Updated 3-2016 and 9-2017 below.
Back in 2001, a former landmark restaurant “Pete Renard’s”, and briefly “Marina Bay”, lay abandoned and deteriorating in the heart of Holmes Beach. Opposite the main mall Island Shopping Center, and sitting on prime waterfront with boat canals and docks, the previously family run night spot with the revolving floor and popular restaurant changed hands and then closed.
It’s been 7 15 years since an aspiring developer put together a plan for a complex of 40 luxury hotel condominiums, a deepwater marina for yachts and boats up to 65 feet in length, a restaurant, lounge and meeting facilities, to be called Tidemark Lodge & Marina.
Pre-construction sales of condominium suites were priced from the $300,000s to the $600,000s. The plan was approved by the city commission and demolition began. Periodic press releases promised great things even as long periods passed with no activity on the site.
Sometimes at this time of year, the residents of Anna Maria Island begin to feel as if they are operating bed and breakfasts. One set of guests leaves and there is barely time to wash and dry the sheets before the next visitors arrive. It is no wonder friends and family from up North want to visit paradise at this time of year but, while the guests are reveling in paradise, their hosts can start to feel as if it’s “paradise lost.” A constant stream of even the most considerate visitors can hinder residents from focusing on their own favorite island activities. Before they know it, the best season is over and it’s time to turn on the air conditioning and retreat inside.
There are many ways to cope with living in a place everyone else wants to visit. One Islander, formerly of Chicago, sent a card to all his friends when he moved here, announcing that they were welcomed to visit in Anna Maria Island, but only if they had previously visited him in Chicago. This was the acid test to prove that the guests were not just using the friendship as an excuse to have free accommodations in paradise. If they really were visiting for reasons of friendship, they would have visited in Chicago, too.
Another way to cope with having too much company is to not have a guest room. Silly as this may sound, it seems to be a possibility that many islanders have seriously considered. They talk openly about it. In fact, in early years, when researching accommodations for guests at the island information center, I explained to the sweet ladies working there that I had no extra room for guests, but that we were planning to build an addition for this purpose. I was surprised to be sternly advised by one of the ladies not to add a room for guests, or I’d be sorry. Maybe she was just trying to promote more business for the island hotels and motels. But I had the feeling she was giving me a sincere warning.