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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How does a quiet beachside community manage to grow, without losing its charm? People on Perdido Key will start tackling that question Monday night. It’s the first in a series of public meetings about a “Master Plan” for the key. The balance community leaders want to strike is illustrated on Johnson Beach Road, where a new luxury condo is going up right across from the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Perdido Key is quaint and quiet. People who choose to live here like it that way. Charles Krupnick is the Vice-President of the Perdido Key Association. He said, “It’s a wonderful, less-developed area.”
Baldwin County beaches are more popular than ever. But with that popularity comes a problem, an increased amount of beach gear being left over-night on the beaches and in some cases for weeks at a time.
Here in Birmingham, we love our beach vacations. Heading down to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, or the Florida panhandle is a routine part of our summers. But with hot temperatures and growing crowds, there could be a better time to go – and that time is the fall. Here’s why:
Fewer people and lower prices
There’s nothing worse than fighting for a prime spot on the beach in July and having someone set up their tent right in front of you. And waiting two hours to be seated at a restaurant is never fun, either. With school back in session, it’s harder for families to get away for a week. Luckily for empty-nesters or those with a more flexible schedule, the beaches clear out significantly come September. Restaurant wait times decrease, it’s easier to have your own space on the beach, and most importantly, prices drop. The prices on condos and beach rentals vary drastically between season and off-season. Just waiting even one weekend past Labor Day can save you big bucks.
The Orange Beach area of ‘Bama had activities for you and your your frat bros (Hangout Fest! Pristine beaches ripe for dumping your cooler of cheap lager!), but it also boasts plenty to do now that you’re an adult and attempting to impress someone not wearing an airbrushed tank. You can ride the Ferris wheel on The Wharf, go mini-golfing on Adventure Island, take a glass-blowing class at the arts center, or, you know, lie on the beach. But anytime you have the opportunity to eat and drink on a boat while watching dolphins, you should always take it. So make that a priority.
Longing to hang onto summer? Head to the Gulf! This region offers gorgeous white sand beaches, a historical Civil War fort (Fort Morgan) and seafood fresh from the Gulf of Mexico. Dolphins play offshore, and there are lots of opportunities to get on the water, either by chartering a rig you’ll skipper yourself or joining a cruise. How about some competitive big-game fishing, either as a spectator or from the water? Mobile, Alabama, or Pensacola, Florida are the nearest metro areas, but there’s an airport in Gulf Shores if you want to fly in.
Like a prehistoric creature tearing through a forest, crews are clearing out and grinding up almost anything in their way in Gulf State Park.
“It looks like a huge destruction around all the campsites so I think when people come this winter time people will see a big difference,” says park superintendent Lisa Laraway.
The newest addition to The Oyster Trail is a statue entitled “Waters, Ways & Wildlife” by Orange Beach artist Nick Cantrell. The oyster, which portrays the route of Alabama’s Coastal Connection National Scenic Byway amid a beautifully depicted coastal scene, will be unveiled Thursday, Sept. 10 at 4 p.m. at the Orange Beach Welcome Center (23685 Perdido Beach Blvd.).
It’s official. The 2015 high season in Pleasure Island and neighboring Perdido Key, Fla. is in the history books.The three-day Labor Day Weekend saw gridlock on the beach highway, packed beaches, restaurants and bars, and no shortage of events from the Flora-Bama Lounge and Package to The Wharf in Orange Beach, Ala.
Something for everyone at area beaches this Labor Day, from the peace and solitude of Fort Morgan to the rock ’em, sock ’em explosion of folks on the public beach in Gulf Shores. No matter where you stuck your toes in the sand area beaches have one thing in common. They can draw a crowd.