While I have many wonderful qualities, relaxing for more than, say, a couple hours is not one of them.
I do, however, love to plan trips on which I could, theoretically, relax. Last month, I had a work-ish vacation for one week, but left almost an entire week open for wherever my whims took me. (I’m fortunate to have a husband with remarkably similar whims.)
That’s how I happened upon Mello on Anna Maria Island. El Cap and I, sitting in a hotel room, wondering where we would head upon checkout. I had my criteria: I wanted to stay so close to the water I could hear the sound of the sea. I wanted something close to food, and I wanted to have the comforts of the indoors. Don’t get me wrong, I still love our camping trips, but every now and then I want to sink into a soft bed and shower in a full-size shower that isn’t part of a public bath house. This was one such time.
So, using the parameters “beachfront” and “dog friendly,” we started searching.
At first, I went right past Mello.
Simply put, it looked too good to be true, especially for the price. A living room, bedroom, separate bath, kitchenette, and washer and dryer in the room? Pool on property, and the whole thing decorated in what I call “Mid-Century Florida Dream” (think sun-washed tropical colors, throwback decor, hints of Gary Monroe’s 1970s South Beach series)?
We both assumed the photographer had used some digital trickery to make the rooms look less cramped than they were, but booked the stay nevertheless. After all, it was right on the Anna Maria Island beach, the dog fee wasn’t ridiculous, and it had a pool.
We assumed incorrectly. Look, these rooms aren’t as big as your house, most likely. But there was no photographic trickery; these rooms are decidedly lovely, and comfortable, and well-appointed. So much so that, although no one’s paying me to write this or giving me anything in exchange for doing so, I wanted to share this gem with fellow Florida-philes.
And as for the dogs?
They settled in almost immediately, but they’re hounds, so it doesn’t take much to entice them to flop down and have a nap.
The kitchen, too, was all we needed — and more.
It gave off some true “high-end IKEA” vibes, but it had a setup that made me long to style my kitchen as simply. Of course, Mello doesn’t have to have a kitchen that can handle Feast of the Seven Fishes, so it’s easy to streamline, but it did make for a delightful, breezy change.
While you wouldn’t call it a traditional beachfront hotel, it was actually better. Why? The fringe of Australian pines between our room and the beach. I realize there’s a lot of hate out there for Australian pines, but I’m not one of the haters (have I told you about Fred the Tree yet? The breeze through those pines sounds like pure Florida to me, and at Mello, I had that sound whenever I stepped outside.
Of course, we made it past the trees to the water every night, because there’s nothing on the planet like a sunset off the west coast of Florida.
While on the beach, we noticed something else, too: The people who gathered here didn’t all look alike. They all did share one thing, though: They loved being at the beach. Kids played with each other and their families along the sand. Closer to the motel, families grilled dinner. People played catch, and some sort of kickball, and whatever else they could play with a ball. Anna Maria Island itself may have homes out of the average Floridian’s budget, but this stretch of public beach felt like a beach for everyone.
In between soaking on the pool, people-watching on the beach, and sitting in the water watching the sun go down, I forgot to think about relaxing, and I forgot to worry about the work I could be doing.
Which, actually, was kind of the point.