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How to Book a Hotel in Sanibel
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Hotels of Sanibel
A hotel in Sanibel is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short-term basis. Facilities provided may range from a basic bed and storage for clothing, to luxury features like en-suite bathrooms. Larger in Sanibel hotels may provide additional guest facilities such as a swimming pool, business centre, childcare, conference facilities and social function services. Hotel rooms in Sanibel are usually numbered (or named in some smaller hotels and B&Bs) to allow guests to identify their room. Some Sanibel hotels offer meals as part of a room and board arrangement. Hotel operations vary in size, function, and cost. Most Sanibel hotels and major hospitality companies that operate hotels in Sanibel have set widely accepted industry standards to classify hotel types. General categories include the following:
Upscale luxury hotels in Sanibel
An upscale full service hotel facility in Sanibel that offers luxury amenities, full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and the highest level of personalized and professional service. Luxury Sanibel hotels are normally classified with at least a Four Diamond or Five Diamond status or a Four or Five Star rating depending on classification standards.
Full service hotels in Sanibel
Full service Sanibel hotels often contain upscale full-service facilities with a large volume of full service accommodations, on-site full service restaurant(s), and a variety of on-site amenities such as swimming pools, a health club, children's activities, ballrooms, on-site conference facilities, etc.
Historic inns and boutique hotels in Sanibel
Boutique hotels of Sanibel are smaller independent non-branded hotels that often contain upscale facilities of varying size in unique or intimate settings with full service accommodations. Sanibel boutique hotels are generally 100 rooms or less. Some historic inns and boutique hotels in Sanibel may be classified as luxury hotels.
Focused or select service hotels in Sanibel
Small to medium-sized hotel establishments that offer a limited amount of on-site amenities that only cater and market to a specific demographic of Sanibel travelers, such as the single business traveler. Most Sanibel focused or select service hotels may still offer full service accommodations but may lack leisure amenities such as an on-site restaurant or a swimming pool.
Economy and limited service hotels in Sanibel
Small to medium-sized Sanibel hotel establishments that offer a very limited amount of on-site amenities and often only offer basic accommodations with little to no services, these facilities normally only cater and market to a specific demographic of travelers, such as the budget-minded Sanibel traveler seeking a "no frills" accommodation. Limited service Sanibel hotels often lack an on-site restaurant but in return may offer a limited complimentary food and beverage amenity such as on-site continental breakfast service.
Guest houses and B&Bs in Sanibel
A bed and breakfast in Sanibel is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and inclusive breakfast. Usually, Sanibel bed and breakfasts are private homes or family homes offering accommodations. The typical Sanibel B&B has between 4 and 11 rooms, with 6 being the average. Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with other guests. Breakfast is served in the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen. Often the owners of guest house themselves prepare the breakfast and clean the rooms.
Hostels in Sanibel
Sanibel hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge, and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Hostels are often cheaper for both the operator and occupants; many Sanibel hostels have long-term residents whom they employ as desk agents or housekeeping staff in exchange for experience or discounted accommodation.
Apartment hotels, extended stay hotels in Sanibel
Extended stay hotels are small to medium-sized Sanibel hotels that offer longer term full service accommodations compared to a traditional hotel. Extended stay hotels may offer non-traditional pricing methods such as a weekly rate that cater towards travelers in need of short-term accommodations for an extended period of time. Similar to limited and select service hotels, on-site amenities are normally limited and most extended stay hotels in Sanibel lack an on-site restaurant.
Timeshare and destination clubs in Sanibel
Sanibel timeshare and destination clubs are a form of property ownership also referred to as a vacation ownership involving the purchase and ownership of an individual unit of accommodation for seasonal usage during a specified period of time. Timeshare resorts in Sanibel often offer amenities similar that of a Full service hotel with on-site restaurant(s), swimming pools, recreation grounds, and other leisure-oriented amenities. Destination clubs of Sanibel on the other hand may offer more exclusive private accommodations such as private houses in a neighborhood-style setting.
Motels in Sanibel
A Sanibel motel is a small-sized low-rise lodging establishment similar to that of a limited service hotel, but with direct access to individual rooms from the car park. Common during the 1950s and 1960s, motels were often located adjacent to a major road, where they were built on inexpensive land at the edge of towns or along stretches of highways. They are still useful in less populated areas of Sanibel for driving travelers, but the more populated an area becomes the more hotels fill the need. Many of Sanibel motels which remain in operation have joined national franchise chains, rebranding themselves as hotels, inns or lodges.
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Sanibel is a city in Lee County, Florida, United States, on Sanibel Island. The population was 6,469 at the 2010 census, with an estimated 2012 population of 6,741. It is part of the Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. Sanibel is a barrier island – a collection of sand on the leeward side of the more solid coral-rock of Pine Island.
The city incorporates the entire island, with most of the city proper at the east end of the island. After the Sanibel causeway was built to replace the ferry in May 1963, the residents asserted control over development by establishing the Sanibel Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 1974 helping to maintain a balance between development and preservation of the island's ecology. A new, higher bridge, permitting passage without a bascule bridge (drawbridge) of tall boats and sailboats, was completed in late 2007.
Due to easy causeway access, Sanibel is a popular tourist destination known for its shell beaches and wildlife refuges. More than half of the island is made up of wildlife refuges, the largest being J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Island hosts the Sanibel Historical Village and a variety of other museums and theaters, as well as many non-profit organizations like the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, and the Sanibel Sea School. In August 2004, Hurricane Charley hit the island causing mandatory evacuation for the residents and resulting in the most storm damage to the island in 44 years.
Sanibel, Florida: History
View of the Lighthouse at the southern tip of Sanibel Island
Sanibel and Captiva formed as one island about 6,000 years ago. The first known humans in the area were the Calusa, who arrived about 2,500 years ago. The Calusa were a powerful Indian nation who came to dominate most of Southwest Florida through trade via their elaborate system of canals and waterways. Sanibel remained an important Calusa settlement until the collapse of their empire, soon after the arrival of the Europeans.
In 1765, the first known appearance of a harbor on Sanibel is shown on a map as Puerto de S. Nibel (the "v" and "b" being interchangeable); thus, the name may have evolved from "San Nibel". Alternatively, the name may derive, as many believe, from "(Santa) Ybel", which survives in the old placename "Point Ybel", where the Sanibel Island Light is located. How it would have gotten this name, however, is a matter of conjecture. One story says it was named by Juan Ponce de León for Queen Isabella I of Castile; the island may indeed be named for this queen or the saint whose name she shares, either by Ponce de León or someone later. Another attributes the name to Roderigo Lopez, the first mate of José Gaspar (Gasparilla), after his beautiful lover Sanibel whom he had left behind in Spain. Like most of the lore surrounding Gasparilla, however, this story is apocryphal, as the above references to recognizable variants of the name predate the buccaneer's supposed reign.
Sanibel is not the only island in the area to figure prominently in the legends of Gaspar; Captiva, Useppa, and Gasparilla are also connected. Sanibel also appears in another tale, this one involving Gaspar's ally-turned-rival Black Caesar, said to have been a former Haitian slave who escaped during the Haitian Revolution to become a pirate. According to folklore, Black Caesar came to the Gulf of Mexico during the War of 1812 to avoid interference from the British. In the Gulf he befriended Gasparilla, who allowed him to establish himself on Sanibel Island. Eventually the old Spaniard discovered Caesar had been stealing from him and chased him off, but not before his loot had been buried.
Legendary pirates' dens aside, the first modern settlement on Sanibel (then spelled "Sanybel") was established by the Florida Peninsular Land Company in 1832. The colony never took off, and was abandoned by 1849. It was this first group that initially petitioned for a lighthouse on the island. The island was re-populated after the implementation of the Homestead Act in 1862, and again a lighthouse was petitioned. Construction on the Sanibel Island Lighthouse was completed in 1884, but the community remained small. In May 1963 a causeway linking Sanibel and Captiva to the mainland was opened, resulting in an explosion of growth. The City of Sanibel passed new restrictions on development after it was incorporated; these were challenged by developers, to no avail. Currently the only buildings on the island taller than two stories date before 1974, and there are no fast food or chain restaurants allowed on the island except a Dairy Queen and a Subway, which were on the island before the laws were enacted. A new causeway was completed in 2007; it replaced the worn out 1963 spans, which were not designed to carry heavy loads or large numbers of vehicles. The new bridge features a "flyover" span tall enough for sailboats to pass under, replacing the old bridge's bascule drawbridge span. The original bridge was demolished and its remains were sunk into the water to create artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.
The main town is located on the eastern end of the island. The city was formed in 1974, as a direct result of the main causeway being built in 1963 to replace the ferry, and the rampant construction and development that occurred afterward. Developers sued over the new restrictions, but the city and citizens prevailed in their quest to protect the island. The only buildings above two to three stories now on the barrier island were built during that period.
The city is on Gulf coast of Southwest Florida, and is linked to the mainland by the Sanibel Causeway. A short bridge over Blind Pass links Sanibel to Captiva Island. More than half of the two islands are preserved in its natural state as wildlife refuges. Visitors can drive, walk, bike, or kayak through the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge The island's most famous landmark, the Sanibel Lighthouse, is located at the eastern end of the island, adjacent to the fishing pier. The main thoroughfare, Periwinkle Way, is where the majority of stores and restaurants are located, while the Gulf Drives (East, Middle and West) play host to most of the accommodations.
The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, has also been a key player in helping to curb uncontrolled commercial growth and development on the island. Since 1967, SCCF has been dedicated to the preservation of natural resources on and around Sanibel and Captiva and has led efforts to acquire and preserve environmentally sensitive land on the islands including critical wildlife habitats, rare and unique subtropical plant communities, tidal wetlands, and freshwater wetlands along the Sanibel River.
The city's best-known resident is former CIA Director Porter Goss, who spearheaded the island's incorporation, became its first mayor, and represented the area in Congress from 1989 until his appointment as CIA Director in 2004.
The Wall Street Journal selected Sanibel and Captiva Islands as one of the 10 Best Places for Second Homes in 2010.
Sanibel, Florida: Geography
Beach near the western end of Sanibel
Sanibel is located at / 26.43972; -82.08056 (26.439608, -82.080456). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 33.16 square miles (85.9 km), of which 17.21 square miles (44.6 km) is land and 15.96 square miles (41.3 km) (48.13%) is water.
Sanibel, Florida: Demographics
U.S. Decennial Census
As of the census of 2010, there were 6,469 people, 3,359 households, and 2,273 families residing in the city. The population density was 375.9 per square mile (145.1/km²). There were 7,821 housing units at an average density of 454.6 per square mile (175.5/km²).The racial makeup of the city was 98.0% White, 0.6% African American, 0.1% Native American, 0.4% Asian, 0.00%(1) Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.3% of the population.
There were 3,359 households out of which 8.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.8% were married couples living together, 2.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.3% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.92 and the average family size was 2.28.
Among the population; 8.5% under the age of 19, 1.1% from 20 to 24, 7.5% from 25 to 44, 32.7% from 45-64, and those aged 65 or older represented 50.1%. The median age was 65 years. For every 100 females there were 89.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.5 males age 18 and over.
The median income for a household in the city was $97,788, and the median income for a family was $138,194. Males had a median income of $80,152 versus $45,458 for females. The per capita income for the city was $79,742. About 3.6% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, with 21.3% of those under age 18 and 3.4% of those age 65 or over.
Sanibel, Florida: Ecology
Marsh rabbits are common in Sanibel
The island's curved shrimp-like shape forms Tarpon Bay on the north side of the island. It is linked to the mainland by the Sanibel Causeway, which runs across two small manmade islets and the Intracoastal Waterway. A short bridge links Sanibel Island to Captiva Island over Blind Pass. The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum on Sanibel is the only museum in the world dedicated entirely to the study of shells. The Gulf-side beaches are excellent on both Sanibel and Captiva, and are world-renowned for their variety of seashells, which include coquinas, scallops, whelks, sand dollars, and many other species of both shallow-water and deeper-water mollusks, primarily bivalves and gastropods. Sanibel Island is home to a significant variety of birds, including the roseate spoonbill and several nesting pairs of bald eagles. Birds can be seen on the beaches, the causeway islands, and the reserves, including J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Common sights include pelicans, herons, egrets, and anhingas, as well as the more common birds like terns, sandpipers, and seagulls.
Loggerhead turtle track on a beach in Sanibel
There is a population of American alligators on Sanibel Island. A lone rare American crocodile had been seen at the Wildlife Refuge for over 30 years, but she died in 2010 of unseasonably cold winters or old age. A memorial was set up at J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge honoring "Wilma", as she was known by the residents. A new crocodile was introduced in May 2010 when she was found on a private property and relocated to J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. Plants on the island include the native sea grape, sea oats, mangroves, and several types of palm trees. The Australian pine is an introduced species that has spread throughout the island, to some extent overpowering native vegetation and trees. Once mature, the pine blocks sunlight and drops a thick bed of pine needles that affect the soil's pH and prevents new native growth. The ground is very soft under these pines.
The local form of the marsh rice rat has been recognized in some classifications as a separate subspecies, Oryzomys palustris sanibeli.
Sanibel, Florida: Wildlife refuges
Bobcats are sometimes seen in Sanibel
Preserving the island's natural ecology has always been important to its citizens and visitors alike. A driving force in the preservation of the island is the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation which was founded in 1967 with a mission to "preserve natural resources and wildlife habitat on and around the islands of Sanibel and Captiva." 1,300 acres (5.3 km) of land on Sanibel are under the supervision of the Foundation; included in this land there is a "Marine Laboratory which actively conducts research in areas including seagrasses, mangroves, harmful algal blooms, fish populations and shellfish restoration." Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation also has a project called RECON (River, Estuary and Coastal Observing Network) which includes a "network of eight in-water sensors that provide real-time, hourly readings of key water quality parameters." The foundation is also serves to protect the wildlife on the island and has a variety of education programs designed to instruct people about the island's unique ecology.
The biggest wildlife refuge on the island is the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Covering more than 5,200 acres (21 km) of land, the refuge strives to ensure that these lands are "preserved, restored and maintained as a haven for indigenous and migratory wildlife as part of a nation-wide network of Refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service" The lands also serve to provide a home for many endangered and threatened species. Currently the refuge provides a home for over 220 species of birds native to the island. Visitors to the refuge can walk, bike, drive, or kayak though the wildlife drive which takes you through five miles (8.0 kilometres) of mangrove tree forests and tidal flats, this drive is perfect for watching the island's wildlife and looking at the island's native vegetation. To show that preserving the wildlife really is important, the drive is closed one day every week, Friday, so that the wildlife can have a day to themselves where they can scavenge for food closer to the drive and not have to be bothered by or fearful of humans. There is also an education center which features "interactive exhibits on refuge ecosystems, the life and work of "Ding" Darling, migratory flyways, and the National Wildlife Refuge System."
Sanibel, Florida: Beaches and seashells
A view looking north on the beach at West Gulf Drive Beach access point #7, Sanibel, Lee County, Florida. The whitish objects are all shells, and so are some of the brown objects.
Sanibel beaches attract visitors from all around the world, partly because of the large quantities of seashells that frequently wash up there. Many sand dollars can be found as well. One of the reasons for these large accumulations of shells is the fact that Sanibel is a barrier island which is "part of a large plateau that extends out into the Gulf of Mexico for miles. It is this plateau that acts like a shelf for seashells to gather." Sanibel also has an "east-west orientation when most islands are north-south. Hence, the island is gifted with great sandy beaches and an abundance of shells."
People who are lucky enough to find the elegant brown-spotted shell of a Junonia on a Sanibel beach often get their picture in the local newspapers. Junonia volutes are reasonably common living in deep water, but they only rarely wash up; a beach find of a whole shell is greatly prized.
An exhibit at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel shows a growth series of Junonias.
Junonia shells can be purchased at local shell shops, or can be seen on display in the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, in some of the glass display tables at the Sanibel Cafe, or at the Sanibel Shell Fair in early March.
Throughout the year, many people come to the beaches of Sanibel to gather shells. People are often seen bending down as they look for seashells, and this posture is known as the "Sanibel Stoop." There are beaches almost all around the island. There are even beaches along the Sanibel causeway, and these are great for fishing and windsurfing. However, beach parking on Sanibel itself is very limited, and in high season finding a convenient parking space can be a challenge.
Lighthouse Beach is named after the famous Sanibel Lighthouse, which includes a popular fishing pier and nature trails. The most secluded beach on the island is Bowman's Beach; there are no hotels in sight and the beach has a "pristine and quiet" atmosphere.
Barron's selected Sanibel and Captiva Islands as one of the 10 Best Places for Second Homes in 2010.
Sanibel, Florida: Climate
Sanibel Island, located in southern Florida, has a climate that is "subtropical and humid" with daily high temperatures ranging from 75 °F (24 °C) in midwinter to around 90 °F (32 °C) in the summer. The months of January through April (peak tourist season on the island) have the coolest temperatures, ranging from 75 °F (24 °C) during the day to a cool 55 °F (13 °C) at night, and there is very little rainfall on the island during those months. The summer heat and humidity on the island, which has been recorded as high as 100 °F (38 °C), is cooled by the ocean seabreezes from the Gulf of Mexico, and by almost daily afternoon and evening rain showers, which are responsible for much of the island's rainfall. June is when the Island gets most of its rainfall. The area is prone to being hit by tropical cyclones and hurricanes; the hurricane season starts in June, but most of the activity occurs in September and October. However, local communities have "adapted to cope with these occasional storm threats."
Sanibel, Florida: Hurricanes
Southwest Florida rarely suffers direct strikes by hurricanes, but every 20 or so years it takes a significant hit, and about every 40 years a major one. Most of these have affected Sanibel. On August 13, 2004, Sanibel Island was hit hard by Hurricane Charley, a category four hurricane with 143 mph (230 km/h) winds. It was the strongest to hit Southwest Florida since Hurricane Donna in September 1960. While much of the native vegetation survived, the non-native Australian pines suffered serious damage, blocking nearly every road. Wildlife officials were also concerned that nests of birds and sea turtles were destroyed. The Sanibel Lighthouse survived with little damage, and the Sanibel Causeway suffered relatively minor damage, save for a toll booth tilted partly over, and erosion of a small seawall. Blind Pass was again cut through, but refilled less than one month later. Residents who left before the August 13 storm were not allowed back by the city government until August 18, due to hundreds of downed trees and electric power lines, and the lack of potable water and sanitary sewer. A temporary city hall for Sanibel was set up on the mainland in a Fort Myers hotel, until utilities and transport could be restored to the island.
Sanibel, Florida: Infrastructure
A view looking toward the mainland from the bay side of Sanibel shows the causeway in the distance.
Sanibel, Florida: Transportation
A new three-part causeway bridge to Sanibel was completed during the summer of 2007, and the high-span section replaced the original drawbridge.
Sanibel, Florida: Library
Sanibel Public Library was built in 1994 and measured 19,162 square feet. In 2004, the building was expanded an additional 10,386 square feet for a total of 29,548 square feet. The library houses more than 60,000 titles and is a charter member of the Southwest Florida Library Network (SWFLN). Sanibel Public Library is owned by the citizens of Sanibel Island and governed by a seven-member elected Board of Commissioners. Sanibel Public Library District is an independent special district created by the Florida Legislature, and is a governmental agency for all purposes under Florida Law.
Sanibel, Florida: Notable people
Notable people who reside or used to reside on Sanibel include:
R. Tucker Abbott, leading 20th century malacologist/conchologist
Horace William Baden Donegan, Bishop of New York, Episcopal Church in the United States of America
Clifton Fadiman, author and radio/TV personality
Helaine Fendelman, appraiser
Porter J. Goss, former CIA director
George A. Romero, film maker
Jean Shepherd, author, screenwriter and radio raconteur
Randy Wayne White, writer of crime fiction and non-fiction adventure tales
Sanibel, Florida: In literature
Sanibel Island is the main setting for crime novels written by local author Randy Wayne White. Popular locales are referenced throughout his novels. White's main fictional character is named Doc Ford and due to his popularity, White opened a restaurant in his character's name, Doc Ford's Sanibel Rum Bar & Grill.
Sanibel, Florida: In film
Parts of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead were shot on Sanibel Island. Romero had a second home on Sanibel, from which he rewrote Day of the Dead in 1984.
Night Moves was filmed on the Island in 1975, directed by Arthur Penn. It stars Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warren, Susan Clark and features early career appearances by James Woods and Melanie Griffith.
Sanibel, Florida: References
"City of Sanibel Florida Website". City of Sanibel Florida Website. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
"Annual Estimates of the population for the Incorporated Places of Florida". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
"US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
"Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation History". Retrieved 2009-07-09.