by Terry Ward
Families looking to visit Anna Maria Island should consider the spacious and modern accommodations of the Bali Hai Beach Resort. Located right on the beach, this resort puts your family right in the middle of sun, sand and surf. Free parking is offered to keep your family’s costs down. Full kitchens with stovetops, refrigerators and microwaves will make mealtime a breeze. The outdoor pool provides hours of entertainment for the kids and a place to cool off for the adults. Free Wi-Fi will keep you connected throughout your stay. Laundry service is also available for your convenience. There’s no need to spend money on an expensive rental car — the island trolley will take you anywhere you need to go.
Our Editor Loves
- Outdoor pool
- Free Wi-Fi
- Walking distance to beach
- Water Sports
- Free Wi-Fi
Up front: this review is based on my staying at this property for the last 10 consecutive Christmas/New Year holidays (including Jan 2019). It is not about the renovations of the interiors, which I cannot speak to, but about the exterior changes, which I can. I was visiting down the beach in August and did a physical walk-around and walk-through the property, from the beach, across the Gulf front, and through the archway into the courtyard.
I read a response from management, responding to a review by Brigitte, dated April 12, 2019. Brigitte had expressed regret at the loss of so many palm trees and the mgmt. person responded that those old trees were "unhealthy and diseased." Here is where I want to intervene. I'm all in favor of the renovation of this property - we love it but, yes, it did need an upgrade and even though it's now priced out of our range, we still have fondness for Bali Hai and wish them well. However, there were 8-9 fully-grown palms lined up across the front of the Gulf-facing rooms (where we've stayed for the last 10 years) and which you can see on the photos already here at Trip Advisor. I also have pictures and video of these trees, all looking perfectly healthy as of January 2019. I'd like to know what professional arborist the management consulted and what exact disease it was that struck down all 8-9 trees simultaneously with such force that not a single one could be saved. I suggest that it was not disease but aesthetics that was behind this decision. I'd be willing to bet that they thought those trees BLOCKED THE VIEW. Here's the thing though: palm trees have deep root systems that help prevent beach erosion. So, the next time there's a big storm, or hurricane, with storm surge, Bali Hai will be more vulnerable to damage because of this short-sighted corporate decision by people who know nothing about beach preservation. I've been coming to this beach since the 1960s and many many times watched them dredge sand out of the Gulf and pipe it over to this beach to replenish it and keep it alive (and this benefits local businesses and tourism). They quit cutting the sea oats, the sea grapes and, yes, the palm trees so that nature itself could be part of the solution. Bali Hai also pruned down the sea grape trees at the north end of the building - again, I'm convinced, because this high wall of foliage blocked the view of rooms at that end (#10, 11, 12). Sea grape is a protected species and other island developers have run afoul of the Dept. of Environmental Protection and the Marine Turtle Protection Act by pruning and trimming or cutting down these trees. There's a public access trail right next to the Bali Hai building facing the Gulf that was completely topped by these trees, blocking the hotel's exterior lights from disorienting nesting turtles on the beach, and that row of sea grape has now been chopped down to half its original height. Were those trees also "unhealthy and diseased"? No. They were just in the way of the 2nd floor balconies so people had an obstructed view looking north.
While I appreciate that the new management is renovating Bali Hai, it is these kinds of destructive, uninformed decisions by people who don't know that beach or have a sense of civic responsibility to protect it (not to mention the legal responsibility) that bothers me and should bother everyone. The row of beach chairs that have replaced the palm trees lining the Gulf front of Bali Hai will offer little protection from future storms and flooding - and that should bother the new owners. A lot.
Everything was great. The room were comfortable, clean and nice. The pool was very nice and the beach front rooms were perfect for our vacations. You can see people from the hotel taking care of the property. The kitchen was very complete. Very much recommended!