Rei of Light
We already have close to 50 massage studios, gyms and spas within a one-mile radius of downtown, and now that service sector is following the Sarasota population east. EnergyWorks, dedicated to the healing arts of massage, yoga, acupuncture and reiki, has opened in Palm-Aire on University Parkway. Founded by Tracy Rose, formerly an instructor at the Sarasota School of Massage, the center has a yoga room with beautiful bamboo flooring, soft when arching your back or balancing in your warrior pose. What really sets it apart, though, is its focus on reiki (pronounced ray-key), based on the theory of Universal Life Force Energy-the healer "massages" you by not actually touching you, but by sending energy to areas of your body. EnergyWorks, Palm-Aire Plaza, 5885 Whitfield Ave., Sarasota. (941) 358-6741.
The new Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs has everything you'd expect in a luxury resort, along with something you might not: one of the best eco-tours around. On a small boat with a guide, you motor out to a private barrier island and beach. The trip along the way is loaded with marine life. Plus, rooms are luxe and prices can be roughly half of the Ritz down the road in Naples. The laid-back resort also boasts a lobby and grounds nicer than most hotels but without the pomp and circumstance. Other perks: a great golf course, 19,000-square-foot spa and fantastic pool with a three-story slide. And there's always Camp Hyatt to entertain the kids when you want some time to yourself. Hyatt Regency Coconut Point, 5001 Coconut Road, Bonita Springs. (239) 444-1234.
Now there's a local alternative to the ubiquitous Starbucks. Latitude 23.5 gets its name from the region between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer, where the best coffee grows. Founded by the coffee-loving Dimitry Erez, Latitude 23.5 roasts more than 25 original coffees by hand at its roasting facility downtown. The spacious store on Clark and Tuttle offers more than 10 specialty blends and organic coffees and teas; and best of all, you get free Wi-Fi and local music. This month, it's also hosting an exhibition of emerging local artists who need an alternative to traditional galleries. Latitude 23.5 Coffee House, 3412 Clark Road, Suite 230. (941) 929-1616.
Corbin Brady, who came to town from Dallas to help open a contemporary art gallery, saw how big real estate was and decided to follow the action. His new company, Staged, promises to make a seller's property hot by transforming it into a designer showplace. He charges a consultation fee, then finds and rents you furniture, art and accessories. Brady style can range from a hip SoHo loft to richly appointed Palm Beach place; he can usually do a home for about $1,500, which he says can boost sales opportunities and prices way beyond that. Staged, 2183 Datura St. (941) 544-5194.
Starry, Starry Night
The Crowley Museum and Nature Center (CMNC), on 190 acres adjacent to the Myakka River, welcomes more than 7,000 visitors each year to nature trails, a boardwalk traversing Maple Branch Swamp, an observation tower and a pioneer cabin and museum. At night, you can also see the stars in startling clarity. At the annual Starry Night dinner-auction Saturday, March 19, partygoers will glimpse the first-quarter moon, rings of Saturn and more with the high-powered telescopes of the local chapter of Deep Sky Observers. With dinner by Paul Mattison and a silent auction (including a dolphin tour with Mote Marine) to benefit the center. Tickets $100 per person; call (941) 322-1000. 16405 Myakka Road, Myakka City.