We have 10 families (44 people) visiting the Gulf Coast for the Nations Baseball Premier National Championship. This area, which has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the BP oil spill, Obama's foolhardy moratorium on offshore drilling and the struggling economy, is showing some signs of life. The landscape is dotted with foundations and parking lots without buildings, but the people here are wonderful and the southern food is amazing. If baseball did not send us this way, my family would not have chosen to come to Southern Mississippi for our summer vacation but we have enjoyed our stay.
Our 10 Families stayed in 3 different places.
1. Sienna by the Coast (3 families)
2. Sea Breeze Condominiums (4 families)
3. Courtyard by Marriott (1 family)
4. Inland condo / house (2 families)
Sienna by the Coast - Gulfport, MS
This is where we stayed. We rented a really nice three bedroom condo on the top floor of the Sienna by the Coast. The 12 story building is a well appointed luxury condo building, that sits across the street from the beach. The building has some nice pools (one inside and one out), a sauna, a whirlpool, a small gym, and a golf putting surface. Each unit has a great view of the gulf. It should be noted that it is the only significant structure for blocks in either direction (See pictures below). I was concerned about its isolated location when we first drove up, but I have been very happy with our choice. If you are looking for a quite place away from the action, then the Sienna is your place.
The 3 bedroom condo is huge and can easily accommodate 8 with the pull out sofa bed.
The only complaint we have about the Sienna by the Coast is that the pool closes at 10pm sharp. The full time residence don't like having loud vacationing renters splashing in the pool or talking in the poolside gazebo after 10pm. One night after we got kick off the pool deck by the security guard, we sent the kids up to the unit and a few of the parents took coolers to the beach .
Bring chairs - The Sienna by the Coast has a nice pool and pool deck but only has 12 lounge chairs. We used our baseball fold-out chairs and the two beach chairs provided by the unit.
The ball fields are only 11 miles and 17 minutes away heading north on Cowan and west on 10 Google will send you west along the beach and north on 49, but Cowan is the faster route.
The cost of the 3 bedroom / 3 full bathroom unit was $200 per night without management fees.
|Sienna by the Coast|
|Sienna by the Sea - Looking East|
|Sienna by the Sea - Looking West|
Sea Breeze Condominiums - Biloxi, MS
Many of the families stayed at the Sea Breeze Condominiums. This condominium is located 6 miles further away from the ball fields, but closer to the action. The Island View Casino, a Waffle House and Hooters are all walking distance away. The moms of younger kids selected this condo because it sits on the beach side of Beach Blvd. Kids do not have to cross the busy 45 MPH road that runs along the coast to get to the beach.
According to several of moms, the units are very nice. A mom who saw both units said that the condo units at the Sienna by the Coast are bigger and a little bit nicer.
The one advantage of the Sea Breeze over the Sienna by the Coast is that the pool and pool deck stay open longer. The posted hours of the Sea Breeze pool deck were 11pm, but we joined our friends on the Sea Breeze pool deck on final night while the kids played in the pool until midnight. The renters on the poolside said that they did not hear any noise from the pool.
The cost of a 2 bedroom / 2 full bathroom condo was about $200 per night with management fees.
Courtyard by Marriott - Gulfport, MS
One or our more low key families chose to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott. This hotel is nice and sits on the beach about 5 miles from the ball fields and close to downtown Gulfport.
The cost of a suite was $129 per night does not include breakfast if you book for 7 days or more. Early cancelation or shorter stays will cost $159. Cheaper than the condo until you think about how much you can save by eating at least a meal per day in the condo.
Tips and Tricks on Where to Stay for the Nations Baseball Tournaments in Gulfport, MS
Tip One: Call early - We were trying to get a 3 bedroom condo at the Sea Breeze but by the time we called it was too late. Call early especially if you need a three bedroom unit. Two bedroom places were plentiful. We called in early April.
Tip Two: Save by renting directly from an owner - When we started looking for a condo, we were working with a rental agency. Then we heard that one of the families rented a unit directly from the owner and saved money. We were able to find a 3 bedroom unit at the Sienna for less money than a 2 bedroom unit through the rental agency. Note: Renting through an owner carries some risk because they are not professional property managers. We secured the rental and then had a difficult time contacting the owner for a few months. Everything worked out great, but that was a bit concerning. We also had difficulty with the electronic keypad lock and could not get it resolved. All four of us had to use the 1 physical key provided. This caused some issues when we were running in different directions. Rental agencies provide better service, but you can saved a couple hundred dollars by renting through an owner.
Tip Three: Bring Grandparents - Rent a 3 bedroom unit and bring your players grandparents.
Tip Four: Make a shopping list - We stopped at the Winn-Dixie on the way in. We did not have a shopping list prepared and forgot some basic necessities. Condo renting is different than hotel renting, you will need to bring your own paper towels, paper plates, shampoo and soap.
Tip Five: Life Guards - There are no life guards on the beach directly in front of the Sienna by the Coast or the Sea Breeze. During our stay, the gulf was very calm and very shallow. The kids were able to walk out almost 1/4 mile and still only be waist high in water, but you still need to watch them closely.
Tip Six: The Edgewater mall is on the beach between the Sienna by the Coast and the Sea Breeze for all your shopping needs. Every type of store you can need from Walmart to Dick's Sporting Goods is close by.
Tip Seven: Two families rented homes off the beach to save money. A two bedroom condo off the beach was going for $500 for the week.
The Main Point
The gulf coast of Mississippi has not fully recovered from Katrina or the BP Oil Spill, but it is showing signs of life. There could be more things to do and the water and beaches could be a bit cleaner, but I felt good about coming here to support the very welcoming people of Southern Mississippi. This has been a good destination for the Nations Baseball Tournament.