Port Aransas Beach stretches for six miles along Mustang Island, one of Texas's largest barrier islands. Island Hotel Port Aransas sits just a mile from the beach, and you can sense it in the hotel's decor: palm trees stand sentinel outside, and guest rooms feature bright colors and decorative starfish. It's a quick stroll to get to Port Aransas Beach, where fishing boats bob in the water and colorful boutiques line the boardwalk. You can also use the hotel's outdoor pool if you want to take a swim or make a large batch of Kool-Aid. In the morning, guests are treated to a complimentary breakfast. There are also barbecue pits and a picnic area outside if you want to have an impromptu cookout.
A bloom of pastel sugar cookies sprouts from a foundation of peanut-butter and chocolate-chip cookies heaped at their base. This edible masterpiece, the BouTray, is one of Cookies by Design’s many inventive arrangements. For their creative displays, the bakers have been spotlighted on Home and Lifestyle TV. Once customers have selected their ideal cookie bouquet, cookie platter, or cookie house for displaced gingerbread men, pastry chefs personalize the fresh-baked treats with a written message or design.
Disc Go Round’s staff of music mavens maintains the CD emporium's vast collection of tunes, games, and DVDs while doling out well-informed advice on selections. Their inventory has practically everything, from game rental to Eric Clapton albums and Jimi Hendrix's never-released Practically Everything. Should something be missing the team happily fills requests.
While there are chickens strutting around on the Chickenfarmer's Greenhouse property, they’re mostly for decoration. For the experienced gardeners on staff, the real focus is organic plants and the equipment and accessories needed to grow them. Everything sold at the greenhouse is designed to nurture organic plants, from the locally sourced exotic plants to the house-brand soils and fertilizers to the stunning aquaponic gardens that experienced staffers can install in clients’ homes. The nursery even boasts an all-organic, GMO-free produce stand, stocked with produce sustainably grown onsite. The veggies are grown from heirloom seeds provided by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, which features decades-old strains of flavor- and nutrient-rich plants. For more decorative needs, the grounds are filled with tropical plants and palms such as hibiscus and plumeria, all sourced locally or created in the greenhouse's plant-cloning replicator pod.
The product creators at EcoSage Company prepare and package their all-natural items with the planet in mind, just as they have since 2008. The group’s sustainable practices extend to their entire inventory, such as their natural soap—the original product made by the company—that comes in scents such as basil-sage mint and cullowhee. Each item is also packaged using recyclable or reusable materials, from soy candles to baby products and body silk lotions. Originally a hobby that started in a modest college apartment, EcoSage’s soaps and other chemical-free products still reflect that initial passion for creating products that are both natural and pleasant-smelling. The EcoSage product makers are also members the Texas Soapmakers Association, a guild that unites its artisans for some of the best-smelling meet-ups this side of the Mississippi.
Versatility lies at the heart of Closet Envy Studio’s fashion philosophy: the mannequins who pose coyly across the spacious shop floor wear fashions designed to take women of all sizes from daytime through evening occasions. The staff extends personal-shopper-style services to customers, and might help weigh the merits of various ruched dresses, fluttery skirts, and ultra-high heels during a tête-à-tête on a pair of red leather mod-style chairs. Limited collections, in sizes from small to 3XL, change often based on the season and the fashion trends predicted in the Farmers' Almanac. Many evenings find the shop still aglow as models of all body types strut the latest styles during fashion shows or customers chat over free drinks at a weekly happy hour.