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Friday, December 11, 2009

Spirit Airlines adds Atlanta route to its Myrtle Beach schedule

Spirit Airlines announced yesterday that it was opening a new non-stop route between Myrtle Beach and Atlanta beginning in May of 2010. While that may not seem big news at first glance, especially considering the fact that other airlines already offer service to "Hotlanta," the real news is the wholesale fare reduction that is sure to follow. As one of the country's premier low-cost carriers, Spirit promises to make connecting flights reasonable once again, and to open a new world of easy access to Myrtle Beach's golden sands, championship golf and countless attractions.

In my younger days, I was generally willing to put up with more connections and a seat in the baggage compartment in order to save a few dollars. Today, thankfully, that's no longer necessary, especially if Myrtle Beach is on my itinerary (which it usually is, since I live here!) The Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) offers non-stop flights from a staggering 26 destinations all over the country (in addition to connections from almost anywhere.) The list of cities from which non-stop flights can be booked is impressive:

Atlanta, GA
Charlotte, NC
New York City, NY (LaGuardia)
Niagara Falls, NY
Plattsburgh, NY
Boston, MA
Worcester, MA
Washington, DC (Dulles)
Washington, DC (Reagan National)
Newark, NJ
Atlantic City, NJ
Pittsburgh, PA
Philadelphia, PA
Allentown, PA
Huntington, WV
Columbus, OH
Toledo, OH
Detroit, MI
Kalamazoo, MI
Chicago, IL (O'Hare)
Rockford, IL
Springfield, IL
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Orlando, FL
Punta Gorda, FL

In addition, the first regularly scheduled non-stop flights to Toronto will begin in 2010 as well.

Getting to Myrtle Beach has never been easier!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dunes Realty Goes Live with a New and Improved Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals Website!


Chances are you arrived at this blog via our Dunes Realty website, and if this wasn't your first visit, you may have noticed our new look. If not, take another look; we just went live this morning, and we're very excited about the changes.

Don't worry: the same functionality and ease of use that you've come to know and expect from dunes.com is still there (along with a few new touches that we think you'll enjoy,) but we felt that it was time for a little "updating." One of my favorite features is the new individual property page (like this one for Slo M'Ocean,) and we've also added links to our Facebook, MySpace and Twitter pages. Thanks to Rand McNally, customizable driving directions are available right from the site, and WeatherBug gives you instant weather information as well. (Here's a hint: it's always beautiful here!)

We're not done yet, though... keep your eyes open for our all-new attractions page and our concierge service, enabling our guests to both see and book tickets for some of the Myrtle Beach area's most popular theaters, attractions and watersports. Both of these features should be live by the end of November.

We'd love to know what you think, so please let us know!


E-mail: info@dunes.com

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Best fish recipe?

It's been a while since my last post, but summer can be a little hectic around here... I promise to try and do better from now on!

Our staff is very often asked for restaurant recommendations by our guests, and that's an easy answer for most of us with over 1,800 restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area. The Murrells Inlet Marshwalk with its seven world-class eateries is just around the corner, and the new Market Common district is just a few minutes up the road on the southern end of Myrtle Beach. However, because all of our properties include full kitchens and because of the abundance of fresh seafood in the area, we're also often asked about our favorite recipes. While everyone may have their own personal opinion, I'm writing the blog today and this is mine!

First of all, this recipe is designed to highlight the flavors of fresh fish, not disguise not-so-fresh fish. So, the first logical step is to find some fresh fish. Virtually any kind will do, but some of my favorites for this recipe include mahi-mahi (usually referred to as "dolphin" around here,) grouper, hogfish (sometimes called "hog snapper,") swordfish or halibut. Most are readily available at local seafood markets like Harrelson's in Murrells Inlet, although there are no shortages of opportunities to catch your own. Because thick pieces (1"-1.5") work best on the grill, I usually avoid flounder for this recipe, and the strong flavor of tuna (while one of my all-time favorites) tends to overpower the other ingredients.

Because we're talkin' fresh here, no fancy marinades are needed, although you might need to make a trip to the grocery store as well as the fish market. Here's what you'll need in addition to the fish:

1 ripe mango
1 shallot
1/2 red bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 lime
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pre-packaged Black Beans and Rice (I like Zatarains or Vigo, but most will do)
Any other side items you'd like (fresh corn is a very popular addition at my house)

I make the salsa first to give the flavors time to blend, and it's easy. Dice the red pepper and mango (instructions can be found here, although you'll need smaller cubes than shown in the example,) mince the shallot and jalapeno, combine them all in a bowl, squeeze the juice from the lime over the top, and salt & pepper to taste. That's all there is to it... some people like to leave it at room temperature, but I like it chilled.

The next step is to fire up the grill and make sure the grate is clean. (It doesn't hurt to brush the grate with oil or "grill formula" Pam right before the fish goes on, as this will help with the final presentation.) I usually take the fish out of the fridge at about the same time and add a little olive oil salt and pepper to each side. Go ahead and start the black beans and rice according to the package directions, as well as any other side items you'd like. I usually grill the fish for about 3-4 minutes per side on a hot grill, and I like to turn the filets 1/4 turn once per side to give them nice perpendicular grill marks. (This also helps to keep them from sticking.)

When the filets are done, I lay them on a bed of the black beans and rice and spoon the salsa over the top, and that's it... time to eat!

We'd love to know what you think, and would be happy to share your favorite recipes as well, so please let us know!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Affordable Myrtle Beach Area Vacations

I am often asked how a vacation rental can be considered an "affordable" vacation (usually by those who have only stayed in hotels in the past.) While we do have a wide range of properties (and rates) available, some can appear quite expensive at first glance. However, once you dig a little deeper, it's easy to see where the value lies.

First of all (and this applies to hotels as well as vacation rentals,) getting to the Myrtle Beach area is considerably easier for most Americans than, say, Florida or Hawaii. We're within easy driving distance of most eastern states, and actually sit right on the halfway point to central and south Florida for many travelers. Rarely is expensive airfare or car rental needed, and with gas prices down considerably from their 2008 levels, driving is once again an economical alternative.

Of course, getting here cheaply doesn't help if you have to mortgage the house to pay for your accommodations, and that's where Dunes Realty and vacation rentals in general really shine. For example, an oceanfront king bedroom at most of Myrtle Beach's nicer hotels will run somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500-$1,800 for the week beginning July 4, 2009. Not bad, but that room only sleeps two comfortably and you'll need to eat any meal that can't be microwaved or stored in a mini-fridge out at a restaurant. Again, not always a bad thing, but we're talking about making things economical, and fixing breakfast and lunch at home (and even a family dinner or two) can certainly help in that regard.

By contrast, a top-notch five bedroom oceanfront house with a private pool will run somewhere in the $6,000 range for the same week. Sounds expensive, until you consider that this house will sleep 16 people comfortably... that's only $375 per person for the week of the Fourth of July! (Fitting the same number into the hotel rooms mentioned above would require 8 rooms at a cost of at least twice that figure.) In addition, a vacation rental comes complete with a fully-equipped kitchen, giving you the option of eating out or dining in, as well as the ability for the entire family to gather together in one location... did I mention the private pool?

If this particular option doesn't work for your family, we can certainly find one that does from the more than 1,000 properties we manage. Keep in mind that the week mentioned above is the most expensive of the entire year, and you can save considerably by moving earlier or later in the season. Don't need five bedrooms? No problem. Need more? We can do that too, and often for a lower per-person cost. Don't mind a walk across the street to the beach? Second and third row rates can often be as little as half of oceanfront prices, and with many of the same amenities. You can also save a good deal by choosing a property without the private pool... after all, the Atlantic Ocean is just steps away from all of our properties.

Speaking of the ocean, I think it's important to remember that it is our single biggest attraction, and it is completely, 100% FREE! Sure, we have amusement parks, waterparks, miniature golf, live shows and all of the other attractions that made Myrtle Beach famous, but the ocean is still number one. Whether it's long days on the beach with the kids or long moonlit walks (without them,) the beach is always sure to please, and you never have to wait in line to use it!

The bottom line is, well, the bottom line, and we know of no other option that offers so much for so little. If you haven't made your vacation plans yet this year, give us a try, and we think you'll agree.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

South Strand largely unaffected by Myrtle Beach wildfires

While the Myrtle Beach area is certainly no stranger to the national news, the events of the past week have seen a dramatic increase in coverage. With South Carolina's worst wildfires in 30 years still smoldering on the north end of the beach, dramatic images and footage have been beamed around the world, leading many to wonder if there was a beach left. The tragedy is very real for the many families left homeless by the fires, but I think we can consider ourselves fortunate that no lives were lost and no serious injuries were sustained by anyone in the fire's path. Credit is certainly due to the brave firefighters that risked their lives to contain the blaze, and to the law enforcement officers that successfully evacuated the vast majority of resident from harm's way.

While we followed the events closely from the South Strand, Garden City Beach and Surfside Beach were both fortunate to have been miles away from the worst areas, and actually have seen little or no direct impact as a result. Aside from a few north-end golf courses, it would appear that the entire Grand Strand is back up and running and ready for the summer season.

Local media outlets, including The Sun News, WPDE, WBTW and WMBF have all done an excellent job covering the fires, and most of their photos and footage can still be seen online. In addition, the Horry County Chapter of the American Red Cross has been on the scene since Day 1 with support for victims and firefighters.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Help keep Garden City Beach beautiful!

As most of our visitors are aware, one of the many features that makes Garden City Beach so beautiful is the adjoining waters of Murrells Inlet. This tidal estuary provides a wonderful place for boating, fishing, crabbing, swimming and just plain sightseeing, and is a big reason that our area is so popular. However, like many natural areas with close proximity to large populations, Murrells Inlet is not immune to litter. Luckily, for the past 18 years, a group of concerned citizens has found a way to keep Murrells Inlet beautiful, and actually have fun doing it!

Spring Tide started small back in 1991, but has grown into a full day's worth of fun. The annual cleanup is timed to occur at or near high tide, to allow easy and safe access to high areas of the marsh that might otherwise be damaged by foot traffic. This year, that happens to fall on Sunday, April 26 at 8:30AM. Canoes, kayaks and trashbags are provided, and volunteers are sent off from Morse Park for a morning of exploring and cleanup. At 12:30PM, the crowds meet back at the Hot Fish Club for the Great Murrells Inlet Chowder cook off! (There's only one hitch: no work, no eat!)

Take it from one who has done it several times: it's actually a lot of fun, and is a great way to explore some out-of-the-way creeks and estuaries that you might not see otherwise. (Plus, the food is fantastic!) For more information, call Murrells Inlet 2020 at (843) 357-2007.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Myrtle Beach's Hard Rock Park gets a new name

Well, it's official... the former Hard Rock Park will be re-opening with this year with a new name a new focus on family-friendly activities while retaining the overall musical theme of its predecessor. According the the owners of the Freestyle Music Park, visitors can "indulge [their] inner 'rock star' while enjoying the park's many and excellent rides, shows and other attractions."

The new park is expected to focus on a wider range of musical genres than the Hard Rock Park, with areas devoted to reggae, country, Christian and disco music. In addition, plans are in place to include more "kid-friendly" rides and attractions to counter one of the most commonly-heard criticisms of the Hard Rock layout.

The park's website isn't yet complete, but will provide updates and schedules as they become available.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Myrtle Beach Military Appreciation Days lineup announced

The month of May in the Myrtle Beach area has been synonymous with Bikers for the past several years, be they part of the annual Harley Rally or the Memorial Day Bikefest. This year, however, as most of you are aware, the City of Myrtle Beach has announced its intentions to cease hosting these events. Regardless of your feelings either way, one exciting by-product of this decision has been the creation of the Myrtle Beach Military Appreciation Days, which will kick off this year on May 28, 29 and 30 at the Market Common's Grand Park and Valor Memorial Gardens.

The inaugural festival features a packed schedule, ranging from golf, softball and basketball tournaments and a 5K run/walk to Coast Guard and Navy SEAL demonstrations to concerts and fireworks for the whole family. Anyone attending Saturday's family picnic will be treated to a wide range of activities, including jet ski and model airplane demonstrations, a climbing wall and a parachute jump, and there will even be a tank and a HumVee on hand to explore.

The schedule is constantly changing as new events are announced, but the weekend promises to be fun-filled for the whole family, and a great way to show your support for the brave men and women fighting to keep our country safe.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Myrtle Beach State Park "Park Palooza"

This is the time of year when festivals abound in the Myrtle Beach area, and this weekend is no exception. The second annual "Park Palooza" at the Myrtle Beach State Park kicks off at 10:00 on Saturday, and promises tons of fun for all ages (and at a great price!)
The festival will feature over 20 events, courses and exhibits, ranging from how-to seminars on throwing cast nets and fly fishing to sea turtle education to geocaching. Kids will love interacting with some of the weirdest creatures in the ocean in the "Spineless Wonders" exhibit, as well as collecting their own wildlife from the State Park's pier. A complete schedule for the day's activities can be seen here.
Located just a few minutes north of Garden City and Surfside Beaches, the 312-acre Myrtle Beach State Park is home to one of South Carolina's last stands of easily accessible oceanfront maritime forest as well as a public fishing pier and hiking trails. The main gate is just south of the entrance to the Market Common on Highway 17 South.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2009 Myrtle Beach Sun Fun Festival lineup announced

For the second straight year, the main events of the Myrtle Beach area's official kick-off to summer will be held at the Market Common complex, located on the south end of Myrtle Beach (and close to Garden City and Surfside Beaches!) The 2009 Sun Fun Festival will seek to top last year's huge success, when record crowds of over 40,000 enjoyed fun, food and non-stop entertainment.

Beginning on Friday, June 5 and continuing through the night of June 6, festivalgoers will be able to enjoy free live entertainment, including a festival-ending concert by Geffen recording artists Lifehouse on Saturday night. This year's celebrity guests include Jason Earles ("Jackson" of Hannah Montana,) Blake Lewis (American Idol Season 6 runner up) and Robert Newman ("Joshua Lewis" of Guiding Light.) The hugely popular Kids Zone area will return, and Jet Ski demonstrations will be held on the Grand Park lake throughout the weekend. In addition, other events will be held throughout the area from Thursday, June 4 through Sunday, June 8. All in all, the weekend promises to hold something for everyone.

Dunes Realty News Interview

We were recently visited by our local ABC affiliate (WPDE) for comments on the state of the economy and, more specifically, the vacation rental industry. While I think the Academy Awards are safe for now, here's a link to the interview:





Story By Graeme Moore


Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 12:34 a.m.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Myrtle Beach's Hard Rock Park to re-open by Memorial Day

One of the Myrtle Beach area's most eagerly-followed stories in recent months has been the status of the (former?) Hard Rock Park. The Park opened in 2008 to great fanfare, but a slower than normal economy and some questionable decisions on behalf of management led to the bankruptcy of the original ownership group by the end of the year. The sale of the property has been finalized, and the ownership group seems to be doing all the right things... they've begun re-staffing, and have announced plans to be open by Memorial Day.

Two of the major criticisms of the park in its inaugural season were that the admission was too high and that there weren't enough activities and rides for small children. Most who visited (myself included) were impressed with the quality of construction and the high production values of the shows and rides, but without enough attractions for kids, it was going to have a tough time at any price. The new owners have promised to address these issues, and have announced an adult ticket price in the $30 range (significantly less than the $50-for-all-ages price last year.) We don't yet know the extent of the kid-friendly redesign, nor do we know if the Hard Rock name will remain (there are apparently ongoing negotiations in that regard,) but we'll keep you up to date as we hear the news.

With or without the park, there is certainly no shortage of things to do in the Myrtle Beach area, but we're wishing the park's new owners lots of success in the hopes that they'll add to that list.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Myrtle Beach Bike Week... on or off?

Of all the questions I am regularly asked, the topic of the May Bike Rallies seems to be near the top of everyone's list this year. While there is no shortage of opinions to be heard on the topic, I'll try to just present the facts here and keep you updated on new developments as they occur.

For many years, the month of May in Myrtle Beach has been synonymous with bikers. Two major rallies have been held in the area during the month, and the first (“Harley week” or “bike week”) in particular has become a fixture in the Garden City and Surfside Beach area.

While the economic impact of the rallies is substantial, a growing number of local residents have begun to put a large amount of political pressure on the area’s elected officials in order to curb what they view as unacceptable levels of noise, congestion and bad behavior. In fact, the City of Myrtle Beach has enacted several pieces of legislation aimed at ending the rallies, including a local helmet law, a more stringent noise ordinance and severe limits on vendors and other public gatherings. While none of our rental properties fall within the city limits of Myrtle Beach, the enforcement of these laws can certainly have an impact on our guests should they decide to visit Myrtle Beach proper.

Here at Dunes, we have always welcomed both bikers and non-bikers, and we will continue to do so as long as we are able. Our staff should be able to update you on the most recent developments, and I’ll try to do so here whenever new information becomes available. In the meantime, we are proceeding as if the rally is still in the works, and look forward to seeing you whenever you choose to visit.

Welcome to Dunes Realty's new Myrtle Beach area blog!

Howdy, folks, and welcome to the new and improved Dunes Realty Vacation Rental blog! Here you'll find a wealth of valuable information on the Myrtle Beach area; information that will help you plan and enjoy your family's best vacation ever. My name is Ryan Swaim, and I'm the General Manager here at Dunes Realty. I've spent (nearly) my entire life in and around Myrtle Beach, particularly in the South Strand communities of Garden City Beach and Surfside Beach, and have an insider's perspective on the area that you might not gain elsewhere. I'll do my best to not only fill you in on the latest news and goings-on in the area, but also to provide handy tips on how to make the most of your vacation. Please feel free to leave any questions and comments, and I'll do what I can to get you the best answer. Thanks, and we look forward to seeing all of you at the beach this summer!

Spirit Airlines adds Atlanta route to its Myrtle Beach schedule

Friday, December 11, 2009

Spirit Airlines announced yesterday that it was opening a new non-stop route between Myrtle Beach and Atlanta beginning in May of 2010. While that may not seem big news at first glance, especially considering the fact that other airlines already offer service to "Hotlanta," the real news is the wholesale fare reduction that is sure to follow. As one of the country's premier low-cost carriers, Spirit promises to make connecting flights reasonable once again, and to open a new world of easy access to Myrtle Beach's golden sands, championship golf and countless attractions.

In my younger days, I was generally willing to put up with more connections and a seat in the baggage compartment in order to save a few dollars. Today, thankfully, that's no longer necessary, especially if Myrtle Beach is on my itinerary (which it usually is, since I live here!) The Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) offers non-stop flights from a staggering 26 destinations all over the country (in addition to connections from almost anywhere.) The list of cities from which non-stop flights can be booked is impressive:

Atlanta, GA
Charlotte, NC
New York City, NY (LaGuardia)
Niagara Falls, NY
Plattsburgh, NY
Boston, MA
Worcester, MA
Washington, DC (Dulles)
Washington, DC (Reagan National)
Newark, NJ
Atlantic City, NJ
Pittsburgh, PA
Philadelphia, PA
Allentown, PA
Huntington, WV
Columbus, OH
Toledo, OH
Detroit, MI
Kalamazoo, MI
Chicago, IL (O'Hare)
Rockford, IL
Springfield, IL
Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Orlando, FL
Punta Gorda, FL

In addition, the first regularly scheduled non-stop flights to Toronto will begin in 2010 as well.

Getting to Myrtle Beach has never been easier!

Dunes Realty Goes Live with a New and Improved Myrtle Beach Vacation Rentals Website!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Chances are you arrived at this blog via our Dunes Realty website, and if this wasn't your first visit, you may have noticed our new look. If not, take another look; we just went live this morning, and we're very excited about the changes.

Don't worry: the same functionality and ease of use that you've come to know and expect from dunes.com is still there (along with a few new touches that we think you'll enjoy,) but we felt that it was time for a little "updating." One of my favorite features is the new individual property page (like this one for Slo M'Ocean,) and we've also added links to our Facebook, MySpace and Twitter pages. Thanks to Rand McNally, customizable driving directions are available right from the site, and WeatherBug gives you instant weather information as well. (Here's a hint: it's always beautiful here!)

We're not done yet, though... keep your eyes open for our all-new attractions page and our concierge service, enabling our guests to both see and book tickets for some of the Myrtle Beach area's most popular theaters, attractions and watersports. Both of these features should be live by the end of November.

We'd love to know what you think, so please let us know!


E-mail: info@dunes.com

Best fish recipe?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's been a while since my last post, but summer can be a little hectic around here... I promise to try and do better from now on!

Our staff is very often asked for restaurant recommendations by our guests, and that's an easy answer for most of us with over 1,800 restaurants in the Myrtle Beach area. The Murrells Inlet Marshwalk with its seven world-class eateries is just around the corner, and the new Market Common district is just a few minutes up the road on the southern end of Myrtle Beach. However, because all of our properties include full kitchens and because of the abundance of fresh seafood in the area, we're also often asked about our favorite recipes. While everyone may have their own personal opinion, I'm writing the blog today and this is mine!

First of all, this recipe is designed to highlight the flavors of fresh fish, not disguise not-so-fresh fish. So, the first logical step is to find some fresh fish. Virtually any kind will do, but some of my favorites for this recipe include mahi-mahi (usually referred to as "dolphin" around here,) grouper, hogfish (sometimes called "hog snapper,") swordfish or halibut. Most are readily available at local seafood markets like Harrelson's in Murrells Inlet, although there are no shortages of opportunities to catch your own. Because thick pieces (1"-1.5") work best on the grill, I usually avoid flounder for this recipe, and the strong flavor of tuna (while one of my all-time favorites) tends to overpower the other ingredients.

Because we're talkin' fresh here, no fancy marinades are needed, although you might need to make a trip to the grocery store as well as the fish market. Here's what you'll need in addition to the fish:

1 ripe mango
1 shallot
1/2 red bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 lime
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pre-packaged Black Beans and Rice (I like Zatarains or Vigo, but most will do)
Any other side items you'd like (fresh corn is a very popular addition at my house)

I make the salsa first to give the flavors time to blend, and it's easy. Dice the red pepper and mango (instructions can be found here, although you'll need smaller cubes than shown in the example,) mince the shallot and jalapeno, combine them all in a bowl, squeeze the juice from the lime over the top, and salt & pepper to taste. That's all there is to it... some people like to leave it at room temperature, but I like it chilled.

The next step is to fire up the grill and make sure the grate is clean. (It doesn't hurt to brush the grate with oil or "grill formula" Pam right before the fish goes on, as this will help with the final presentation.) I usually take the fish out of the fridge at about the same time and add a little olive oil salt and pepper to each side. Go ahead and start the black beans and rice according to the package directions, as well as any other side items you'd like. I usually grill the fish for about 3-4 minutes per side on a hot grill, and I like to turn the filets 1/4 turn once per side to give them nice perpendicular grill marks. (This also helps to keep them from sticking.)

When the filets are done, I lay them on a bed of the black beans and rice and spoon the salsa over the top, and that's it... time to eat!

We'd love to know what you think, and would be happy to share your favorite recipes as well, so please let us know!

Affordable Myrtle Beach Area Vacations

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I am often asked how a vacation rental can be considered an "affordable" vacation (usually by those who have only stayed in hotels in the past.) While we do have a wide range of properties (and rates) available, some can appear quite expensive at first glance. However, once you dig a little deeper, it's easy to see where the value lies.

First of all (and this applies to hotels as well as vacation rentals,) getting to the Myrtle Beach area is considerably easier for most Americans than, say, Florida or Hawaii. We're within easy driving distance of most eastern states, and actually sit right on the halfway point to central and south Florida for many travelers. Rarely is expensive airfare or car rental needed, and with gas prices down considerably from their 2008 levels, driving is once again an economical alternative.

Of course, getting here cheaply doesn't help if you have to mortgage the house to pay for your accommodations, and that's where Dunes Realty and vacation rentals in general really shine. For example, an oceanfront king bedroom at most of Myrtle Beach's nicer hotels will run somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500-$1,800 for the week beginning July 4, 2009. Not bad, but that room only sleeps two comfortably and you'll need to eat any meal that can't be microwaved or stored in a mini-fridge out at a restaurant. Again, not always a bad thing, but we're talking about making things economical, and fixing breakfast and lunch at home (and even a family dinner or two) can certainly help in that regard.

By contrast, a top-notch five bedroom oceanfront house with a private pool will run somewhere in the $6,000 range for the same week. Sounds expensive, until you consider that this house will sleep 16 people comfortably... that's only $375 per person for the week of the Fourth of July! (Fitting the same number into the hotel rooms mentioned above would require 8 rooms at a cost of at least twice that figure.) In addition, a vacation rental comes complete with a fully-equipped kitchen, giving you the option of eating out or dining in, as well as the ability for the entire family to gather together in one location... did I mention the private pool?

If this particular option doesn't work for your family, we can certainly find one that does from the more than 1,000 properties we manage. Keep in mind that the week mentioned above is the most expensive of the entire year, and you can save considerably by moving earlier or later in the season. Don't need five bedrooms? No problem. Need more? We can do that too, and often for a lower per-person cost. Don't mind a walk across the street to the beach? Second and third row rates can often be as little as half of oceanfront prices, and with many of the same amenities. You can also save a good deal by choosing a property without the private pool... after all, the Atlantic Ocean is just steps away from all of our properties.

Speaking of the ocean, I think it's important to remember that it is our single biggest attraction, and it is completely, 100% FREE! Sure, we have amusement parks, waterparks, miniature golf, live shows and all of the other attractions that made Myrtle Beach famous, but the ocean is still number one. Whether it's long days on the beach with the kids or long moonlit walks (without them,) the beach is always sure to please, and you never have to wait in line to use it!

The bottom line is, well, the bottom line, and we know of no other option that offers so much for so little. If you haven't made your vacation plans yet this year, give us a try, and we think you'll agree.

South Strand largely unaffected by Myrtle Beach wildfires

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

While the Myrtle Beach area is certainly no stranger to the national news, the events of the past week have seen a dramatic increase in coverage. With South Carolina's worst wildfires in 30 years still smoldering on the north end of the beach, dramatic images and footage have been beamed around the world, leading many to wonder if there was a beach left. The tragedy is very real for the many families left homeless by the fires, but I think we can consider ourselves fortunate that no lives were lost and no serious injuries were sustained by anyone in the fire's path. Credit is certainly due to the brave firefighters that risked their lives to contain the blaze, and to the law enforcement officers that successfully evacuated the vast majority of resident from harm's way.

While we followed the events closely from the South Strand, Garden City Beach and Surfside Beach were both fortunate to have been miles away from the worst areas, and actually have seen little or no direct impact as a result. Aside from a few north-end golf courses, it would appear that the entire Grand Strand is back up and running and ready for the summer season.

Local media outlets, including The Sun News, WPDE, WBTW and WMBF have all done an excellent job covering the fires, and most of their photos and footage can still be seen online. In addition, the Horry County Chapter of the American Red Cross has been on the scene since Day 1 with support for victims and firefighters.

Help keep Garden City Beach beautiful!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

As most of our visitors are aware, one of the many features that makes Garden City Beach so beautiful is the adjoining waters of Murrells Inlet. This tidal estuary provides a wonderful place for boating, fishing, crabbing, swimming and just plain sightseeing, and is a big reason that our area is so popular. However, like many natural areas with close proximity to large populations, Murrells Inlet is not immune to litter. Luckily, for the past 18 years, a group of concerned citizens has found a way to keep Murrells Inlet beautiful, and actually have fun doing it!

Spring Tide started small back in 1991, but has grown into a full day's worth of fun. The annual cleanup is timed to occur at or near high tide, to allow easy and safe access to high areas of the marsh that might otherwise be damaged by foot traffic. This year, that happens to fall on Sunday, April 26 at 8:30AM. Canoes, kayaks and trashbags are provided, and volunteers are sent off from Morse Park for a morning of exploring and cleanup. At 12:30PM, the crowds meet back at the Hot Fish Club for the Great Murrells Inlet Chowder cook off! (There's only one hitch: no work, no eat!)

Take it from one who has done it several times: it's actually a lot of fun, and is a great way to explore some out-of-the-way creeks and estuaries that you might not see otherwise. (Plus, the food is fantastic!) For more information, call Murrells Inlet 2020 at (843) 357-2007.

Myrtle Beach's Hard Rock Park gets a new name

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Well, it's official... the former Hard Rock Park will be re-opening with this year with a new name a new focus on family-friendly activities while retaining the overall musical theme of its predecessor. According the the owners of the Freestyle Music Park, visitors can "indulge [their] inner 'rock star' while enjoying the park's many and excellent rides, shows and other attractions."

The new park is expected to focus on a wider range of musical genres than the Hard Rock Park, with areas devoted to reggae, country, Christian and disco music. In addition, plans are in place to include more "kid-friendly" rides and attractions to counter one of the most commonly-heard criticisms of the Hard Rock layout.

The park's website isn't yet complete, but will provide updates and schedules as they become available.

Myrtle Beach Military Appreciation Days lineup announced

Monday, April 6, 2009

The month of May in the Myrtle Beach area has been synonymous with Bikers for the past several years, be they part of the annual Harley Rally or the Memorial Day Bikefest. This year, however, as most of you are aware, the City of Myrtle Beach has announced its intentions to cease hosting these events. Regardless of your feelings either way, one exciting by-product of this decision has been the creation of the Myrtle Beach Military Appreciation Days, which will kick off this year on May 28, 29 and 30 at the Market Common's Grand Park and Valor Memorial Gardens.

The inaugural festival features a packed schedule, ranging from golf, softball and basketball tournaments and a 5K run/walk to Coast Guard and Navy SEAL demonstrations to concerts and fireworks for the whole family. Anyone attending Saturday's family picnic will be treated to a wide range of activities, including jet ski and model airplane demonstrations, a climbing wall and a parachute jump, and there will even be a tank and a HumVee on hand to explore.

The schedule is constantly changing as new events are announced, but the weekend promises to be fun-filled for the whole family, and a great way to show your support for the brave men and women fighting to keep our country safe.

Myrtle Beach State Park "Park Palooza"

Monday, March 30, 2009

This is the time of year when festivals abound in the Myrtle Beach area, and this weekend is no exception. The second annual "Park Palooza" at the Myrtle Beach State Park kicks off at 10:00 on Saturday, and promises tons of fun for all ages (and at a great price!)
The festival will feature over 20 events, courses and exhibits, ranging from how-to seminars on throwing cast nets and fly fishing to sea turtle education to geocaching. Kids will love interacting with some of the weirdest creatures in the ocean in the "Spineless Wonders" exhibit, as well as collecting their own wildlife from the State Park's pier. A complete schedule for the day's activities can be seen here.
Located just a few minutes north of Garden City and Surfside Beaches, the 312-acre Myrtle Beach State Park is home to one of South Carolina's last stands of easily accessible oceanfront maritime forest as well as a public fishing pier and hiking trails. The main gate is just south of the entrance to the Market Common on Highway 17 South.

2009 Myrtle Beach Sun Fun Festival lineup announced

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

For the second straight year, the main events of the Myrtle Beach area's official kick-off to summer will be held at the Market Common complex, located on the south end of Myrtle Beach (and close to Garden City and Surfside Beaches!) The 2009 Sun Fun Festival will seek to top last year's huge success, when record crowds of over 40,000 enjoyed fun, food and non-stop entertainment.

Beginning on Friday, June 5 and continuing through the night of June 6, festivalgoers will be able to enjoy free live entertainment, including a festival-ending concert by Geffen recording artists Lifehouse on Saturday night. This year's celebrity guests include Jason Earles ("Jackson" of Hannah Montana,) Blake Lewis (American Idol Season 6 runner up) and Robert Newman ("Joshua Lewis" of Guiding Light.) The hugely popular Kids Zone area will return, and Jet Ski demonstrations will be held on the Grand Park lake throughout the weekend. In addition, other events will be held throughout the area from Thursday, June 4 through Sunday, June 8. All in all, the weekend promises to hold something for everyone.

Dunes Realty News Interview

We were recently visited by our local ABC affiliate (WPDE) for comments on the state of the economy and, more specifically, the vacation rental industry. While I think the Academy Awards are safe for now, here's a link to the interview:





Story By Graeme Moore


Posted on Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 12:34 a.m.

Myrtle Beach's Hard Rock Park to re-open by Memorial Day

Monday, March 9, 2009

One of the Myrtle Beach area's most eagerly-followed stories in recent months has been the status of the (former?) Hard Rock Park. The Park opened in 2008 to great fanfare, but a slower than normal economy and some questionable decisions on behalf of management led to the bankruptcy of the original ownership group by the end of the year. The sale of the property has been finalized, and the ownership group seems to be doing all the right things... they've begun re-staffing, and have announced plans to be open by Memorial Day.

Two of the major criticisms of the park in its inaugural season were that the admission was too high and that there weren't enough activities and rides for small children. Most who visited (myself included) were impressed with the quality of construction and the high production values of the shows and rides, but without enough attractions for kids, it was going to have a tough time at any price. The new owners have promised to address these issues, and have announced an adult ticket price in the $30 range (significantly less than the $50-for-all-ages price last year.) We don't yet know the extent of the kid-friendly redesign, nor do we know if the Hard Rock name will remain (there are apparently ongoing negotiations in that regard,) but we'll keep you up to date as we hear the news.

With or without the park, there is certainly no shortage of things to do in the Myrtle Beach area, but we're wishing the park's new owners lots of success in the hopes that they'll add to that list.

Myrtle Beach Bike Week... on or off?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Of all the questions I am regularly asked, the topic of the May Bike Rallies seems to be near the top of everyone's list this year. While there is no shortage of opinions to be heard on the topic, I'll try to just present the facts here and keep you updated on new developments as they occur.

For many years, the month of May in Myrtle Beach has been synonymous with bikers. Two major rallies have been held in the area during the month, and the first (“Harley week” or “bike week”) in particular has become a fixture in the Garden City and Surfside Beach area.

While the economic impact of the rallies is substantial, a growing number of local residents have begun to put a large amount of political pressure on the area’s elected officials in order to curb what they view as unacceptable levels of noise, congestion and bad behavior. In fact, the City of Myrtle Beach has enacted several pieces of legislation aimed at ending the rallies, including a local helmet law, a more stringent noise ordinance and severe limits on vendors and other public gatherings. While none of our rental properties fall within the city limits of Myrtle Beach, the enforcement of these laws can certainly have an impact on our guests should they decide to visit Myrtle Beach proper.

Here at Dunes, we have always welcomed both bikers and non-bikers, and we will continue to do so as long as we are able. Our staff should be able to update you on the most recent developments, and I’ll try to do so here whenever new information becomes available. In the meantime, we are proceeding as if the rally is still in the works, and look forward to seeing you whenever you choose to visit.

Welcome to Dunes Realty's new Myrtle Beach area blog!

Howdy, folks, and welcome to the new and improved Dunes Realty Vacation Rental blog! Here you'll find a wealth of valuable information on the Myrtle Beach area; information that will help you plan and enjoy your family's best vacation ever. My name is Ryan Swaim, and I'm the General Manager here at Dunes Realty. I've spent (nearly) my entire life in and around Myrtle Beach, particularly in the South Strand communities of Garden City Beach and Surfside Beach, and have an insider's perspective on the area that you might not gain elsewhere. I'll do my best to not only fill you in on the latest news and goings-on in the area, but also to provide handy tips on how to make the most of your vacation. Please feel free to leave any questions and comments, and I'll do what I can to get you the best answer. Thanks, and we look forward to seeing all of you at the beach this summer!