Why Local Is Better When It Comes To Vacation Rentals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the rise of mega-sized online vacation rental marketing websites (called online travel agents or OTAs) in the last few years, it can be difficult to know whether to trust a website with a seemingly endless list of properties all over the world for your family’s vacation or call on a local expert in your favorite destination, such as Gulf Shores, Alabama.

Here’s why it pays to book your vacation direct with a local vacation rental management company like Meyer Vacation Rentals.

Skip The Middleman

When you book with an OTA, simply put, you pay more. With HomeAway, VRBO or countless others out there, for example, their add-on guest fees could end up being $499 more per reservation.

Then, once you’ve committed to the reservation—and their additional guest fee—your vacation is turned over to the owner or property manager, such as Meyer, immediately.

Right away, Meyer will begin sending you confirmation information and details about your property, express check-in and check-out, protecting your vacation, and ideas for making your vacation planning easy and fun. 

REAL People Help You Find The RIGHT Place

Real people who know our areaSay you have questions about a property or properties you are interested in. The OTAs are booking engines powered only to serve up listed properties that fit a defined set of filters.

When you call the OTA, you’ll be speaking with an out-of-town call center worker who has no idea about Meyer’s rental policies or properties.

When you call Meyer, you’ll reach one of our local vacation planners who likely has visited your property and can describe in detail the finer points of enjoying a vacation on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast.

Our vacation planners are on duty 24/7 to answer questions, discuss amenities and help you select the property best suited to your family’s needs.

We Have 50 Years Of Experience To Share With You

50 Years of ExperienceVacationers have trusted Meyer Vacation Rentals to help them create happy family memories since 1967, even before the area became the popular destination it is today.

Our vacation rental management team is made up of people who live here and love to share their ideas for how you can create a vacation your family will never forget.

Want a sandcastle building lesson? We can tell you how to line one up. Want to know which restaurants the locals love? We know! Thinking about taking a dolphin watching cruise? We’ll tell you who’s the best.

You Will Get 24/7 On-The-Ground Support

We always offer 24/7 supportOnce you arrive, say something doesn’t go as planned. A call to the OTA won’t help smooth the path. They’ll send you to Meyer for assistance, so why not just skip the middleman altogether?

When you book through Meyer, ensuring your family’s vacation is a success is our #1 goal. When there’s a problem, we send a member of our in-house maintenance team directly to the property to resolve the issue or select a vendor from our list of preferred vendors to make sure the problem is handled quickly and you can go on with your vacation.

Next time you are planning a vacation in the Gulf Shores area, bypass the OTAs and book directly at MeyerRE.com. You’ll spend less money, avoid headaches, have the confidence that a team of professionals is behind you, and get the 24/7 support of a team of locals whose only business is making your vacation a success.

*Best price guarantee is for the exact property.

Vacation Rentals 101

The use of vacation rentals vs. hotels has been growing by leaps and bounds, with 40 percent of vacationers saying they have stayed in a vacation rental.

In a few short years, the vacation rental industry is projected to nearly double in size, with some industry experts predicting vacation rentals will overtake hotels as the primary form of lodging in the not-too-distant future.

These experts say travelers today are looking for more flexibility and options when it comes to their vacation experience. They want a vacation experience that makes them feel immersed in a locale and that they “own” their vacation property—even if it’s just for a few days, a week, a month or longer.

Read on for answers to several frequently asked questions about vacation rentals in general and also about Meyer Vacation Rentals.

How is a vacation rental different from a hotel?
The experience of vacationing in a rental property differs greatly from that of a hotel. (Details)

Full kitchens are one factor that makes vacation rentals different.A typical hotel room, at an average size of 325 square feet, simply does not have much space for families to hang out and relax. On the other hand, Meyer Vacation Rentals-managed properties range in size from efficiencies to five bedrooms and almost 4,000 square feet. We have houses with one bedroom, we have houses with 20 bedrooms, and we have everything in between.

Our vacation rentals come with private bedrooms and bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen that allows you to prepare full meals, a washer and dryer, a private balcony, deck or patio.

Each vacation rental is unique—uniquely decorated and unique in its availability of amenities. With a selection of more than 1,100 vacation rental properties, Meyer Vacation Rentals has a property to suit every taste, group size and desire for amenities.

Amenities at privately owned vacation rentals run the gamut, with some offering access to indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, a hot tub, playgrounds, fitness rooms, wireless Internet access, game rooms and on-site restaurants. Other vacation rentals have access to different amenities but offer other unique features aimed to please vacationers.

How can I figure out which vacation rentals are available for the dates I need?
Once you are logged on to MeyerRE.com on your desktop, you will see white boxes prompting you to select your arrival and departure dates.

Meyer makes it easy to choose your dates.You may use the calendar to fill in your dates here. Or, if you are unsure of your dates, simply click the “Search” button to pull up a list of Meyer Vacation Rentals-managed properties.

Once on the results page, select your preferred filters for property type, areas, orientations, number of bedrooms, etc. Other options allow you to further refine your list by categories such as rental houses with poolschildren’s poolsdog-friendlyboat friendlyground-floor units and so on.

On a mobile search, once you select “Vacation Rentals Search,” you will be prompted to note your preferred arrival and departure dates if they are known and also your preferred property type, view and area. It is not necessary to input arrival and departure dates, however. You may choose for your results to be sorted randomly, by featured properties at the top, by price or by the number of bedrooms. Selecting “Advanced Search” will allow you to access more filters to narrow your search results. On your results page, the link “Modify Search” will return you to the “Advanced Search” option.

In what areas are rental properties located?
Meyer Vacation Rentals offers the most diverse selection of beach houses and condos on the Gulf Coast, including 900+ condos and 200+ beach houses located throughout more than 38 miles of beachfront.

Properties are available in Gulf ShoresFort MorganOrange Beach and Perdido Key.

What’s the difference between a condo and a house?
Meyer Vacation Rentals manages both condos and houses for vacationers to rent.

Houses Vs. CondosA condominium rental is located in a multi-unit complex. While units are individually owned, property owners and their guests share access to common spaces and amenities like pools, fitness rooms, etc.

Meyer manages more than 900 condos and 200 houses along the Gulf Coast area that includes Gulf ShoresFort Morgan and Orange Beach, Alabama, and Perdido Key, Florida.

The selection of houses varies in size, the number of bedrooms and the number of people they can accommodate. Some houses have only a single bedroom and are right-sized for romantic getaways or a small family, while others have as many as 10 or even 20 bedrooms and can accommodate up to 56 people.

Regardless of whether you select a house or a condo and regardless of the number of people it can accommodate, each property has its own unique features and décor and includes fully equipped kitchens, living areas, and private bedrooms and bathrooms.

Meyer-managed houses feature a range of amenities. Some have their own pools while others are located in a neighborhood and offer access to a community pool. Some have elevators for ease of loading in and out.

While all of Meyer’s beach houses focus on the essentials needed by vacationing families such as fully equipped kitchens and washers and dryers, some owners have opted to reach beyond the fundamentals and offer extras such as gourmet kitchens, barbecue grills, and icemakers.

What are my options for views?
You may select from a variety of views at Meyer-managed properties. During your search for vacation rentals, simply filter your preferred results by the view.

Gulf ViewProperties with “Gulf-front” views provide an excellent beach view from your house or condo located directly on the Gulf of Mexico. There are no condos or houses between your balcony/deck and the beach. In the majority of properties, your view will be panoramic. However, at a few condos and houses, the adjacent properties are situated close to the beach on one or both sides, making your Gulf view still direct but not panoramic. The walking distance to the water’s edge varies by property.

Gulf View

When a property is considered Gulf view,” beach views range from excellent to angled or partial from your condo located on the Gulf of Mexico. The position of the condo building or house on the beach creates the type of view from the balcony of your individual property. Your advantage, in addition to the view, is the location on the beach side of the street.

Gulf-side” view means that there is no view of the beach from your condo located on the Gulf of Mexico due to the position of the condo building. Your advantage is the location on the beach side of the street.

Gulf-oriented” view means your condo or house is located in close proximity to the beach but not on the beach side of the street. Your beach views will be either excellent, good, angled, partial or no view depending on how the buildings on the beach side of the street are positioned. In most cases, you will have easy beach access nearby.

WaterfrontA “Waterfront” view means your house or condo building is located directly on one of the bays, lagoons or bayous on the island. Views of the backwaters will be excellent from houses. Water views from condos will be excellent, good, angled, partial or no view depending on how the buildings are positioned on the backwaters. In most cases, you will have easy beach access nearby.

Course-oriented” houses or condos are located on or near a signature golf course with excellent or partial views of the course.

How do I search for rentals large enough for my group?
When searching for vacation rentals, you may sort your results by criteria such as the number of bedrooms or by people you need to sleep.

Can I see photos of vacation rentals?
Yes, photos can be accessed on the individual house and condo pages as well as pages that highlight the shared amenities of condo complexes.

I’ve found some vacation rentals I’m interested in for my dates. How can I share these properties with my group or request more information?
Email to a friendFrom the individual property page, look below the main photo for icons that indicate you may email a friend, request more information or print a listing.

When you click the email a friend icon, a window will pop up prompting you to provide your name, email address and friend’s email.

Once you click “send,” your friend will receive a message directing them to click the link to view the property page.

The property I’m interested in is not available for my selected dates. How can I find something similar?
From your desktop computer, you will see that properties with similar attributes to the one you have selected appear on all property pages. Above the “Vacation Rentals” bar at the top of your results page, you will find “breadcrumbs,” or navigation links, that will identify your location within the website and allow you to return to a previous results page.

Do you ever run any specials?
Specials can be found on your mobile device on a tab at the bottom of the MeyerRE.com homepage. On the full site, specials and properties with hot deals can be found under the “Vacation Rentals” tab in the navigation bar at the top and also on the homepage in the “Vacation Rentals Special” block.

Joining our mailing list (click “Register” link at the top right of the homepage) and following Meyer on Facebook will alert to ongoing specials.

Can I book my selected rental online, or do I need to call your office?
You can book and pay for your vacation directly on MeyerRE.com. You may also call one of our vacation planners 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-866-382-9635.

Do you offer trip insurance?
Trip InsuranceYes, Meyer offers trip insurance that can be added to your reservation to protect your vacation investment.

Two options are available, “Cancel for Any Reason” and “Sun Trip Preserver,” both of which help protect your vacation investment in case of unforeseen circumstances such as illness To learn more about how the insurance options work, click HERE.

How do I obtain trip insurance coverage?
It’s easy! At the time you make your reservation online, select the checkbox for the desired travel insurance coverage and travel insurance will be included in the total cost.

If you are making your reservation by phone, please ask your vacation planner to add the desired travel insurance coverage to your reservation. You may choose to opt-out of this coverage online or by phone at the time of your reservation.

What are my payment options?
An Initial Reservation Payment is required prior to arrival and is specified in Meyer’s Rental Policies. A non-refundable processing fee to cover expenses associated with the initial reservation is due at reservation time and applies to all reservations.

Final payment, which is the balance due after the Initial Reservation Payment has been paid, is required prior to arrival. See Meyer’s Rental Policies for specific details.

Payment may be made by online or by calling 1-800-382-9635 via MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express. Final payment may also be paid by cashier’s check, money order or certified funds. Personal checks are not accepted.

What are your rental policies?
It is very important to carefully read and understand the Rental Policies, as this document is binding and detailed and addresses a variety of frequently asked questions.

What happens if something goes wrong with the pool or elevator at my vacation rental?
Just as in your own home, sometimes breakdowns occur. Availability of on-site amenities, such as pools, is not guaranteed. No refunds will be issued for changes made by individual property owners or unavailable amenities.

What if I need to cancel my reservation?
To cancel your reservation, you will need to call one of our vacation planners at 1-866-382-9635.

Cancellations may be made and refunds issued (excluding non-refundable processing fee) within a certain number of days prior to reservation check-in date. 

See the Rental Policies for details.

Are there plenty of attractions, grocery stores and shops, and restaurants near my rental?

Shopping while on vacationGulf Shores and Orange Beach have the most restaurants, attractions, grocery stores and shops to choose from.

Perdido Key and Fort Morgan are a bit less concentrated with vacation rentals and thus do not have quite as many options to choose from. But the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is a small enough destination where nothing is very far away. (Condo & House Maps)

What’s the best way to access the destination?
The Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is typically thought of as a drive-in destination, with easy access from U.S. Interstates 10 and 65.

If driving, once exiting I-10 or I-65, you’re only about an hour’s drive or so from the beach! (Driving Directions & Maps)

Most fly-in visitors use the Pensacola International Airport, which is a 45-minute drive east, or Mobile Regional Airport, which is an hour’s drive west. (Details)

Can I bring my pets with me to my rental?
Dogs are the only pets allowed in Meyer’s dog-friendly properties. Certain weight and seasonal restrictions apply to some of these properties. Details may be found on each property page within our dog-friendly collection.

According to local laws, dogs are not allowed on beaches except in Fort Morgan, where they must be on a leash. In addition, dogs must be on a leash outside of the property. (Details)

There are three dog parks where dogs may be unleashed, one of which is a dog pond located at Gulf State Park. (Details)

Are there any vacation rentals that welcome weddings?
Wedding-friendly propertiesYes, we have a select few wedding-friendly vacation rentals. (Details)

Wedding-friendly properties allow weddings outside the property (not inside) with certain restrictions and guidelines as noted on our wedding-friendly properties page.

Wedding-friendly properties also require a non-refundable fee ranging from $250 to $500 per property.

Does my rental have entertainment options?
Your vacation rental includes basic service cable- or satellite-connected TVs and DVD and/or BluRay players.

What about Internet access/Wi-Fi?
Each individual property details page lists available amenities, including whether Internet access is available. The majority of Meyer-managed properties are Internet access enabled.

Do we need to bring our own linens?
Beds are made with linens in all vacation rentals, and bath towels and washcloths are provided in bathrooms. Hand towels, however, are not provided for the bathrooms.

 
Do you provide toiletries such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc., and paper products?
You will need to bring these items to your rental. A complimentary starter kit of supplies is provided for the kitchen, including a dish sponge, two dishwasher tabs, a roll of paper towels and a kitchen trash bag placed in the can.

Each bathroom is equipped with a roll of tissue, a small and a larger bar of soap, and a small trash bag placed in the can.

What does my vacation rental kitchen come equipped with? Should I bring extra kitchen equipment?
Fully equipped kitchensKitchens in vacation rentals include glassware, flatware, and dinnerware based on the number of guests the rental can sleep. A variety of utensils is also included, such as a basting spoon, bottle opener, butcher knives, can opener, colander, corkscrew, grater, measuring cups and spoons, storage containers and more.

Small kitchen appliances that come standard in vacation rentals include a blender, automatic drip coffeemaker, hand mixer, microwave, and toaster.

The kitchen will also contain cookware such as a broiler pan for the oven, casserole dish, cookie sheet, baking dishes, fry pans, mixing bowls, muffin tin, pizza pan, saucepans and a shrimp pot.

General cleaning equipment such as a broom and dustpan, iron, ironing board, mop and vacuum cleaner are also available within the property.

Can I bring my boat or personal watercraft?
A select few vacation rentals are considered boat friendly and welcome guests who wish to bring boats or personal watercraft. Boat-friendly properties will feature an icon on the property page indicating that boats are allowed. Please be sure to review the amenities list on the property page for more information. (See Boat-Friendly Properties)

In properties not noted as boat friendly, boat trailers or trailers of any kind are not allowed.

How many cars can we bring and park at our vacation rental?
Parking is limited at ALL Meyer-managed properties, especially condos, where the number of parking passes is limited to the number allowed by the property owner association—typically one or two per reservation.

To find out the number of parking passes your selected rental permits, check the amenities list on each property details page.

Trailers are not allowed in condo parking lots and may be towed by the property owner association.

Extra cars may be parked in Meyer’s Gulf Shores parking lot at your risk and subject to availability.

Parking at houses is limited to the number of vehicles that comfortably fit within the driveway space.

When are the times of highest demand for vacation rentals?
Summer on the Gulf CoastVacation rentals vary in occupancy during seasonal timeframes. The period of highest demand is “peak summer,” when vacationers tend to reserve most properties in a Saturday-to-Saturday pattern.

Peak summer demand is followed by late spring and early summer. Demand tapers somewhat during spring, late summer and ending summer, while fall and winter seasons offer vacationers the greatest selection of properties. (See current Seasonal Calendar)

If you are interested in reserving a house for a summer week, is important to book early, as they tend to book a year or even two in advance.

What is the weather like there?
The weather on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast is temperate year round.

View Meyer’s weather page for a snapshot of the current weather, the forecast and average monthly temperatures and precipitation. (Weather)

What are some of the top festivals and activities in the area I can plan a visit around?
Fun festivals are held year round on the Alabama/Florida Gulf Coast. Some of the most popular are held during the fall.

FestivalsFor example, the Wharf Uncorked Wine and Culinary Event is held in September, and the World Food Championships and the Hangout Oyster Cook-Off and Craft Beer Weekend are held in November. 

But perhaps the most well-known festival held all year is the Annual National Shrimp Festival. More than 300,000 people come to browse 300+ art vendors, listen to music on multiple stages, entertain the young and young at heart at the Kids’ Zone, run in the 5K or 10K race, and so much more.

With the Shrimp Festival so popular, it is wise to make your vacation rental reservation as soon as possible so your group is near the Gulf Shores Public Beach festival grounds.

How do I learn more about what there is to do in the area?
MeyerRE.com is a wealth of information about fun things to do in the area. Click the “Area Information” tab for info about beach areasrestaurantsattractionsconcertscalendar of events, etc.

Where do the locals go to eat?
Locals love to eat! And that means seafood, burgers, gourmet cuisine, and everything in between.

If seafood is your choice, check out this list of popular seafood restaurants. (Seafood Restaurants)

See our Dining and Nightlife page for more options. 

Are there usually long wait times for restaurant dining?
There can be a bit of a wait for seating at restaurants during the busy summer season. But, during the spring and fall, getting into your favorite places to eat is no problem.

Some in my group enjoy exploring nature and seek out activities that thrill during vacation. What are the options for them?
Nature trails offer adventureThere are nature trails winding throughout the Gulf Coast area for hiking and biking. Kayaking is another popular activity, and there are several options for renting the needed equipment.

There are also high-adrenaline activities to enjoy, such as roller coaster rides at the brand new The Park at OWA, located in Foley. Or, check out The Track Family Recreation Center to ride the Wild Woody or the Spinning Coaster. An on-site arcade is lots of fun.

There are also plenty of mini golf courses to play, and the Hummingbird Ziplines at The Wharf at Orange Beach.

Some in my group prefer a more relaxing vacation experience. What are the options for them?
Shopping is always a fun activity, especially with the Tanger Outlets Foley just north of Gulf Shores.

There are also several spas for those who enjoy being pampered on their vacation.
 
Once I book, is there a spot on your website I can find more information I should know before I go?
Get ready to relax! Our “Know Before You Go” is designed to provide you with everything from a Meyer Vacation Rentals Vacation Handbook to details about special events, restaurants, beach tips and paying your final balance. (Details)

In addition, you will automatically begin to receive emails and text messages not only confirming your reservation but also providing important check-in instructions, payment details, area information and more.

A vacation rental is an ideal way to offer your family plenty of gathering space, privacy, a fully equipped kitchen for preparing meals, and the opportunity to live like a local during vacation. After all, you’ll be staying in someone’s beach home!

Make your family’s beach vacation reservations today at a beach house or condo.

Beach Houses Are Right-Sized For The Family

A 1- to 4-bedroom house on the beach can be the perfect-sized accommodations for your family’s vacation

When planning a vacation to the beach, it is often more cost-effective to choose a beach house over a hotel room. In a nutshell, you get more space for your money.

A typical hotel room is only 325 square feet in size and has a tiny bathroom. When you’re bringing the family, all their beach gear, sunscreen, swimsuits, flip flops, coolers and more, you’re shoving an awful lot of stuff into a pretty cramped space.

In a family-sized beach house—one with anywhere from 1-4 bedrooms—there’s room for the adults and kids to spread out and enjoy their own private spaces.

No tiny bathroom for everyone to share, no pool noodles and skim boards strewn across the entryway, no sharing one single closet, no piling on beds in wet swimsuits to watch TV, no sharing a tiny table or countertop to eat meals, and no packing wet and dirty clothes in a bag to take home or haul down to the Laundromat.

Unlike hotels, beach houses not only feature private bedrooms and bathrooms, but they also have fully equipped kitchens with full-sized appliances, a washer and dryer, their own balconies, multiple TVs, comfortable living areas and more.

A recent search of two- and three-bedroom houses in Meyer Vacation Rentals’ inventory of 1,100+ condos and beach houses during summer yielded some interesting results.

We found that during a peak summer week in June, vacationers could rent a three-bedroom beach house in Fort Morgan that sleeps up to 10 people for just a few dollars more than a typical hotel room with two queen beds. “So, for a few dollars per night more, Meyer offers two more bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. That’s a pretty good deal,” said Meyer Vacation Rentals Operations Specialist Sarah Kuzma. “It’s definitely worth the time for vacation shoppers to take the time to compare.”

Meyer offers many one- to four-bedroom houses with a variety of view options. These houses sleep anywhere from two to 15 people. Some even feature their own pools and other fun amenities.

To sleep up to 4 people, browse one-bedroom houses.

To sleep up to 10 people, browse two-bedroom houses.

To sleep up to 13 people, browse three-bedroom houses.

To sleep up to 15 people, browse four-bedroom houses.

For larger groups, browse five- or more bedroom houses.

Come To The Beach For The 2017 Wharf Uncorked Food + Wine Festival

The 2017 edition of the Wharf Uncorked Food + Wine Festival will be held at The Wharf in Orange Beach Sept. 14-16.

The fun three-day event features tantalizing wines, live entertainment, a pinch of Southern flair and a dash of Gulf Coast hospitality.

This festival raises raise funds for Make-A-Wish® Alabama—an organization devoted to granting wishes to Alabama children with life-threatening medical conditions. The 2016 Wharf Uncorked Event raised $15,251 for Make-A-Wish® Alabama through generous donations, live and silent auctions, and the Chef Table Raffle.

The Wharf Uncorked featured demos from renowned chefs, cuisine and wine tasting tents, live and silent auctions, and wine auctions and sales.

There will be 150+ wine labels on hand, and guests will be able to sample and purchase fine wines from vineyards ranging from local to domestic and imported.

Chefs will be on hand for cooking demonstrations, food tastings, cookbook signings and cooking competitions.

Tickets may be purchased to customize the guest experience.

SCHEDULE

Thursday, Sept. 14
VIP Kickoff + Chef Showdown
The weekend will begin on Main Street from 6:30-8:30 p.m. with a roster of high profile guests, an open bar with a signature cocktail, an auction preview and of course, high-end wine tastings and food samplings. Guests will see Chef Brody Olive of Perdido Beach Resort face off against two local chefs in a battle to defend his title at the Chef Showdown. Early bird tickets are $30. Regular ticket pricing begins July 7 at $35 and last minute pricing is $40 starting Sept. 1.

Friday, Sept 15
Local Wine Dinners
The Wharf offers a wide variety of fare from more than 10 restaurants on property. Several of these chefs along with others along the Gulf Coast will curate dinner menus and signature wine pairings for the Local Wine Dinners. Guests can make a reservation directly through the restaurant of their choice.

Saturday, Sept 16
Grand Tasting
All festival activities lead up to the Grand Tasting that will take place from noon-4 p.m. Main Street and Wharf Parkway will be lined with vendors offering samples of food and wine. Guests will have the opportunity to cast a vote for their favorite, and the night will close with a ceremony of awards. This year, the champion of The Wharf Uncorked will be an automatic Elite Qualifier for the World Food Championships in November back at The Wharf.

When not sipping on wine or enjoying all the fun associated with the wine event, make time to play at the Wharf. And bring the whole family.

There are concerts at the 10,000-seat outdoor amphitheater held throughout the spring and summer, miniature golf, a brand new zip line course, the largest Ferris wheel east of the Mississippi River, a movie theater, plenty of dining and boutique-style shopping, and more.

Bring a few friends and stay right in the middle of the fun at The Wharf condos. Or, to stay nearby, reserve a two-bedroom beach condo in Orange Beach.

New Things To Do In Gulf Shores

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New developments in Gulf ShoresOrange BeachPerdido Key and Foley are making headlines and further enhancing the visitor experience. Here is a brief rundown of some of the latest Gulf Coast happenings that are giving visitors even more fun things to do.

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach

Major tourism projects are continuing in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, including improvements at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo’s 25-acre facility that will open in 2018. With five themed areas, an event center, a full-service restaurant, rides and playgrounds, the zoo will relocate from its current spot in Gulf Shores to just north of the Intracoastal Canal Waterway.

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo: 1204 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Also under way is the $15 million Gulf Place Revitalization Project in Gulf Shores that will create new beach access points, public sidewalks and green spaces, walking paths, shaded structures, restrooms and more.

Gulf Shores Public Beach: West Gulf Place, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Public Beach EnhancementsWork is progressing on the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project, an $85.5 million project that is creating additional access points, a new lodge and conference center, restoration and enhancement of dune habitat, and an interpretive and education center. A beautiful new boardwalk over Lake Shelby has recently opened.
Gulf State Park: East Beach Blvd., Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Authentic TacoThe Authentic Taco reopened at the Flora-Bama Lounge & Oyster Bar. Formerly located inside a gas station on Ala. Hwy. 182, the restaurant’s regular patrons were heartbroken when it closed. You can once again can get your fresh taco or tamale fix at the Flora-Bama. Oh, and get a Bushwacker on the side.

Authentic Taco: 17401 Perdido Key Dr., Perdido Key, FL 32507

The owners of the former Hot Spot Restaurant at The Wharf have moved into a larger, waterfront location at The Wharf and renamed the restaurant the Hot Spot Intracoastal. With a menu featuring everything from Intracoastal Kickin’ Shrimp to fried and grilled seafood, burgers, steaks and wings, this restaurant is making waves for seafood lovers.
Hot Spot Intracoastal: 4815 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Barefoot Island Grill has opened on Canal Road across the street from the Orange Beach Recreation Center. Sandwiches, salads, steak and unique seafood dishes top the menu here, where every dish is made from scratch.

Barefoot Island Grill: 27370 Canal Road, Orange Beach, AL 36561

GT’s On The Bay also opened on Canal Road in Orange Beach. Overlooking Wolf Bay, the restaurant serves a variety of foods, including Cajun empanadas, chicken carbonara, pizza baked in a stone hearth oven, fresh Gulf yellow fin tuna, shrimp-n-grits and much more. The large dining room is able to accommodate large groups, and the large wooden deck overlooking Wolf Bay is a fun place to dine, relax and listen to live music.

GT’s On The Bay: 26189 Canal Road, Orange Beach, AL 36561

The Yard Milkshake BarA hot new spot at Pelican Place in Gulf Shores is The Yard Milkshake Bar. The Yard serves edible cookie dough, ice cream and specialty milkshakes with typical toppings like sprinkles as well as crazy toppings like glazed doughnuts, a birthday cupcake or a chocolate dipped smores. Order your milkshake in a pint or a quarter size.

The Yard Milkshake Bar: 3800 Gulf Shores Parkway, Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Surf’s up at Big Wave Dave’s Kitchen & Beach Bar, which opened in June near Ron Jon Surf Shop in Orange Beach. The restaurant serves a variety of tropical drinks, sandwiches, tacos, salads and entrees. Be sure to try the Bali-Pops, hand-rolled bites featuring Gulf shrimp, pineapple, black beans, jasmine rice and sweet and spicy chili sauce.

Big Wave Dave’s Kitchen & Beach Bar: 22703 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach, AL 36561

Big Mike's SteakhouseA busy restaurant from the very start, the new Big Mike’s Steakhouseopened in Orange Beach in the former Diamond Jim’s and Mrs. Donna’s restaurant. This is the third location for the owners, who also operate steakhouses in Thomasville and Andalusia. Big Mike’s offer seafood selections in addition to its signature items like its Canal Road Strip, Ribeye and Filet Mignon. Incidentally, Big Mike’s Steakhouse in Thomasville was recently named the best steakhouse in Alabama by al.com.

Big Mike’ Steakhouse: 25638 Canal Road, Orange Beach, AL 36561

A new barbecue joint opened at The Wharf, Blue Water BBQ now operates in the former Hot Spot’s location. Here, you’ll find pork, chicken, brisket, ribs, sausage and more.

Blue Water BBQ: 4780 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach, AL 36561

There’s also a new oyster shack in town. Royal Oyster House opened its doors in the heart of Gulf Shores on Gulf Shores Parkway. The menu right now focuses on raw oysters and a great burger.

Royal Oyster House: 807 Gulf Shores Pkwy., Gulf Shores, AL 36542

Located on Loop Road between the Walmart Neighborhood Market and Winn-Dixie Shopping Center in Orange Beach is the new Buns in the Sun restaurant, serving Asian-style steamed buns, also known as a pork bun or a bao bun. Steamed buns are handmade fresh daily and filled with beef and cheese, barbecue pork, chicken, vegetables, grilled seafood and more.

Buns in the Sun: 3099 Loop Road, Orange Beach, AL 36561

Vacation in a beach condo or house in Gulf ShoresFort Morgan or Orange Beach to be near all the new fun places!

Foley

In Foley, work continues on OWA, an entertainment destination expected to open this month. The 14-acre park will feature 21 rides (including the Rollin’ Thunder rollercoaster as well as kiddie rides), food vendors, 154,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space, and a 14-acre lake with a 1.5-acre island. The amusement park will be located adjacent to the City of Foley’s indoor event center, multi-use sports fields and a 150-room Marriott TownePlace Suites hotel.

Wahlburgers in FoleyOWA unveiled the first in a series of major retail and dining tenant announcements, including Wahlburgers, with locations in Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Ohio.

Wahlburgers is a comfortable, family-friendly restaurant designed to appeal to every generation. The restaurant, which serves a variety of fresh burgers, housemade condiments and more, is the brainchild of Chef Paul Wahlberger and his family. The Foley operation will be the brand’s second largest U.S. location.

Other tenants announced recently include Sunglass World, Fairhope Soap Company, Alvin’s Island, Hershey’s Ice Cream Shop and Utopia.

The Park at OwaWith OWA opening in July, new access roads have been completed. An entrance to OWA has been created on Foley Beach Express and also Baldwin County Road 20. At the same time Pride Drive has been extended to the east to the new sports complex and event center, creating access directly from Ala. Hwy. 59.

OWA: 10113 Foley Beach Express, Foley, AL 36535

New restaurants in Foley include Mama Mia’s Pizzeria (246 W Laurel Ave., Foley, AL 36535), Grumpy’s (214 W Laurel Ave., Foley, AL 36535), Yummy’s Bakery & Café (105 W Orange Ave., Foley, AL 36535) in the courtyard at Orange Blossom Square, the Copper Kettle Tea Bar (106 N Chicago St., Foley, AL 36535), Portabella’s (321 S McKenzie St., Foley, AL 36535) and Gelato Joe’s (202 E Michigan Ave. A, Foley, AL 36535).
Find your perfect beach vacation rental. Condos are perfect for many families, while some houses can accommodate large groups of up to 50+ people.

Perdido Key

New to Perdido Key is the Islander Food Shack, located between Villagio Shopping Center and Dave’s Snow Balls. The restaurant is known for its casual dining atmosphere and menu of sandwiches, burgers, seafood and hand-cut fries. Also popular are its baskets, featuring grouper, chicken fingers, vegetables and shrimp.

Islander Food Shack: 13818 Perdido Key Dr., Pensacola, FL 32507

A new shop at Villagio is the Barefoot Gypsy Boutique. A “minimalist Bohemian-style” boutique, Barefoot Gypsy features laid-back clothing, one-of-a-kind accessories and a variety of unique gifts.

Barefoot Gypsy Boutique: 13700 Perdido Key Dr., Pensacola, FL 32507

Stay in a Perdido Key beach condo or house vacation rental.

7 Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Resorts Featuring Lazy Rivers

Gulf Shores Pools With Lazy Rivers

When vacationing in the Gulf Shores area, you’ll find many wonderful pools, including several with lazy rivers.

 

 

 

 

By Sarah Kuzma

Floating along on my inner tube past the rides and slides on Waterville USA’s Crystal River is my idea of a relaxing time in the sun.

The lush tropical setting of this soothing ride even includes a refreshing waterfall to cool off when a splash is just what I need.

Of course, most of the waterpark visitors are scurrying around to capture the thrills of the 17 water slides, the wave pool, and Flowrider, but I’m perfectly content to relax on the one-third-mile of lazy river that never ends.

But the waterpark is not the only opportunity to relax on a lazy river on Alabama’s Gulf Coast. In fact, there are now eight condominium resorts featuring this family-friendly amenity.

Here’s my guide to your coastal lazy river adventure.

4 GULF FRONT LAZY RIVERS

Turquoise Place is the address for luxury on the coast, so it’s quite natural that a 450-foot lazy river is a featured amenity at this upscale Orange Beach resort.

No doubt the entire family will savor the experience of the peaceful, slow-moving waters overlooking the bright white sands and gorgeous blue waters of the Gulf beach from this unique vantage point.

Phoenix West provides an upscale, spacious backdrop for beachside fun and relaxation with its lazy river that includes an exciting slide and overlooks the sugar-white beach in Orange Beach.

Phoenix West II is the newest addition to coastal condominiums in Alabama and just like its sister property a lazy river with a waterslide is a feature of this luxurious resort. Pools and hot tubs complete the beachfront amenities that provide a world-class view.

Crystal Tower is quite exceptional since the actual condo dwellings are situated on the north side of West Beach Boulevard along the coast in Gulf Shores.

No worries about crossing from the condo to the beach since an air-conditioned pedestrian bridge delivers you directly to the pool, hot tub and the largest lazy river on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

At Crystal Tower, you have the views and advantage of gulf-front amenities and your accommodations are priced a little lower than the Gulf-front rental rate.

2 LAZY RIVERS ON THE BAY

Caribe Resort built its 18-inch deep, 980-foot-long lazy river to the upper deck, where you’ll also find more pools and slides for the young and the young at heart.

Located where Ole River intersects with Terry Cove at Perdido Pass in Orange Beach, you have the opportunity to pick your view of the calm, backwaters to the north of the resort or the sand and surf of the Gulf to the south.

In fact, there’s even a shuttle when you are ready to trek over to the Gulf beach. I guess you could say it’s the best of both worlds.

Phoenix on the Bay II is another choice for family fun on the lazy river ride where the waterfront views of picturesque Terry Cove in Orange Beach are never boring.

A LAZY RIVER ON THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY

The Wharf rises above the Intracoastal Waterway with its bustling marina, boutique shopping, exhilarating nightlife, movie theater, thrilling Ferris wheel, excellent seafood restaurants and an amphitheater bringing popular entertainment to our coast.

A tram conveniently moves you and your family from the condo buildings along the waterfront to the inland Oasis at The Wharf. There, you will not only find the lazy river, complete with a waterslide but also a zero-entry pool, lagoon pool with waterfalls and even a sandy beach at Hammock Island at this charming Orange Beach destination.

Even though the waterpark at Waterville USA closes at the end of summer, the adventures along our beautiful coast extend year-round. I hope this lazy river guide will assist you to find your piece of paradise by searching properties with lazy rivers.

See you at the beach!

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