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Erehwon Retreat’s REFRESH program

Erehwon Retreat’s REFRESH program

Set in the heart of Tampa’s Old Seminole Heights, ErehwonRetreat remains the epitome of timeless elegance, and consistently earns 5 Star stay from it’s guests.

ErehwonRetreat is proud to have preserved both the physical and spiritual aspects of its unique heritage while adding modern flourishes, all bound together by our commitment to service.

Thanks to Facebook, Pinterest, guest can witness not only the special qualities of staying at a vacation rental, but also read of the lengths Henry and his staff go to keep guests happy.

To that end each May and December Henry spends a night in both the cottage and the bungalow.  In May the properties receive planned maintenance review and each fall Henry stay encompass what may need to be “Refreshed”.  For example in early December, I had six dining room chairs crowned with new foam and recovered in leather, the reading chair in the cottage was reupholstered, the deck furniture was sent off to be sandblasted, primed, powder and clear coated and after six years of service we replaced the box spring and mattress in the cottage.  Finally we replaced deck boards where needed and added a hand rail between the deck and the path to our off street parking and to enhance the awareness of our 90 year old  canopy we added passive lighting and new low voltage path lighting.  Check out pictures of the latest REFRESH.

Whenever a room is “REFRESHED” before it is put back into rental availability I spend a night in the property to ensure that everything is as it should be.  I examine it from every angle to check nothing unsightly is visible. It is not acceptable for a guest to sit down on a chair only to be able to see a nest of untidy cables. The slightest of scuff marks on a skirting board requires attention the next morning.

ErehwonRetreat has two housekeepers who have been with us since we opened,  but I maintain an emergency team of electricians, plumbers, carpenters and painters all of whom are highly-trained, and each has worked on Erehwon on and off for a decade.

Every third day, our vacation rentals continue to be vacuumed and towels refreshed and annually replaced.  There are countless panes of glass and mirrors that have to be cleaned regularly, with some requiring attention every week.

One guest comes to stay so often that we now store their possessions.

The employees see their jobs as being beyond hospitality, they know given my theatrical career I see Erehwon as ‘a stage, a theater of the roaring twenties.’ My role is to make a history a reality. ‘Memories of one’s childhood, Grandparents, a stronger family for having survived the Depression, are being fulfilled at Erehwon.  My constant focus is that Erehwon means more than just sleeping.”

TOP 10 TIPS…

 Top 10 Tips for an Unforgettable Vacation Rental Stay

While most any itinerary to Florida can be fabulous, and vacation rentals offer a great money saver, for my two – or ten – cents worth, here’s what I would share….

  1. Use trusted travel sites – The most popular sites for vacation rentals are HomeAway/VRBO, Flip Key/TripAdvisor.  For quick stays and shared rooms in owner occupied home AirB&B.  For Europeans WINDU.com and 9 Flats.com.  If the property has a Branded Name, do a web search and Facebook check on the name.  Some Web travel portals list top vacation properties but have no connection to the actual real estate.  Don’t bother calling if the site won’t permit you to write the owner,  it’s the classic bait and switch if you call.  That property will always be unavailable but they have others to suggest.
  2. How long the property has been advertised – the longer it has been on the travel site, the more likely it is to be genuine and legitimate.
  3. Ask if it’s legal – The state of Florida says cities can’t ban short-term rentals, can’t limit how frequently a property is rented and can’t require a minimum length of stay. So city officials are taking other steps to reduce their proliferation in single-family neighborhoods. Examples include registering with the state and city because the owners are supposed to be paying county and state taxes on the rental, capping the number of renters in any home, require a local contact for emergencies and allow the city to revoke the licenses of properties that repeatedly create disturbances or break the law. If you are renting a cooperative or apartment ask the property owner to confirm that their lease permits subletting.
  4. Don’t be fooled by Photoshop photography– Ask the owner for additional photos — an honest vacation lessor will always have other pictures to share.  If the property offers no exterior photos or you have concerns about the neighborhood, check Google’s Street View to confirm that the property you’re renting actually exists at the address advertised.
  5. Be careful of the lowest cost per night – If prices seem too good to be true, they often are in Florida.  Your greatest savings when compared with area hotels is during PEAK SEASON.  Hotels with excess capacity during the OFF SEASON are trying to match vacation properties.
  6. Read the reviews – Compare the differences in feedback from the first five guests with the last five guests that appears on all travel sites your property is listed:  HomeAway/VRBO, FlipKey/TripAdvisor, AirB&B
  7. Trust your instincts – But remember when the property owner is paying a commission to the website, the web site releases no contact information or last name until the reservation is completed.  In other words, the property owner knows nothing about you unless you are a registered member of the travel website.  So it’s not a red flag if the property owner has questions about your stay.  Better yet, avoid – “Is your place available?” by providing some background, “Hi, we’re interested in your bungalow. We are in our late 30’s, non smokers, live in Baltimore County, MD and we would be visiting with our two sons, ages 7 and 10.”
  8. Take your time –  No need to rush and avoid those properties that are pushing for a decision.  On the other hand, know if the property is listed on various travel sites.  If so, remember the owner is obligated to accept the first firm offer.
  9. Be a regular – If you rent a home you like, stick with it. You’ll develop a relationship with the owner if you go back to the same place year in, year out — and avoid the risk of being scammed on a new property.
  10. Take lots of pictures – But take a break from social media while you’re on vacation. Wait until returning home to post photos.  It’s not a great idea to announce to the world your away from home and check your privacy setting and avoid tagging your rental property location.

100th Gasparilla

100th Gasparilla

Tampa celebrates its 100th Gasparilla on Saturday (1/31/15).  Tampa’s answer to Mardi Gras celebrates the legend of Jose Gaspar (nicknamed Gasparilla), a mythical Spanish pirate captain who supposedly operated in southwest Florida. Gasparilla was founded in 1904.   The festival didn’t happen in 1907-09 and was suspended during World War I and II so it’s accurate to say Gasparilla has been held 100 times, just not all in a row.

Gasparilla Parade 1922 over the Kennedy Blvd. Bridge, 1 year before Erehwon was built.

Gasparilla

Vacation Retreat near Tampa Cruise Line Terminal

Vacation Retreat near Tampa Cruise Line Terminal

Tampa is one of the premier cruise port destinations in the South.

Erehwon Retreat is just 4.6 miles from the Port of Tampa Cruise ship Terminal; we coordinate our two properties turn over day with same day arrival/departures:

  • Sundays – Royal Caribbean International “Brilliance” and Carnival Cruises “Paradise.”
  • Mondays – Norwegian Cruise Line “Sun”, Carnival Cruises “Pride” and Holland America Line “Ryndam.”

This allows cruise ship passengers to easily enjoy an evening show at The Straz Center for the Performing Arts, visit Ybor city, the historic Cuban or Latin District of Tampa. Rest peacefully in Old Seminole Heights.  Our neighborhood at Tampa’s first suburb (1911) and has been designated as a National, State and local  Historic Landmark District.