Had I not been advised by a friend to check out Everglades Isle, I may have never considered visiting this upscale motorcoach resort. That’s because it’s set just off-the-beaten-path in an area better known for fishing, air boat rides and being the home of stone crab fisheries than it is as a location for a luxury waterfront motorhome resort.
While I’ll go into great detail about my first visit to Everglades Isle, I’ll cut to the chase and state that after a brief stay, I can now say with confidence, this resort is truly a retreat from the stress of everyday life. If you own a Class A motorhome, whether you’re considering a short visit or a season-long stay, this resort should be on your must see list.
Everglades City, Florida
Simply stated, if you want claws fresh off the dock, this is the place to get them.
While I’ve lived in South Florida full time for nearly 20 years, I only became aware of the charm of Everglades City in 2015. It was during a conversation with a charter airplane pilot that Everglades City first appeared on my radar. He stated a number of his clients would fly into this small town to entertain friends and clients over a lunch of the freshest Florida stone crabs in in the country. While Miami Beach’s Joe’s Stone Crab is the name most often associated with Florida stone crabs, Everglades City is the home base of this industry. Simply stated, if you want claws fresh off the boat, this is the place to get them.
At that time I was planning a “guys” weekend with a buddy who was visiting from Houston which kicked-off with a visit to Old Palm’s annual, star studded Cigar & Scotch Night and culminated with a short flight to Everglades City for a stone crab lunch at the Camilla Street Grill.However, once we landed we quickly came to the realization there were no taxis, rental cars or ground transportation serving the airstrip and other than taking a very long walk, we had no way to get to the restaurant. The good news is it only took a phone call to the restaurant to find a server who agreed to pick us up at the airport and drive us to the restaurant. However, there was a problem…
The previous evening was one of the coldest on Florida’s record and due to the inclement weather the crabbers didn’t go out to the traps that morning. Since this restaurant only serves fresh and not frozen stone crabs, we settled for fried shrimp and homemade coleslaw, which I must say was a welcomed surprise.
Fast forwarding two years, my buddy was visiting again and we decided to replicate our trip to Everglades City and our quest for fresh claws. However, instead of flying, we would be traveling across the State in my 1957 Flxible Starliner. The plan was to depart after the Concours d’Elegance event in Boca Raton and proceed to the Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort where we would join Friends from Marco island and again visit the Camilla Street Grill. However, a last minute family emergency kept my Friend at home, but since the reservations were made and other Friends were all set to meet at the destination, the trip continued.
Allow me to add the Starliner didn’t disappoint and I’m continually impressed this vintage coach rides smoother, quieter and drives more confidently than newer RVs I’ve driven.
For this February 2017 trip, I departed from Boca Raton, FL and routed South on the Florida Turnpike to the Sawgrass Expressway before heading West on the section of I-75 that’s best known as Alligator Alley. Traveling at a leisurely pace during the low traffic midday, midweek period, I arrived at the destination in two-and-a-half hours.
A note to anyone driving that route, I’ll advise checking the fuel tanks before entering the “alley” as there’s a long stretch where fuel stations are few if not far between.
Located on the Chokoloskee Bay in Collier County, Everglades City is a fisherman’s paradise. The city itself is sized a mere 1.2 square miles and contains a population of 400 residents. The resort located a 30 – 40 minute drive to Naples or Marco Island and is fairly convenient to Florida’s West Coast. While Everglades City itself has the feel of a Jimmy Buffett inspired village and makes for an interesting side trip, the Key West-styled Everglade Isle Resort makes this town a true destination.
After an overnight stay I can say that if lush surroundings, boating, fishing, fresh seafood, and of course stone crabs are what you’re seeking, Everglades City could be considered a destination that delivers a recipe for great getaway. The daytime breeze off the bay was refreshing and the passing of airboats makes for an interesting camping experience.
However, since it’s located within the tropical Florida Everglades, I need to mention that evenings can be a bit buggy. As with much of Florida the main attraction is the pleasant Winter weather and I’ll advise the best time to visit is when those in other parts of the country are shoveling snow or wearing Winter coats. Yes, just turn on the Weather Channel and you’ll know when it’s time to head South to Florida!
As you can see in this video, the sunsets from a waterfront lot are something to see.
The Everglades Isle Motorcoach Resort features 61 paver-topped concrete pads that are sized 38′ in width by 60′ in length and can accommodate even the largest of luxury motor coaches with all slides out and plenty of room to spare. 50 amp service, water, cable and sewer connections are stationed on each lot and accessible from well maintained utility boxes. One pet peeve is the lot number markings are a bit small and can be difficult to read from the road. While I wasn’t guided to my lot in the traditional golf cart leader fashion, the front desk clerk rode in my bus to guide me to the correct spot.
32 of the 61 sites are located directly on the waterfront and feature expansive scenic views along with the passing of tourist air boats across the Chokoloskee Bay. Just the view alone gives this resort a unique feel when compared to other upscale resorts. Huts sized up to 9′ x 23′ can be built on the lots with the requirement that a 9′ x 8′ area remain open or screened while the balance can be used for interior spaces. I’ll add that a number of the larger interior lots feature fairly spacious indoor living spaces that exceed these dimensions and are unique for this type of resort. Trailer storage is available on the property.
If you’re considering a stay, you’ll appreciate the resort’s interactive online site plan. A simple click on a desired lot displays an image that provides the view of that specific lot. The map can be found here: http://www.evergladesisle.com/own/sitemap.php
A recently constructed 8,500 square foot Key West style clubhouse is located near the main entry and contains the welcome desk and acts as the hub for resort activities. It features an attended bar that opens at 5pm each day along with snack service. The clubhouse amenities include:
- Billiards Table
- Fitness Center
- Gathering Room
- Catering Kitchen
- Men’s and Women’s Locker Rooms
- On-Site Movie Theater
- On-Site Spa (Hair, Nails, Facials and Massage)
- Pool, Hot Tub and Sun Deck
While my bus’s TV antenna was not able to receive any over the air channels, the included cable package offers 40 TV channels. Wi-Fi is available at no additional fee, but the welcome packet asks that it not be used for video streaming. The resort is gated and requires a code for entry and the double door gate automatically opens upon approaching for exit.
- Check in time is 1pm and check out is requested at 11am. The Staff is welcoming and friendly and I have no doubt that if the situation warrants and if occupancy allows, they will make every attempt to accommodate a travel schedule.
- Golf cart rentals are available and bicycles and roller blades are welcomed. No skateboards are allowed.
- Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult when using the pool facilities.
- Quiet hours are 10pm – 7am. I’ll add I noticed music playing from what appeared to be outdoor speakers on at least one of the interior lots during the daytime that in my opinion, was a bit too loud and out of character for this level of resort.
- Trash is collected before 2pm and a dumpster is available for guests.
- This resort is geared towards owners of Class A motorhomes and no tents, screen rooms or pop-up campers or storage containers are allowed on the campsites. All of the coaches I saw on property were fairly recent and well kept.
- This is a Dog-friendly resort and up to two non-agressive pets are welcomed, but must remain leashed when on the property. The exception is within the fenced dog run area.
- A waterfront screened tiki hut is available to residents and guests.
- Rentals and amenities are available from November 1st through April 30th, but the pads are available to the owners throughout the year.
Rates and Pricing
My overnight stay was during the peak season in February, 2017 and the price paid for a premium waterfront lot was $150 plus tax.
- Rental prices range from $110 to $150 per night with the waterfront lots starting at $115 per night based on view.
- Currently there’s a discount in place that offers two weeks free with a two month stay and three weeks free with a three month stay. For shorter stays, currently a 20% discount is offered for three night or longer stays during November, December and April.
- Purchase prices range from $129,000 to $269,000 with waterfront sites starting at $189,000. Improved lots were found to be priced higher.
- HOA and Lighthouse Club fees are $5,400 and due annually.
- Concrete, floating dock boat slips are available for rental and offer electricity, water and pump-out utilities. Slip rentals are priced at $2.50 per foot, per night or $18 per foot, per month. Prices do not include electric service.
- A non-ethanol gas pump, a boat ramp and a fish cleaning hut are available on property.
- Guests renting boat slips are able to take advantage of the resort amenities.
Will I Return?
The short answer is yes. My first visit was a bit too brief and I’d like to spend time exploring the area and local attractions. Unlike other resorts that offer amenities such as a golf course, tennis or pickle ball courts or are conveniently located to larger cities or major attractions, Everglades Isles seems to stand out among the pack by being a wonderful place just to kick back, relax and read a Carl Hiaasen novel. While the waterfront lots deliver spectacular views, it seems the best way to enjoy this resort for an extended stay is on a lot that includes an adjacent tiki, bar or enclosed area.
A little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll.”
In the welcome packet and contained in the ownership opportunity page, I read what appears to be an accurate description of the area: “Everglades City is a cross between Key West and the Florida Panhandle. A little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll.” As you can see from this photo of the Camilla Street Grill, that description is spot on.
And, what about the Friend who recommended that I give this resort a try? As you can see in the next photo, he’s sitting at the table while we’re enjoying the freshest of Florida stone crabs!
For more information
Everglades Isle Luxury Motorcoach Retreat
803 Collier Ave.
Everglades City, FL 34139
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