The Island Inn in Sanibel Island, Florida, is a quiet destination that honors the appeal of beach life. A recent renovation brings a modern feel into its timeless style.
Time travel is always an alluring idea,and there are ways to do it without science fiction or cinematic tricks. This is the experience I had when visiting the Island Inn in Sanibel Island, Florida. It is the kind of place where a day revolves around a beach chair, water activities and low-key nights of grilled fish and board games. There are mornings where you awake to the sound of gulls quarrelling over breakfast. The shells are an attraction on their own. Imagine a never-ending shopping spree of scallop, clam and glittery seashells that seem to blanket the sugary sand. It’s almost too easy.
The town follows the in no hurry pace of the inn. There is one grocery, art galleries and little shops to find a local souvenir. Seaside homes are hidden behind a line of palms. A lighthouse is an emblem of the island’s signature style. Sanibel has been attracting visitors for centuries, including such noted personalities as Thomas Edison and President Theodore Roosevelt who traveled to the island with the same agenda visitors do today—the outdoor splendors, wildlife and comfortable climate.
The inn follows the natural setting and charms that made it memorable in its founding year of 1885. The main dining room has live music at night, playing rat pack oldies. Meet fellow travelers at continental breakfast. Three cottages line the property’s edge, which may remind you of the summer place you stayed in as a child those last two weeks in August. They are comfortable and simple, and recently underwent a design renovation so they are updated to today’s needs and design. The designer, Melinda Graham, found inspiration from a historic photo and the island itself. “The beauty of living on Sanibel is that I didn’t have to look far. Inspiration was everywhere!” says Melinda. Melinda held the old Florida appeal in high regard, which followed her design process. It was vital to keep the integrity of the Inn’s “old Florida” appeal. “This was done by showcasing the elements of the structures that have withstood the test of time. These elements were the windows that open to the most spectacular gulf views and sunsets, the hardwood floors that have been host to generations of guests, special features like an old fireplace that has warmed many a cool January day and the artwork, photos and select few antiques that have not only dressed the rooms but have been admired by so many over the years,” she says.
3111 West Gulf Drive
Sanibel Island, Florida 33957
By Jacqueline deMontravel
Photography by Melinda Graham