In many ways, a place like Sanibel Island should not exist. At 33 square miles, it’s the same size as Manhattan and is nestled up to the teeming southwestern Florida coast, but those comparisons fall flat in light of its 6,100-person population. One aspect, lodging on Sanibel, highlights the stark contrast with the rest of the Gulf coast; you simply won’t find high-rise condos or super sized chain hotels here.
How did Sanibel avoid the building boom that has turned much of the Florida coastline into a picket fence of concrete and glass towers? It nearly didn’t. Lack of access kept Sanibel remote until 1963 when the state built a permanent causeway, replacing the ferry service and exposing the island to vehicle traffic. This could have been the turning point since, in the heady days of the early 60s, bigger was better and fighting development was not fashionable. To their credit, Sanibel’s residents literally held their ground, drafting and passing the Sanibel Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 1974 that placed clear and comprehensive limits on development, preserving the island’s open spaces and wildlife.
As a result of Sanibel Islanders’ wariness, Sanibel lodging choices are different from those you will encounter elsewhere in the Gulf region. On Sanibel, lodging centers around quality of life, rather than quantity of visitors. As the oldest accommodation on the island, Island Inn set the standard and continues to uphold it. The buildings on the Island Inn property have “breathing room” around them – clearly we could pack more rooms and more guests in this 10-acre space if we wanted to – and this airy approach prevails among many of Sanibel’s resorts, inns and hotels.
The “old Florida” island culture also is evident in the activities on Sanibel. Where the mainland focuses on driving somewhere, parking and driving again, Sanibel visitors find themselves taking leisurely walks or bike rides to wherever they need to be. At Island Inn, guests find the beautiful Sanibel Island beach just outside their lodgings; no need to lug coolers, bags and chairs across sweltering tarmac or over long access paths. Stress melts away when you don’t have to worry about driving or hiking back to the room for potty breaks or forgotten items.
Bike rentals are simple to arrange at the Island Inn, since the lodging facility has its own fleet of bicycles to rent to its guests. Spending the day on the island’s 26 miles of picturesque (and mercifully flat) bike trails is a great way to see Sanibel and soak up the unspoiled landscape. Sanibel is made for bikes, and since bikes are quiet, they contribute to the island’s tranquility.
When you are ready to experience authentic “old Florida” island culture, Island Inn is the top choice of savvy travelers for Sanibel lodging since 1895. What are you waiting for?