On Tuesday, Dec. 20, the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce celebrated the reopening of two businesses with ribbon cuttings at 11513 Andy Rosse Lane on Captiva Island: Sanibel Captiva Vacation Rentals, part of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, and Salty Wheels Golf Cart Rentals.
“We were able to reopen quickly because we’re part of the Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts family of brands, which includes ‘Tween Waters Island Resort on Captiva Island,” said Jackie Royka, assistant general manager. “After Hurricane Ian hit, this afforded us the resources needed to retain our vacation rental employees and book numerous private boat charter services to dock us at ‘Tween Waters Marina, where we had company vehicles waiting for us.
“Our concierge team was back on island three days after the storm to assess damages and establish a personalized reopening plan for each of our vacation rental owners while issuing timely refunds to our guests. Throughout our recovery efforts, we remain committed to staying connected with our owners and guests no matter the situation.”
The vacation rental business also has a Sanibel Island office that is still under renovation since Hurricane Ian hit in September. In the storm’s aftermath, Sanibel Captiva Island Vacations’ services changed to meet the individual needs of all island home and condo owners, even those using different vacation rental brokers.
“Whether it’s a question about what’s happening on the island, or you have a concern about your property, please take advantage of this opportunity, and don’t hesitate to reach out to us,” said Royka.
The operation currently has an inventory of a handful of homes, cottages, and condos on Sanibel and Captiva islands, with many others in the pipeline to reopen soon. Its guests have full access to the facilities at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort, which reopened its doors Dec. 19. That includes its groomed beach; two pool;, tennis and pickleball courts; on-site restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; guided kayak tours; and Hideaway Bar for poolside food and drinks.
“As part of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, the vacation rentals arm also provided housing for recovery workers and islanders soon after the hurricane,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “They continue to show selfless support to the community at large, beyond the scope of their operation. We are fortunate to have the group’s vast resources.”
“The Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce has been helpful in filtering and sharing timely information pertaining to the situation on the islands,” said Royka. “This has helped keep important information top of mind for us throughout this journey to reopening. They’ve also shared in our successes that were a result of our commitment to our owners and a lot of hard work.”
Family-owned by Patrick and Stephanie Turner, Salty Wheels has operated on Captiva for nearly two years. The owners were able to save their fleet of street-legal golf carts by moving them off-island, but lost their home in the hurricane. Their second-story office space and retail operation were spared.
The Turners brought 10 carts back to the islands by barge while the temporary causeway was under construction. City of Sanibel officials used them to travel the island and assess damage as they worked on a game plan towards recovery.
“Since Ian, cart transportation has been essential for many islanders to work towards recovery,” said Patrick Turner. “While island access was limited, our carts have been used to transport government officials as well as private companies and residents throughout Sanibel and Captiva.”
“Here is one more shining example of how island businesses have pitched in to work together toward a recovery that is amazing the world with its tenacity and swiftness,” said Lai. “We congratulate Salty Wheels for its smart storm and rebound plan.”
“We are very thankful for all the steps the chamber has taken to provide information to the island businesses and visitors about the recovery process,” said Turner. “The chamber’s relationship with island businesses and the public is a tremendous tool for our community’s ability to bounce back stronger. We look forward to working with all members as our islands reopen.”
ABOUT SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. With more than 460 active Chamber members from both islands and businesses from Lee and Collier counties, the Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Francis P. Bailey, Jr., Chamber Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. VISIT FLORIDA named the visitor center one of 13 official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in the state. It is open 365 days a year and provides comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, and where to stay, shop, and dine. The chamber website sanibel-captiva.org receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year.