STONE CRAB SEASON – Opens today

The Florida stone crab season opens today. which means fresh claws will soon show up on dinner tables and specialty fish markets.

This crab looks like pop eye, with pumped up, beefy claws folded out in front of its body. The Florida delicacy can cost two times the price of Alaskan snow crab legs. About 2 million pounds of sweet crab meat was harvested last year fueled a $31 million industry.

I love JB’s Seafood in Gulfport, FL.  You can order online. Stone Crab season ends May 1.

BASEBALL IN FLORIDA – The Grapefruit League

Baseball in Florida – The 2022 Grapefruit League

BASEBALL IN FLORIDA - The Grapefruit League Erehwon Retreat

Erehwon Retreat is well placed for visitors to enjoy a quintessential American activity – Major League Baseball. Spring training in Florida began in earnest in 1913, when the Chicago Cubs trained in Tampa and the Cleveland Indians in Pensacola. One year later, two other teams moved to Florida for spring training, the real start of the Grapefruit League. Except for a couple of years during World War II, when travel restrictions prevented teams training south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers, Florida hosted more than half of the spring training teams through 2009.

Since 2010, major league teams have been equally divided between Arizona (Cactus League) and Florida (Grapefruit League) for spring training prior to regular season, with 15 teams in Florida and 15 teams in Arizona.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 their home 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 Florida cities with the most years of spring training are St. Petersburg and Tampa (87 years), Bradenton and Clearwater (76 years), Lakeland (75 years), Sarasota (74 years), Fort Myers (64 years), West Palm Beach (63 years), Orlando (62 years), Vero Beach (58 years) and Winter Haven (55 years).

The Grapefruit League 2022

On February 26 the Grapefruit League begins  this year’s matches. Pitchers and catchers did not this week ending 2/20/22 due to an owners lockout.

  • Players would like to reach free agency faster than they currently do.
  • Players would like to be eligible for arbitration sooner than they currently are.
  • Players would like owners to stop cynically stashing them in the minors just long enough to delay starting the clock on both of the above eligibilities.
  • Players would like teams to stop receiving draft pick compensation for losing players in free agency—thus penalizing owners for signing big-money players, and depressing those players’ offers.
  • Players would like the owners who spend the least to stop receiving revenue-sharing money, essentially rewarding them for keeping their checkbooks closed.

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 Vacation 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.

Grapefruit League Map

View Grapefruit League 2022 training schedule

BOOK DIRECT WITH NO SERVICE FEES. EVER!

Never Pay Vacation Rental Service Fees Again

BOOK DIRECT WITH NO SERVICE FEES. EVER! Erehwon RetreatNo matter if your Florida vacation is a lifetime’s dream or an annual family ritual, there are many changes to keep in mind, first Hurricanes.  With the devastation with IRMA, MICHAEL and DORIAN impacting more than 2 million homes talk with the property owners before booking.  Theivacation rentalr rental may be fine but the area is not.

FEMA provides assistance for immediate expenses in the event insurance settlement is delayed by 30 days or more. This situation is all too common in Florida, as many people are filing large, complicated claims at the same time.

So, resist Instant Book and ask the property owners about their home, homes in the neighborhood even a few years after the storm.

Since February 2016 there has been massive consolidation of Online Travel websites and vacation rentals have multiplied.  But more than a few permanent residents don’t feel very welcoming to this ever-revolving door of new people week after week in their tight-knit neighborhoods.  Along with that, service fees.  Select communities’ and city leaders feel many new listings run afoul of residential zoning rules, and many post properties that may be dodging sales and bed tax, condo rules, or apartment leases, and guests are irritated with Service Fees imposed by the travel websites. Guests never pay a Service Fee when they Book Direct.

To help you find the ideal vacation, consider my 2017 top tips for finding the perfect vacation rental service at the best price.  As over 60% of American vacationers have yet to try a vacation rental, if this is a new idea also look at my 2015 top tips.

Lowest cost per night may not be cheapest

All properties advertised prices are pre-tax and usually without consideration of cleaning charge and often come with a whole host of ‘optional extras’ that you can’t avoid paying out for. When planning your trip, it’s good to remember that High and Peak Seasons are the time you’ll can expect a Florida vacation home rental will be 45-55% less compared with area hotel rates. 

With a vacation rental you’ll often be living in 2 to 5 times the space of the average 450 sq. foot hotel room. In the Off Season, hotels with rooms to fill are much keener to match vacation rental rates. Remember also that a hotel isn’t the same as a vacation rental home. Vacation rental properties are increasingly seeking to offer a unique experience, where every detail is designed to complement their locale and the kind of break their guests are seeking, whereas hotels focus on giving a standard experience wherever you are in the world.

Use trusted travel sites

When looking for a longer stay, Vacation Rental by Owner (Vrbo) may have the ideal place for longer stays – for example if you search on ‘Tampa FL’ you’ll find Erehwon Retreat listed.  If your trip is a last-minute getaway AirBnB often offers excellent options particularly home shares in which the owner is present.  Extended stays are so in demand with Covid19, Booking.com has recently enabled Weekly and Monthly fees on its site.

Trust your instincts, and your host’s instincts

Travel portals can be great, but remember algorithms rob us of the opportunity to be exposed to things we haven’t already endorsed. They place us within a prison of our own predetermined desires. We only get what we have wanted previously and nothing else.  This is a limiting way to travel. Further, they increasingly are making changes that remove your email and phone number and don’t provide guests the property owners phone number or give the property owner any information about you. Many proprietors have set up their own websites to let you book direct and avoid the 9-16.4% service fees now being charged and in many sites offer a discount.

Read reviews

Whichever Online Travel Agency your potential vacation rental service is listed on, reach deep into the review process and see what people have to say. Many properties are also reviewed on YELP, FOURSQUARE, TRUST PILOT, Google.  It’s a disaster to discover your property changed hands and the new owners didn’t earn the rave reviews you read online. It’s also good to look at photographs taken by guests and ask the owner for more photos than are shown online to get a real sense not just of the property but of its location and the neighborhood. Google Street View can help give you a sense of what you’re renting.  Keep in mind, Street Views are updated every three to five years.

While OTAs make it easy to set up as a vacation rental owner, it takes a real commitment to become part of the Hospitality industry.  That’s why at Erehwon Retreat our refresh program ensures every tiny detail makes your vacation special, as our Eight or Great post makes clear.

TAMPA’S GREAT PARADE – GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST

GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST

SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 2022!

Tampa celebrated its 100th Gasparilla Pirate Festival on January 31, 2015.  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.

Hundreds of thousands attend Gasparilla and related events each year. If both events are held as scheduled during the pandemic, Tampa will be home to what could be the biggest gathering of crowds in the nation for two consecutive weekends.

As reported in the Tampa Times, holding Gasparilla during this public health crisis isn’t impossible, said University of South Florida professor Jay Wolfson, an expert on public health and senior associate dean at the Morsani College of Medicine. He points to Disney World as an example of organizers doing an “excellent job” trying to prevent the spread of an unpredictable virus among large crowds of people.

But there are other factors at play, such as the state’s decision last week to reopen bars and breweries.  Stay tuned.

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

TAMPA'S GREAT PARADE - GASPARILLA PIRATE FEST Erehwon Retreat