Anna Maria Island is famous for keeping the large chain hotels from taking over its shoreline. There are more than 50 small resorts and hotels that offer the type of classic-Florida vacation that Americans and Europeans loved throughout the 20th century. To find the best possible accommodations for your AMI vacation, here are seven questions to ask your booking agent:
1. Who does the housekeeping? By far, the most important question you can ask is about cleaning. Anna Maria Island is very different from modern vacation destinations in that the resorts are so small that most do not have staff housekeeping. In most cases, that is a good thing. Ideally, you want to stay in a place that hires out housekeeping for each vacation turnover. Outside cleaners have to do a good job, or they don’t get invited back. Staff housekeeping is likely not paid well or the resort’s office workers/managers attempting to clean the units themselves.
2. What time is check in? Ask what time you can arrive. If you know that you will be arriving late, make sure you are aware of their late check-in policies. Most island hotel properties close their offices by 5 p.m. You don’t want to arrive unsure how to get into your room.
3. Are you Gulf front? Almost everyone who comes to Anna Maria Island wants a Gulf front room. However, you should be aware that you will pay a premium price for that view. If you are staying three or more days, your room, house or cottage is going to be filled with sand by the end of the third day. You might want to save some money and some sweeping by staying in something just a little ways off of the beach.
4. Do you take pets? Even if you don’t have a pet, ask if they take pets. Of the more than 50 small hotels and resorts on the island, about a dozen take pets. If you don’t have a pet and you don’t want to smell the last animal that stayed in your rental, you should make certain that you’re staying some where that does not take pets.
5. Do you have pool? As wonderful as the beaches on Anna Maria Island are, you can’t step foot on any beach without gathering sand. To have the option of cooling off without needing a shower afterwards, ask if your resort has a pool. Since many of the AMI resorts are very small, their pools are small as well. Be sure to ask about the size of the pool.
6. Which town are you located in? Anna Maria Island is broken into three small townships. The City of Anna Maria (north) is the quietest and most spacious section of the island. Holmes Beach (central) has the most hotels, the most restaurants and the busiest beach on the island. Bradenton Beach (south) is the most narrow portion of the island and has the most restaurants with live music, and the largest beach — Coquina Beach.
7. Will you accept an offer? Small resorts can’t afford to let their rooms go empty, so it’s often worth asking if they are willing to accept a price that you feel more comfortable with. During peak season (Feb. to May) you’re not likely to get much of a break because the island is so busy. From mid summer through the holidays you might be able to haggle a better price with your booking agent. If nothing else, it doesn’t hurt to ask.