Thursday, August 31, 2006

Dockside Dining

My first BLOG and several to follow centered on enjoyment of our local restaurants in the Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida areas. Later I backed off of these particular comments since my food experiences might be of little interest. However, I've decided food is such an integral component in the enjoyment of our Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast that it would be foolish not to share with all who wish to read this BLOG.

Last night was an example of the coastal cuisine we enjoy on a regular basis. Friends from Atlanta joined us for a delightful dinner dockside at the Giggling Grouper in Orange Beach. The setting overlooking the marina was gorgeous especially as the sun set behind the trees with sailboats traveling by on the Intracoastal Waterway. A large heron decided to perch nearby and seemed to pose for our photos.As a cool gentle breeze kept us comfortable we enjoyed a fantastic fresh seafood meal served by attentive, friendly restaurant staff. Above our heads on another outside deck the band was playing and the atmosphere was one of total relaxation. Once again I find myself so privileged to enjoy what others travel here to experience.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Natural Beach

Several years ago during a school trip with my son's class I took my first hike in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge Beach. This 6,700 acres preserve is located off Fort Morgan Parkway (Hwy. 180) just 10 miles west of the main highway (Hwy. 59)into the Gulf Shores, Alabama area. Although I'm a native of this area I had never discovered this awesome Wildlife Refuge. I found out that is was established by congress in 1980 to preserve the coastal dune ecosystem and protect threatened and endangered species including nesting sites for green, loggerhead, and other sea turtles.

This refuge named Bon Secour, meaning safe harbor in French, serves as a sanctuary for native flora and fauna and comprises one of the largest undeveloped parcels of land on the Alabama coast. Over 370 species of birds have been identified on the refuge during migratory seasons. The largest are ospreys and herons with the smallest being seven species of hummingbirds.

We hiked the two-mile Pine Beach Trail that meanders through a forest of palmettos, live oaks and Spanish moss past Gator Lake and Little Lagoon to a spectacular ridge of dunes and a pristine, all-natural beach. An easier beach access with parking facilities is located at Mobile Street. We also stopped by the refuge office for more park information.

I've never forgotten the sense of wonder I felt as we made our way through the natural surrounding to one of the most spectacular beaches in the world, practically in my own backyard. As Meyer Real Estate hosts thousands of visitors each year I see them frequent the public beach areas in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and I wonder when they too will find their way to this most natural of beaches.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Inviting and Interactive

Each year Meyer Real Estate welcomes thousands of families to our coast. Our destination of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama and Perdido Key, Florida has always been family-oriented and known for laid-back fun. Now that our vacation rental business is approaching 2,000 properties we are challenged to provide a check-in experience that suits the region and our organization. An award-winning designer was chosen a few years ago to capture the essence of our desire to welcome our customers to Meyer Real Estate and to their vacation experience. It was decided that we certainly want an inviting welcome as these weary families exit the car that has been their temporary home for many hours and come inside for their first taste of paradise. We also desired an interactive courtyard where the customer feels they can wander around the circular paths, experience the garden atmosphere and observe the playful bronze statues. In late spring when the landscaper began to finalize the vision we all were amazed that truly both inside and outside our new Gulf Shores corporate office facility embodied these ideals.

Now that we have almost completed a summer of arriving and departing vacationers we are confident that the objectives were met and our customers feel the environment we have created is both inviting and interactive. On a busy summer Saturday I've observed children scurrying around under the ancient oak that was preserved and even poking sticks at the trunk of the tree. Often they walk up to the statue of the two children swinging and pushing the swing to get a closer look. I've even seen a group of four small children one by one hug the statue. Sometimes the parents and grandparents pose the children for a photo beside the statue of the young golfer wearing his dad's big shores. We even have experienced families spreading their picnic blanket and enjoying a noon meal while they wait for check-in time. This is exactly what was envisioned and we love the comfortable, relaxed atmosphere to put the customer - who needs a vacation - in the proper mindset for their beach experience.