A family-fueled business that has endured

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Siesta Sun Villas on Crescent Street celebrates not only 20 years but all things splendidly simple about staying on the Key

By Hannah Wallace

David Warren understands Siesta’s family appeal.
Twenty years ago, after falling in love with Siesta Key on vacations, he moved with his wife and three children more than 4,000 miles from Manchester, England to their newly purchased rental property in quaint and quiet Point of Rocks. Two decades later, the Warrens’ Siesta Sun Villas continue to hold the same kind of draw for families just like theirs — although more often from the American Midwest than the north of England.
“We see a lot of families, people from Ohio, Indiana, up there,” said Warren. “They’re not the type of guest that would want to stay at the Ritz-Carlton. They just like the comfort of what we offer here.”
Warren argues that his family’s business, and their neighborhood, is a microcosm of what makes Siesta so special. “It’s more of a community, less of a corporate feel. Siesta is not full of chain restaurants. There are so many places owned by families. That’s one of the nice things that gels with what we offer and what the Key offers.”

Siesta Sun Villas comprises 10 private villas and apartments, on Crescent Street just around the corner from Private Beach Access 13. Most units have kitchenettes for saving and reheating restaurant leftovers and even cooking meals, either in-unit or at the property’s poolside grills.
All the units are on the ground level, which provides an immediacy to the community and also appeals to seniors and other people with mobility issues.
“They don’t have to sweat all the small stuff. They just need a place to stay, and then, ‘Where’s the beach? Where’s a place to eat?’ — That’s it.”
Warren has now been in the business long enough to see multiple generations of the same family come back year after year. “They came here with their grandparents, with their families, and now they’ve got families of their own. They basically grew up here on vacation,” he said.
And while 20 years here has brought some understandable — and even positive — changes, Warren laments the encroachment of developers.
“When you’re here for a long time, you really get to appreciate change. I’m all for redevelopment and improvement, but it’s such a shame that they’re trying to build all these hotels on the Key. There’s less and less of us [family-owned rentals],” he said, though he doesn’t blame people for selling out. “It’s hard work. Maybe after you’ve been doing it 30, 40 years, somebody comes along with a big suitcase full of money. And I can understand it. You take the golden handshake, don’t you?”
Likewise, the ongoing proliferation of illegal “hotel houses” creates issues, not just as competition but as a barrier to customer trust. Illegal rentals may suddenly get busted by code enforcement, leaving unsuspecting guests in the lurch.
“It affects our business, and it’s no good for the guest experience, too,” Warren said.
He’s even had people turn up with no notice to book with him after their previous rental turned out to be illegal — and therefore unavailable. “If it’s too cheap, there’s probably be a reason why,” he added.
For his part, Warren plans to keep Siesta Sun in the family. His daughter has joined the hospitality biz, too, and he hopes someday to pass the property along to her.
“We’re trying to create a legacy,” he said.
And he hopes that legacy will exist on a Siesta Key with well-regulated lodging. Because even with the encroachment of more and more developments, people are still coming to Siesta for a non-corporate experience. “They don’t want to stay in the Marriott and go to Outback,” as Warren put it. And the heart and soul of this island isn’t going anywhere.
“I think it will be popular forever, as long that white sand stays on the beach,” he said. “It’s a pretty special place.”
Booking at Siesta Sun Villas is available through siestasunvillas.com, as well as through AirBNB and VRBO.

David and Gina Warren, enjoying a sunset. (submitted image)
Hannah Wallace
Author: Hannah Wallace

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