Bush family returns to Boca to renew longtime island ties
If it’s the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, then it’s time for the Bush family to rediscover the vacation tranquility of Boca Grande.
After landing at the Charlotte County Airport, the elder George H.W. Bush, president No. 41, reportedly braved the blustery chill to play the renowned Gasparilla Inn & Club golf course Christmas weekend with 64-year-old President George W. Bush, his son and U.S. Commander in Chief No. 43.
Doing so during such miserable conditions — wind chill dipped into freezing temps — is more a sign of the 87-year-old former president’s love of the game than any bravado, said a Secret Service agent on condition of anonymity.
“I’ve seen the old man play in rainy, 39-degree weather in Dallas,” the agent said.
His son is a speed golfer who prides himself on being able to finish 18 holes in two hours or less, according to a person familiar with the presidential golf course pace.
The absence of the U.S. Coast Guard means the Bush family is likely taking a pass on any deep-sea fishing during the trip, which is expected to conclude this weekend.
The Secret Service contingent took its usual residence at the Island House Inn strategically located 2 miles from the Gasparilla Island swing bridge. The Bush family stays at Gasparilla Inn & Club as well as family homes on the island.
The Bush family has for decades visited Boca Grande around the year-ending holidays as well as other times of the year. Margaret Bush, married to Marvin Bush, said in a 2010 interview with the Gasparilla Gazette that she first came to the island 19 years ago on advice of the president and his wife, Barbara Bush.
“We came down and checked into the Gasparilla Inn and stayed at the main inn,” Maggie Bush said. “We thought that was sort of like staying at your grandmother’s house because you can just run up the steps and there you are, your room is at the top of the steps. It was very convenient when you had younger children. We just loved that whole atmosphere. It was so safe and manageable.”
She said the Bush family keeps coming back because of the old-school feel of Gasparilla Island.
“It’s natural, down-to-earth and no pretensions — we were very taken with the personality of this island,” she said.