Have a Staycation

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View from the deck of unit #4 of 600 W. Brunswick St. Photo by Bethany Turner

For tourists, there are great options for taking a vacation in Southport. Those who enjoy afternoon teas and a chat over homemade breakfast will enjoy one of our many B&Bs, especially as they are housed in historic abodes, and all are within walking distance to the city’s attractions. Guests who prefer hotel living have choices in a few nationally renowned chains, too. But one thing is missing—something Oak Island and Bald Head Island excel in—the beach rental.

Rentals offer unlimited privacy and have a relaxed atmosphere. Nothing is rushed. There are no maids coming and going in the middle of the day. Folks have the entire space to themselves and can feel free to kick back and nap or party ’til the wee hours. While the neighboring islands offer more sand space than Southport, tourists still can partake in the carefree attitude of a rental through Southport Angler Outfitters’ waterfront condos. Locals may even find they’d like to take a mini staycation there, too.

Entryway, Photo by Bethany Turner

Entryway, Photo by Bethany Turner

Resting between the bustling downtown area and the picturesque Southport Marina, 600 West Brunswick Street harbors three one-bedroom rental units. Each offers a gorgeous view of the waterway as well as the Oak Island lighthouse and Old Baldy. On the private deck, steps away from the marsh boardwalk, guests can share a cup of coffee as they witness estuary inhabitants rise for their morning meal. They can settle back in at sunset for a palette of pink and purple hues all along the horizon.

Tommy Rickman purchased the rentals in 2002 when the builder of the condominium was pre-selling units. “Actually, I bought it to flip it,” Rickman admits. “The builder went up on his price—and this is pre-wife approval as well—but I told him if he’d sell me another one at the [original] price, I would buy two of them. Then they went up in value, and just like everyone else in America, I held on too long and that was it.”

The spaces were set for commercial use, and Rickman welcomed Cape Fear Coppershop for a brief moment in time. “They make décor for beach cottages out of copper, but the location didn’t work very well for them,” Rickman says.

Living room, Photo by Bethany Turner

Living room, Photo by Bethany Turner

Shopping traffic ideally sticks to Howe Street and the immediate surrounding blocks. The retail shop eventually moved to Ricky Evans Gallery in the heart of downtown. While Rickman’s office for TRA School Software Solutions and Southport Angler Outfitters—which provides light-tackle and fly-fishing charters—remained in the commercial units, Rickman sought to create something more of the space. He did acquire a unit for The Tackle Box, a store for fishing gear, later. It proved a smart move with such close proximity to the marina. But Rickman had another idea for the original units: vacation rentals.

A shower had to be put into each space, and legalities with the city had to be sorted out. “Finally they approved the nightly rental deal,” Rickman shares. “It started off really, really slow but it’s going great now. The movie ‘Safe Haven’ really helped us a lot, I think. This year we got rewards from it.”

Guest book of unit #4, filled with lots of love from satisfied guests. Photo by Bethany Turner

Guest book of unit #4, filled with lots of love from satisfied guests. Photo by Bethany Turner

Indeed, the guestbook of unit #4 is full of notes from satisfied visitors from all over. “We have a lot of people who come down and stay weekend after weekend,” Rickman touts. “They’ll call us and reserve five weekends in the summer. I’ve met some really nice people. That’s probably the biggest advantage: meeting all the people that stay there.”

The units each offer queen beds, cable TV, a refrigerator, a microwave, a Keurig coffee brewer, and a private waterfront deck. Access is provided via stairs or an elevator. Units #5 and #6 boast a sofa sleeper, too. “We’ve got sheets, towels, etc., so you don’t have to bring a lot of stuff—but we don’t go clean every day like the Hampton Inn. Hopefully it doesn’t give you the ‘hotel’ feel. It’s like your own little beach cottage.”

Bedroom, Photo by Bethany Turner

Bedroom, Photo by Bethany Turner

Unlike a hotel, Rickman isn’t strict on check-in and check-out times. “We’ll come down and meet them [with the key the first night],” he begins. “It’s really laid back. If somebody’s not coming in the next day, I always tell guests we’re not sticklers on check out. ‘Stay all day; if you went up to the beach, come back and take a shower. Take your time.’ People like that a lot. If we’ve got somebody coming in, though, of course we’ll have to come in and clean… We keep them super clean.”

The most desirable characteristic of the rentals may be the view, but Rickman adds there are plenty of benefits. “I think the best aspect of it is—yeah, you’ve got the view—but you also can walk or bike to almost all the restaurants in downtown Southport,” he tells.

Even locals who are well accustomed to the charm of Southport take weekend breaks at the waterfront units. Rickman and his wife, Audra, often stay themselves when they can find a babysitter. “And my office is there, so that says a lot,” he quips.

Bedroom, Photo by Bethany Turner

Bedroom, Photo by Bethany Turner

Perhaps a staycation is the best kind of getaway. There’s no jet lag and no baggage fees. There isn’t the urge to “take a vacation from your vacation”—the day between a trip and heading back to the real world, just to recuperate from traveling. A weekend, or a few weekdays, at 600 W. Brunswick Street would be just as easy as the breeze.

Southport Magazine toured unit #4 of 600 W. Brunswick St.

Peak (April 1-October 31), two night minimum:
Mon-Thurs, $129/night*
Fri-Sun, $139/night*

November 1-March 31
$125/night* (*plus $10.75 lodging tax)
(910) 457-7096 or www.southportlodging.com

Additional deck seating. Photo by Bethany Turner

Additional deck seating. Photo by Bethany Turner

The waterfront condo units, Photo by Bethany Turner

The waterfront condo units, Photo by Bethany Turner

 

 

 

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