Thanks to all who answered some of my questions over the past few weeks. Thought I would pass on our recent travels to SPI. We stayed at Gulfview I in unit #102 -- I would be hard-pressed to stay anywhere else. It was lovely and had everything we needed. It faced the pool but was past the end of the pool so there wasn't pool noise directly outside the rooms. There was a master bedroom with a king-size bed and a second bedroom with a twin and a double - perfect for our 16-year-old and 7-year-old boys. The kitchen had an electric stove, coffee pot, microwave, fridge -- even had a couple of ice trays in there -- and a pantry full of cooking utensils, skillets, large soup pots, a colander, square Pyrex dish, etc. The drawer even had a lighter and some kitchen shears. There were three TVs in the unit, although we couldn't get any reception on the one in the boys' room. There were two barstools at the tall kitchen counter and a dining table with four chairs. The large couch also folded out to a bed. There were two brand-new patio chairs for the balcony; even though we were on the first floor, it was still elevated somewhat from ground level, so to get to the pool you had to go down the interior hall and out to the pool area, which was fine with us. The staff there was very noticeable in taking care of the pool and grounds. The pool is fairly large and kind of T-shaped and had two hot tubs (one specified for kids and one for adults). There was a gas station about a block down with a convenience store, which is where we made our few grocery purchases (brought most of it with us).
We had only a short time so we went to Andy Bowie Park one day and Schlitterbahn one day. Andy Bowie Park is slightly north of the Sea Turtle place (which we also went to; it's pretty interesting to hear the 12-minute talk on sea turtle conservation -- the numbers are staggering). ABP has a $4 per car admission but there is a restroom/shower building and a covered deck area with picnic tables. It is a walk to get out to the beach area -- part of the way is paved and then you're just plowing through the sand. There was a beach umbrella/chair rental place there -- actually, the guys had set up several chairs and umbrellas and all you had to do was go put your stuff in them and one of the guys would come over to take your payment. Or they would set up in a particular spot for you. I believe two chairs and one umbrella was $20-25.
We brought our own umbrella and didn't bother with chairs. The water was cool at first but you got used to it quickly and there was a red flag warning that day for high surf. Even though the depth of the water was only knee high or waist high, the height of the waves was double that, so you had to watch the younger kids. This park is on the north end of most of the hotel area, so it wasn't as crowded.
We ate at Dirty Al's, The Big Donkey and Cap'n Roy's. Had shrimp and fish at DA's and it was amazing, like everyone had told us. The fish was SO fresh. The fries are seasoned in an unusual way; I think I identified celery salt or celery powder. It was very good. The BD is mainly Mexican food and I believe used to be called Mamacita's. They had great chips and salsa and very reasonable prices for a lot of food. Service was very quick. Cap'n Roy's was also very quick and our boys' fried shrimp and fish were very tasty. Their fries were also very good and lightly battered and the fumi salad (AKA cole slaw made with slivered almonds and a rice vinegar-type dressing) was outstanding. My husband and I did not like our shrimp quite as much though. We got the award-winning recipe which is shrimp with some jalapano and cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and grilled. If they had stopped there, it would have been outstanding, but they smothered it in a slightly spicy BBQ sauce. Then they served it with a chipotle mayo sauce to dip in. TOO MUCH SAUCE. The BBQ sauce overwhelmed the shrimp. Next time, I'll stick with fried or broiled so I can taste that fresh shrimp flavor.
Our last morning we had breakfast in Port Isabel at Manuel's, home of the 18-inch homemade flour tortillas and breakfast tacos. They were awesome. One of these tacos is equivalent to three or even four tacos at other places. It is a small place and it was obviously full of locals that morning, as nearly everyone who came in was greeted either by the employees or other customers or both.
We noticed that at the Gulfpoint condos next to Gulfview, there was some work going on - workers were bringing sheetrock up to the top floors and the whole complex was fenced off. I had tried to get information on this place but never got any replies, so I don't know how long it's been out of commission, but they're working on it now. It also looked like the red brick hotel (the one that's between Gulfview and the beach and it maybe 3-4 stories tall) was not open yet, but I couldn't see if any work was going on there or not.
We enjoyed Schlitterbahn, although it is not my favorite water park. We purchased our tickets online and printed them at home and saved $2 each. I do appreciate being allowed to bring in our picnic, which we did. I probably would not go back to this Schlitterbahn location again; the one in New Braunfels is much larger. But for one day, it was fine.
Let me know if you have questions.