Two things happened this weekend that gave businesses in Sanibel and Captiva a little boost — the Island Hopper Songwriter Festival kicked off and the toll was waived for a couple hours on Saturday and Sunday.
“It was phenomenal. It was like coming out of the Doldrum and going full blast,” Tony Lapi, president and CEO of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, said. “It was something that we were looking for, we needed an event like this to kind of help push us.”
Lapi said September is normally slow and red tide wasn’t making things any easier. But this weekend changed that.
“I know we set some records,” Lapi said. “We set some records at our pool bar for that festival on Saturday and Sunday.”
Their rooms were also sold out. Down on Sanibel, business owners like Brian Podlasek also saw some good.
“We saw more people on the island that I would normally think that you would this time of year,” Podlasek, owner of The Island Cow, said. “It was definitely a better lunch this Saturday and this Sunday and even dinner Sunday then the week before.”
HelloSWFL reached out to Lee County to see how many people went through the Sanibel Causeway toll booth this weekend, but they don’t have those numbers yet.
Red tide is still lingering, but a lot of the community remains optimistic.
“I’ve seen red tides before,” Lapi said. “This one lasted particularly longer and was pretty severe. But I think we are hopefully past the worst of it and it will get better.”