If you are planning a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, it is important to know that there are not many hotels. The better option — whether visiting with the family or for a girlfriend getaway like I was — is finding a vacation rental.
There are many high-rise condos to choose from, so it is best to work with a reputable rental agent to help you find the right property. On my last trip, we stayed down at the Caribe Resort in Orange Beach, but this time I wanted to check out Gulf Shores. And, I really wanted to be on the beach this time. Luckily, the fine people at Young’s Suncoast Realty & Vacation Rentals offered to help me out.
While Young’s Suncoast offers many properties throughout Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, we thought that a vacation rental at Crystal Tower Gulf Shores would be a good fit. Since I was visiting for a girlfriend getaway, we each wanted our own space and privacy. At the same time, we wanted to be on the beach and not too far from local restaurants and things to do in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores.
Crystal Tower Gulf Shores Review
Note: Our stay was hosted by Young’s Suncoast Realty and Vacation Rentals. I thank them for their hospitality but assure you that all opinions are my own to provide an honest review.
Crystal Tower is located right on Beach Boulevard, about a 1.3 miles west of The Hangout and Gulf Shores Parkway. Getting to activities in Orange Beach, like the sunset cruise with Sail Wild Hearts or lunch at the Gulf, took about 15 minutes, as did a trip out to The Beach Club in Fort Morgan. So it had the easily-accessible, centrally-located position we were hoping for.
Crystal Tower Gulf Shores is also right on the beach…or almost! It is actually on the other side of the road but it boasts of the only air-conditioned, covered walkway across the road to the beach. The building also features two pools, one inside and one outside, a sunbathing deck, fitness center, and what they call a lazy river.
The lazy river was a bit of a disappointment as it was very small and unadorned. The one at the Caribe is definitely much, much better, as are all the pools. It turns out that the pool really didn’t matter much because, as you may know, the white sand beaches of Alabama are just gorgeous and the Gulf actually felt warmer than the unheated pool.
The Crystal Tower is 16 stories tall and easy to find with its covered walkway. I was a bit surprised to find the outdoor corridors, but if I had looked more closely at the pictures I shouldn’t have been. Those outdoor walkways do make it a little noisy in the front bedroom and even the master bedroom gets some noise from neighbors taking advantage of their balconies.
We stayed in Unit 1507, a two-bedroom, two-bath condo with full kitchen, living room, eating area, laundry facilities, and two balconies. The views from the balconies really drew me in. Even though we were technically across the street from the beach, the building across the street was low with the resort’s pool deck, so the views were not too unobstructed and nicely situated for viewing sunrises.
Given that we were visiting for a girlfriend getaway, it was really convenient to have two full bathrooms, each attached to one of the bedrooms.
The furnishings themselves were basic beach rental decor — nothing too fancy — but comfortable. After checking in, we noticed some stains on the comforters in the bedroom and couch in the living room. We switched these out with some extra blankets we found and threw a sheet over the couch.
However, when I let Young’s Suncoast know about this the next day, they quickly sent over a cleaning crew and steam cleaned the couch and switched out the linens.
I think the difference between renting with a reputable agency versus doing it yourself with VRBO is that you have someone standing behind you if something goes wrong. Not only did they address the cleaning issue right away, but they also had someone on-site to help with other issues.
We had trouble getting one of the TVs on and they sent someone right up to take a look. That person tried to help us troubleshoot and then got on the phone with the technology provider to solve the problem.
What you need to know
- Check in is NOT at the Crystal Tower. Read your confirmation carefully as you will need to pick up your keys at the Young’s Suncoast rental office just off Gulf Shores Parkway
- Take a picture of your keycode for your door and the beach gate with your phone so if you forget them, you have a reminder handy
- Basic amenities and toiletries (soaps, shampoo) are provided but you’ll need to bring your own supply of paper goods, cleaning products and toiletries if you intend to stay for a while
- Beach chairs are not provided so if you are driving in, bring your own. If you are flying, you can rent chairs for the day on the beach (but bring your own towels)
- The front bedroom by the door can get noisy from people passing by outside the window. Either run a fan or sound machine to mask the noise or keep light sleepers in the other room
- The TVs can be confusing but if you follow the directions provided, you should be able to figure it out. If not, call the number listed and they will walk you through it on the phone or send someone over
- If you have any problem with the unit, let Young’s Suncoast know as soon as possible so they can look to fix the problem
Most of all, have fun! If you are looking for things to do, how about ziplining, kayaking, a dolphin cruise, or a sunset catamaran? And while it is great to have a kitchen in your vacation rental, be sure to check out some of these restaurants to enjoy the fabulous local cuisine.