Finding your ideal Florida vacation rental can seem like a big task, which is why I spend much of my time ensuring that actual and potential visitors to Erehwon Retreat know exactly what to expect from their Tampa vacation.
The problem is that it can be difficult to tell how long ago photographs of houses for rent in Tampa FL were taken. Some proprietors who offer their property on airbnb Tampa haven’t updated the pictures of their vacation home in five years much less dry cleaned draperies every six months. And several years of wear and tear can really date a property and its furnishings.
Erehwon Retreat has a rolling ‘refresh’ program to ensure that every aspect of the property looks bandbox fresh, but in addition I have begun to post every day on Instagram to show exactly what Erehwon Retreat and the environs look like all year round and to introduce vacationers to all that is best in Tampa Bay To make it even easier for potential renters to discover the reality of staying Erehwon Retreat, each daily image is automatically cross-posted to the landing page of my website, ensuring that our Tampa homes for rent are always in the spotlight!
But that’s not the whole story. I’m keen to let visitors know exactly how to make the most of their Florida vacation rental, whether its fine dining and concerts, hikes and bird-watching, biking, locating the best fresh water spring or chilling in coffee houses. That’s why the Erehwon Retreat Instagram feed will feature many details of life in the area, from coffee to beaches, from painted buntings to the view from the porch so that by the time guests arrive they already feel right at home.
Finding homes for rent in Florida
So what are the top tips for finding the perfect vacation rental?
1. Be sure what you’re looking for
Knowing whether you want a relaxing break or a vacation filled with experiences can help you pick the right kind of location for your trip. Consider the preferences of all the members of your party – is there plenty of activity for the kids, will teenagers find enough to amuse them, do all the adults in the party have something special to look forward to at this venue?
2. Know your vacation rental terminology
Do you know the difference between sea view and waterfront or Seminole Heights vs Old Seminole Heights? It’s important because a sea view simply means that the ocean can be observed from at least one window of the vacation rental, while a waterfront location means nothing between you and the beach or the Intra Coastal Waterway Misleading and dated photos are a real issue. That’s one reason I’m happy about Instagram, over time it will give people a real sense of Erehwon Retreat and its environs.
3. Visit several sites
Everybody knows AirBnB, but sites like Owners Direct and tripz.com offer a wider range of possibilities. Don’t forget that it can be advantageous to book direct with a proprietor via their own website once you’re certain that you really understand and appreciate the property and its surroundings.
Erehwon Retreat is well placed for visitors to enjoy a quintessential American activity – baseball. The Toronto Blue Jays will be playing in Dunedin, the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater and the New York Yankees in Tampa itself. Every one of these games is within half an hour’s drive of Erehwon and with the Baltimore Orioles doing their winter training in Sarasota and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, each within an hour’s drive, there’s no shortage of quality baseball literally on our doorstep.
The Baltimore Orioles migrate to Sarasota
The long history of the Baltimore Orioles began with a name change, when, in 1953 the St Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and changed their name … from that year they went from strength to strength, and today their winter training ground in Sarasota gives many a Florida vacation rental visitor the chance to explore some quality baseball.
Detroit Tigers travel to Lakeland
In a similar vein, the even more veteran Detroit Tigers have a winter training ground in Lakeland. Since 1894 when the Tigers were a charter member of the reorganized Western League, the changing fortune of the Tigers has been a subject of joy and despair for their followers. It’s amazing to consider that this baseball team has been around since the day star players traveled to the baseball ground in horse-drawn buggies! But for those looking for homes for rent in Florida, the Tigers present a fantastic opportunity to see baseball in the sun today.
The Grapefruit League 2018
On February 22 2018, the Grapefruit League begins this year’s matches. Professional and university teams will engage in a series of exciting matches that include the Detroit Tigers opening league play on February 23rd in a show-stopping match against the New York Yankees at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. There’s something special about watching baseball in Florida – endless sunshine, easy travel between baseball grounds and none of the stress of fighting to get into the packed grounds and dealing with the congested roads around stadiums in the Northern states. Instead it’s an easy-going experience of sport in the sun, with something for everybody. As the league timetable shows, there’s no end of excitement to be had!
Florida villa rentals – the joy of year-round sport
For golfers in particular, Florida is a center of excellence renowned throughout the world, but baseball is also a winter joy for those hunting down the perfect Tampa homes for rent. Whether you’re a fan of a particular team, or just enjoy watching baseball for the sheer pleasure of sportsmen in action, Florida state is a wonderful opportunity for spectators. Not only that, but with Florida’s wonderful food shops and eateries there’s every opportunity to enjoy a picnic or tailgate meal that will delight every member of your vacation party – whether they are baseball fanatics or not.
Millions of visitors every year seek out Florida Vacation Rentals for the sun, the theme parks, and the relaxing lifestyle. But Florida offers a rich palette of experiences that aren’t covered in the usual guidebooks or TripAdvisor. At Erehwon Retreat, we always offer recommendations that move guests to the less well traveled roads and adventures. To advance this even further, we are adding a new tab to ErehwonRetreat.com which will give visitors additional opportunity to see our region through the eyes of exceptional artists and craftsmen who reside in the Central Florida area, and to give guests to Erehwon Retreat the opportunity to discover the glorious secrets of this region.
Poisonous frogs feast on insects that don’t even have names. Tropical lizards disappear into the cracks of trees whose branches spread out as wide as their trunks climb high. This is the real Florida, as it was before people, and probably will be after us, too.Nancy Pickard, author
Few artists capture the beauty and variety of Florida’s environment better than Peter Brannon. Peter lives in Seminole Heights. I discovered his work when reading of him winning the coveted Audubon Photography Award in 2015. His work draws upon the landscape of Florida which combines a varied ecosystem with migrating birds, native wildlife and plants and a year-round fruitfulness to create unmatchable opportunities to observe bird behavior. As he says himself, “…I photograph birds. There is something relaxing to the spirit in photographing them. Their variety can ensure that the love of the pursuit never ebbs, and the connection in the natural world that occurs can calm and center the mind.”
Peter Brannon’s work combines pinpoint sharpness with an understanding of the natural world that allows him to capture bird behavior, not just birds. It is this ability to recognize the relationship between the subject and its surroundings which give his photographs such resonance – they reveal the harmony of nature in a profound fashion.
Homes for rent in Florida allow visitors to discover the natural world that Peter Brannon’s photographs encapsulate so perfectly. The more relaxed pace that comes from staying in a vacation rental allows time to absorb the natural world, to enjoy undisturbed time examining the detail of a stunning landscape or, if we’re lucky, to watch a rare and beautiful animal going about its business right in front of us.
As far back as the 1890s, people were moving to Florida to make their dreams come true. Rock Scott, Florida Governor
Some places seem to have a knack for concentrating migrating birds in larger than normal numbers. These “migrant traps” often become well known as birding hotspots. This is typically the result of local weather conditions, an abundance of food, or the local topography. While Florida may literally be a dream come true for birders, and the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail offers 2,000 miles of opportunity to spot rare species, we can easily make recommendations within a 40-mile radius of Tampa. The stunning diversity and power of the Florida landscape cannot be better captured than in Peter Brannon’s work – a permanent memorial to the glorious secrets of Florida that go unseen by the majority of visitors.
Visit Tampa and discover more about the lives of birds. Many of our guests tell us that the thing they remember best was developing some birding skills and how when they returned home, they now think about making their neck of the woods a better place for wildlife.
Rebuilding a 1920’s treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida
Many boats meet undignified ends, scuttled, wrecked or just abandoned. Some though, are restored to life. In the summer of 1979 I was wandering through the storage field of Essex Isle Marina in Connecticut when I came across a long-abandoned gaff rigged Wianno Senior Knockabout Sloop named Simba. Built in 1923, at some point she’d been left to rot in storage, but immediately her lines appealed to me. It was the beginning of a long relationship, and the foretaste of how much her launch year of 1923 would influence my life and restoration of my vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Erehwon Retreat.
Wianno Seniors – a brief pedigree
Since 1914, Wianno’s have had a reputation for rounding the mark and slicing past in a flash of brightwork, canvas and speed. Their ease of handling and seaworthiness made them popular both as racers and coastal voyagers. Fantasy #11 can be seen at Mystic Seaport Museum and Victura #94 – the boat purchased by Joseph P. Kennedy and sailed by his children and grandchildren – is on show at the John F Kennedy Memorial Library.
I found Simba to be able, safe and challenging – as did the many friends who sailed her – and for me, learning to get about without the fallback of auxiliary power allowed me to develop patience and a sensitivity to wind and tide that served me superbly when I moved, a decade later, to a Rhodes Offshore 40.
By 1986, the Wianno Association members were considering a fiberglass version. A few years earlier, Sparkman Stevens had hauled in five wooden Seniors at mid-season, weighing and electronically measuring each one. Using that study to determine the ideal characteristics of a Senior, the vessel was re-created as a three-piece fiberglass hull, deck and interior. The fiberglass Seniors look great and sail well, but as a veteran of the wooden sloop, I notice that the sound of the boat has changed.
Wooden sailboat restoration – love affair and learning curve
Simba, originally Hull 51*, was a leaking bucket when I bought her; years of hard racing on Nantucket Sound had put enough leaks in the bottom that just keeping her bailed would have exhausted a strong man and the cabin seemed only to filter out leaves. She was valued at no more than her unpaid yard bills – $500, so when I’d paid off her dues, I had her carefully loaded onto an overland boat carrier and moved from Essex to East Haddam, CT.
Her new home was the back yard of the wood boat repair shop run by Robert K. Wilmes whom I hired to serve as consultant for her restoration. Included in his consulting fee were storage rights on his property and the use of his tools, so, in season, we would meet every Friday evening for dinner before, on Saturday morning, list in hand, he would indicate exactly what I would need to accomplish in the next two day’s labor. I would leave NY City center with sufficient time to make the 15:30 Amtrak Boston train arriving at Old Saybrook station at 18:04 and then would come 48 hours of patience, practice and learning because, at least for the first few months, it was less accomplish than re-do. Getting the cut right was a literally painstaking process – winching in the curve to the right fit caused a beam to break and the wood flew back to within three inches of my head – a fraction further and I’d have been dead.
Wianno Seniors were constructed from native white oak which was used for framing the stem, keel, deadwood, sternpost, knee and horn. Simba, whom I renamed Corsair, was carvel planked using 13/16-inch cypress. This was standard until 1932, but Wiannos from that date onward had planks of Honduras mahogany. They all had 600 lbs. iron on the keel as external ballast.
Bob Wilmes directed me to start with the deck, deck beams, demo the cockpit, cockpit staving, so that I could inspect, repair or sister her frames, which were 1 1/2 inches square, spaced 9 inches on centers. The original frames were dovetailed and wedged in the keel.
Then, under his tutelage, I moved onto deck beams – oak spaced 10 inches on centers – and added a watertight cockpit floor made of fir plywood 5/8-inch-thick, before fiberglassing the surface. The cabin trunk was the steam bent white oak that had nearly cost me my life.
The new cabin deck was 3/8-inch marine plywood, canvas covered, glued and ironed, the same for the process of fixing the deck canvas, covered with white oak rub rails I had fashioned. The hull itself was wooded – removing all paint and exposing the bungs. Following their removal, I drew out as many of the galvanized fasteners as I could, replacing each with a new stainless steel one.
The hull above the waterline received a coat of Penetrol followed by a primer and then Interlux French Gray with white intrusion line. The decks, received three coats of buff. The outside bright work was given two sealers and eight coats of spar varnish. Below the waterline, after the garboard and shudder planks had been replaced by Bob himself, she received one prime coat followed by two coats of antifouling green.
By the time she was ready to launch in June 1982, I was ready to move from the NY City Centre Joffrey Ballet and accepted a position at the Guthrie Theater. It was, as people say today, a no-brainer; a new wood Wianno Senior would cost me $40,000 and anyway, I had thousands of hours literally grained into the wood of the boat, so I negotiated her transport to Minnesota as part of my relocation costs.
In Minnesota, I changed Corsair to Kirby paint, after consulting with the restoration team at Mystic Seaport. They advised me to move away from paints that contained modern acrylics as these would harden the wood. Acrylic-free surfaces definitely made prepping the topsides much easier each spring. Another advantage of moving to Minnesota was that some of the many talented craftsmen in the Guthrie scene shop were available to hire for boat work on the side. The Wianno’s new tiller, fashioned as a copy of the original, was the result of one such collaboration.
Boat restoration – a bug you can catch
There was another unexpected outcome to the Minnesota move. Boats are one of those places that great friendships spontaneously and naturally develop, and it gives me great pleasure to recall teaching my boss, Ed Martenson, to sail. He caught the bug, has restored two boats of his own, and we’ve crewed on each other’s boats for over a quarter of a century.
The history of Hull 51
I sold Corsair following the 75th Anniversary of the Fleet at Osterville in 1989, where she won Best Prize for Restoration. But she wasn’t done with me. One evening I found myself wondering how many fiberglass Seniors had actually been built? Going through the Wianno Senior Class Association‘s members list by hull number and comparing that information with a page from the 75th Anniversary book revealed who had owned a Senior in 1935. I discovered that, at that time, Hull 51 was named King Tut and owned by Lawarson Riggs Jr of Woods Hole. A Google search later I had turned up a letter from his law office written, as Treasurer of the Woods Hole Institute, to the Rockefeller Foundation. Riggs was born in St. Louis, where I went to college at Washington University. He attended Columbia Law School and lived at 70 W 11th. When I was a similar age, I lived at 20 E 8th. His law focus was Estate and Tax, an area I follow intently as a career fund raiser. The parallels intrigued me.
In 1989, Victor M Tyler purchased Corsair through my boat broker and renamed her Hilda. Several months later I received a registered package containing her name board and brass letters along with a note asking if Corsair had ever been moored off of Bracketts Point? I called him to confirm – George and Sally Pillsbury had indeed been gracious enough to invite me to place a mushroom anchor off their property. His response was a deep sigh; he had visited his cousin Ella Pillsbury who lived right next door and Corsair was part of a boat class he had long known.
1923 – a year that has come to dominate my life
With Corsair gone, my awareness of 1923 slipped from sight, but it was simply waiting under the surface. When I retired to Tampa, Florida, I purchased a bungalow and cottage built in … 1923. It took me a year of restoration to achieve the 1920s ambience I wanted for the properties and when I’d finished, I named them Erehwon Retreat – vacation rental properties in Tampa that are lovingly crafted reminders of the glories of the Roaring Twenties.
* For those who love the genealogy of boats as well as people, Hull #51’s name history is: 1. King Tut 2. Golden Fleece 3. Simba 4. Corsair 5. Hilda
November kicks off the winter cruise season, which is the busiest time of year for Port Tampa Bay and Erehwon Retreat’s more complicated booking season. Each season we host a few cruise line passengers for a week’s visit preceding or following a cruise out of Port of Tampa.
From our historic perspective, the Port’s single largest embarkation took place in 1898 when Tampa received 30,000 troops bound for the Spanish American War. The initial wave, which included Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, departed on June 7 with 16,000 troops bound for Cuba. The Tampa Bay Hotel was used as the Officer Quarters. The Rough Riders were recruited mainly in the Menger bar in San Antonio and trained in front of the Alamo. Coincidentally, in my prior life managing the NY City Joffrey Ballet, whenever the company played San Antonio we stayed at the Hotel Menger next to the Alamo. I knew the story that they departed for the east by train, but that’s where the story stopped until I opened Erehwon Retreat. But that’s another blog post.
Port of Tampa Cruise Services
Carnival’s ships operate year-round four- and five-day cruises to the western Caribbean, including the popular destination at Mahogany Bay. Currently, the line also sails seven-day itineraries during the winter season and these will be offered year-round commencing January 2018.
Royal Caribbean’s two ships will provide four-, five- and seven-day cruises in the winter. And, for the first time, Royal Caribbean will operate four- and five-day summer cruises when Empress of the Seas begins sailing from Tampa on 30 April.
Meanwhile, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade, will offer itineraries ranging from four to 12 days that will include a stop at its new island destination, Harvest Cay in Belize.
Rounding out Port of Tampa’s passenger offerings, Holland America has increased its passenger capacity by replacing a long favorite among Erehwon Retreat guests, the Veendam, with the Oosterdam.
2017 saw a 6% growth in passengers to a total of 813,934 over 188 sailings.
Unique Accommodations for Cruise Passengers
Erehwon Retreat is located just 4.6 miles from the Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal; we coordinate our two properties during winter cruise season to turn over the same day arrival/departures of Saturday and Sunday. This allows cruise ship passengers to easily enjoy an evening show at The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, visit Ybor city, the historic Cigar District.
With a host who is a sailor and also ex US Navy, one of the subtle differences of staying at Erehwon is having special amenities for guests preparing for sea or returning to land. There are adjustments to avoid land sickness for some, and we know how to prepare our property so that guests rest peacefully in our 1920’s environment. Old Seminole Heights is Tampa’s first suburb (1911) and has been designated as a National, State and local Historic Landmark District.