Florida is considered one of the best winter destinations in the US. Since the turn of the century, it’s been the winter destination for many Americans. Today international travelers arrive in Florida from almost anywhere in less than 24 hours – but that wasn’t always the case.

What compelled these earlier generations to make such journeys? Many things:

  • Florida weather
  • Vacation rentals that offered grace, style and comfort
  • The unspoilt natural beauty of the Florida Keys
  • The new craze for ‘sunbathing’
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast.

In truth,  all the same things that draw today’s visitor, come to think of it.

FLORIDA RANKS AMONGST THE BEST WINTER DESTINATIONS Erehwon RetreatHowever, the way they traveled was very different. Before the 1890s, only the rich could afford vacations. They traveled with servant entourages, staying in grand hotels constructed by the same railroad companies that transported them. It wasn’t until 1896 that the rail line actually got as far as Miami and 1912 for Key West. And  on arrival in Tampa, you transferred to steamers for west coast destinations like Sarasota and Fort Myers.

The Florida automobile vacation arrives

FLORIDA RANKS AMONGST THE BEST WINTER DESTINATIONS Erehwon RetreatBeginning in 1908 the Model T (Tin Lizzie, Leaping Lena) opened travel to the common middle-class American.  The Dixie Highway S and the Lincoln Highway W brought tin canners. These people, taking their first ever vacation, packed their cars with bedding, books, clothes and canned food. Simultaneously, the short-lived St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line became the world’s first scheduled passenger airline service.

Of course travelers needed places to stay. Florida’s natural abundance of slash and long leaf pine made it an obvious building material. Today, the Heart Pine floors of Erehwon Retreat always astonish our guests.

FLORIDA RANKS AMONGST THE BEST WINTER DESTINATIONS Erehwon RetreatFinally, by 1928, it was possible to drive from Tampa, via the Tamiami Trail.

By the 1950s Snowbirds were common. These affluent people could afford to rent a property for the whole winter. They often picked their vacation rental from a brochure received in the mail – the precursor of browsing online today! For them, Florida was preeminent if the best winter destinations in the US. After that things moved rapidly.

FLORIDA RANKS AMONGST THE BEST WINTER DESTINATIONS Erehwon RetreatFlorida vacation habits change again

1995 saw the next huge leap – Vacation Rental by Owner or VRBO. Individual vacation property owners moved into the space previously reserved for real estate firms. Personal bookings of winter vacation rentals became possible, and popular. In 2008 Airbnb disrupted the market again with the ability to book short-term stays through their site. But by 2016 many vacation rental owners were recognizing that some things had been lost along the way:

  • the personal communication between renter and property owner
  • the ability to communicate little details that turn a vacation into an unforgettable experience.


Ultimately, booking direct from a vacation rental owner’s website  brought back some of those personal touches. Happily it also cuts some costs!

Erehwon Retreat aims to offer the best of both worlds. In decor and ambience, we hark back to that earlier, simpler time when the economy boomed and women bobbed their hair. But today’s vacation rental pros require very different things to their forebears, so instead of offering tennis lessons or tea dances, our Florida getaway provides luxury, elegance and style. Vacation rental by owner means our visitors walk into a property that is as loved, and lovely, as a home. Our vacation rental website means we keep our visitors in touch with all the great activities that Tampa Bay and Seminole Heights has to offer, whilst ensuring that they don’t miss out on a single aspect of Florida’s amazing tourist economy from theme parks to food festivals.

Whether they come from Denver or Denmark, Austin or Australia, our visitors delight in the personal touches that make Erehwon Retreat into much more than a home from home. It’s the ideal base for a dream holiday, and the perfect place to come back to at the end of the day.