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.
There are so many good accommodation choices on the island, which feel so homey that one’s company will still feel as if they’ve had a casual visit to an island. Haley’s Motel in Holmes Beach has always been one of our favorite spots to recommend to guests, because it’s in a residential neighborhood very close to the beach. Some of the villas rented by the Beach Inn also are wonderfully homey places for company. The Tortuga Inn is a nice spot in Bradenton Beach. There are numerous other choices.
Even if one has a guest room, it might be necessary to be strict about how long company can stay in one’s home. In our family, splitting the vacation between the home and a resort seems to work well for everyone involved. Often a sibling comes to the area and spends a couple of nights at our house and then a few more nights in a nearby resort accommodation. This way, we get some good focused family time together, but then have more of a beach vacation while we get back to the responsibilities and interests of our own life. It’s always fun for a local to visit a relative at one of the fine motels or hotels in the area. It’s a win-win situation for all involved.
Of course some gracious hosts have no problem with guests, and welcome back-to-back company. These tend to be people who are able to carry on with their own lives without feeling the need to cater to visitors. They let the company get their own meals, and find their own entertainment. Maybe they even have guest houses or apartments to offer their visitors. And some islanders are perfectly happy to give up their usual routines and interests in order to fully cater to their company in a homestead bed and breakfast style. Maybe the company includes young grandchildren. It’s a brief opportunity to be a meaningful part of the life of a special young person.
Whatever the case, it’s a great place to live if you like having company. And if you don’t, it could be time to convert that guest room into something else.