The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 39 - June 30, 2010


Tropic Isle a favorite for families

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Michael and Michele Patrick have made Tropic Isle Inn a family
destination with a host of amenities and reasonable prices.

Anna Maria Island is packed with overachievers. Sometimes I think the Island is the quintessential place where young, vibrant retirees go when they want to kick off their wingtips but still keep their laptops booted up. Michael and Michele Patrick, the owners of Tropic Isle Inn, have embraced this philosophy and are living their dream in the tropical mode.

Two years ago this month, the Patrick’s purchased the long-established Tropic Isle Inn in Bradenton Beach, saving Anna Maria from another condominium. Michele Patrick moved from Gainesville to oversee their new endeavor while Michael Patrick finished up his career as the Assistant Dean for Admissions for the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida in Gainesville, finally retiring in April 2009.

The couple undertook a complete renovation of the inn, doing most of the work themselves. Not only did they redecorate all of the units, with the help of their daughters, they also updated the plumbing, electric, air conditioning and roof. However, the renovation that made the biggest difference was actually a demolition. One of the buildings on the almost two acres of property was in very poor condition as well as taking up a lot of actual and visual space. Once it was gone, the entire property benefited from more light, greener space and great parking facilities.

The 14 unit Tropic Isle Inn is one of those old Florida, famil-oriented walk to the beach places that Florida has always been known for. The 14 units offer just about any size and configuration most people would need. They have six downstairs one bedroom poolside units with full kitchen; there are six upstairs king/queen hotel rooms with refrigerators, microwaves, and some with pull out sofas; for larger families or two couples, Tropic Isle has a poolside two bedroom with full kitchen and living room and a townhouse with two bedrooms, full kitchen, living room and deck with fabulous Gulf view. All units have one full bathroom and either a patio or deck, and no visit is complete without one of their Cord-a-Roys the ultimate in lounging.

Tropic Isle is unique in that it has a private beach across Gulf Drive reserved for the exclusive use of its guests. The inn has a free form heated pool, which was also part of the Patrick’s renovation of the property, plenty of poolside lounge chairs and lots of space for kids to romp while their parents can take advantage of the abundant shade under the plant-covered trellises and wonderful gazebo. Beach chairs, pool toys, barbeque grills, outdoor shower, nearby trolley, complimentary laundry facilities and dog friendly makes Tropic Isle Inn a first rate family vacation spot. In addition, the inn has permanent and portable handicap ramps, and since Michele Patrick is a full time physical therapist, the inn also has a variety of bathroom accessories for guests who may have some physical challenges.

Beach weddings at Tropic Isle Inn are really special, starting across the street on the private beach. Wedding couples can work out just about any arrangement they want relative to catering their event, including tents and entertainment. Weddings can be booked after season only in fairness to other guests, and 75 percent of the inn’s rooms must also be booked in order for the entire inn to be used for a wedding.

Michele Patrick says they are all about family and providing reasonably priced accommodations for long and short stays with special discounts for Florida residents, returning guests and military. The Patricks have two property managers and a housekeeper, and if a guest has a problem after office hours, they live only 5 minutes away.

Tropic Isle was voted one of the top five small businesses for 2009 by the Anna Maria Island Chamber, which thrilled Michael and Michele Patrick, who have worked hard on establishing themselves and their business in the community.

So if you’re looking for a spot to unwind, have a family reunion or get married, Topic Isle Inn combines tradition with bare feet for the overachiever in all of us. Tust call it the tropic of Anna Maria.

Tropic Isle Inn

101 22nd Street North
Bradenton Beach
American Express, Discover, Visa, MasterCard

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Investor nervousness builds

Investment Corner

Investors love municipal bonds for their interest, which is free from federal taxation and free from taxation at the state level for residents of the state in which the issuing municipality is located. For those of us residing in Florida, where there is no state income tax, owning bonds issued from any municipality across the U.S. creates tax free income.

Of course, municipal bonds tax free status means that the interest earned on a bond of a particular quality ranking will be less than that of a corporate or U.S. government bond of the same rank. This effect generally makes municipal bonds a smart choice for investors in the top tax brackets, but may be a waste of time for those in lower tax brackets, where earning a higher taxable yield and paying the tax still comes out ahead of the lower yielding municipal bond.

After a dramatic decline in value during the 2008 financial crisis, municipal bonds in general have made a great recovery in value. But recently, some high profile investors like Warren Buffett have been sounding the alarm over potential difficulties in the municipal bond market.

Mr. Buffett warns that some municipalities may choose to default on their insured municipal issues – passing the cost through to the insuring firm rather than facing the tough choice of raising taxes on the residents of the state or city. Mr. Buffett is in a position to know since his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., owns a municipal bond insurance subsidiary. Berkshire itself held $4.7 billion of municipal bonds a year ago, but that figure is now trimmed to $3.9 billion.

The problem is not just for the bond that may default, but any hint of a spreading problem would likely hit the entire municipal market in terms of a large drop in bond prices, which even if temporary can be unnerving. There may even be a contagion to other bond markets, such as corporate debt.

The wild card, according to Buffett, is the U.S. federal government. If the feds step in and guarantee (effectively insuring) municipal debt, then the municipal bond markets will likely muddle through. There is not a lot of historical precedence for this action, but in recent years with bailouts of General Motors and other firms, some new trends have been established. Some months back I wrote an article on Build America Bonds, a new type on municipal debt offering which has the backing of the federal government.

While historically default rates on municipal debt have been low, particularly for issues rated as investment grade (high quality). In fact, these default rates have been close to zero historically. However, measuring default rates across the entire spectrum of municipal bonds is different than measuring the default risk in your portfolio or mine where we, as individuals, might hold 10 different bond issues and think we are diversified. But a default on one issue, representing 10 percent of your bond portfolio, could have a significant impact on your personal portfolio if Murphy’s Law steps up to bite you.

One way of reducing your risk of the impact of a security or perhaps several defaulting is to be very diversified and not have too much exposure to any one particular bond. In a large portfolio, this can be easily done with relatively low cost, perhaps with the help of your financial advisor.

For those with smaller portfolios or who prefer to take a simpler route, there are dozens of good quality mutual fund and exchange traded funds which hold municipal bonds and which have the same tax-free income status as owning the individual bonds. These funds will not avoid a temporary decline in value in the event of a general municipal bond market decline, but will continue to pay a tax-free income stream and offer some piece of mind that a couple defaults will not devastate your portfolio due to the diversification factor.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

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