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Holiday Homes Florida Vacation Homes

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Our 2 bed + pull out couch/2 bath Bungalow is great for families. And with early planning, extended families may coordinate booking both our Guest Cottage and Bungalow for the same dates. Lots of families give Grandparents or in-laws our Guest Cottage less than 150′ away from the Bungalow for a quiet spot. Even larger families ask our on-site Concierge to identify other nearby holday rentals within a few blocks walk in our historic neighborhood.

We have hosted families in our Holday Rentals from Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Helsinki, Johannesburg, Essen, Dorncaster, Bithoven, Enschele, Skieve, Vellinge Schleusingen, Glengowie and in a few weeks Buenos Aires. Ocassionaly we link reservations with family members living in the US with other members living in Europe. Each reunion is unique and over and over I plug in my own world travel experience to ensure the little details are considered.

As well as elegant rooms you can find amenities and services you expect of a hotel. Complimentary Wi-Fi. Free off-street parking, linen service, Children’s beach toys, Beach Umbrella and beach towels, Yoga mat(yoga studio one block away), visiting massage therapist, expert on site Concierge.

There is a rich history in Tampa that is still being made to this day. Whether you are visiting for a weekend, a week or a month make sure to use our traveler resources under the Location tab.

Train Travel to Florida – reliving the golden age

Train Travel to Florida – reliving the golden age

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

Snowbirds aboard! From 1925, vacationers heading for Florida had a new way to travel – the Orange Blossom Special – a deluxe passenger train that connected New York City and Miami during the winter. The train sped over 1327 miles through Washington DC, Richmond, Raleigh and Savannah, with a limited section continuing to Tampa and St. Petersburg. Another plush passenger train operating from 1892-1965 was the Yellow Stripe “Dixie Flyer” an all-Pullman from Chicago’s Dearborn Station to Miami via Atlanta with a unit to Tampa and Sarasota. Many famous and infamous rode the Flyer, including Al Capone. But his 1932 trip was to Atlanta to serve a Federal prison term for tax evasion.

 

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation HomesTrain Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tampa Bay was booming and vacation rentals in Florida were let as soon as they were available. By using fast, elegant trains, railway companies hoped to persuade influential and busy people to move to the Sunshine State for the winter. It succeeded beyond anybody’s expectations – the journey took around 35 hours and during the trip, passengers were regaled with superb food, vintage wines and liquors and exceptional service. So famous was the route that it was immortalized in song by Ervin T Rouse and Robert Russell “Chubby” Wise – perhaps the best-known recording of the song was by Johnny Cash. The paint scheme for the Orange Blossom Special train, in lime, orange and lemon, was meant to suggest the hues of Florida’s citrus orchards and it was so distinctive it was granted a patent. Tampa’s Union Station serves more than 100,000 passengers annually, according to the Rail Passenger Association.

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

 

Florida Vacation? Take the train

So, are the golden days of travel to Florida behind us? Not so. There are two ways to travel to Tampa, via The Silver Service or the Auto Train.

The Silver Service – New York City to Miami

Two trains, the Silver Meteor and the Silver Star make vacation travel to Florida a breeze. With dozens of exciting destination stops en route, reserved coach seating and comfortable sleeping berths, both trains give vacationers a taste of the elegant transport of previous generations. Silver Meteor offers inclusive traditional dining car meals in the ticket price, while on Silver Star the food service is simply sandwiches, snacks and drinks – a cheaper option, particularly suited to student travel. The Palmetto offers business class travel, ideal for those heading to a convention or business meeting in Florida and needing a stress-free travel option. Trains run every day and the journey time is around 28 hours, depending on your start and finish points. Florida, especially Tampa, has been a stong market for Amtrak according to the Rail Passengers Association. The Tampa to New York City was one of Amtrak’s most profitable in Florida. The Tampa to West Palm Beach was one of the highest ridership trips in 2019.  NOTE: Amtrak is scaling back service and at least 20% of its workforce due to Covid19. Train service for Tampa will be reduced to three times per week thru 2021 beginning July 6, 2020.

Auto Train – Washington to Orlando

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

This 855 mile train service caries both passengers and their four tire/ 2 axle vehicle or motorcycle. Whether you rock a van or travel with a jet-ski, this non-stop train journey gives you a chance to travel in comfort and still have your own vehicle at the other end of your trip. Comfy coach seats give you a chance to nap on the way, or you can reserve a roomette with nearby restrooms … or go the whole hog and hire a bedroom with daytime seating, private restroom and shower and attendant service to convert your seats to beds overnight. Not only that, but all meals are included.This travel option really brings the best of both worlds – relaxing transport to your Florida vacation rental and the comfort of being able to drive your own automobile when you arrive. The 17.5-hour journey makes a pleasure of getting to the Sunshine State. The auto train is the only long distance route that will continue to operate daily during Amtrak’s Covid19 service reduction plan implemented July 6, 2020.

Train Travel to Florida - reliving the golden age Florida Vacation Homes

Caught the train bug? A rail pass brings Florida to you

It seems every year we have guests who fly into Seattle, or San Francisco or Los Angeles and spend a few weeks riding such famous trains as the Empire Builder, California Zepher, SW Chief to Chicago and then on to New York or Washington DC before traveling to Florida. Available in 15, 30 and 45-day options, Amtrak’s rail pass allows you to get on and off the train wherever you choose – why not consult our guide to the local area’s attractions and events and plan an itinerary that includes all that’s best in Florida?

Erehwon Retreat Instagram

750 posts on Instagram

Erehwon Retreat Instagram Florida Vacation Homes

Finding “your” ideal Florida vacation rental can be endless, which is why I spend much time ensuring that prospective visitors to Erehwon Retreat know exactly what to expect from their Tampa vacation home and area.

I’ve taken and posted more than 750 pics with commentary on a range of locations, habitats, fauna and restaurants you may want to visit while visiting.

The problem is that it can be difficult to tell how long ago photographs of holiday homes were taken. Some proprietors who offer their property on Airbnb or Vrbo haven’t updated the pictures of their vacation home in 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 Booking.com and Vrbo 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.

Rebuilding a 1920’s treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida

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.

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes
 

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.

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes
 

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.

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes

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.

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes

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.

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes

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

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation HomesThere 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

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes

 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.
Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes

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.

Rebuilding a 1920's treasure led to restoring vacation rentals in Tampa, Florida Florida Vacation Homes

* 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

EIGHT or GREAT – one Vacation Rental’s Refresh Program

EIGHT or GREAT – one Vacation Rental’s Refresh Program

 

EIGHT or GREAT - one Vacation Rental's Refresh Program Florida Vacation Homes

EIGHT or GREAT - one Vacation Rental's Refresh Program Florida Vacation Homes

Erehwon Retreat isn’t your average vacation rental – it’s a 1923 Arts and Craft home away from home. While AirBnB, Booking.com,  Vrbo, TripAdvisor has revolutionized the way we book vacations, there’s still nothing like personal attention to detail.

Hospitality means you can’t perform maintenance when something breaks. Heater not firing up? Better see what’s wrong. AC busted on the hottest day of the year? Time to replace it.

That strategy simply doesn’t work for a vacation rental, because the guest may only be on property for the two days it takes to fix the problem at hand. Instead, we’re on the offensive with every turn over, and perform routine maintenance every six months whether we think our properties need it or not.

 

Finding a vacation rental with the personal touch

So, what does that mean at Erehwon Retreat? To start with, as proprietor, I have a very different approach to this beautiful rental property.

Many ‘holiday homes’ are simply outfitted by somebody who’s retired to Florida and wants to find a source of income for themselves, so the quality and style of the furnishings slowly erodes yet the photos date to the opening. In our case we update with independent professional photographers every other year. AirBnB might have given consumers more choice, but actually choice is often related to location, rather than decorative arts. And worse, furnishings often are just the latest from Ikea. A recent guest reminded me that hotel rooms that are heavily discounted are designated for a ‘refresh’ but until they are taken out of service, they’re available for use at deep discount. You know – worn out mattress, dilapidated fixtures and lampshades with burn marks.

EIGHT or GREAT - one Vacation Rental's Refresh Program Florida Vacation HomesAt Erehwon Retreat our focus is on timeless elegance. Working from a curators’ perspective, every aspect of the bungalow, cottage and grounds is examined to see how it can combine the historical pedigree of its era of construction alongside the very best of modern innovation in comfort and performance. That’s why I work with interior designer Nikki Couture, who confers with me annually to create a maintenance schedule that renovates or replaces the contents of both properties to keep them bandbox fresh. The cottage will commence its eighth season in November, which meant we looked at everything with an eye to replacement. Some items though, like towels and wash cloths are replaced annually.

 

Florida Vacation Rentals – how to find perfection in every detail

One of the secrets to success at Erehwon Retreat is that I spend a night in each property twice a year, giving me first-hand experience of using every aspect of using my vacation rentals, from the cutlery in the drawers, to the mattress on the bed, to sitting on the deck to enjoy the view. This allows me and my team to strive constantly to improve and ‘refresh’ so that the rental experience constantly improves.

In December 2016, this maintenance activity included:

  • Re-crowning the six dining room chairs with foam and then re-upholstering them with leather
  • The cottage’s reading chair being reupholstered by a specialist
  • Deck furniture being sent away for sand-blasting, repainting and sealing
  • Replacing the box spring and mattress in the cottage (our hotel grade beds are often favorably mentioned in our reviews!)
  • Changing deck boards where necessary
  • Adding a hand rail to cover the journey between the deck, path and parking area
  • Installing passive lighting to enhance the gorgeous tree cover in the evenings
  • New low-voltage path lighting around the property.

This fall the cottage has also received new seat cushions, bolsters and pillows to ensure perfect comfort for all vacation guests.

The period details of the property aren’t just window dressing – they contribute to the quality of every experience. The 1920s were the tipping point between craftsmanship and mass production, meaning that furniture and decorative items were made from high quality materials but with innovative and exciting design concepts – the ideal balance of form and function that makes these Florida vacation rentals lovely to look at and superb to stay in.
 

Choosing a vacation rental – top tips

EIGHT or GREAT - one Vacation Rental's Refresh Program Florida Vacation HomesWhile looking at photographs can help you get a sense of a place, there’s a great deal to be said for looking at reviews too. It’s vital to find the perfect base for your vacation, and that means paying attention to such details as the quality of sleep that people say they get, the attention to detail that allows a kitchen to be fully supplied with everything necessary to cook a great deal, and the atmosphere of a property, which can make all the difference between a good vacation and an unforgettably great one.

Remember that the difference between a hotel (commodity industry) and vacation rentals (service industry) is entirely in the quality of the experience. As an example, if our guests take towels to the beach, we wash them overnight so they have fresh towels again the next morning.

And finally, in trying to be a great vacation rental host I love to make sure my guests are relaxed and happy because that will make me happy too!