absolutely nothing.

Our spotless and spacious, tropical-themed apartment at the Tortuga Inn Beach Resort (http://www.annamariaislandresorts.net/) overlooked the bay area and was just across the road from its own private beach. With a large sitting room, lanai, large kitchen, utility room and even, my favourite, a spa bath, we felt pampered. You can also choose motel rooms here and studios.

The resort has just opened its own French-style café and you can order room service from there, if you don't want to cook. The property, along with sister resorts on Anna Maria, are being upgraded to offer Activision, an interactive service linked to 40 inch-screens, also with 3D through which you can watch TV, find out about the area, play games or even order takeaway!

Exciting as this is, the real thrills here are of the natural kind. Watching the sunset is not only enjoyable, but a virtual commandment here.

At this very popular time of year, it's advisable to book at any of the beachside eateries to get a good table to take in the sunset – such as the excellent Beach House, The Sandbar or Bridge Street Bistro. Then immerse yourself in the full panorama of pink and orange hues while sipping your wine and tucking into the freshest of seafood such as grouper, snapper, swordfish or coconut shrimp, steak or any number of filling delights.

For a breakfast on the beach we had only a short walk to the Gulf Drive Café and Tiki, where I had fresh fish for breakfast too and we shared a plate of hot pancakes, the size of which threatened to defeat us both.

A free trolley service runs the length of the island, every 20 minutes, or as near as 'island time' allows. There are three separate areas, Bradenton Beach in the south, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria itself with its 100-year-old city pier. We enjoyed the small, individual shops in the area's quaint Pine Avenue, where I found an excellent vintage emporium called Relish. Couldn't resist the faded Minnie Mouse t-shirt. The area also has a particular English connection with Mike and Lizzie Thrasher, founders of Organix baby food in the UK, who fell in love with the island and are now property owners and benefactors of a renowned green energy-powered shopping district on Anna Maria.

At one of these delightful shops, Beach Bums, I was introduced to Captain Scott, who was my guide on a gentle and relaxing kayak paddle along the island's man-made canal and out into the bay, watched by some bored-looking, but ever-present pelicans. We spotted a white ibis, plenty of jumping fish and heron along the way. But ex-schoolteacher Scott told me he has also often spotted dolphins on his longer outings.

Just a couple of miles further south is Longboat Key, a more upmarket area, with gorgeous homes and discreet accommodation fronting onto the gulf. It was here I enjoyed a gourmet cookery lesson at the Euphemia Haye restaurant, with famed chef Ray Arpke, or just Chef Ray, as he likes to be known.

A small group of us keen home cooks watched, learned and picked up useful cooking tips as he prepared a three-course lunch, which we then all happily sampled, thanks to his kitchen staff, accompanied by excellent wines. It was a fun couple of hours and the restaurant, very cosy and romantic, a firm local favourite for more than 30 years, due, no doubt, to Ray and his charming and lovely wife D'Arcy's commitment to quality and creating a great atmosphere.

Reluctantly leaving this area, we headed a half-hour's journey south towards Sarasota on the mainland and one of its six barrier islands, Siesta Key. This is officially the USA's best beach of 2011, as rated by the US expert known as Dr Beach, Professor Stephen Leatherman (http://www.drbeach.org/ tested by 50 criteria). Because the sand is made up of 99 per cent quartz it is also the silkiest sand in the world, and when you set foot on the vast powdery white expanse you can see why.

It has everything – lots of room to relax or play, nearby amenities, toilets, showers, food outlets and eating areas, lifeguards and all kept in pristine and beautiful order.

When we arrived, it was the busy Presidents' Day holiday weekend, but this gave the area extra buzz. It's more built up and sophisticated than the laid-back Anna Maria, and both on the island and in nearby Sarasota, there is an amazing array of activities for all tastes. Whether you are a culture vulture who likes ballet, opera and art galleries or a circus lover – the area has a strong connection with the Ringling family – you have no excuse to be bored. The nearby Myakka River State Park is the place for those looking for Florida wildlife experiences.

With just a short time to get acquainted with Siesta Key, however, we were quite content to savour the super relaxing ambience of our charming Pineapple cottage at the small, traditional Florida-style Siesta Key Bungalows' accommodation (http://www.siestakeybungalows.com/) set beside tranquil Heron Lagoon, minutes from both Siesta Key beach and the quieter Turtle Beach, named for the barrier islands' popularity with loggerhead turtles who lay their eggs here between May and October.

We found the bungalows an oasis of calm and loved nothing more than sitting by the lagoon at night enjoying the peace and quiet. For those with more energy, there were bicycles available free and kayaks ready to launch from the jetty.

So you can see why it was so hard to leave these gorgeous barrier islands. But we'll be back. There is so much more to see and do and we can't wait to experience it.

Manatee tourism honors 3 for contributions
Herald Tribune
By Justine Griffin - Published: Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

David Teitelbaum, the longtime owner of four vacation properties on Anna Maria Island, was honored with the "tourism partner" award for his willingness to support the BACVB with tourism-related events in the community.

Teitelbaum owns and manages Old Bridge Village, Seaside Resort, Tortuga Inn and Tradewinds Resort. He serves on many boards, including the Manatee County tourism development board and the hotel and lodging board.

"I feel like the momentum for attracting families and people to our county is so important for our economy, and I am so happy to be a part of it," Teitelbaum said. Read entire article here

Real Estate2013 National Real Estate Conference

The 2013 Crittenden National Real Estate Conference will be held April 28-30, at the Omni San Diego. The conference schedule, speakers and sessions will be announced in January. Please stay tuned for further details.

Moderator: David Teitelbaum, President - Teitelbaum Developers Michael Cahill, MAI, FRICS, CHA, CEO & Founder - Hospitality Real Estate Counselors James Dougherty, AICP, Design Director - Dover Kohl & Partners Stephen Scorgie, Managing Director - The Carlton Grou
Read article here...

Local island to be featured on TV, offers businesses advertising opportunity

Dec, 2012 | By Summer Smith | Bay News 9

ANNA MARIA ISLAND - Soon, the beautiful beaches and businesses located on and near Anna Maria Island will be seen nationwide. Recently, the Destination Guide, a video and TV production company that travels city to city looking for the best places to eat, sleep, and drink, came to town. "We were told they particularly wanted Tradewinds to be featured because it's the old Florida look," said David Teitelbaum, owner of Anna Maria Island Resorts. The Destination Guide is featuring the Tradewinds Beach Resort, Jose's Real Cuban food in Cortez, Minnie's Beach Cafe, the Bridge Tender and the Back Porch, while asking viewers to vote for the "area favorite." Read article here...

trip advisorAMI has ‘hot ticket’ for summer tourism

July, 2012 | By Rick Catlin | Islander Reporter

If the good weather that followed the passage of Tropical Storm Debby remains through late August, expect an abundance of visitors to Anna Maria Island, says Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman. “If we don’t get a storm like Debby, it’s going to be a great summer season, better than last year,” Brockman predicted. “There’s been nothing but good news from the rental agents and owners. Tourism to the Island has not slowed down since a brief spell in May. Usually, June tourism is slow, but not this year,” she said. Read article here...

trip advisorBB P&Z approves 3 resort beer-wine applications

July, 2012 | By Mark Young | Islander Reporter

The Bradenton Beach Planning and Zoning Board met June 28 for the first time since four members resigned in May after an April decision to deny the city’s joint development agreement with the BeachHouse Restaurant pitted the commission against the P&Z. Read article here...

Strong Tourism Season for Manatee County

Bradenton Herald - By Josh Salman - June 20, 2012
Manatee -- Tourism officials are keeping a close eye on prices at the pump. Recent declines in gas have inflated summer travel expectations in Florida. Read article here...

Best Florida Destinations for Families

Family Circle Magazine, April, 2012 - By Ellen Parlapiano
Anna Maria Island ranked #5 this year in the to 10. Special mention of Tortuga Inn Beach Resort! Read entire article...

Anna Maria Island Chamber Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Anna Maria Island, Florida, March 14, 2012 -
The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce held it's Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at 5pm, celebrating the reopening of Anna Maria Island Resorts fourth resort, Tropic Isle Inn Beach Resort.

They also previewed their new joint venture with Activision TV with the installation of the first interactive in-room hotel system in Florida. For additional photos check out our new Tropic Isle Inn Facebook!

  AMI chamber tropic isle  

Anna Maria Island Resorts Announces Joint Venture with Activision TV, Inc.

Anna Maria Island, Florida, March 12, 2012
Anna Maria Island Resorts announced today its arrangement to become the first Florida installation for Activision TV, Inc’s interactive “In-Room System” in its four resorts; the Tortuga Beach Resort, Tradewinds Resort, Sea Side Beach Resort and Tropical Isle Beach Resort. The Activision TV System will provide guests a personal on-screen menu offering a new level of service - from selecting movies to finding restaurants and local events – to surfing the internet – all from the privacy and convenience of an in-room 40 inch HDTV with a built in computer. The Activision TV System even allows guests to book reservations and purchase tickets right from their room! Read article here...

Upswing in tourism seen as local economy’s savior

By JOSH SALMAN - Monday, Jan. 09, 2012
MANATEE -- Hospitality businesses throughout the Suncoast believe a strong peak tourism season will turn the tide on the recession. And with so much riding on this season, a few slow months could prove devastating. But tourism-driven businesses in Manatee and Sarasota say 2011 closed on a solid note, and they’re predicting even better numbers for 2012. Read article here...

Tropic Isle Purchased - December 2011

BRADENTON BEACH - Developer David Teitelbaum & partners are expanding their Bradenton Beach resort portfolio. Last week, they purchased the Tropic Isle Beach Resort at 101 22nd Street, located across from their SeaSide Inn Beach Resort.

The 15-unit Tropic Isle was purchased from Iberia Bank on December 2, 2011 & cost $1.2 million. Plans include spending about one-half million for a complete “make over”.  “We will bring Tropic Isle up to the high standards of our other resorts” according to Teitelbaum. “Opening is scheduled for mid-February”. Read article here...

Unpretentious and relaxing Gulf island shines as Florida’s “undiscovered” gem.

AAA Motorist Nov - Dec Article

FEW THINGS TURN heads faster than a secret that’s about to be revealed. Brace yourself (or your neck, at least), because here’s one AAA can’t keep to itself: It’s Anna Maria, a tiny gem of an island untarnished by the crowds that regularly descend upon Florida’s other Gulf Coast jewels.
AAA invites you to fully indulge in the Anna Maria experience — 5 nights of carefree comfort (and comforts like free long-distance calls in the USA) at Tradewinds, a charmingly cozy Old Florida–feel resort. Read article here...

trip advisorTortuga resort to add amenities

September 6, 2011 | By Lisa Neff | Islander Reporter

The Bradenton Beach City Commission, in three consecutive votes Sept. 1, unanimously approved a controversial expansion at one of the Island’s most popular resorts, Tortuga Inn on Gulf Drive. Read article here...


2011 - Fall Issue | By AURELIE RESCH

“Please, please, make this destination a quiet retreat in paradise.” I kept repeating this to myself as I drove across the Skyway Bridge. I had had quite a frantic life (but who doesn’t?) over the past months and the last thing I needed was another bubbling and noisy beach destination. As I drove onto the Manatee River Bridge, I gazed at the sun in the pink sky. A light breeze wrinkled the calm surface on the water below. No heavy traffic on the road as I turned left on Gulf Drive. No frenzy on the sidewalks and on the terraces. Just a casual atmosphere among pedestrians and seasonal visitors. I released some tension and started to breathe normally. Read article here...

trip advisorTortuga seeks to expand services

August 17, 2011 | By Cindy Lane | AMI Sun staff writer

BRADENTON BEACH – Anna Maria Island Resorts owner and manager David Teitelbaum will be seeking city permission this month to expand services at Tortuga Inn Beach Resort to include food, storage and laundry space and construct a chickee hut on the beach across the street.

In a letter to Tortuga and Tradewinds room owners last week, he said after working with Bradenton Beach Building Official Stephen Gilbert, it is now cleared to request approval from the city to install a takeout café and gift shop in the office area, increase its laundry and storage facility in the Gardens building and install a chickee (or porgola) on the beach that the resort owns. Read article here...

trip advisor award2011 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence!

May 28, 2011
Tortuga Inn & Beach Resort and Tradewind Resort have won a 2011 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence!

Congratulations! You've earned a Certificate of Excellence. Travelers have shared their opinions on TripAdvisor and they are impressed with the quality of your business.

TripAdvisor awards this certificate to properties who consistently receive excellent ratings from our members. We think your 4.5 rating is something to be proud of and we hope you do too.

parents magazine
The 10 Best Beaches for Families: 2011
Find out which waterside escapes are real gems for families.

By Karen Cicero - Parents Magazine- May 2011
7. Coquina Beach Park, Bradenton, Florida. This beach, on the southern tip of Anna Marie Island, near Sarasota, is famous for "coquinas," colorful mini seashells. Click to view.

Travel in "turtle time" at the Tortuga Inn in Bradenton Beach, Florida

Wilmington Women's Travel Examiner| by Kerry Bennett | Apr. 30, 2011
When you’re lucky enough to find a vacation spot you really love, the icing on the cake is finding the perfect lodging that you can come back to time after time.
The Tortuga Inn in Bradenton Beach, Florida, has just been added to this travel writer’s list. Tucked away on a narrow strip of land along Gulf Drive on Anna Maria Island, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to Sarasota Bay, the Inn is upscale but up to date, laid-back yet luxurious. See article...

Manatee tourism officials host ad fair

Bradenton Herald.com | By Christine Hawes | Apr. 06, 2011
Katy Demick, manager of Anna Maria Island Resorts, tells a Southern Living Magazine ad sales manager about how she’s still getting calls from a story that ran in the magazine about Anna Maria Island more than a year ago.
Tom Aposporos, president of the Longboat Key/Lido Key/St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce, thanked Conde Nast Traveller for naming Longboat Key the second most popular island destination in North America. See article...

Lee Greenwood makes Affaire magical

AMI Sun | By Pat Copeland | sun staff writer
ANNA MARIA – It was another magical evening at the Affaire to Remember as country music star Lee Greenwood brought down the house with his performance at the Community Center's 27th annual fundraiser.
After singing a couple of his most well known hits, Greenwood brought out two of his band members for a selection of songs and then returned to the stage after the live auction and sang his most famous song, "God Bless the U.S.A." among others.
The event, which hosted a record crowd of 360 brought in $224,000 for the Center's programs and services. A part of that total was the cash call, which brought in $50,000 for scholarships for children so no child gets turned away for inability to pay.
One table having a great time was the "Men's Night Out" table (pictured below) with Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker; County Commissioner John Chappie; Elliott Falcione, manager of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors' Bureau; Bradenton Beach Mayor Bob Bartelt; Joe Pickett; of the Florida Gulf Coast Sports Commission; developer and tourist development council vice-chairman David Teitelbaum; Jack Rynerson, of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority and Tom Aposporos, president of the Longboat Key/Lido Key/ St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce.
At the BB&T table, Johathan Schneider, said, "I thought the Affaire was awesome. I can't imagine how much time people into it. Our entire table was impressed."
Tickets were "flying off the shelf" for chances to win a television, a diamond necklace and earrings and the pick of the live auction. Winners were John van Zandt for the television, Sherry Knowles for the jewelry and Cindy Thompson for pick of the live auction. Thompson picked a one-week stay in Costa Rica in the Galati family's condo. See article...

Studio 10 gets VERTICAL!

Leslie Joy Ickowitz has great things to say about Tradewinds Resort... check this out!
Video: Join the Stellar Society!

Try Tortuga Inn and Tradewinds for wedding parties

AMI Sun article, 02/16/2011
Look no further if you want a beach-to-bay resort for a large wedding party, anniversary or family reunion. The award-winning Tortuga Inn Beach Resort and Tradewinds Resort offer luxurious apartments with heated swimming pools, private beach, fishing docks and boat slips on Sarasota Bay. The two resorts can accommodate up to 450 guests in a variety of tropically furnished configurations. Read entire article...

Anna Maria, Florida Hotels

USA Today - by Don Amerman, Demand Media
Anna Maria Island, a barrier island on the Gulf coast of west-central Florida, is a popular destination for tourists with miles of white sand beaches and a laid-back attitude. The island's selection of hotels is dominated by smaller, more intimate condo-type lodgings and has little representation from the big hotel chains seen almost everywhere else in Florida Click to view.

A Florida Secret

North American Travel Journalalists Association
Favorite place to stay – The jointly owned and managed Seaside Inn Beach Resort, Tradewinds Resort and Tortuga Inn Beach Resort http://www.annamariaislandresorts.net/
Admittedly this is a tough one given the multitude of other outstanding accommodations – some more upscale and larger and some more rustic and simple. So while I have enjoyed other locations, this stands out for several reasons. Mostly it is a bargain in that you get very clean, very neat and comfortable lodgings with effectively used spaces and none of the bells and whistles a family or couple might not need or want to pay for – an excellent value. These beach front lodges are surprisingly isolated and devoid of crowds even in peak season while not far from anything. Click to view.

Old Florida Charm & Fun Still Exists on Anna Maria Island

BIRMINGHAM PARENT - Carol Muse Evans publisher/editor
Tortuga Inn Beach Resort was named "Best Place to Stay."
If you’ve dreamed of taking your children to the “old Florida” you remember visiting as a child, it still exists – on Anna Maria Island. Life is really laid back on the island, located about an hour southwest of Tampa, Florida. It is like a hidden jewel and a step back in time in Florida history and tourism, and though tourists abound, it doesn’t feel “touristy.” As one restaurant owner put it, “What we’re selling here is relaxation.” And relax, you can. Families who just want a great beach trip will fi nd everything they need here, and very affordably priced. Beaches are just steps from resorts and condos that dot the beach line, and very little walking and steps are involved. You’ve still got the beautiful, white sand of the Florida Gulf Coast here, but the sand’s a little fi ner, and crushed shells are also part of the mix. In fact, there’s a multitude of shells here, if your family likes shelling. Surf’s up a little higher here, and the water is crystal clear, blue-green. Click to view.

Vertical Tampa Bay

PHOTOGRAPHY - SUSAN JEFFERS - Published with permission from VERTICAL Tampa Bay
LA ISLA BONITA - Summer issue photo shoot at Tradewinds Resort. Click to view.

In One Hour - Retreat Mind, Body & Soul

By Leslie Joy Ickowitz - Published with permission from VERTICAL Tampa Bay
In One Hour - Retreat Mind, Body & Sou - Anna Maria Islandl - Read full article.

Eight Florida isles, no two alike

By Andrea Sachs - Washington Post - Jan. 17, 2010
GULF ISLANDS, Fla. - If I were a brown pelican, flying high above the Gulf of Mexico near Sarasota, I imagine that I would see thin strips of land trimmed in white, surrounded by water as clear and blue as the cloudless sky above. However, I am not a bird. I am flightless, and as I drove across bridge after bridge to eight different islands in the chain, I found that though they all inhabit the same body of water, they are hardly identical octuplets.

Nor are these islands clones of the Florida Keys, the more popular and party-wise archipelago off the state's southern tip.

The Gulf Islands are arranged like steppingstones along the western coast of Florida. You can skip from one to the other - Anna Maria Island to Longboat Key, City Island, St. Armands Key, Siesta Key, Casey Key, Venice, and Manasota Key - with few interruptions. But as I ventured from one key to another, I couldn't help noticing that what I had left behind only faintly resembled what I had just arrived at. The structures, natural environments, amenities, mind-sets, and even sand compositions varied remarkably, creating islands with unique, identifiable characters.

They say that no two snowflakes or Baldwin brothers are alike; I'd add the Gulf Islands to that list.

Anna Maria Island - Low-key and all - natural

Anna Maria Island is Florida as a living diorama, with no chain hotels, a speed limit that never exceeds 35 m.p.h., and a building limit of three stories. It is also home to a genteel first lady.

"We are loath to go the route of Longboat Key, with condo high-rises," said Rhea Chiles, the wife of former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, whose family has owned property here since 1958. "The look of the place has been passed down from one generation to another. It's all of those words: quaint, neighborly, natural."

Chiles was the visionary behind the Studio at Gulf and Pine, a multi-use space that exhibits local artworks, including a painting of her own, and holds classes, such as the book club I was making her late for. So I left Chiles to her plot twists for the turns of a kayak.

Shawn Duytschaver, whose family opened the first gift shop on Anna Maria, owns Native Rentals, where he rents boats and preps guests before pushing them off to fend for themselves. He suggested that I paddle Robinson Preserve, a 400-acre mangrove and salt marsh reserve that opened in 2008 and is buffered from motorized traffic. (By comparison, around nearby Lido Key, kayakers must contend with the din of boats and cars, he said.)

At the put-in spot across the Intracoastal Waterway, Duytschaver handed me a laminated map and said I could probably make it to the bald eagle nest before sunset. He also warned me about the black "bugs" in the mangroves. They're not spiders, he said, but crabs. Underlying message: Don't freak out and abandon ship.

I found the small entryway to the preserve but got my left and right confused. Instead of kayaking in the wider bayou (to the right), I ended up in the narrow tunnel, where mangrove roots kicked out like chorus girls. In several areas, my paddle was wider than the channel. At one point, I was so wedged in, my only choices were stand up and pick up the boat or try an eight-point U-turn. Only the crabs know which option I took.

Abandoning the mangrove, I entered open water, where mullet were jumping so high and so close to my boat that I could feasibly have landed one with some clever maneuvering. I hadn't gotten far into my laissez-faire fishing when I spotted a bald eagle sitting stoically in a tree. Having reached my goal, I turned back, a much easier trip now that I was wise to the tangle of mangroves.

On the Gulf Islands, sunset is a momentous occasion. At the Sandbar Restaurant, on the beach on Anna Maria Island, waiters ask diners to guess the time of the sun drop. Those with the correct answer win a bottle of champagne.

The wait for a table exceeded the time left before sunset, so I watched the show from a dugout in the sand. At 6:58, a bell rang. Couples kissed and families snapped photos with the cranberry-streaked sky as a backdrop. I overheard a waiter consoling his customers about their losing time, trying to ease their disappointment with dessert.

Hopping the Gulf Islands - Places to stay

Tortuga Inn Beach Resort

1325 Gulf Dr. N. Anna Maria Island 1-877-867-8842

Spacious rooms with tasteful Old Florida decor. Across the street from the beach. Rates from $120, depending on season and hotel type.

Holmes Beach celebrates 60 years at Founder's Day

HOLMES BEACH - Mayor Rich Bohnenberger welcomed guests celebrating the 60th anniversary of the city's incorporation and the third annual Founder's Day on Friday at city hall.

Guests mingled in the city hall lobby telling stories of the past and enjoying historic photos, while a quartet from the Anna Maria Island Chorus and Orchestra played in the commission chamber.

At the program's start, the American Legion Color Guard posted the colors, Margaret Smelser led the group in the national anthem and Carol Saggau offered a prayer.

"What makes our city great is the citizen participation," Bohnenberger told the group as he prepared to announce the Community Partners award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have contributed to the quality of life in the city.

This year's award was presented to the Anna Maria Island Privateers and Bohnenberger noted, "For 39 years, this organization has worked to benefit the children of the community."

Following the presentation, city officials and members of the AMI Chamber of Commerce cut the ribbon on the new restroom by the skate park that was built with a donation from Rex Hagen.

Island flocks to Parrothead Dance

BRADENTON BEACH – Jimmy Buffett take note: you might want to be out our way next year when we hold our next Parrothead dance. Not because it bears your brand, but because if you’re not there, you’re missing a great time.

More than 300 people paid $10 each to enjoy hors d’oeuvre in the Anna Maia Island Community Center’s auditorium along with a cash bar featuring beer, wine and margaritas and $2 Cheeseburgers in Paradise and most of those people came to dance.

Dan Mobley played some of Buffett's tunes and then Island Idol third-place winner David Teitelbaum sang. He did a great impression of Elvis while singing "Can't Help Falling in Love."

Taylor Zebracki, who won a karaoke contest recently at the Sandbar restaurant, also sang and the female winner of the Island Idol contest in association with the Real Florida Festival, Katie Greenwood, gave a spirited rendition of several songs.

After that, DJ and singer Mike Sales took over a got the crowd out on the dance floor. When he played "Macarena," the crowd followed along, then he got two volunteers to bring out the limbo pole and everyone went under it. He introduced another song and told them to form a conga line, which snaked through the huge auditorium. The crowd formed the letters with their arms during "YMCA" and before long, the crowd was cheering after each song and there were more dancers than people sitting at their tables.

If you've ever been in a conga line at any past or present Anna Maria Island nightspot, you'll want to come back next year because the Parrothead dance is slated to return.

"I've already booked it for next year because it had a great turnout and the crowd had so much fun," said Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Special Events Coordinator Susanne Arbannis. "The best part for me was to see everybody get up and move."

Real Florida Festival Organizer David Teitelbaum said that he was impressed that the Chamber and the Community Center worked so well together. "This is the first time the two groups have worked on a project together and it was an obvious success," he said. "A lot of people said that they had never been to the Community Center before, so it shows that we could attract a lot of people who don't normally come to events there." Sales said it was gratifying to see a crowd enjoy themselves.

"It was the right music for the right group and they had a ball," Sales said. "I fed off their energy and picked the music I thought they would enjoy and they did."

Arbannis said she would announce the date of next year's dance later, after they iron out the details.

Island rallies for free trolley rides

BY TOM VAUGHT - SUN STAFF WRITER The first annual Real Florida Festival has come and gone, and it was a weekend that featured something for just about everybody from one end of the Island to the other.

It began with the Holmes Beach Founder's Day celebration at city hall and a daylong festival in the adjacent field.

Inside city hall, the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra provided the music for the 60th anniversary of Holmes Beach as Mayor Rich Bohnenberger introduced former mayors and outstanding citizens and visitors looked over the historical photos and news stories on display. The action moved to the field at 5 p.m., where music prevailed as the crowd looked at arts and crafts, enjoyed food and drink and the Island Idol contestants performed. Katie Greenwood won first place with lively performances of Patsy Cline and Janis Joplin songs. Chip Ragsdale took second with an original song about Anna Maria Island, and David Teitelbaum took third with songs made popular by Neil Diamond and Dean Martin. On Saturday, skateboarders took to the nearby skate park for a competition of talented kids 6 to 18 years old, sponsored by the city of Holmes Beach, West Coast Surf Shop and Six Third Productions.

The arts and crafts festival began again at 9:30 a.m. with live musical performances, food and drink and shopping for unique items. The Community Center took on a Margaritaville look starting at 6 p.m. at the Parrothead Dance hosted by the AMI Chamber. Those who paid the $10 entry fee got free hors d'oeuvres from the Sandbar, The Sun House, Island Gourmet and Rotten Ralph's restaurant. The Chamber sold $2 Cheeseburgers in Paradise."The venue moved Sunday to Bradenton Beach, where gray skies and a misty rain kept some people away for the morning run/walk on the beach. Only five people signed up, two of them on vacation. They decided to enter when they read about the event in The Sun.

Rich Medema, of Elmhurst, Ind., took first place in the run with Dana Snell, from Bradenton, coming in second and Keith Grabill, of Midland, Mich., coming in third. The walkers were Steve Huneke, of Bradenton, in first place; his wife, LeAnne, in second; and Frank Burberry, of Danville, Ky., in third.

Bridge Street was dressed up with outdoor vendors in tents selling everything from souvenirs and arts and crafts to green products and services in honor of Earth Day. The mist continued until about 11:30 a.m. when it got heavier, forcing the band Hwy 41 to pack up or risk damaging its equipment. One of the two kayak dealers offering free kayak demos failed to appear and nobody had tried a kayak by noon. The bad weather did force cancelation of some activities, but those who stuck it out were rewarded when the skies cleared Sunday afteroon.

Organizer David Teitelbaum said he felt the three-day event had gone far to increase public awareness of the trolleys and to raise money for non-profit organizations and to keep the trolleys on the Island fare-free as the county deals with the loss of grant money that kept them free for the past several years.

"We'll assess what we did and make some changes for next year," he said. "All in all, I thought it was a great weekend, and I thank everybody who helped put it on and those who attended."

Young talent tapped for festival

Lisa Neff- Islander Reporter
The search for two Island Idols - one male, one female - will begin April 10 at the Gulf Drive Cafe, 900 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach. Auditions will take place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., according to Mike Sales, who is coordinating the event for the Real Florida Festival. Contestants must be 18 or older. Click here for full story...

It's a buffet of Buffett

HOLMES BEACH - We all know that Jimmy Buffett is the leader of the "Parrot Head Nation" and that would include just about any place in Florida, so a big part of the three-day Real Florida Festival will be the Parrot Head Dance on Saturday, April 17, from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.
The dance brings together some familiar flavors and sounds that make this place so special. Admission is $10 per person or you can reserve a table for eight people for $70. Tickets are on sale now at the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.
Featured in this event are raffle items including resort accommodations on the Island, restaurant gift certificates, golf lessons, horseback riding, gift baskets and more. You can purchase raffle tickets at the Community Center or at the dance. The cost is $1 for one ticket, $5 for six tickets or $10 for 13.
Local restaurants will be donating the Island cuisine and the sponsors will be selling "Cheeseburgers in Paradise" for $2. There will be a cash bar offering beer, wine, margaritas and soda.
Local DJ and singer Mike Sales will play some Buffett music plus reggae and other Island sounds, with the help of other local entertainers. The winners of the Island Idol contest will also be there to entertain.
Enjoy keeping the trolleys fare-less for another year as well as an evening in Margaritaville. Bring your dance partner and show them how it's done in our little Island paradise.
For more information, call Chamber Special Events Coordinator Susanne Arbanas at 778-1541 or log on to www.realfloridafestival.com.

Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Magazine

Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival - March 19, 2010
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the third annual Anna Maria Island Wedding Festival on Florida's Gulf Coast. We stayed at the charming Tortuga Inn Beach Resort - situated right along the intracoastal waterway and across the street from a private beach.
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David Teitelbaum

Robert E. Hunt Beautification Award

January 26, 2010
The Image Manatee Committee is proud to present the 20th Annual Robert E. Hunt Beautification Award to the Tortuga Inn Beach Resort. Tortuga Inn Beach Resort is a beach-to-bay luxury resort conveniently located on Anna Maria Island. In 2003, David Teitelbaum acquired the resort and over the next six years, totally repositioned, renovated, and refurbished the property. The resort includes six unique buildings of hotel rooms and suites nestled within lush landscaping and swaying palms. With its tropical charm, and scenic sunsets, Tortuga Inn truly embodies island vacationing. Whether it's relaxing at the sparkling gulf-side sundeck and pool or fishing off the private dock overlooking Sarasota Bay and the Intercoastal, the property at Tortuga Inn Beach Resort is a friendly little paradise found right here in Manatee County.

According to Kimber Bereiter, Chair of the Image Manatee Committee, "The image of our community is often interpreted based on our visual environment and first impressions. Through their efforts of creative landscape design and maintenance and the use of native plant species to instill a tropical charm, Tortuga Inn makes a positive impact on community pride and economic growth."
Read the Herald Tribune article here...

Teitelbaum honored by peers

By Tom Vaught - Sun staff writer- November 11, 2009
David Teitelbaum is a busy man. He runs three resorts in Bradenton Beach, serves on the Manatee County Tourism Development Council and he’s organizing an Island-wide effort to raise money to keep the trolleys free to riders.

All that hard work has paid off this year as the Rotary Club of Anna Maria Island named him the Anna Maria Island Businessperson of the Year at the Island Chamber of Commerce Installation Banquet on Monday, Nov. 9.
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Islands Best AccommodationsBy Chris - Island Magazine - Octber 7, 2009
Islands Magazine selected Anna Maria Island as "THE WORLD'S BEST QUAINT ISLAND" - in it's November, 2009 list of the world's BEST 14 ISLANDS. Tortuga Inn Beach Resort was chosen as it's favorite resort on Anna Maria Island. Click here to view complete story...

AMI Weddings Boost Tourism

By Rick Catlin - The Islander - August 12, 2009
Anna Maria Island's wedding industry has grown from about 50 weddings a year five years ago to nearly 1,000 in 2008. And a large number of the members of wedding parties return to the Island as vacationers, said Caryn Hodge, marketing director for the Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria. Click here to view complete story...

New York Times

A Florida Island, End to End, Table by Table

By By CINDY PRICE - New York Times - July 26, 2009

FLORIDA is a clever little peninsula. Just when you think you've seen everything under its proverbial sun, you stumble across a place like Anna Maria Island - a seven-mile slip of cushy white sand tucked in the Gulf of Mexico where you can dump the car, rent a bike, swim in smooth, teal waters and eat remarkably well. Click here to view complete story...

Beach Magic

By Wanda McKinney - Southern Living - March 2009

The motto of Florida's Anna Maria Island says it all: "Welcome to paradise without an attitude." Our Insider's guide helps you make it your own slice of heaven. Click here to view complete story...


Writers experience Island wedding scene

By Tom Vaught | sun staff writer - Apr. 22nd, 2009

If you're going to write about something, you should experience it first. That's what Lynn Walker did with her husband, Kevin Baker, when she researched her article on Anna Maria Island recently to do articles for Southern Bride magazine and Romantic Destinations Travel. Click here to view complete story ...

National publicity sparks interest in Island

By Cindy Lane | sun staff writer - Jan 4, 2009

Vacationers longing for a laid-back, old-time Florida beach vacation during the holidays found it on Anna Maria Island, courtesy of USA Today, Baltimore Magazine and the Internet. Click here to view complete story ...

Trolley appears fare-free for another year

By Rick Catlin and Lisa Neff | The Islander - July 8th, 2009

Manatee County administrator Ed Hunzeker agreed with Island mayors June 28 to keep the trolley fare-free, while at the same time endorsing a "Save Our Trolley" campaign proposed by Island businessman David Teitelbaum.
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Anna Maria Resort Makes Expedia Insiders' List

The Tradewinds Resort on Anna Maria Island has been ranked among the world's best hotels in the Expedia® 2007 Insiders' Select list. The hotels on the list represent the top one percent of the more than 70,000 hotels Expedia.com offers as the world's leading online travel company. The list is based on overall value, input from local market experts, and Expedia.com's collection of more than 300,000 Traveler Opinions®. The Tradewinds Resort, with a top overall satisfaction rating of 4.4 out of a possible 5, is the only hotel in Manatee County to make the list, and one of only 68 hotels and resorts selected in Florida. Click here to view complete story

Anna Maria Island Resorts Florida