Not long after midnight on Sept. 16, 2004, Hurricane Ivan made landfall on the U.S. mainland in Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a category 3 hurricane with 120-mph winds. The massive storm killed 25 people in the U.S. and caused $13 billion in damages.
One of Gulf Shores’ most iconic structures — the Gulf State Park Lodge — was among the hundreds of buildings and homes destroyed. The landscape, including miles of the beach’s famed white sandy dunes, was rearranged, with sand blown miles inland.
A popular Mid-South recreational destination was rocked with devastation.
Now, thanks to the Gulf State Park Enhancement Project, not only is the lodge being rebuilt, but the dunes will be restored, along with three other project components — an environmental information center, learning campus and enhancement of the 6,150-acre park’s visitor experience.
via Alabama rebuilding famed Gulf State Park lodge.
Alabama anglers could be faced with the most restrictive red snapper quota ever in the Gulf of Mexico, possibly just six days, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne said Wednesday.
Byrne, R-Fairhope, is a frequent critic of the federal government’s handling of regulations for the annual snapper season for commercial and recreational fishing. Deep-sea fishing is a multimillion-dollar tourism draw in Alabama, and the coastal region touts itself as the top snapper spot in the world.
via Fishing frustration: Red snapper season could be an all-time low | AL.com.
With a view of the Gulf of Mexico as soon as you park your car, it’s hard to believe anything could make it better.
The city of Gulf Shores is going to try.
“Today it is a parking lot that has access to the sand,” says spokesman Grant Brown. “We want to see it much more than that.”
via Transforming the Beachfront in Gulf Shores.
An alcohol ban in Gulf Shores during the month of Spring Break isn’t going to extend to Dauphin Island, where officials are touting the completion of a project restoring one of its public beaches.
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier, on Monday, said while the Town Council is “mindful” about Gulf Shores’ ban, he’s not anticipating similar action in this Mobile County beach community of less than 1,300 people.
“We’re mindful of those types of things,” Collier said. “We really deal with more moms and dads and kids. That’s our market and it’s a good market to have.”
via No alcohol ban for Dauphin Island as town unveils a revitalized East End Beach | AL.com.
Gulf Shores, Ala. (WPMI) Gulf Shores Life Guards have been busy since spring break started.
“We had to pull two women from the water on Saturday after they got stuck in a current trying to walk across a pass, ” Beach Safety Supervisor Scott Smothers said Thursday.
via Life Guards amp up beach safety | News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | WPMI.
A colleague sent me an email recently that’s typical of many I’ve received in recent years. He had just been copied on a cruise report from a research group working off the Texas coast. Their vertical longline had just landed 112 fish, of which 109 were red snapper and three were vermilion snapper.
via Red Snapper Fishing, Conservation Red Snapper Gulf | Sport Fishing Magazine.
Every summer when my kids were young, we migrated to the glorious sugar-white sand beaches along Gulf Shores and Orange Beach on the southern border of Alabama. The stark beauty of the 32 miles of natural coastline and no-frills atmosphere drew us in.
via A HIDDEN GEM NO MORE | Simply Buckhead.
GULF SHORES AND ORANGE BEACH, AL – Clean, safe beaches – that is the message behind the Leave Only Footprints campaign, which is a joint effort by the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.
As the cities step up their efforts as the busy spring and summer seasons approach, initial response to the program has been positive, according to tourism officials.
via Cities, tourism group, chamber combine for clean beach effort – GulfCoastNewsToday.com: News.
Before you even start with the Army-Navy jokes, you should know that the USS Alabama is hardly the first ship to come under the direction of Maj. Gen. Janet Cobb.
The new director of USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park will retire later this year from the U.S. Army Reserve. Her career, since being commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1978, has included seven years of active duty, which in turn included two tours in the Mideast. In one of those, she served as battalion commander of the Mobile-based 1184th Transportation Battalion, which operated the Port of Ash Shuaybah, Kuwait, in 2002-2003 before and during the Operation Iraqi Freedom invasion. According to an official biography, “The battalion discharged 105 vessels and 90,152 pieces of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps cargo throughout the period of combat operations.”
via New Battleship Park director: It’s all about ‘the life of the ship’ | AL.com.
More than two years ago, Governor Robert Bentley signed a deal to use 58 and a half million dollars of BP money to rebuild a lodge and convention center in Gulf State Park on the same 29-acre site where the old hotel and convention center once stood. That was before Hurricane Ivan wiped it out.
via Fate of New Park Lodge in Hands of Federal Judge.
The storm may be gone but in its wake, a churning Gulf of Mexico, howling winds and a blanket of clouds.
“It would be real nice if the wind wasn’t blowing so hard,” says Jerry Wilson from Michigan.
How’s this for a beach day? Hardly a soul on the beaches because it’s cold out here. “I’m just hoping this blows over so we can go play golf next week,” says Wilson.
via Beach Day for Only the Brave.
Captain Bill Mitchell kills the motor on his white-hulled catamaran at the sight of a half-dozen gray dorsal fins breaking through the ocean waves. The owner of Cetacean Cruises points, excitedly calling attention to the stars of this trip. “Dolphins in our bay rarely travel more than a 10 mile radius from home their whole lives,” he says, trying to identify the fast-moving dolphins by the distinctive shape and color of their dorsal fins. “We’ve gotten to know them, named maybe half the pod.” He uses his finger to follow the path of a dolphin with a sharply hooked fin. “That’s Nacho,” he says, falling quiet. For several moments, the boat almost becomes part of the pod, riding the gentle crest and fall of the waves and letting the tide set the course.
via Relaxed Riviera: Getaway to Alabama’s Gulf Coast | Midwest Living.
Today, Innisfree Hotels hosted a ‘topping out’ event for its newest property in Orange Beach, Ala. The Best Western Premier, Tides Hotel Orange Beach is set to open in Spring 2016.
via Best Western Premier, Tides Hotel Orange Beach Coming Spring 2016.
GULF SHORES AND ORANGE BEACH, ALA. – Connect with nature, the past and each other along the Alabama Gulf Coast by attending Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism’s free educational showcasing and lecture series in January and February 2016.
via Public invited to free welcome center showcasing and lecture series – GulfCoastNewsToday.com: News.
ORANGE BEACH, AL — It was back in the early days when the fledging marketing efforts for Alabama beaches were struggling to find an aim, a direction. And, more importantly, funding. “We were trying to market this whole place on budget of $300,000 which doesn’t buy you a whole lot of media,” Herb Malone said. Fast forward to 2015 when Malone announced tourism numbers for this year will likely set records for the fifth consecutive year.
via Special lodging tax district funds stellar marketing effort – GulfCoastNewsToday.com: News.
ORANGE BEACH, AL (WALA) - Trip Advisor is putting one of our very own cities in the national spotlight. The travel giant is naming Orange Beach as the second best travel destination on the rise for 2016
Orange beach is already a popular travel destination. As we’ve reported, it has had record high tourism numbers in the last few years, and now this announcement is expected to put it even more on the national map.
via Orange Beach named 2nd best “travel destination on the rise” for – FOX10 News | WALA.
Orange Beach saw an amazing 91% increase in booking year over year.
This is a laid back destination, for those looking to relax at the beach and take in the scenery — and maybe enjoy some seafood while they’re at it.
via The vacation destinations on the rise, all around the world.
Leslie Ann Harrison’s confrontation with a Robertsdale woman during Fairhope’s “Lighting of the Trees” prompted her to go online and blog about the experience in a post titled, “We don’t push in Fairhope.”
via As Fairhope turns on the Christmas lights, a push emerges to turn away the visitors | AL.com.
Leslie Ann Harrison’s blog post, “We don’t push in Fairhope” generated an online stir over the weekend after the annual “Lighting of the Trees” drew a large crowd to the city’s downtown on Thursday.
via 7 questions with author of ‘We don’t push in Fairhope’ blog post: ‘It struck a chord with everyone’ | AL.com.
Where are those Yankees? Not at Alabama’s sugar-white sand beaches.
Of the top 18 states who send tourists to coastal Alabama each summer, none are in New England. Only Pennsylvania is listed among the states that had a measurable number of visitors coming to Alabama, according to a 2014 Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism report.
“When I talk to them about Alabama they look at me funny, ‘Alabama? What’s in Alabama?’” said Kathy Hadley, an upstate New York resident who, along with her husband Pat, spend six months each year in Gulf Shores. “That’s the response I get from my New York friends who have been traveling down to Florida for years.”
via Why Alabama is not in a New York state of mind when it comes to tourism | AL.com.
According to state and coastal Alabama tourism figures, Baldwin County’s tourism industry is expected to reach a fifth year of record breaking returns since the oil spill kept tourists away. The county, with the beach cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach as the main attractions, experienced a 4.7 increase in visitors from 5.5 million in 2013 to 5.8 million in 2014.
via Why record-setting beach tourism is elating and frustrating coastal Alabama | AL.com.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic from Pensacola Beach into Gulf Breeze is a common sight on holiday weekends or the height of the tourism season.
But is traffic congestion on the beach enough of a concern to warrant spending BP oil-spill money for a parking structure?
Prominent businessman Robert Rinke says yes.
via Parking structure for beach?.
BALDWIN COUNTY-After four consecutive record-breaking years for tourism in Baldwin County, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism announced 2015 continues the trend with year-to-date increases and seasonal gains, sports updates, transportation improvements, a new beach initiative and more during the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber’s First Friday Forum at LuLu’s in Gulf Shores.
via Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism Sees Growth in 2015.
The SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament is underway down at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
It’ll run through Sunday and Florida is the team to beat.
The tournament will be held in Orange Beach for at least the next five years as the conference and Sportsplex have agreed to a new contract.
via SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament to be Played in Orange Beach – WPMI – LOCAL 15.
A new road and bridge project announced by the Alabama Department of Transportation is expected to help.
A map of the new road and bridge drew quite a crowd at the Orange Beach Town Hall meeting.
“That’s the shortest part of the canal which is really good too.”
The road would start near the Foley Beach Expressway at County Road 8. A new bridge would span the intracoastal canal.
via New Bridge Announced for Pleasure Island.
The director for the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) announced during the Orange Beach Town Hall meeting, the agency would be willing to widen Canal Road and build a new toll free bridge.
The project includes adding a lane to canal and utilizing the shoulder to create two new lanes.
via Future improvements for Orange Beach to be discussed tonight – FOX10 News | WALA.
FOX10 News | WALA
ORANGE BEACH, AL – Longtime Orange Beach resident Cecil Young is a frequent attendee at town hall and council meetings in his town. And, more often than not, he brings out an astute comment, observation or suggestion.
For example, a couple of years ago, there was a discussion at a community center town hall meeting about a boat launch east of Caribe and south of Ono Island, one Ono Island residents have successfully fought since the late 1970s.
via Plans for new Intracoastal Waterway bridge unveiled at meeting – GulfCoastNewsToday.com: News.
ORANGE BEACH, AL (WALA) - Leaders in Orange Beach want you to be involved in the future of the city.
They’re holding a town hall meeting Tuesday night to discuss the needs of the community.
More than 1,400 people completes surveys on the needs of the city.
Tuesday night, residents are invited to hear about the results and discuss initiatives that are coming up.
Transportation, quality of life investment, clean beaches and spring break are a few of the key topics expected to discuss.
via Future improvements for Orange Beach to be discussed tonight – FOX10 News | WALA.
When visitors come to Mobile and Baldwin counties, the people they encounter working at hotels, shops, restaurants and visitors centers often give them ideas about where to go and what to do during their stay. Whether they realize it or not, hospitality workers are of utmost importance to the tourism industry.
via Do you work in the hospitality industry? Here’s how to see GulfQuest for free | AL.com.
ORANGE BEACH, AL – A wide-ranging town hall meeting is set for Orange Beach on Oct. 20 at the Events Center at The Wharf.
Recently the city sent out about surveys asking citizens about what they expect out of city government on a variety of topics and received 1,400 responses.
via Orange Beach town hall meeting to discuss transportation, other issues – GulfCoastNewsToday.com: News.