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February 6, 2019

A movement has been taking place over the last few years.  This movement started when Expedia purchased Homeaway in 2015.  Homeaway had a simple model.  The company would charge a flat fee to vacation rental owners in order to list on their website, and the homeowners would leverage Homeaway/VRBO’s wide reach to attract renters to their vacation homes.  At SGI Beach Vacations, we started with Sand Dollar on the VRBO platform in 2011 and were very happy.  However, the model has changed…and not for the better!  This movement that I mentioned has several names – Listing Site Independence (LSI), Building your VR Brand and others.  All of these are focused on one thing, educating the renter that Direct is Best.

                   Courtesy of Jodie Bourne

#Bookdirect is not about a war with the online travel agencies (OTAs) like VRBO and AirBnB.  It’s about leveling the playing field and educating consumers that there are ot...

January 5, 2019

Dail’s Seafood Trailer has been a staple on St. George Island for more than twenty-five years.  Many vacationers on St. George Island have been picking up shrimp and other seafood at Dail’s on the way to their vacation rental regularly for years, and for good reason…it’s the freshest seafood on the island.

Mr. Dail is a 5th generation fisherman.  This guy knows the waters of Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf.  Dail’s Seafood trailer sources its seafood from local shrimpers and fisherman every day.  That’s why the trailer is occasionally missing from its normal spot on East Gulf Beach Dr.  If the weather is so bad that the guys on the boats can’t go on the water, then Dail’s has to wait for another day to sell the island’s freshest seafood.

Our last visit to Dail’s was following a VERY long day on the golf course at St. James Bay in Carrabelle (blog review of St. James coming soon).  We stopped by the trailer that has become a staple on East Gulf Beach Dr.  The special of the d...

December 15, 2018

We’re back in full swing on our blog, and we are excited to talk about our go-to casual restaurant on SGI – BJ’s Pizza.  If you missed our blog last week about Wakulla Springs check it out here.

If you’ve been to St. George Island, you’ve seen BJ’s…you just can’t miss it.  BJ’s is located at 105 W Gulf Beach Dr. one block west of the St. George Island lighthouse.   BJ’s was founded in 1990 by the Blackburn family so it’s one of the oldest restaurants on the island, and there is good reason why it has hung around for so long.

So why do we like BJ’s so much?  We really just like the laid-back, casual feel of the place.  The girls that work at the counter are always great and really friendly.  BJ’s was remodeled 2-3 years ago and the owners added some nicer TVs and new tables and chairs. We always enjoy looking around at the college license plates that hang around the dining area (our kids always find the Alabama Crimson Tide plate quickly…Roll Tide!!).

We also like the o...

December 5, 2018

It has been way too long since we wrote our last blog, and I’ve been looking forward to writing about our trip to Wakulla Springs State Park.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to enjoy all the park has to offer, but we really enjoyed our trip, and we recommend that you check it out on one of your trips to St. George Island!

In our most recent trip to the island in September, we decided early on that we were going to go to Wakulla Springs on the way to SGI from the airport.  This time we flew into Jacksonville and made the drive toward Wakulla Springs and SGI.  I suggest you consider going to Wakulla Springs on your way to or home from the island because it is about an hour and 20 minute drive from the bridge on St. George Island (and farther if you’re coming from the Plantation or East End).  It had already been a long day, but we arrived at the park about 3:00 pm.  It was a warm, sunny day and very busy for a Saturday in the middle of September.

We immediately we...

October 20, 2018

It has been a big week as we try to learn more about the damage that has happened as a result of Hurricane Michael.  If you missed our blog from last week, you can check it out here.  I’m proud to say that our three vacation rental homes sustained little damage, businesses are starting to reopen and things are starting to return to normal on our little piece of heaven called St. George Island.\

I’m also very happy to say that our wind insurance has been restored at Sea Dunes!  That is a huge answer to prayer, and we know that many people have been praying for that situation.  We had over 900 people comment, etc. on our Facebook post about the topic and we are thankful for all of the support!  A big thank you to Citizens Property Insurance for taking good care of us and reinstating our policy.  We’ll talk more about Sea Dunes later.

Before we get to our homes and how they fared, many people have been asking about businesses on the island that have reopened.  We have confirm...

October 12, 2018

It has already been a long week.  As I'm sure all of you know, Hurricane Michael made landfall on Wednesday afternoon near Mexico Beach, just ~45 miles from St. George Island. Over the last two days, we have had many, many of you reach out to us to share your support and prayers with us, our homes and the rest of  St. George Island.  Thank you so much to all of you that have reached out to us!

We wanted to give a brief update on the storm and its impact to the island.  Generally speaking, I think most would agree that St. George Island fared better than most people would have expected early Wednesday morning.  Instead of taking a north-easterly path like most forecasters expected, Michael moved almost due north on Tuesday and Wednesday before it made landfall.  Despite making landfall 45 miles away, St. George Island still experienced a major event.  Storm surge reached 14 feet, winds were recorded near 90 mph and waves off of the coast of St. George Island measured as high as...

September 8, 2018

Today is the day!  As I type this, we are on our way to St. George Island.  We are super pumped and we are ready to have a big adventure week where we are going to check out new restaurants and activities that we’ve never done before. 

Because we live in Denver, our trips are typically comprised of a plane ride followed by a drive in a rental car.

Most of the time when we stay at one of our vacation rental homes on St. George Island, we have Jonathan’s extended family, but this week it is just the five of us and our dog Izzy (with a couple of visits from the family).  We’re staying at our beachfront home, Sea Dunes, and it’s gonna be a great week!  This is Izzy’s first visit to St. George Island, and she’s excited to be off of the airplane! 

I’m a big list maker so I thought I’d share our packing list for our trip to St. George Island.  Please remember that this list is for me,  Jonathan and our three kids (9-, 7- and 3-year olds).

Here is our list for this week:

Ki...

August 19, 2018

We are T-minus three weeks from our family trip to St. George Island…and we can’t wait!  Our family typically schedules a regular trip to St. George Island the week before Memorial Day (we usually stay at Serene Dream).  This is a great time to visit the island.  However, this year we had a big family reunion in May so we didn’t get to do our normal trip this year.  (To read about our family reunion experience and being “on the other side,” click here).  Because we missed our normal May trip, we’re trying something new and going the week after Labor Day (just three weeks away!...did I say that already?). 

When my family started visiting St. George Island while I was in college, we started going at the beginning of fall.  The fall is a great time to visit St. George Island because 1) the weather is awesome, 2) it’s even quieter than the summer, and 3) it’s cheaper!    We still have open weeks at our homes, and we encourage you to check out St. George Island during thi...

July 28, 2018

Did you know that St. George Island Beach Vacations started on VRBO (part of Homeaway) when the website was actually created for people to rent out their homes by owner?  Now, almost all vacation rental homes are listed on VRBO (both rentals by owner and those managed by management companies).  Did you that our three homes, Sand Dollar, Sea Dunes and Serene Dream, are some of the highest and most rated homes on VRBO for St. George Island?  Did you know that our average rating across all three homes is 4.90 stars?  We take pride in the way our vacationers  rate our homes, and we wanted to share some of the awesome reviews that we’ve received lately.

Sand Dollar

Kati (from Georgia) – "Wonderful"

Not even sure where to begin.... we just got back from spending a week there and it was the best trip with family!! Sand dollar is a beautiful home with lots of room for a family & kids! The pool, bedrooms, kitchen & porch were a few of our favorite things! We enjoyed spending ou...

July 24, 2018

Ever wonder what it’s like to be an owner of a vacation rental property?  Let me tell you, sometimes it’s really tough.  Recently we wrote a blog our experience as the renter of the property.  This was one of the most popular blog posts that we’ve written yet (you can read about it on our blog post entitled Being on the Other Side).  While we normally post blogs about events, activities and restaurants on SGI, the next few weeks are going to be a little different as we talk specifically about our St. George Island vacation rental homes.  This week we’re going to talk about our experience as the owner. 

There are many readers of our blog that are vacation rental owners themselves.  Unfortunately, being a vacation rental owner means that a vacation is often not really a vacation.  We often spend vacation time doing routine maintenance, improving the look and feel of our homes and trying to constantly improve our homes to make it a great experience for our renters over...

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