My wife and I visited the IOM in 2008 for the first time. We stayed for a few days in the Royal Hotel at Port Erin. I had wanted to visit the IOM for some years as I like islands, but we arrived with nothing more than pre-conceived ideas of what it would be like.
In actual fact, we found the island to be surprisingly beautiful - not flat and boring but varied and interesting. Although we visited in August, it wasn't exactly heaving with tourists and the tourist attractions (such as the Luxey Wheel) were very quiet, yet welcoming.
With a great bus service we didn't bother to hire a car, though we did arrive by air (a good idea as those arriving by boat seemed not to have an enjoyable journey).
We enjoyed our stay very much, could see that the 'faded elegance' wasn't improving, but really enjoyed the landscape and found the island welcoming and interesting.
Perhaps we're not the average tourist looking for sun and sand, but we would like to go back again, though sadly not to the Royal as it is now closed.
I can only agree about the lack of promotion of the island and tourism - from England it's practically invisible! A shame really as it's a beautiful island and could easily welcome many more tourists.