Last month on June 28, 2016 our local newspaper The Marco Eagle created an article all about our wonderful motel called Boat-el.
With our fearless leader Desiree featured on the cover of the newspaper, readers were allowed a peek behind our bright blue exterior and into the hearts of our beloved inn.
Click here to read the article digitally or take a peek at the article below!
You could drive around Marco Island a long time and never find the Boat House Motel. The motto on their website says, “Marco Island’s best kept secret!” and it’s a fair statement.
Tucked away at the extreme northern tip of the island, the Boat House is off the beaten track, past Café de Marco and Bistro Soleil in the historic Old Marco section. And if you live here, and maybe have a boat dock behind your house, why would you need to know about transient lodging?
But the Boat House has something that no other hostelry on the island can boast. They are located directly on the water on Collier Creek, looking across at preserve land, and just a couple hundred yards by boat from the Marco River.
While there are waterfront hotels along the beach, none has the availability of a place to dock a boat right behind your room, or just stand by the waterfront and gaze across at the waterway and Isles of Capri beyond. And you can stay in this enchanted location for the same price you would pay for a cookie-cutter motel room along the interstate.
“I try to compare, and match the rates on 951,” said Desiree Buhelos. “Right now, you can get a room here for $130 on the weekend, or $110 on weekdays (offseason rates). There’s nowhere on the water for that, and nowhere you can have a boat and pets.”
Nick and Desiree Buhelos have owned the Boat House for 27 years, but it was around for years before that. Even island attorney and unofficial historian Craig Woodward, said Desiree, couldn’t establish just when the units were first constructed.
“This was a repo — it needed a lot of work when we bought it,” said Desiree. “My dad co-signed for me, and we bought him out six years later. This was always going to be my place.” She is the face of the business, a regular at Chamber of Commerce functions, while Nick keeps the place running behind the scenes.
“I’m the public person, the one who talks all the time,” said Desiree. Nick tends to the 20 guest rooms, three condo units and one detached rental home that, along with pool, docks and common areas, make up the property.
She notes that in her price comparison, the Boat House does not offer breakfast, although they are just around the corner from the delectable French-inspired petit déjeuner of Le Petit Soleil, and the guests’ first cup of coffee from the Keurig machines in the guest rooms is free.
The rooms at the Boat House are comfortably furnished, with an Old Florida charm, different from the corporate décor of say, the Marriott. But that establishment does think highly enough of the Boat House that they send overflow guests there, for which Desiree expressed her gratitude.
“The community has really supported us. We wouldn’t be here without the locals. And thank god I have guests who recommend us,” she said. “We do OK in the offseason.”
Those guests, said Buhelos, include “a ton of fishermen” and other boaters, taking advantage of the ability to pull right up behind the motel, which she appreciates even though she and Nick have never been bitten by the boating bug.
“We used to get corporate groups that would come to fish, from companies like Roadway and Purina, but that all went away after the BP oil spill.” The Boat House, she said, did get a small settlement from the trust fund set up to compensate business owners after the disaster.
“We have a good customer base. About half are repeat visitors,” added Nick Buhelos. “We get families, boaters, Europeans — all kinds of folks.”
Desiree was lamenting that the property looked barren to her, as they had just cut down the row of trees in front of the main block of rooms, but that did allow hotel’s “true colors” to stand out.
You can’t spend five seconds at the Boat House without noticing, or being knocked over by, the bright teal blue color that pervades the entire place. Doors, swimming pool, walkways, railings, shutters, even the sign that warns of video surveillance, all sport a color to make a Miami Dolphins fan proud.
Desiree, though, is loyal to the Bears from her native Chicago, where her father still lives, when it comes to NFL teams, although she admitted that on the “when in Rome” principle, it wouldn’t hurt to add a touch of orange for the Miami team.
“We really are the best kept secret. You could drive right past me and not see me,” said Desiree Buhelos — but she hopes you’ll come on in, especially if someone needs a place to stay.