The New York Times

At Home in the Florida Sizzle

Alex Quesada for The New York Times

THE SUNGLASS STATE Linda Spencer of Deerfield, Mass., who with her husband, Bill, owns several homes in the Keys, likes Florida best in the summer.

Published: July 18, 2008

DENNIS ROONEY can tell you all about the lazy joys of a sticky Florida summer. The beaches that beckon with water temperatures in the nearly bathlike 80s. The roads that are suddenly traffic-free. Even the sight of those tropical afternoon thunderstorms, which constitute a kind of nature-as-theater.

Some appreciate the fact that summer is a decidedly quieter time in South Florida, as evidenced not only by the lack of congestion on the highways, but also by the fact that you can garner a table at some of the most popular restaurants without so much as a reservation.

Plus, some folks just like it hot.

FIRST and foremost, the dynamic of many South Florida vacation communities has changed, with the concept of high and low seasons starting to blur. The Florida Keys, where a huge fishing community settles in during the summer, taking advantage of the calmer waters.

On top of that, South Florida is seeing a growing number of foreign buyers, who often view the summer as the true peak season. In the case of South Americans, that’s because our summer is their winter — they come to escape the cold (or, at least, the cooler) temperatures right when many South Floridians are wishing they could escape the heat. And Europeans, particularly Britons, simply take a more benign view of the summer, perhaps because they’re contending with damp, rainy weather for much of the rest of the year.

I’ve never once run into a European who said it’s too hot,” said Paul McRae, president and broker at the Fort Lauderdale-based Galleria Collection of Fine Homes, which handles all sales for the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Fort Lauderdale. The condo hotel has 298 guest rooms, with the remaining units starting around $700,000, and is set to open early next year. Mr. McRae estimates that more than 50 percent of his buyers are looking primarily at summer use.

Alex Quesada for The New York Times

The Spencer's will use their homes in the Keys in winter if they don’t have rentors.

That is how Linda Spencer, a Deerfield, Mass., pottery designer, approaches vacation-home ownership. She has three properties throughout the Florida Keys. If her rental business is strong, she stays ensconced in New England. If there’s an opening on the calendar, she’ll grab it, regardless of whether it’s summer or winter.

In fact, she prefers summer in the Keys, particularly for the great boating and snorkeling opportunities it affords. “I wouldn’t be hanging out that long in the water during the winter,” she said.

But what about the brutal heat and humidity?

As far as Ms. Spencer is concerned, it’s hot almost anywhere you go in the summer.

“It was just 101 degrees in Cape Cod,” she said, “and people there don’t have air-conditioning.”


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