Tampa Vacation Rental Owner’s Insights

1000 Guests at Erehwon Retreat

1000 guests are right

Sophie Tucker’s record ‘Fifty-million Frenchmen can’t be wrong’ alludes to the  free-and-easy attitude to drinking in France seven years into Prohibition in the U.S.A. A historian friend mentioned Tucker’s hit, after Erehwon Retreat’s 1000th guest checked out.  1000 guests are right because 2020 marks our tenth season. We’ve enjoyed a decade of:

  • welcoming vacationers,
  • practicing the skills of hospitality,
  • offering a relaxing, inspirational home base from which to explore Tampa and the wider central Florida region.

A thousand vacations … what makes Erehwon Retreat so special?

It’s been a decade of hard work to make Erehwon Retreat unique. Florida is full of places to vacation, so it’s been our mission to combine the t charm of a vacation home rental with superb features. We offer more space, safety, security plus white glove cleaning /disinfection, alongside a personal welcome and on-site concierge.

Wilcox Nursery and I planned to build a Florida native plant garden, to show visitors native plants and wildlife. Now they can spot them on local hikes. I hope that those in Executive Transfer while looking for a Florida home learn to help the environment and support wildlife. My dream has become a reality, delivering dozens of different native birds and butterflies to Erehwon Retreat’s doorstep.

Awards for Erehwon Retreat

This year the garden was designated a Wildlife Habitat by the National and Florida Wildlife Federation. It’s a huge honor, but more importantly,  vacationers who stay with us experience the best of Florida on their doorstep. My Grandmother said, “planting a garden is to believe in tomorrows.” Our garden is the tomorrow of our vacation rental.

The universal language of hospitality

I’ve always worked in the performing arts – so I have know music and dance are ways to communicate across boundaries. Since developing Erehwon Retreat, I’ve learned that hospitality is a universal language too. When Erehwon opened, it was aimed at Americans; today 12% of our guests are from overseas. Their expectations are different. Whether they come from America or Asia, it’s important to know their particular likes and dislikes – it makes for fascinating new discoveries.

Online hospitality for 1000 guests

Offering an experience of the 1920s to people from around the world is a joy. As part of our 10th anniversary, I developed a stronger guest experience, which is why, since December 8 we’ve made Erehwon Retreat  available in 25 different languages. I chose them through having hosted at least one guest from each language. For example, Erehwon Retreat hosted two guests from Argentina, and one each from Spain, Paraguay, Mexico and the Dominican Republic – hence our Spanish language site is  very popular! Looking back it’s hard to believe we’ve welcomed guests from so many countries.

The Erehwon Retreat perspective

From period decorative details to wildlife-watching opportunities over breakfast on the deck, I’ve designed my holiday house to be truly special and unique. Luxury one meant three-piece-suits and starched shirts, but that’s changing and our guests want a  genuine approach to service rather than formalities. Many people agree that I’ve achieved my aim.

This year, Erehwon Retreat won the Tampa Award for Vacation Rental Agency. What makes my vacation home unique is my commitment to service. Just as AirBnB is moving to AirBnB Plus to offer guests a more valuable, unique rental experience, I know every future visitor will discover just what makes 1000 guests right. Erehwon Retreat is special, and whatever language you speak,  we’ll share the language of hospitality.

Give it up for Sophie Tucker …

Scooters Rentals Tampa – and bike hire too

Scooter rentals in Tampa are easy, actually we have three different motorized scooter options to cruise around downtown:

Bird |1 (866) 205-2442

Lime 1 (888)-LIME-345

Spin 1 (888) 249-9698

They’re part of a pilot program to offer low-cost transportation and reduce traffic downtown. While I don’t want to play favourites,  at Erehwon Retreat we recommend Lime because they have the most Florida towns covered. Lime is available in:

  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Miami
  • Key Biscayne
  • Miami Lakes
  • North Bay Village
  • Miami Shores
  • North Miami
  • Miami Springs.

Once you find your scooter of choice, you can scan the QR code through the Uber app to unlock it. Finding a Lime scooter is simple: open the Uber or Lime app, and tap Ride at the top of your screen. Then select Bike & Scooter (Uber app only). In both cases, you’ll automatically be taken to a screen showing all available scooters near you.

Scooter rentals in Tampa – the practicalities

If you’re sixteen or over, with a valid drivers license, you’re all set.  Just kick off the ground three times to get the scooter going. With a top speed of  up to 15 mph, they are great for sightseeing. The brake on the left handlebar slows you down, or use the rear brake for a quicker stop.

The app shows riders how charged the scooter is and how far it can travel before recharging. On average, they cover 15 to 20 miles on a single charge.

The current boundaries are:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on the North
Davis and Harbor Islands on the South
Armenia Avenue on the West
40th Street on the East.

Scooters aren’t allowed in the following locations:

  • Tampa Riverwalk
  • Bayshore Boulevard
  • 7th Avenue.

While it’s easy to lock the scooter so others cannot ride it, remember you’re being charged by the minute and continue to be charged. Florida is pretty flat, but remember not to ride your scooter down steep hills, because high speeds can overpower the electric brake. Always use the rear foot brake to control speed, and get off and walk down hills.

Prefer pedal power? No problem,  for bike rentals there is – Coast – available in Miami, Orlando, St Petersburg and Tampa.

Baseball in Florida – The Grapefruit League

Baseball in Florida – The 2021 Grapefruit League

Grapefruit League

Erehwon Retreat a vacation rental in Seminole Heights is well placed for visitors to enjoy a quintessential American activity – baseball. Spring training in Florida has been a tradition since 1913. That’s when the Chicago Cubs came to Tampa and the Cleveland Indians to Pensacola. The following year two more teams came to Florida for spring training. This was the origin of the Grapefruit League. It continued until 2009, hosting more than half the spring training teams. The only difficulty occurred in World War II, when travel restrictions prevented teams training south of the Potomac and Ohio rivers.

Since 2010, the thirty major league teams have been equally divided between Arizona and Florida for spring training. This year Toronto Blue Jays play in Dunedin, the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater and the New York Yankees in Tampa. Every home games is within half an hour’s drive of Erehwon.  With the Baltimore Orioles doing their winter training in Sarasota and the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, each less than an hour’s drive away, there’s a host of quality baseball on our doorstep.

The Baltimore Orioles migrate to Sarasota

The long history of the Baltimore Orioles began with a name change.  In 1953 the St Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and changed their name …. It was from that year they went from strength to strength. Today their winter training ground in Sarasota gives Florida vacation rental visitors the chance to experience top 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, their changing fortunes have brought both joy and despair to their followers. Their amazing history dates back to when  star players traveled to baseball grounds 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 2020

This year’s Grapefruit League matches begin on February 21,2020s. Pitchers and catchers arrive at the NY Yankees February 12 and position players on the 17th. This year, the Nationals and the Astros both train in West Palm Beach. Watching baseball in Florida is amazing: endless sunshine, easy travel between baseball grounds. There’s none of the stress of fighting to get into packed grounds. Also, you don’t have to deal with the congested roads around stadiums in the Northern states. Instead it’s an easy-going experience of sport in the sun. 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.  Baseball is 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 at its best, Florida’s outstanding. And the state’s wonderful food shops and eateries are perfect for enjoying a picnic.  Or maybe opt for a tailgate meal that will delight every member of your vacation party – whether they are baseball fanatics or not.

View a map of 2021 Grapefruit League Spring Training sites

View Grapefruit League training schedule

How do you select which languages you translate on your website

Florida attracts visitors from around the world.  One of the most significant challenges for Vacation Rentals is the language barrier. In our first decade of hosting over 1,000 guests, Erehwon Retreat hosted guests speaking 26 languages. 

With research indicating that 73% of worldwide markets prefer websites that provide content in their native language, translation of texts, websites, images, and voices from one language to the next became imperative.  However, the process of translating a text from one language to the next is not an easy task.

We use two criteria in selecting languages: our first motivation to add computer translations was to enhance our guest experience as part of a number of activities associated with completion of our first decade hosting at Erehwon Retreat. In my arts management and arts consulting career I witnessed the universal language within Dance and Music. In semi-retirement, I realized that genuine hospitality offered discretely is also universally appreciated and reciprocated.

Each of the 25 languages we launched in December 2019 represents a guest(s) who have visited our Holiday Homes from another country. In future years, we will expand if we see 25+ views within a calendar year from new areas of the world. We aggregate languages so for example with Spanish, we have hosted guests from Spain, Argentina, Costa Rico, Ecuador, Mexico & Puerto Rico. English included guests from Canada, Australia, Britain and Northern Ireland to date.


The Dixie Highway – America’s love affair with cars

As snowbirds speed down modern Interstates to Florida, remember that in 1923 the Dixie Highway had just reached Tampa. In three more backbreaking years the Tamiami Trail would cross the Everglades to Miami. Speed on the Dixie Highway averaged 12.9 mph in 1923, so a trip from Chicago to Miami took two weeks!


As the Dixie Highway pushed south, signage had local variations.

Roads versus trains in 1900s Florida

As late as 1910, good highways eluded most Americans, so people rode trains. Locally, they traveled by wagon, buggy or city streetcar. Local roads were all dirt. “Improved roads” were graded dirt, clay or gravel. And when it rained … mayhem ensued.

Counties paid farmers to grade the roads and pull the joy riders out. At Erehwon Retreat we’re glad not to be hosting guests in the 1920s!


The Dixie Highway was surfaced in stages.

In 1880 railroad mileage (250,000 miles) vastly exceeded navigable roads. Railroads had a monopoly! Express trains averaged 58 mph compared to the 13mph by road. 

In 1914, Carl G Fisher dreamed of connecting hundreds of short roads into interstates looping from the Mackinac MI ferry to Miami. Creating the Highway, and later a Federal highway system, created arguments about federal power and local control between many stakeholders: automobile brands, farmers, and the Good Roads movement.  In the South, prison commissions (chain gang labor) and racial control were hot topics.

At the same time, auto manufacture soared. Between 1900 and 1908, 485 automobile companies emerged, although barely half survived to 1909. Henry Ford’s Model N cost $600 in 1906 but his Model T was selling for $345 in 1916. By 1918 half the cars on the road were Model Ts. Only one thing was missing – roads that could withstand heavy rain.

The Florida map of the Dixie Highway in 1926

Fisher wanted easy travel to his Miami Beach developments. Initially his road was called the Cotton Belt route, but by 1915, when construction began, it became the Old Dixie Highway, promoting a romantic image of the Old South.

By the 1920s vacationing in Florida was growing exponentially

If you are driving on I-75 and want to track the Old Dixie Highway …


Where Should I Stay When Cruising From Tampa

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal

Port of Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal

November kicks off the winter cruise season.  This 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.  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. The Tampa Bay Hotel was used as Rough Rider Officer Quarters. The Rough Riders were recruited mainly in San Antonio;s Hotel Menger bar.  They were  trained in front of the Alamo. In my prior life managing the NY City Joffrey Ballet, whenever the company played San Antonio we stayed at the Hotel Menger.  I knew the story that they departed for the east by train, but that’s where the story stopped.  When I opened Erehwon Retreat I discovered their destination was Tampa.

Port of Tampa

Tampa Cruise Ship Terminal

Port of Tampa Cruise Services

accomodation near Port of Tampa Cruise

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.

September 22-23, 2018 Port of Tampa celebrated it’s 1 millionth cruise passenger.

Unique Accommodations for Cruise Passengers

accomodation near Port of Tampa Cruise

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 discover Disney or Harry Potter

With a host who is a sailor and 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.

Holiday Homes


Visit Tampa and Discover

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 holiday rentals within a few blocks walk in our historic neighborhood.

We have hosted families in our Holiday Rentals from Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Helsinki, Johannesburg, Essen, Dorncaster, Bithoven, Enschele, Skieve, Vellinge Schleusingen, Glengowie, Hong Kong, Taipai, &Buenos Aires. Occassionaly 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

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.












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 fiddle tune “Orange Blossom Special” often called simply The Special is oten referred to as the fiddle player’s national anthem.  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.


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

Silver Service is a brand applied by Amtrak to its long-distance trains running along the United States East Coast between New York City and Miami, Florida. It comprises two trains:[1]

The two services follow the same general path between New York City and Miami, but diverge between Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia.

The Silver Meteor takes a more direct coastal route through Fayetteville, North Carolina and Florence and Charleston, South Carolina, while the Silver Star detours inland to serve the Carolinas’ two state capitals, Raleigh, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina. The Silver Star also makes a detour to service Tampa, Florida.

The two trains were inherited from Seaboard Coast Line Railroad when Amtrak took over most intercity rail service in 1971.

There are dozens of exciting destination stops en route. Silver service trains have reserved coach seating and comfortable sleeping berths.

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.

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 strong 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

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.

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.  They 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 Tampa. 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

800 posts on Instagram

Finding “your” ideal Florida vacation and rental can be endless. As a property owner,  I spend a lot of  time ensuring that visitors to know exactly what to expect from their Tampa vacation home and area.

Prior to the Lock-down,  I posted more than 800 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 on Airbnb or Vrbo haven’t updated the pictures of their vacation home in years.  Which makes one wonder about 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.  So we show exactly what Erehwon Retreat and the environs look like year round.

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, concerts, hikes, best beaches, biking  or chilling in coffee houses.

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 or a simply a change of locale for a remote work  vacation will insure you pick the right 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, 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 guests a just in time 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.

From the Start – Commitment to Hospitality

From the Start – Commitment to Hospitality

Where does a career in the hospitality industry begin? When people look for  vacation homes they probably don’t start with the credentials and background of their host, but it might not be a bad place to start. Like many people who retire to Florida to start a new career in,
my background has little to do with my career as a vacation rental proprietor although it has everything to do with the way I approach making sure that Erehwon Retreat guests have a superlative Florida vacation experience.

As a young man in the 1970s, in the field of Arts Management, I was keen to develop both my skills and my experience – Dr. A Clyde Roller, then the Resident Conductor of the Houston Symphony stated that “I was by temperament, background and personality, ideally suited to a career that required me to create an immediate good relationship with people.”

Some five years later, the Governor of the State of New York, Hugh L Carey, wrote to thank me for the hard work I put into the dedication of the Helen Owen Carey Playhouse named in honor of his late wife. Just four years further on, President Jimmy Carter penned a thank you to express his appreciation for my efforts in putting together a Performance of American Arts to honor Deng Xiaoping the Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China.

I list these accomplishments not to boast, but to make clear that my entire career has been a commitment to ensuring people have first rate experiences whether in the theater, or in my Florida vacation home rentals.

Florida Vacations are all about experiences

What we all seek from a vacation is a wonderful experience – an unforgettable memory for all the right reasons. From seeing “Mickey” to a Snowy White Egret, a commitment to service means that I want my guests to have more than a holiday, I want them to have the kind of experience that
makes their Florida vacation something better than just a break in the sun, turning it into the kind of event that delights on every level. For some guests I suggest going outside when it’s dark and gaze in wonder at the firmament of stars, planets, the moon and make a day trip to Cape
Canaveral. Others want to see the birds during Migration. I am remembering a guest who asked for special birding suggestions while telling me Pakistan has over 786 native species of birds.

Unforgettable moments are built up out of an understanding of the hospitality industry and a recognition of what moves a vacation from ‘a trip to the sun’ to ‘an unforgettable trip’. It’s the difference between setting up a vacation rental to help pay your mortgage and establishing a vacation rental to delight visitors and support the local community. As an example, our most recent review on Home Away explains the philosophy that underpins
everything we do:

Review #20506705 “Erehwon Retreat designer delight – Bandbox Fresh” 5 out of 5 stars

Super clean. Great amenities. Close to everything. Fabulous!

“Our host was exemplary – super knowledgeable about the area, great recommendations for dining and things to do. We were also property hunting and he gave us great insights into the area. Would highly recommend and return in a heartbeat!!”

Florida vacation rentals by owner can be mediocre or magnificent. I spent my entire career in Arts Management ensuring that people were enthralled by the performance or experience they had
invested in. I use every aspect of those skills and training to offer suggestions. From the everglades, coral reefs, clear springs, magnificent forests, special dining and turn of the century history, I take immense pride in succeeding in exceeding every guest’s expectations.