Monday, August 10, 2015

Reunion 2016 Info

This is your first Reunion 2016 update.   As you may know, the family voted overwhelmingly to head back to the beach next year.  At the meeting in Crystal River we were leaning toward the Sandcastle on Lido Beach near Sarasota.  They made us an attractive offer but as it turns out we seem to have a better offer from the Dolphin Beach Resort on St Pete Beach,  If you have a good memory, you will recall that we had some great reunions there many years ago.  The resort seems to have gone through some renovations and is in really good shape today, so let’s go back in time and head to the Dolphin next year! 
The Dolphin was already booked for the dates we targeted (July 14 -17) so we booked July 21 -24, 2016 and the hotel will honor the reduced rates 3 days before and after those dates.
We first got some really good feedback from Phyllis Fender, she writes:
"Joyce Crews and I have been going to the Dolphin in St Pete for several years now, the buildings have been painted, in the rooms there are new beds, new carpet, and flat screen TV’s.  The lobby has been remodeled, and they put new chairs by pool this last year.  The ice machines are always working, the bathrooms are the same, still very small.  Even though there are no kitchens in the rooms, there is a small refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.  We love it there, Joyce and I went in June we got a pool side so Joyce would be near the pool. I think this place is Great!"
Also, Rachael Tisdale went and checked it out too and had this to say:
"Somebody please send Joyce Crews a thank you card!  This resort is fantastic!  Everything was clean and the staff are friendly. The sales person, Barbara, was able to answer every question I asked and she is more than willing to accommodate a few of our special requests. The photos links at the bottom of this email are truthfully what you see when you walk inside a room today. The baseboards show a bit of wear, but there is no musky smell. Everything has been updated/renovated within the last three years.
The guest rooms are very spacious. Every single room includes a mini-fridge, microwave, small dining table and chairs. Every other room has a balcony. Several of the first floor rooms open directly to the beach or the pool with sliding glass doors. Beachfront rooms have two queen beds or a king upon request.  Poolside rooms and standard rooms have two double beds. The bathrooms were clean and resembled the same layout at the Plantation on Crystal River. (You may not care about this, but your wives will!)
Several great dining options exist both inside the hotel and within walking distance. The hotel restaurant offers a full service breakfast buffet for adults $12.99 and kids $6.99. Their lounge, outside bar and restaurant all offer a wide variety of menu options and live entertainment on the weekends. The pool bar is nice and stays open from 11am until 10pm. 
The ballroom is beautiful and huge, it will easily seat all of us in any setting we wish to arrange. A dance floor is already in place. The talent show will definitely be back on the agenda next year!  Linens are included with the cost of each dinner.  We spoke at length about the dinner and reached the following compromise: the resort is willing to offer us lunch menus and pricing during dinner time as long as we commit to eating at 5:30pm. The menu features several options, including an All American Cookout. The buffet will be as follows: charcoal grilled beef hot dogs and hamburgers served with buns, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and an assortment of condiments. Sides include baked beans, potato salad, creamy coleslaw and a sliced seasonal fresh fruit display. Dessert is All American Apple Pie. Drinks include coffee and iced tea. (Tea is served with sugar on the side or can be sweetened upon request.) The cost is $17.95 per adult, $13.46 per child (10 and under) and free for children 2 and under. The resort does add an additional 20% for gratuity and 7% for sales tax.  A $300 deposit is due upon reservation and a final head count needs to be presented 4 days prior to the event. 
The Cabana Hut is much nicer than the name implies. It's a small room located directly on the beach, beside the pool and shuffleboards. From the room, you can see the beach, volleyball court, pool bar, etc. It is an air conditioned with two mini-fridges a few tables and several chairs. It's not as big as the room we had at the Plantation, but the view is so much better. One concern was the step in the room; many older people are prone to falling/tripping over this step, not to mention it's inaccessible for wheelchairs. To my surprise, Barbara said she'd have them install a permanent ramp! The Room would be free for every night that we book 20 or more rooms. We are also welcome to bring in any snacks, food and beverages we would like. This hut will be a much needed gathering place central to all of our outdoor activities.
Speaking of outdoor activities, there is one volleyball net and we are allowed to add another. The pool is extremely clean, has ample seating and even a few tiki huts with tables and chairs. Saint Pete Beach is beautiful and has plenty of space for our Beach Olympics. I even spoke with a very nice Marine who owns/operates the beach rentals. He said if we call in advance, he'd offer us reserved beach cabanas at a discounted rate. (Normally $8.50/hour or $25/day.) We can also rent kayaks and water bikes, go parasailing, and take chartered trips to Shell Island. This area has so much to offer!  The resort is across from Publix, CVS, Chick-fil-a, Dollar Tree and Dipping Dots ice cream just to name a few! 
It may not be a five star resort, but I think it will be a wonderful location for our next family reunion. The dates available were not what we had talked about, but they are close. The resort will hold 20-25 rooms with more available upon request. We would need to encourage the family to book as soon as possible so they won't be stuck paying higher prices for a lesser room elsewhere.
Forget two thumbs up, I already put my toes in the St. Pete sand and can't wait to go back! This will be a great place for us gather as a family."
So a great big thanks to both Phyllis and Rachael for gathering this information and heading us back to the Dolphin!
The Dolphin and the room rates are approximately:
Standard Double -  $125
Poolside Double -   $156
Deluxe Beachfront 2 Queens or 1 King - $190
These prices should include the 12% tax, there is no Resort or Parking Fees. (Rollaway beds are $15 extra per night)

You will need to tell the hotel Reservations person that your "group code" is:  G/SALI/2016
We contracted with the hotel to have a Saturday evening family dinner of Hamburgers and Hot Dogs as Rachael outlined above.  Even though the prices are a little high, these prices cover our use of the Ballroom for the evening, it's really not that bad and we will all be together as everyone wanted.  So we can also plan on a Talent Show and maybe even revive the $1.98 Beauty Show.  We can also have some Lebanese dancing if we can find someone to provide music.  Anyone got any ideas on the music? 

Maybe we can talk the following folks into:
Talent Show - Rachael & Kristen
Beach Olympics - Craig and Uncle Bob
Cards / Poker - Craig
$1.98 - Beauty Show – Josie and Sara
You need to act quickly to reserve your room(s) at the Dolphin as they will only hold about 25 rooms for us for a short time (couple of months).  After that you will be competing with all of their regular returning guests and the rates will not be as good as those quoted above.  So call and make your reservations TODAY!
Ok, I guess that’s a lot of words for our first update, I am sure there will be much more information to follow.
Let me know if you have any questions, ideas, or concerns and once again, check out the pictures below!
Bill Ward