This article appeared in the Sarasota Times on December 14, 1911. It appears here courtesy of Rex Carr.

Through the courtesy of Mayor and Mrs. H. L. Higel, a number were invited to go over to Siesta Sunday afternoon, to see the new hotel, which will, in a short time be formally opened to the public.

The two miles across the bay were quickly passed, and as the large white building with its background of palms and the darker green of the Gulf beyond, grew more distinctly. into view, it presented a most charming appearance ; the broad piazzas seeming’ to invite the traveler to seek: the hospitality and recreation within its walls and amid its pleasant surroundings.

Aerial view of the Bay Island Hotel. This photo was taken before a fire destroyed the third floor and roof. When it was rebuilt, the third floor was eliminated, and a more interesting roof was added. A second-floor veranda also was added at that time.

Mr. and Mrs. Faubel met the party, and soon all were taken over the house and grounds. A wide concrete walk leads from the bay, and the grounds are being made very attractive. The larger growth of oaks and palms had been left in front, supplying a grateful shade; the lawn is well started, and one can easily imagine how pleasant this will be when the garden seats are placed and the sea-wall is built along the shore.
The shrubs and flowering plants which earlier had. been set by the Royal Palm Nursery, are doing well; already the hibiscus are flaunting their glowing blossoms, while the flaming colors of the poinsettias bespeak a warm welcome to the northern tourist, whose memories of leaf and bud lay buried beneath a mantle of snow.

A most interesting part of the grounds, and in which Mr. Faubel takes great pride, is his garden, about five acres in all, are planted, a part in different varieties of fruit trees which are doing well, while, for the soil, it is wonderful to see vegetables of all kinds growing in such rank profusion. Tomatoes are supported to hold up their bending weight of ripening fruit; onions, lettuce and other vegetables are now ready for use, Watermelons were ripe two weeks ago, while strawberries will very soon be added to the bill of fare.
Sixty hydrants with spray attachments, are placed over the grounds for irrigating purposes, and the water piped from the artesian well of 400 feet depth.
Two large 80 H.-P. engines provide the power for operating the electric light plant, water works and laundry. A 5000-gallon tank furnishes soft water for the laundry. An acetylene gas plant is also installed, and every room in the hotel has fixtures for either method of lighting, while sulfur water is carried to every floor for the baths.
The hotel is a three-story building having sixty-five rooms. A basement underneath, with cement floors, has a large bathroom for the gentlemen’s use, and a storage room for baggage. On the other side is the well-equipped laundry; and a part will be fitted up for the servants’ rooms.

Piazzas surround the hotel for welcome shade and bay breezes. A rocking chair on this piazza was the inspiration for the rocking chair on the roof of the White Tower.

On the first floor, piazzas are on every side. Both the office and dining room are forty feet square, and a large fire-place is in each. Plenty of windows look out onto the Bay and Gulf; and the office furnishings. will be planned for the comfort of the guests. Built-in china closets and handsome mirrors add to the attractiveness of the dining room, while different scenes are painted in panels on the walls. All the rooms on this floor are finished in white, and on the second floor in different shades, while on the third they are finished in the natural color.

The comfortable main salon of the Bay Island Hotel.

Private bath rooms are on the second story; halls give plenty of ventilation, and every room looks out on a magnificent view. The piazza, which is on three sides, will later be screened, and the halls will be provided with heaters.
Some very pleasant rooms are on the 3rd floor, and under the observatory are two from which a splendid view is obtained. Outside fire escapes lead from all the floors.
The furniture is on hand and enough was seen to judge that each room will look very attractive. The bedsteads are iron, of plain but handsome design, and the mattresses were purchased with a view to comfort.
A canal 36 feet wide is to be excavated from the Bay to the Gulf. This will provide a safe harbor, and give easy access to the Gulf, while a boulevard will be constructed along the shore, and other improvements are also planned. When Mr. Faubel carries out all his intentions it will be an-ideal spot for rest and recreation.

Two launches for transportation to and from the City Dock at the foot of Main Street. ED NOTE: The Higel Bridge to Bay Island (today’s north bridge) would not be built until 1917.

Two large launches are being built for the use of the guests, and regular trips will be made to Sarasota while boats for cruising and fishing will always be in readiness. The location of the hotel is unexcelled for fishing and bathing right at its doors, while the close proximity to Sarasota with its connection with the outside world, will not make one feel he is too far away from business.

Mr. and Mrs. Faubel, who will be in charge of the hotel, are experienced in this line, and very enthusiastic in all the plans for adding to the attractiveness. of the place or the comfort of the guests, and will open the hotel as soon as they can conveniently do so, which only awaits the arrival and placing of some fixtures and furnishings.
Mrs. Campbell was spending the day with her parents, and each of the party made the acquaintance of little Miss Eugenia Demaris, the little six-weeks old granddaughter of the Faubel household.

About 20 feet square, the hotel’s observatory [widow’s walk] gives a magnificent view for miles around. From here one could sit and dream as he watches the often- changing scenes. Far out in the wide expanse of Gulf can be seen the ‘‘ships that pass”. The dark and ominous clouds foretell the storm coming, and the angry roar of the breakers as they beat against the shore reveals Nature in her wilder mood. The narrow keys and wooded isles, with bars of glistening sand, stretch along the miles of bays, while the waves of emerald green are plainly marked from the darker waters of the Pass.

The distant town of Sarasota, the number of launches and smaller craft swiftly gliding over the bay, give evidence that it is not far from the “busy haunts of men;” and then, as one watches the close of the day, the sun, like-a ball of fire, seems to sink into the Gulf; every tint of the sky’s wonderful coloring, painted by a Master Hand, is reflected in the waves of the seas until silently the glowing crimson and gold merges into the evening shades, and the gentle splashing of the waves brings a soothing restfulness to tired nerves and weary frame.

Our thanks to Rex Carr, who found this vintage newspaper article.

Learn More: Mark D. Smith, former County Archivist, wrote for Sarasota History Alive article on the hotel.

Sarasota History Alive placed this location on today’s map of the area.

And William Hartman Gallery provides this photo of fishermen bragging on their catch.

Photo courtesy of William Hartman Gallery, Palm Avenue, Sarasota

In a Herald-Tribune article on real estate in 2011, Chris Angermann noted:

Bay Island was originally connected to the main body of Siesta Key, but in 1911, E.M. Arbogast, a developer from West Virginia, started to build the Bay Island Hotel to cater to the tourist trade. To separate his property holdings from the rest of the island, he had a 35-foot-wide canal dug. A humpback bridge on Siesta Drive spans the canal, connecting Bay Island to the rest of Siesta.

When the Bay Island Hotel opened in January 1912, Siesta Key was still cut off from the mainland. Downtown Sarasota was two miles and a 20-minute boat ride away, so Arbogast provided an automobile service that met guests at the train station and took them to the city pier. From there a ferry brought them to the hotel.

For its time, the Bay Island Hotel offered the finest amenities in resort luxury. Known for its Florida seafood cuisine, it offered oysters, stone crabs, clams and a variety of fish on the menu. A 400-foot-deep artesian well and private power plant provided running water and electric lighting to the 65 rooms. Rates started at $2.50 a day.