So as promised.. I wanted to share with you the AMAZING, AWESOME place that we stayed at in Alabama! I had been posted pictures on Instagram and facebook all week, and SO many of you asked me where this place was, and so I told you all, I would do a blog post on it! (so much easier then replying to every request lol).
So.. just a little background. As you know we live in Idaho. Idaho is NOT close to Alabama.. and so when I would tell friends that we were going to Alabama for vacation, they would say.. um why? what's in Alabama? WELL.. let me tell you! For the last 10 years or so, my sister, Leah.. (who lives in St. Louis, MO). Has been telling us about this amazing location they go to each year for vacation! The Alabama gulf shores! She was talk about how there were white sand beaches, warm crystal clear water, and just a fun, awesome place for a family vacation. They would rent a house on the beach each year and for next to nothing, had a great family vacation! Away from the crowded big city feel of going to california or Florida!
So last year when we were deciding where to go on family vacation.. my kids wanted to go to the beach. But knowing from past experience.. that the water in Cali EVEN in the summer is SO cold.. and same on the east coast.. i remembered my sister talking about Gulf SHores and seeing pictures of the beautiful sand and water! So I got on VBRO.com (a vacation rental site, where private home owners rent out their properties for vacations). And I looked up gulf shores! I was BLOWN away by how many awesome places there were available and RIGHT on the beach and for insanely CHEAP! I found a lot of awesome properties. and have to admit.. was about to book something RIGHT on the beach (i mean you looked out the porch and walked 40 feet and were right there). But then I found this gem of a place.. called "Nantiki" that totally caught my eye! This place, while not RIGHT on the beach, was a short 5 min walk (and I mean SHORT, like we would go back and forth all day long and it wasn't a big deal at all!), it had EVERYTHING my kids could ever want!
I knew my kids would love the beach, but we were going to be there for an entire week, and I was worried that they might get tired of the salt water AND if there were windy days, it might be too much to spend all day at the beach. So I was delighted when I found this little "oasis" just steps away from the beach that included a private pool! But the more I read through the amenities, I realized, this just wasn't a house with a pool, it had tons of fun things to do for the kids when we weren't at the beach AND it was only $230 per night, which was crazy good for a family of 8, your own private house and a pool. (we normally have to book two hotel rooms for the 8 of us.. so this was even BETTER than a hotel room!).
We flew into Mobile.. but if I did it again, I would fly into Pensacola Florida. WAY closer. But it still wasn't a bad drive. Anyhow, when we pulled up into the driveway.. HOLY Cow, my kids and I were speechless! It was like being in your own private resort!
This is a picture of natiki at night when you drive up.. amazing!
The way the place is set up, is for either a small family.. or a group of families. It has 3 houses that are built up off the ground (obviously for flood and hurricanes reasons).
But instead of just having parking spaces under each house, Richard (who is the amazing owner), has created this private oasis of things for families and well, ANYONE to enjoy! each house sleeps at least 10 people. And I don't mean everyone sharing beds. I mean everyone except the masterbedroom, having their OWN bed! The house was SO clean and SOO cute! It had a huge sectional in the livingroom where we would hangout each night watching movies (after the pool closed at 10:00). The house was just perfect. Nice conditioned house.
Each house also has a wrap around porch, which allows you to be outside enjoying the view an watching kids at any of the "fun" stations he has set up. I was a bit hesitant at first because the oasis was built around three houses. (all identical). And was worried that it wouldn't be as private as we wanted with the other people staying on the property too.. but oh my gosh.. I was SO wrong! The other two houses were also occupied while we were there, one with a group of college kids for summer break and the other another family with small kids.
And we actually had SO much fun! The college kids were so nice to my kids, and actually played games with them in the pool, and volleyball with them. It was a ton of fun! I started thinking, the cool thing about having three houses, is that it would be a GREAT place for a family reunion! So you could house more than one family.. infact each house can probably fit 2 or 3 families depending on the size. It would be PERFECT! better than staying in a resort or a hotel for sure!
There was also a private Volleyball beach court, with REAL sand from the beach!
It was so soft and cool under your feet! Everywhere you looked there were hammocks, and big comfy lounge chairs to relax in, while the kids played all the fun things he had to do! He also had brought in TONS of huge Palm trees everywhere, and tons of greenery and plants.. you feel like you are in a tropical oasis! And Like I mentioned, under each house.. he has created these fun little "play" or relaxation areas for people to do. I will talk more about that in a bit.
When we got there, Richard first showed us the house.. which was awesome. I was SOO embarrassed because we brought our little yorkie dog with us. AND when he gets nervous and excited he pees! Well he was showing us all the rooms and the dogs comes running through the hallway and we look down and is leaving a trail of pee right through the entire hallway! I felt SOO bad and Richard just shrugged and didn't make a big deal out of it! He said it happens and got us some cleaner and we were able to clean it up right away. He really was just awesome the whole time. He gave us a tour of the town too, on his golf cart, after we got settled in and unpacked. And showed us the access to the beach, the fun little shops like steps away etc.
Then he showed us all the fun things he has set up under each house for everyone staying in the houses to use! Under one house, he had a just fun, hangout area.. big comfy chairs, game tables, even places where he had stuff like coloring books, and art supplies for kids to do. Plus he had a bike shop, where you can rent bikes for the entire week, to use to get around the fun little town of Gulf Shores.
Under the second house, was the "game" central, where he had set up a unique "ring" game (that seriously had my kids engaged for HOURS and HOURS). It also had shuffle board (which my kids fell in LOVE with) and a cool bag toss game.
Plus it had cushy seating as well, for those wanting to just hang out and watch the activities. The THird house had more lounge areas, and tables set up if you wanted to have bbqs' and eating areas. Each house also was assigned on of the "Tiki" huts, which were located in the pool area. The huts had a big comfy chairs in them, and a console with a HUGE tv. (each hut had it's own). Inside were movies you could watch, Xbox, playstations and wii's also for them to use. I was worried my kids would sit there butts in there and just want to play the stupid xbox the entire time, but I was THRILLED when they LOVED all the other games he had set up! Ben and i actually spent more time in the tiki hut.. watching the kids swim (after we were sunned out).. just reading books, watching movies, etc.
Loved being out there at night! The huts were so fun and the pool was too!
Each house also had it's own private BBQ.. that you could use to cook food with.
The pool was SO gorgeous and our house had a porch that looked right out over the pool. The house really was just perfect for ALL of us. my oldest is 17 and youngest is 8 and I was worried that SOMEONE was going to be bored at some point. We had plans to spend tons of time at the beach, but only made it there 4 times because the weather wasn't very compliant (way too windy).
So having this fun little "resort" to come back to, was heaven! We weren't stuck in the house or having to go find some "thing" to do. The kids would just come back, wash off the sand in your own private outdoor shower (warm water) and then jump right into the pool! They also loved to swim at night, as Richard has set up fun outdoor lights everywhere, which lit up the place to give it this awesome fun feeling.
The house also had washer and dryers, so we could do laundry all week. Honestly.. I am SO glad we went with this house, instead of just a house right on the beach. It ended up being perfect for us because we couldn't be on the beach everyday due to weather.
BUT speaking of the beach.. holy cow.
My sister was RIGHT! The beach was GORGEOUS! The white sand was not only beautiful, but SOO soft and cool under your feet.
and PERFECT for Sand Castles!
The water was CRYSTAL clear.. the first night we got in, we wanted to at least GO to the beach, and Richard has spot lights and "Crabbing" gear.. for us to use, to go crabbing! We had so much fun spotlighting for crabs.. the ocean was ridiculously warm and it was 10 pm at night! I was prepared for that first step into the water and "brrr" and dude.. it was like getting into bathtub water! My kids LOVED how warm it was!
The beach also allows you to have dogs on the beach AND you can even sleep on the beach as well! I am in love with their beach.. I mean it Rivals even Hawaii beaches and that is pretty tuff! Infact I think it's even better because the white soft sand! Gulf Shores is just a SUPER awesome, small little town and SOO safe! I fell in LOVE with Gulf Shores and the all the fun little ma and pa shops.. and the "hangout" which was SO cool too!
The rates go between $150-$400 per night, depending on WHAT time of year you stay AND how many nights. The more nights, the better the rate. I would go back in a heartbeat!
You can find out information about it Here.. on his VRBO site. If you are looking for something more just "on the beach" without all the amenities. You can also find other houses on the beach.. ranging from $75-$400 per night. BUt having the pool for kids to swim in, when they were tired of salt water.. was SOO much better. In my opinion. Now if it was just ME and ben going.. i would definitely stay in a small little quaint house right on the beach. Overlooking the ocean.. and paint and relax. But with kids.. this was DEFINITELY the way to go! Ben and I even brought our paints and I was able to get messy and have some creative fun while I was there too!
What a great family vacation! ANd I loved how it was close to some pretty awesome historic sights as well. The last day we took the time to visit the USS alabama (which was crazy good. wow.. blown away by that massive ship and all the history behind it).
(love this picture. This always sums up the last day of a trip right? Everyone is cranky, and tired and doesn't want to leave. lol. This was our last stop of the day on our way back to Mobile, and it was HOT and muggy and we had been touring the ship for over an hour and I think they were just hungry and ready to go lol)
We also visited the Naval Academy where they had a HUGE museum of WW1 and WW2 planes! as well as the Blue Angel Planes!
(see the happy faces! Lol. This was early in the day.. happy excited to be on an excursion! haha)
They even had flight simulators you could ride in! SO cool.
Gulf shores itself has fun little shops.. and even had a HUGE waterpark, and cute little amusement park (with a huge roller coaster). As well as lots of miniature golf places, AND a zoo! Tons of great places to eat too. Fresh shrimp, crab and lobster right off the ocean! The best part was right be our house, there was a local fish and shrimp shop, where you could go in an order crab, shrimp, red potatoes and corn on the cob.
And they cooked it for you and you took it home to eat it. We had a meal for the 8 of us.. including crab, hush puppies, two HUGE things of red potatoes, corn on the cob, Shrimp and frenchfries.. and it was $60 bucks! That is CRAZY for that kind of meal! Of course it's take out only, but we just walked around the corner and sat on our porch overlooking the pool and ate! It was Soo good and I didn't have to cook it! A meal like that in a restaurant would have cost us over $300 for all of us. ANd they cook it to order. lots of different spice, they boil it, fry it, you name it. Awesome little ma and pop place. Oh was a dream the entire vacation was. TRULY was. We have been on cruises and other vacations before, and I have to say this was one of my favorites. Just SO low key, and truly relaxing! And FUN for the kids as well!
So if you are looking for a place to go..something different, something WARM, with beautiful beaches and white sands and warm water. Head to Gulf Shores. Such a cute little town. I know we will be going back! ANd most definiltly staying at The Nantiki hut again!
Sooo. that is my recap of the trip! It was fun.. a memory we will always have. NOW back to reality and getting this darn house done!
This week we have got SO much done! AND finally the lights are all up in the kitchen and dining areas.. AND the countertops are IN!! wahoo! It looks so beautiful! (this is a picture before the countertops came in)
The lighting is a mix of things I found on etsy, and overstock.com. This picture doesn't show the cabinets finished either, but now the finish ceiling trim is up on the cabinets.. and the only thing we need to finish is back splash, hardware and the "oven" wall that ben is doing out of rock and an old piece of drift wood we found in the lake by our house. Can't wait! We should be moving beds in (probably just beds, no furniture).. in two weeks! A week before the reunion! Lol. Crazy cutting in close.. but it is what it is!
I will share some fun pictures next week of the house! PLUS do a blog post on the Essential Oils I use too for my fibro!
well i better get over to the house! I have got to get my art studio cleaned and organized today, for my special guests coming next week! wahoo!
Have happy weekend! and happy friday! xoxox