provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Tarpon Tale Inn, a hospitality tradition since 1996 on Sanibel Island’s east end, added eight more rooms to the island’s post-hurricane inventory with its reopening and a SanCap Chamber ribbon-cutting on Thursday, June 2, at 367 Periwinkle Way.
“What terrific news to celebrate — more accommodations becoming available on Sanibel!” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “Congratulations to team Tarpon Tale Inn for its hard work putting back together an island landmark in such a way that preserves its charm and island character.”
Like many recovering island businesses, Tarpon Tale pivoted and adjusted plans to conform with supply shortages and other challenges, said owner Joe Lavigne. He received final inspection approvals only days before the reopening, and welcomed his first guests two days later, on June 3.
“Our neighbors have been incredibly encouraging, and our clients have as well, even traveling to the island for a day trip to say hello and provide support,” said Lavigne, who took over ownership of the inn in December 2021. “Many guests offered for us to hold their deposit for a future stay once I informed them I was determined to reopen. Some guests even donated to help our work continue as insurance proceeds had not been received until into 2023.”
Lavigne credits the close guest relationships established by prior owners and innkeepers, Dawn and Joe Ramsey, for the support and for their help getting the beloved inn back up and running.
“I’m thrilled to finally be able to fully reopen, representing the largest fully open inn on Sanibel and doing so while preserving the old charm visitors have come to expect on Sanibel,” he said. “ I am very grateful for everyone’s hard work, support from family, friends, and my neighbors, who I had not yet met before the storm. Thanks also to the chamber for helping us maximize low-cost or free marketing opportunities.”
In kind, Lavigne helped neighbors deal with their grief and despair, sharing information on how to navigate and apply the 50-percent FEMA rule after remediating and rebuilding from five feet of water and complete damage to electric, HVAC, furniture, fixtures, and roof. “I have spent parts of many days talking with neighbors and providing encouragement and a positive attitude.”