Island chatter: September

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June sets lodging record

Visit Sarasota County, the tourism-related promotional arm for the area, has reported that June was another strong month for Sarasota County. In fact, the June lodging occupancy and average daily rate was the highest in Sarasota County history, according to Virginia Haley, president of the organization.

June 2019 vs June 2021 tourism statistics:

  • Visitors in paid lodging in June 2019 were 99,300 and in 2021 they were 132,700 — a 33.6% increase.
  • Visitor direct spending in June 2019 was $81,663,300 and in June 2021 it was $117,693,300 — a 44.1% increase.
  • Lodging occupancy in June 2019 was 63.8% and in June 2021 it was 81.3% — an increase of 27.4%.
  • Lodging average daily rate in June 2019 was $157.19 and in June 2021 it was $204.55 — an increase of 31%.
  • Lodging rooms sold in June 2019 were 211,500 and in June 2021 they were 287,400 — a 35.9% increase.

Workshop results in traffic-calming suggestions

At a July 30 workshop related to possible traffic-calming measures for a neighborhood near the Siesta Promenade project, recommendations were proposed by the Kimley-Horn engineering and consulting firm.

Homeowners who would be impacted by the suggestions will be receiving a survey in the mail. Anything less than a 67% approval rate will mean none of the measures will be put in place.

The suggestions:

  • A flashing speed-feedback sign on Upper Beachwood Avenue. Drivers have been using the road to enter the Pine Shores neighborhood from U.S. 41, and the sign will alert them to the speed at which they are traveling.
  • A raised crosswalk on Crestwood Avenue at the location of the Mangrove School of Sarasota.
  • A mini roundabout at the intersection of Crestwood Avenue and Glencoe Avenue.
  • Two speed humps on Hollywood Boulevard and three on Beechwood Avenue. They’d be between 250 and 500 feet apart.

Siesta Promenade will feature 414 apartments/condominiums, a 130-room hotel, 133,000 square feet of retail space, and 7,000 square feet of office space. It is being built on the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road across 24 acres.

Driver dies in local crash

A single-car accident after midnight on Aug. 8 resulted in the death of the 28-year-old driver and critical injuries to his 37-year-old front-seat passenger.

The fatal crash occurred at 12:40 a.m. at the intersection of Stickney Point Road and Midnight Pass Road, according to Florida Highway Patrol. The westbound sedan ran the stoplight on Stickney Point Road and slammed into a pole while attempting to turn left on Midnight Pass Road, causing the car to burst into flames.

It’s the second fatality to take place this year at that intersection. In February, a bicyclist died after colliding with a trolley.

Local author serves up fourth novel that showcases Siesta Key

 Peacock Road is the new novel by Gulf Gate resident Jaime Forth, who uses Siesta Key landmarks and settings as the location of her fictional work.

As of Aug. 8, it’s been available on Amazon.

The book is her fourth to showcase the Key. Others are Midnight Pass, Crescent Beach, and The Siesta Key Inn. The stories are set in life here in the 1970s.

Forth also hosts a tour of her book-related locations on YouTube, entitled The Siesta Key Book Tour.

New promotion and event manager joins Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce

 Mandi Green has been hired by the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce as its new promotion and event manager.

A press release noted that Green’s hands-on experience with sales, marketing, and event management will be an asset to the team.

The Ohio native has lived in Florida for 25 years, and is a graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University with a degree in communications with an emphasis in marketing.

After college, she spent seven years traveling, staging, and promoting shows such as Disney on Ice, Monster Jam, and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

“I’m excited to bring my love of live events and my passion for networking to the Siesta Key chamber,” she said.

Green resides in Venice.

She replaces Rachel Dixon, who has taken a position as sales and catering coordinator with the Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande.

Coastal cleanup is Sept. 18

Siesta Beach and Turtle Beach are among the locations to benefit from the annual International Coastal Cleanup, set for 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18.

Keep Sarasota County Beautiful is sponsoring the event locally.

The first 700 volunteers can receive a free event-themed T-shirt. Individual registration is required. No walk-up participation is allowed.

Students can receive service hours for their involvement.

For more information and to register, call (941) 861-5000 or visit

Sign-up deadline is Sept. 15.

New concessions operator at Siesta Beach pavilion

 Those who enjoy a treat at the Siesta Beach pavilion will now see a new menu from a new operator.

The Venice Pier Group, which operates Sharky’s on the Pier, Fins at Sharky’s, and Snook Haven Restaurant, will now run the concessions at the public beach.

The Sun Deck and Sand Pavilion food businesses, as well as the retail shop, began to be managed by the Venice Pier Group on Aug. 1. The concessions were temporarily closed during the transition, with new hires taking place between Aug. 3 and 7.

At the Sun Deck, expanded beverage offerings is part of the new plan, including frozen drinks and craft beer, as is a chef-inspired menu that includes fresh fish, grilled shrimp, and blackened chicken tacos.

Made-to-order items will be sold at the Sand Pavilion.

Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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