COASTE | FEB - MAR 2017

FEBRUARY - MARCH 2017

YourCOASTE.com

Day Tripping to Trippy Matlacha

Guides for the Kids in All of Us The (NoT So SecreT) MarkeTiNg SecreT To SaNibel & capTiva

ALWAYS FREE PLUS: SWFL’s Premier Events Calendar

To best enjoy your visit to Sanibel: • Avoid driving on and off the Island during these peak times • Plan in advance to travel around the Island by foot and bike • Stay on Island – have dinner and shop on Island to avoid traffic delays • Check the City of Sanibel website for real-time street cams and traffic updates: www.MySanibel.com

The City of Sanibel wants you to enjoy your vacation. During peak season, Sanibel Island experiences daily heavy on-bound traffic congestion from 8 a.m. to noon and heavy off-bound traffic between 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. On a weekly basis during peak season, traffic volumes are the lightest on Sundays.

Download the Sanibel Street Cam App

SanibelCams

We look forward to your visit to our Island!

Years of Focused Real Estate Experience | Professional and Reliable Providing the Service You Deserve | International Networking | State-of-the-Art Website

CAPTIVA’S VILLAGE • Custom 5 BR/5 BA Home • Fenced Pool & Spa • Sold Furnished • Wood Floors Throughout • Private Elevator $1,895,000 HERON’S LANDING II • Overlooking Clam Bayou • Private 4 BR/3 BA Home • Sundecks, Cathedral Ceiling, Coral Fireplace & Dock • Beach Access, Fishing Pier, Pool & Tennis $1,349,000 SANIBEL ISLES • Custom 4 BR/3 BA Home • Deep Water Dock w/Lift • Screened Pool & Spa • Remodeled & Upgraded • Great Island Location $1,795,000

Our Experience and Service Ring True 239.851.0168 PO Box 550 | 14970 Captiva Drive Captiva, Florida 33924 TheBellTeam.com

John Bates REALTOR®

Karen Bell Broker-Associate REALTOR®

Holly Peeples Admin / Marketing Coordinator

Sherrill Sims GRI / REALTOR®

STARLING WAY BUILDING SITE

• Beautiful Building Site • Lot Measures 112 x 250 • Direct Access Canal • Views of Dinkins Bayou $689,000

COASTE | EDITOR’S WELCOME

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE WINTER. As I write this, I’m three days away from stuffing my largest suitcase full of every heavy sweater, scarf and full-length wool coat that I own. For in three days, I fly to Wisconsin —where I once traveled regularly but haven’t been in almost four years — to attend a hockey “camp” with my 12-year-old forward. Checking the current weather on my phone, the temperature is a balmy 10 degrees — although the small print suggests it feels like eight below. I can’t imagine that once upon a lifetime, I endured that climate and its endless cold, dirty snow and weeks of depressing gray skies. Then I flash forward to Thursday, when I come home to Southwest Florida. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a window seat on the right side of the plane so that at just the right moment upon approach, I’ll be able to look out upon our beautiful Gulf of Mexico and our barrier islands, right around sunset. And then, after I grab my oversized bag, the next moment of spiritual rebirth will take place when I exit the airport and breathe in that warmth and, best of all, that smell of life that permeates our air and is so obvious, when you’ve been someplace like the land of darkness where nothing grows for months. And you know what? I won’t care a lick about the suffocating traffic, the long lines, the two hour waits to get a table at a restaurant, and all the many other snowbird inconveniences that come with winter here. Because it’s winter. Here. With all its comforts, blue skies and natural beauty.

Yup, it’s beginning to look a lot like winter. And I love it.

John Sprecher Founder | Editor

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Volume III Number 6 Volume III Number 5 Volume II Nu ber 4

UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP Come Experience Our New Menu! UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP C i ! Sanibel’s Award Winning Casual Restaurant i i l st ra t

Founder | Executive Editor John Sprecher John@YourCoaste.com Creative Director Director of Photography Milissa Sprecher Milissa@YourCoaste.com Founder | E e u ive i or John precher John@YourCoaste.com Creative Dire i f Photography Milissa Sprecher Milissa@YourCoaste.com Founder | Executive Editor John Sprecher John@YourCoaste.com Creative Director Director of Photography Milissa Sprecher Milissa@YourCoaste.com r yo i m i , m r bo t i destinations to be enjoyed in Lee t i i i . click or call ! r Bo a a d m e . 941.964. INFO @ For your information, you can learn more about the many outstanding destinations to be enjoyed in Lee County via these organizations. Just click or call them today! Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce BocaGrandeChamber.com 941.964.0568 Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce BonitaSpringsChamber.com 239.992.2943 Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce CapeCoralChamber.com 239.549.6900 l rce . Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce apeCoralChamber.com 3 . . Director of Sales Julie Beckta Sales@YourCoaste.com Di or f Sales Julie Beckta l @Y ur aste.c Director of Sales Katrina Salokar Sales@YourCoaste.com Bonit Spri h it i 3 .9 . Graphic Designer Christina Robertson Gr ic i Christi a e t o r uti g P o ty Vi it nti u au Graphic Designer Christina Robertson E t Ch b tero m r. Contributing Photographers Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau Contributing Photographers Stephen Blancett Andrew Tate COASTE is published five times annually by COASTE LLC. COASTE Magazine + Multi- Media Network reaches FREE a minimum 250,000 impressions via print magazine distribution, digital magazine subscribers, e-marketing, social media communities, downloadable apps and website. COASTE is a member of Florida Magazine Association and statistically aligns with City & Regional Magazine Association. Estero Chambe of Commerce EsteroChamber.com 239.948.7990 Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce Fo tMyers.org 239.332.3624 239.948.7990 Greater rt M r FortMyersBeach.o 23 . 54. 5 Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce rt ye s.org 239.332.3624 Online & Calendar Editor Eric Sprecher O line Editor ic S re her COASTE is published five times annually by COASTE LLC. COASTE Magazine + Multi- Media Network reaches FREE a minimum 250,000 impressions via print magazine distribution, digital magazine subscribers, e-marketing, social media communities, downloadable apps and website. COASTE is a member of Florida Magazine Association and statistically aligns with City & Regional Magazine Association. i li ime nu ll b OA E LLC. CO S E a n Mul ia N t a s R m m 0,00 i i s a p i mag ne di ibu ion, i i l u c i s, arketi g, s i c e , w l l a s nd e si . S s ber o F i a s tis ll a i . Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau FortMyers-Sanibel.com 239.338.3500 t i it ti r F rt ers- i l. m 239. 38. 0 P.O. Box 869 Sanibel FL 33957 Editorial: 239.395.3251 Sales: 239.470.5611 www.YourCoaste.com . . i l 3957 Edi o l: 39 39 S : . 0. 6 w. our oa e.co P.O. Box 869 Sanibel FL 33957 Editorial: 239.395.3251 Sales: 239.470.5611 www.YourCoaste.com Le igh i Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce FortMyersBeach.org 239.454.7500 Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce LehighAcresChamber.org 239.369.3322 . 3 . .

TASTE OF THE ISLANDS 2nd Place Peoples Choice 2016! I 2n lace e les C ice 1 !

HEAD & SHOULDERS ABOVE THE REST! Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner • Outdoor Dining on Our Pet-Friendly Patio NEW HOURS: Monday-Sunday, 7am-Close • Breakfast Served Till Noon 239-472-2525 • BlueGiraffeSanibel .com Periwinkle Place Shopping Center • 2075 Periwinkle Way, Unit 14 • Sanibel & O S re kf st u c • in r ut r i i n r t rien l ti N H : a - a , a - lo • Br fast r ill 5 5 G ri i l l i i i l , i i l Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner • Outdoor Dining on Our Tropical Deck Full Liquor Bar • Happy Hour 4–6pm • Open Until 9pm Taste of the Islands Winner for Best Appetizer and Best Seafood! Best of the Islands Win er for Best Breakfast and est Lunch! Rated 3 Stars by Jean Le Boeuf! 239-472-2525 • mybl gir ffe.com Periwinkle Place Shopping Center • 2075 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel i r t or Dining on Our Tropical Deck ll i a py Hour 4–6pm • Open Until 9p Taste of the Islands Winner for Best Appetize a d Best Seafood! est f t e Isl s Wi er for est Breakfast and Best Lunch! te 3 Stars by Jean Le Boeuf! m b gir ff .com i i l Place Shopping Center • 2075 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel f t

s t y l i sh g i f t s | ar t i san c ra f t s home accen t s and décor t l i i f t | r t i s c ra f t s home accen t s and décor

Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce Sanibel-Captiva.org 239.472.1080 i l ti r i l- i . 3 . .1

239-472-8111 | cargosanibel.com Periwinkle Place Shopping Center | 2075 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel i l. i i l l i t r | eri inkle Way, Sanibel |

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ISLAND RESORT & SPA

Choose your island. choose your beach. Choose your style.

With Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, it’s literally here a beach, there a beach, everywhere a beach for you to enjoy. From full- service luxury resorts to classic “Olde Florida”cottages, you’ll love our outstanding accommodations, amenities, service, hospitality, food, drink, relaxation, fun and—oh yes!—value. So go ahead, be choosy. We are. We look forward to seeing you soon.

SanibelCaptivaBeachResorts.com

For your information, you can learn more about the many outstanding destinations to be enjoyed in Lee County via these organizations. Just click or call them today! Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce BocaGrandeChamber.com 941.964.0568 Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce BonitaSpringsChamber.com 239.992.2943 Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce CapeCoralChamber.com 239.549.6900 Estero Chamber of Commerce EsteroChamber.com 239.948.7990 Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce FortMyersBeach.org 239.454.7500 info @ For your information, you can learn more about the many outstanding destinations to be enjoyed in Lee County via these organizations. Just click or call them today! Boca Grande Chamber of Commerce BocaGrandeChamber.com 941.964.0568 Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce BonitaSpringsChamber.com 239.992.2943 Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce CapeCoralChamber.com 239.549.6900 Estero Chamber of Commerce EsteroChamber.com 239.948.79 0 Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Com erce FortMyersBeach.org 239.454.750 info @ For your infor ation, you can learn ore about he any outstanding destinations to be njoyed in Le County via these organizations. Just click or call the today! Boca Grande Chamber of Com erce Boca randeCha ber.com 941.964.0568 Bonita Springs Chamber of Com erce BonitaSpringsCha ber.com 239. 92. 943 Cape Coral Cha ber of Co erce CapeCoralCha ber.com 239.549.6900 Estero Cha ber of Com erce EsteroCha ber.com 239. 48.7990 Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Com erce Fort yersBeach.org 239.454.7500 i f Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce FortMyers.org 239.332.3624 Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau FortMyers-Sanibel.com 239.338.3500 Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce LehighAcresChamber.org 239.369.3322 Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Com erce FortMyers.org 239.332.3624 Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau FortMyers-Sanibel.com 239.338.350 Lehigh Acres Chamber of Com erce LehighAcresChamber.org 239.369.332 Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Com erce Fort yers.org 239.332.3624 Lee County Visitors & Convention Bureau Fort yers-Sanibel.com 239.338.3500 Lehigh Acres Chamber of Com erce LehighAcresCha ber.org 239.369.3322

For All Things Beautiful! l Th

Massage • Advanced Skincare • Reflexology Manicure and Pedicure • Full Service Salon Body Care • Bridal Services www.SanibelDaySpa.com Located In The Periwinkle Place Shopping Center 2075 Periwinkle Way • Suite 24 Sanibel Island, Florida 33957 239.395.2220 • 877.695.1588 MM# 2782

Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce Sanibel-Captiva.org 239.472.1080 Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Com erce Sanibel-Captiva.org 239.472.1080 Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Com erce Sanibel-Captiva.org 239.472.1080

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GET DOWN. HERE. Everyone’s Favorite Downtown Fort Myers River District

WWW.FORTMYERSRIVERDISTRICTALLIANCE.COM

MUSIC WALK Every 3rd Friday (6-10pm)

PET WALK Every 4th Friday

ART WALK Every 1st Friday (6-10pm)

MYSTERY WALK Every 2nd Friday (6-10pm) Seasonal

(6-8pm) Seasonal

RDA Special Events: Car Cruise-In, Bike Night, Downtown Countdown, St. Patrick’s Day, Holiday Stroll, Creative ARTs Market, Downtown Farmers & Arts Market, Freedom Fest, Veterans Day Parade

The River District Alliance would like to thank our sponsors, volunteers and event donors who make Downtown Fort Myers rock!

COASTE CONTENTS

FEBRUARY - MARCH 2017

on the cover

Another gorgeous sunset embraced by another family enjoying Southwest Florida. Photo by Milissa Sprecher Photography.

in this issue

features

16

TAKE FIVE MEET NEWT BARRETT He’s the publisher and smart marketer of the “Un-Tourist Guides” to some of the most popular relocation cities in America. WELCOME HOME Here’s another inside look at living the good life in Southwest Florida.

12 ARTIST IN RESIDENCE FOR THE KIDS IN ALL OF US: Karen Bartlett is the author of two Mostly Kids’ Guides to Southwest Florida, and they’re fun (and funny) reading. 18 DESTINATIONS DAY TRIPPING TO TRIPPY MATLACHA: It’s fun, it’s funky, it’s quirky, it’s colorful, and it should most definitely be on your to-do list.

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ROOMWITH A VIEW Come visit one of our favorite places to relax, rest and reconnect.

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COASTE CALENDAR It’s Southwest Florida’s premier calendar of events, so mark your calendar for all the entertainment, electricity and fun headed your way.

26 COMMUNITY

THE (NOT-SO-SECRET) MARKETING SECRET: The Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce is a one-of-a-kind in the state. Read how.

AT ‘TWEEN WATERS INN

AT ‘TWEEN WATERS INN

AT ‘TWEEN WATERS INN

AT WEST WIND INN

Captiva-House.com | CrowsNest-Captiva.com | NormandieRestaurant.com | SanibelCaptivaBeachResorts.com

36 combining an honest and unfiltered narrative of their life story with the world class dancing, creativity and passion they are known for. Collaborating with the greatest choreographers in he busine s and supported by a cast of fellow dance professionals, the show will surprise and delight with timeless elegance and steamy seduction. www.BBManPAH.com www.rentals.viprealty.com 1506 Periwinkle Way | Sanibel, FL 33957 Toll Free (877) 541-6681 239-472-5300 www.captivacruises.com Come out to beautiful Captiva Island. Explore our amazing “out islands” and watch dolphins in the wild. First class tours and expeditions. Customized private charters. Captiva Cruises will be your vacation highlight. MAKS & VAL LIVE ON TOUR: OUR WAY June 18 Brothers Maksim and Valentin Chmerkovskiy, the hottest stars of ABC’s hit show “Dancing with the Stars,” are bringing to life the show they’ve dreamed about since childhood, C aptiva C ruises Island Hopping • Shelling • Dolphin Watching Sunset and Sailing Cruises • Private Charters GALLOWAY CAPTIVA TRIATHALON Sept 10 & 11 The Galloway Captiva Triathlon is now open to online registration. The Captiva Triathlon is a family, fun and fitness weekend at South Seas Island Resort centered on a children’s race on Saturday morning and an adult sprint-length race on Sunday morning. www.captivatri.org Make Your Castle in the Sand! Nov – Jan Getaways Online SUBSCRIBE FREE Cayo Costa State Park # 1 shelling destination 2016 ISLAND HOPPER SONGWRITER FEST Sept 23 – Oct 2 From Sanibel and Captiva, to Fort Myers Beach and downtown Fort Myers, there’s live music here, there and everywhere as 50-plus singer-songwriters come together in Southwest Florida’s fun-tastic festive event. You’ll have to pay attention who’s playing what where, but there’s never a cover charge and always a good time to be had. www.fortmyers-sanibel.com Daily Dolphin Cruises with naturalist on board Useppa Island picturesque island retreat Sept 10+ 11 Sept 23- Oct 2 Enjoy your free Digital edition Of the best of sanibel, captiva and sw Florida 5 times a year, wherever you May be. June - September — On Stage Sunset Cruises wildlife, sailing, or live music Cabbage Key “cheeseburger in paradise” Lady Chadwick June 18

COASTE | ON STAGE

Thru July 2

COASTE - JUNJUL16MS.indd 36

MENOPAUSE THE MUSICAL Thru July 2

RATED Food — 4½ Stars Service — 4½ Stars Atmosphere — 4 Stars Out of 5 Stars

Four women at a lingerie sale have nothing in common other than a black lace bra — and memory loss, hot flashes, night sweats, lack of sex and more. The hilarious celebration of women and life’s change is set to classic tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s that’ll leave you laughing and dancing in the aisles! The show runs Saturday, May 19 to Saturday, July 2. www.BroadwayPalm.com

239-472-1956 • SweetMelissasCafe.com 1625 Periwinkle Way • Sanibel, Florida 33957 4 a AIRPORT & LOCAL TRANSPORTATION IslandTaxi.com • ride@islandtaxi.com Call for Reservations 239-472-4888 More Than a Ride! Celebrating 8 Years on Sanibel! Newly Renovated Bar • Newly Crafted Menu Creatively Out of the Ordinary Lunch 11:30am-3:30pm, Tuesday-Saturday Dinner 5pm-9pm, Tuesday-Sunday RESERVATIONS RECOMMENDED Executive Chef Melissa Talmage

Yourcoaste.com

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artist in residence

12 COASTE | ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

FOR EVERYONE WHO’S (MOSTLY) A KID AT HEART. KAREN BARTLETT’S “MOSTLY KIDS GUIDES” TO

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA ARE FUN LEARNING, DELIGHTFULLY DISGUISED AS FUN READING FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. By John Sprecher | Photography by Milissa Sprecher

More than 20 years ago, writer and photographer Karen Bartlett found herself relocated to Naples with two young children in tow. At the time, there were far fewer educational, entertaining and just plain fun things to do with kids in Southwest Florida. But times have changed, and our growing communities are vibrant with children here, there and everywhere — while our coast becomes an ideal family vacation destination. So Bartlett set out to do what she wished someone had done for her family when they were young: create a fact-filled, fun-filled, quizzical, colorful and (don’t tell the kids) educational guide to living, playing and visiting in Southwest Florida. Mostly Kids’ Guides and currently, two reside on the shelves: A (Mostly) Kids’ Guide to Naples, Marco Island and They’re called

the Everglades and a second title recently released, A (Mostly) Kids Guide to Sanibel & Captiva Islands and the Fort Myers Coast. “What I want to accomplish is what I hoped I would’ve had when we moved here: a guide to the inside scoop on the cool stuff that’s off the beaten path, what’s it like to really live here and be a native or a visitor with great local knowledge — all from a slightly kid-skewed point of view.” As “Adventurer in Chief” of the Mostly Kids’ Guides , Bartlett digs deep into the history, geography, environment, nature, attractions, entertainment and yes, even the quirks of each region. Using colorfully illustrated wildlife, pirates, Calusa Indians and various other characters to assist as narrators of sort, Bartlett has created quick-read guides that are

packed with images, facts and fun.

“My goal was to make books as enjoyable for grandparents, parents and teachers as they are for kids,” she says. “Far from storybooks, the guides are designed to entertain, challenge and educate. And if they don’t laugh out loud every few pages, I’ve failed miserably.” That they certainly will, while putting a smile on your face. For instance, did you know which marine creature bears the head of a donkey, the belly of a kangaroo and the tail of amonkey (it’s a seahorse)? Or that some historians claim that Thomas Edison once served cooked shoe leather to dinner guests (as a practical joke) who had complained about the lack of tenderness of a previous meal? Or that Ponce de Leon not only explored our shores, but was also shot by a Calusa arrow

14 COASTE | ARTIST IN RESIDENCE

“The guides are designed to entertain, challenge and educate. And if they don’t laugh out loud every few pages, I’ve failed miserably.” — Karen Bartlett

just north of Fort Myers? Or how pirates may have used sea grape leaves to pass secret messages? Well, now you do — and there’s a lot more to enjoy page after page of the Mostly Kids Guides , which can be found in local book and gift stores, attractions, resort destinations, museums, art galleries, Barnes and Noble and (of course) online. For the record, Karen Bartlett is no novice when it comes to storytelling about travel. After a successful stint in public relations as president of her own firm, Bartlett served 15 years as the travel editor of Gulfshore Life magazine, visiting destinations around the U.S. and the world. She authored and photographed a variety of hard-cover destination guides. But it wasn’t until she lucked into an assignment doing a kid’s guide to Chicago — she “had a blast” and it sold very well — that the proverbial light went on. Each book has proven to be an approximate two-year labor of love, and next up will be a Mostly Kids’ Guide to her hometown of Savannah, Georgia. “I love my job! I get to color outside the lines so to speak, write about whatever I want, and channel my inner kid while providing a valuable, educational, entertaining resource for parents and kids,” she says.

Indeed. What’s not to love?

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www.MostlyKidsGuides.com

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take five

“The Go-To Resource for Going Somewhere New.” By John Sprecher

Southwest Florida Business Magazine and later, as websites evolved from online brochures to vital branding, marketing and commerce resources, became a leading authority on content marketing. But astute marketer that he is, a vacation to France sparked an “aha!” idea that has sent him off into a brave new concept called Voyager Media, and publisher of a series of fast growing “Un-Tourist Guides” to some of the most popular relocation cities in the country.

Newt Barrett is a world traveler, a publisher, an author and a smart marketer who understands that relocating to a new city can often be an intimidating task — certainly when you’re unfamiliar with your next stop on life’s journey. And this Southwest Florida resident is making the most of his insight. OriginallyfromOhio,Barrettenjoyedahighly successful career in corporate publishing — and lived “all over the United States” with his wife in that time — before settling full time here in 1997. Shortly thereafter, he launched

16 COASTE | TAKE FIVE

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How did the concept for the Un-Tourist Guide begin? My wife Maxine and I were in France and in a bookstore, I spotted a book called S’Installer a Toulouse: Le Guide Anti-Touristique . Roughly translated, that means making yourself at home in Toulouse. If you were moving to Toulouse, I thought that was a terrific idea but assumed that every destination city in the U.S. would have such a guide. I was wrong. Living in Naples at the time, I knew a very talented writer — Alysia Shivers — who had also become a successful real estate agent. Alysia and I worked together and in 2013, we published Moving to Naples: The Un-Tourist Guide. It’s been very successful and sold thousands of copies. How does the concept work? The concept is simple in that we try to provide all the information you would need to know if you’re planning to move or have recently moved to a new area. Each book has similar kinds of content, although, of course, each town has unique attractions and attributes. How many guides are there currently, and are there plans for more? Currently, we’ve published eight books covering Naples, Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Palm Beach County in Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; and Atlanta, Georgia. We have three more in the works — Orlando, Greater Fort Myers, and Austin, Texas. What’s the key difference between an Un-Tourist Guide and a Tourist Guide? A tourist guide would include just the sorts of information you need to have fun when you’re spending a short time in a particular location. The Un- Tourist Guide includes all the fun stuff but also adds information about neighborhoods, schools, local economy, job opportunities, and other items you’d want to know about when relocating. Obviously you’ve hit on something — what makes them so successful? I think there’s so successful because those of us who’ve done a lot of moving really need the information the books provide. Although most of the information would exist across dozens of websites and various pamphlets and brochures, it doesn’t exist in an organized way in a single location. So we’re really the go-to resource when you’re going somewhere new, relocating to a new town or area.

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{

Found Online at www.Books.Google.com Barnes & Noble www.VoyagerMediaInc.com

community

>> The (NoT So SecreT) MarkeTiNg SecreT oF SaNibel aND capTiva By John Sprecher | Photography by Milissa Sprecher

20 COASTE | COMMUNITY

It’s another typical chamber of commerce day in Southwest Florida: cloudless blue skies, brilliant sunshine and an altogether delightful 80 degrees. Except that on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, there’s a chamber of commerce that’s far from typical. It goes by the official moniker of Sanibel Island & Captiva Island Chamber of Commerce and — going on 11 years in 2017 — the organization’s been led by president Ric Base, a gentleman who’s combined his background in training, sales and Florida East Coast chambers into one of the most potent marketing partners any resort, restaurant or retailer on the islands could have. “Most chambers of commerce are somewhat static operations that help their members with networking and other business basics,” he says. “Our chamber is a proactive promoter of our members to the public, while providing services in marketing that bring great results in referrals and sales, which ultimately generate returns on investment of high value.” Put another way (and here’s your not-so- secret secret) — this ain’t your ordinary chamber, but is much more akin to a larger destination marketing organization, similar in mission to county visitor and convention bureaus. Doug Babcock is Chief Operating Officer of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts and is a member of the chamber’s boardof directors. “We actively participate in a number of marketing programs the chamber offers,” he explains. “Across our four resorts, we

generally

Ric Base, President

generally see the chamber among the top referring resources to our property websites. They’re sending literally thousands of people to our reservations pages, where many of these folks wind up booking vacations. It’s a great asset that all of us on the islands benefit from, and very few chambers across the country perform this way or this well.” The facts would support Babcock. Open daily throughout the year, the colorful Visitor Center on Causeway Road welcomes nearly 170,000 eager guests annually — in season, some days upwards of more than a thousand families, couples, snowbirds and day trippers. Sanibel Captiva Visitor Guides go right back out the door each year in approximately 125,000 of those hands. And online, a remarkable 1.3 million annual visitors click onto Sanibel-Captiva.org — where close to one million are then referred on to members who are all too happy to provide lodging, food, entertainment, recreation, shopping

“It’s a great asset that all of us on the islands benefit from, and very few chambers across the country perform this way or this well.” — Doug Babcock

22 COASTE | COMMUNITY

“Clearly, in terms of foot traffic, we’re the most popular visitor center in the state outside of VISIT FLORIDA’s welcome centers.” — Ric Base

Ric Base is rightly proud of that performance. “Clearly, in terms of foot traffic, we’re the most popular visitor center in the state outside of VISIT FLORIDA’s welcome centers,” he notes. “We’re obviously positioned nicely in location, but these are special islands and people are excited to learn about them when they walk through our doors. That’s where our staff really shines, providing guests a warm welcome, a plethora of information and a great passion for our island lifestyle.” Again, the facts prove Base right. Somewhat amazingly, the Sanibel Captiva Visitor Center ranks among the top three attractions on TripAdvisor, having received more than 700 reviews. “That says a lot about our volunteers and our staff in making visitors feel welcome.” Just as amazingly, the organization provides all of these services with but four full time employees, a handful of part time employees and approximately 35 volunteers. “I learned early on inmy career that one thing you couldn’t teach others is attitude,” Base says. “Our staff loves the islands and are passionate about this place, and share that love with every guest.” Scot Congress, president of Congress Jewelers and past president of the board of the chamber of commerce, is

impressed. “It’s a ‘grass roots up’ volunteer organization in many respects,” he says. “The love and passion for the islands are what drives the chamber’s success. From the volunteers at the front desk, to its all volunteer board and incredible executive team, that passion is the gift that keeps on giving.” But the marketing of a destination is becoming more sophisticated every day, and Ric Base — who’ll retire at the end of 2017 — is smart enough to not sit on his laurels, or his hands. Rather, this chamber of commerce will again take on the role of destination marketer more aggressively than ever this year, with $125,000 (its largest amount ever) budgeted for website and social media promotion. In the end, however, even the biggest budget in the world would be wasted if nobody was buying what you were selling — and as Base has seen the past 11 years, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island sell themselves quite well. “We’re a bit of a throwback to old Florida, a kinder and gentler way of life without the glitz. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, enjoy gorgeous beaches, wonderful nature and all kinds of recreation, or just mellow out, this is the place to have that relaxing getaway. It’s a different speed of life and, like our slogan says: naturally, you’ll love it here.”

{ www.Sanibel-Captiva.org

Welcome Home

Each issue, COASTE opens the door and welcomes you to tour one of Southwest Florida’s premier homes. After all, living here is more than a life style. It’s a soul style. Welcome to Water’s Edge, where you’re so close to the beach you can hear the waves of the Gulf of Mexico from your back porch on a quiet morning or night. This beautiful three bedroom, 2.5 bath customWolter Home is situated on a cul-de-sac that maintains its privacy with a lushly landscaped yard, and is set back from the road. Water’s Edge features a screen enclosed, gas heated pool with spa, outside shower, wonderful outdoor entertainment area, open floor plan, great room with a marble gas fireplace, open kitchen with a gas cook top, bamboo and tile floors, private elevator , large sliders that open to an expansive deck overlooking the pool, beautiful master suite with sliders to the lanai, separate tub and shower, walk-in closet and two garages that accommodate four cars. A great family home and close to all of your island needs. Listing Agent: The Bell Team. Price: $1,249,000.

24 COASTE | WELCOME HOME

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destinations

26 COASTE | DESTINATIONS

By John Sprecher Photography by John Sprecher and Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau Day Tripping To Trippy Matlacha.

T

here’s a saying that goes: the journey is the reward. And while that may be true, a trip to Matlacha proves that the arrival can be exceedingly rewarding, too.

water.” Some references call it an island, while others label it a key (difference being, a key doesn’t possess a fresh water source). And stories of ghost butchers, circus freaks and drug smugglers only add to the legend. But the fact is, Matlacha has evolved from its days as simply a thriving fishing community to a true tourism destination — fueled in large part by a creative collection of artists, galleries, boutiques and shoppes — each clearly making his or her look-at- me statement with one funky, colorfully painted building after another along this uniquely artsy, slow moving stretch of Pine Island Road that, if you blink more than once, you might miss. “Matlacha stands as another example of what makes Lee County such a great place to visit,” says Tamara Pigott, Executive

Quite likely the most mispronounced locale in Lee County, Matlacha is a sliver of an island that literally and figuratively bridges the mainland of Cape Coral to Pine Island. Phonetically it goes by Matt-Lah- Shay, although visually it’s a kaleidoscope of funky, colorful, delightful, playful and unforgettable people, places and things — with the emphasis on people. Matlacha traces its history with sketchy detail. Its name is said to be derived from either the Seminole or Calusa Indians, and means either “big warrior” or “knee deep

27

COASTE | DESTINATIONS

27

Director of The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel, the county’s destination marketing organization. “It’s a slice of the offbeat where artists, restaurateurs and retailers have created, in a way, a one-of-a-kind

with numerous boat rentals, a host of fishing cottages on the water’s edge and anglers aplenty on what’s nicknamed “the fishingest bridge in the world” — as does the dining of fish and other delights, at any

place that’s both old Florida and trippy. Plus the fishing is legendary. I love sharing it with others.”

number of watering holes including the famous Bert’s Bar. Lisa Timcak is one who agrees that Matlacha’s diversity is its appeal.

“It’s a slice of the offbeat where artists, restaurateurs and retailers have created, in a way, a one-of-a-kind place that’s both old Florida and trippy.” — Tamara Pigott

To be sure, as you travel the roughly one mile of two lane road and drawbridge that divides Matlacha right down the middle, fishing remains a popular draw —

Owner of Island Visions Gallery with her husband Steve since 2009 (they also own two art galleries in downtown FortMyers), Timcak notes that “Matlacha

28 COASTE | DESTINATIONS

is a unique and vibrant community. We often hear people compare it to the Key West of years ago. It’s a small place that’s big with color, personality and

population of approximately 700 people — living on a whopping two-tenths of a square mile. B.J. Hickey has owned Great Licks Ice Cream since he

heart — and it’s said that if you stand around too long you risk being painted with the vibrant hues we’re known for. If you want to get away from the norm, it’s this funny

moved to Florida in 2006, and he feels the Matlacha vibe appeals to both residents and visitors. “We’re a funky, old Florida key with historically-

“It’s a small place that’s big with color, personality and heart — and it’s said that if you stand around too long you risk being painted with the vibrant hues we’re known for.” — Lisa Timcak

little place just not like anywhere else.” She smiles. “But shush, we kind of want to keep it that way.”

designated buildings, an artsy community and a lot of laid back people,” he says. “Some folks are old time hippies, everybody knows everybody, and often we don’t even know each other’s last names. I’m just the ice cream man, and that’s cool.”

The United States Census Bureau definesMatlacha as a “census designated place” with a total

30 COASTE | DESTINATIONS

Twenty years ago, however, Matlacha was strictly a fishing village, until a ban on net fishing essentially put the fishing industry out of business. At about that time, a woman named Leoma Lovegrove and her husband were traveling to Boca Grande in search of a place to live — except they’d taken a wrong turn and found themselves the perfect place to call home. Today, Leoma Lovegrove is a celebrated artist — with a gallery in Matlacha that generates 500 visitors a day, plus distribution in 125 Bealls stores — and is in

effect the founder of the arts community that so very colorfully defines this slice of funky Florida.

“I think Matlacha is unique in the whole state,” she says. “It’s funky, with unexpected surprises at every turn. We have so many great shops and stops. You can buy art, go next door and pick up sandals, stop and have a beer, drop your dog off to be groomed, get your nails done, get a massage and go fishing, and a hundred more things. We’re a one stop shop for a day of entertainment like nowhere else in the world.”

31

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What’s Happening on Your

February-March — Community Events

feb- mar

DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS ART WALK Feb - Mar On the first Friday of each month from 6 PM - 10 PM — and now, on the first Saturdays from 11 AM – 4 PM — art fans can enjoy an evening of visual arts, art gallery openings and more! Over 11 art galleries invite locals and visitors to a self-guided tour throughout the Downtown Fort Myers River District core and Gardener’s Park area. Art enthusiasts can even meet the artists at most of the galleries and enjoy live art demonstrations! www.FortMyersArtWalk.com FORT MYERS MYSTERY WALK Feb - Mar Every second Friday of the month, Mystery Walk is a festival that combines culture and different mediums of art to bring our community together in an educational experience! Elements of performance art, street art, digital art, community interactive art, visual art and music all form as one to create Mystery Walk. www.FortMyersRiverDistrictAlliance.com FORT MYERS MUSIC WALK Dec - Jan On the third Friday of every month from 6 PM - 10 PM, the River District comes alive with local music! Numerous participating venues feature live music by local and regional talent. Restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops also showcase a wide range of music during the monthly Music Walk. Featuring jazz, blues, rock, drum circles, and piano, guests can expect to hear a wide variety of musical genres. Many venues will also feature additional attractions such as wine and food tastings. www.FortMyersRiverDistrictAlliance.com

feb- mar

feb- mar

feb- mar

CAR CRUISE-IN Feb - Mar On the fourth Saturday of each month, come take a stroll down memory lane with cars that used to roar down the roads. Happening in downtown Fort Myers from 4 PM - 8 PM, all muscle, roadster and classic cars are welcome as well as the fans that love them for free! There will be music, food, drinks as well as many other public venues holding additional specials and venues. The Car Cruise-In asks all attendees to please respect parking policy and to enter at First and Monroe Street. www.FortMyersRiverDistrictAlliance.com

GUIDED KAYAK TOURS OF SWFL Feb - Mar Come experience the great outdoors of Southwest Florida from one of the best views you could find. The guided kayak tours will have you paddling all over — from Estero River and Bay, Tarpon Bay and Mound Key. They even offer a manatee tour as these spring months provide with cool waters for manatees to relax and wade in. This is their favorite time of the year and quite possibly your best chance to see them! www.fortmyers-sanibel.com feb- mar

34 COASTE | COMMUNITY EVENTS

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Read us now. Submit your news now. Subscribe free now. Advertise now. Sales@YourCoaste.com | 239.395.3251 | YourCoaste.com

feb 18

EDISON FESTIVAL OF LIGHT 5K - Feb 18 Calling all runners to come join the 1,500 participants in the sanctioned race that has received national recognition due to the rich history, enthusiastic participants and thousands of cheering fans. Runners will race along with the Grand Parade rout and cross the finish line just in time for the parade to begin. Registration is $25 until February 11, $30 February 12-17, and $40 race day and includes a t-shirt. www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

feb 18th

LUAU OF LIFE GALA - Mar 18 Helping kids win their battles against cancer at Luau of Life! The Luau of Life is an evening of Polynesian and tropical fun! It includes all the excitement and spectacle of a traditional luau. The venue is set with tropical ambience with something for each of the senses. This casual yet upscale event offers attendees all the best of Polynesia, including traditional hula and fire dancing. The event benefits Pediatric Oncology Research to help save the lives of children. www.sbdac.com THE GRAND PARADE OF LIGHT - Feb 18 From 7 PM to 10 PM, come join 200,000 spectators for the largest illuminated night parade in the region. Admire the many floats, balloons, bands and specialty units as they will make their way along the two mile parade path from Fort Myers High School through downtown Fort Myers. Street seating is available for purchase at $10. VIP tickets to view the parade at Harborside Event Center can be purchased at $55 and include food, beverage, indoor or outdoor seating. www.fortmyers-sanibel.com CASINO ROYALE - Mar 31 On Friday March 31, starting at 6 PM enjoy a fun filled evening with casino games, a silent auction and entertainment. The cost to attend is $65 per ticket and includes an open bar for beer and wine, passed appetizers and casino dollars. For more information on sponsorship opportunities and donations, please contact Landen Drake at Landen@fortmyers.org or www.fortmyers.org

mar 18

dec 3

36 COASTE | COMMUNITY EVENTS

February-March — On Stage

YESTON & KOPIT’S PHANTOM Feb 1 - Feb 11 From the Tony Award-winning team of Maury Yeston and Arthur Kopit comes the exquisite masterpiece based on Gaston Leroux’s timeless love story of the disfigured musical genius Erik and his muse Christine. Their musical affair unfolds deep in the catacombs of the Opera house, where Erik finds salvation in Christine’s breathtaking voice. This spellbinding musical brings to life the enchantment and mystery of the greatest love story of all time. www.broadwaypalm.com SHEER MADNESS Jan 17 - Mar 12 In an audience involved play, Sheer Madness is, well, what it says to be — Sheer Madness. When an old lady who lives above the oddball salon gets murdered, everyone’s dying to know who did it?! That’s where the audience steps and plays the role of the detective — they go through clues, what happened and even get to question the suspects. Not to mention, with each cast member acting on improvisation the plot and outcome could be different every time. Come solve the mystery and bring justice for this salon! www.floridarep.org

jan 17- mar 12

feb 1- feb 11

feb 7-12

CHICAGO THE MUSICAL Feb 7 - 12 Murder. Greed. Corruption. Violence. Exploitation. Adultery. Treachery. Set amidst the razzle-dazzle decadence of the 1920s, CHICAGO is the story of Roxie Hart, a housewife and nightclub dancer who maliciously murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to walk out on her. Desperate to avoid conviction, she dupes the public, the media and her rival cellmate, Velma Kelly, by hiring Chicago’s slickest criminal lawyer to transform her malicious crime into a barrage of sensational headlines, the likes of which might just as easily be ripped from today’s tabloids. A production not to be missed! www.bbmannpah.com

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Feb 14 - Mar 8 From Harper Lee’s classic, this compelling and timeless story of racial injustice and loss of innocence is told through the eyes of six-year-old Scout, the tomboyish daughter of small-town lawyer Atticus Finch. As a tense tug of war between justice and bigotry heats up in their small town of Maycomb, Alabama, Atticus and his family must learn to temper violence and hatred with courage and compassion. Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird continues to inspire hope in the face of inequality. www.floridarep.org feb 14- mar 8 ANYTHING GOES Feb 16 - Apr 1 When the S.S. American heads out to sea, etiquette and principle get tossed out the portholes! Two unlikely pairs set off on the course to true love…proving that sometimes destiny needs a little help from an exotic disguise, a whole ship full of tap dancing sailors and chorus girls, and some good old-fashioned blackmail. The magical score by Cole Porter includes “It’s De-Lovely,” “You’re the Top,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “Easy to Love” and the title song, “Anything Goes.” www.broadwaypalm.com 37

feb 16 apr 1

LOUIS-AND-ELLA Feb 17 - Feb 28 Come witness the amazing story of Ella Fitzgerald, the First Lady of Song and the inspirational Louis Armstrong reenacted onstage in a “jazzical” experience for all. Louis-And-Ella features 24 hepcat, beat frenzy, jazz jams that will have the audience hooting and roaring with every slam. The BIG ARTS Strauss Theater has cast Broadway talents Trent Armand Kendall and Natasha Yvette Williams to portray these legendary stars which promise to not disappoint. www.bigarts.org feb 17 feb 28 NUNSENSE Mar 16 — Apr 15 Writer Dan Goggin tells the story of five nuns from the Little Sisters of Hoboken who put on a hilarious version of the musical Grease to raise money to bury 52 of their convent sisters — all of whom have succumbed to botulism after eating Sister Julia, Child of God’s tainted soup. Nunsense is a wacky, wonderful, award-winner play sure to delight the whole family! www.bigarts.org mar 16- apr 16

mar 14 mar 19

DISNEY’S THE LITTER MERMAID Mar 14 - Mar 19 Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs including “Under the Sea,” “Kiss the Girl,” and “Part of Your World.” www.bbmannpah.com

mar 29- apr 2

JERSEY BOYS Mar 29 - Apr 2 The Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi returns to Fort Myers by popular demand. This is the true story of how four blue- collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide — all before they were 30! JERSEY BOYS features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” JERSEY BOYS contains authentic, “profane Jersey language” and is recommended for ages 12 and older. www.bbmannpah.com

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