It's nice to have a place to lay your head-even better when that place has a spa, gourmet restaurant and high-speed Internet access. Whether you're spending the days relaxing at the beach or browsing the shops, luxurious accommodations are close at hand, ready quench your thirst, cool your sunburn and fluff your pillow.
Sarasota has hospitality down pat, what with pampering so many discerning guests each year. Wherever you stay, you're sure to be a stone's throw from the beach, a golf course or a popular local attraction-if not all three. And even if you stick to your room, you can probably enjoy a stunning view, culinary delights and any number of amenities fit for vacationing kings and queens.
Not that it's all about the vacation. Sarasota is booming in the business world as well, and plenty of conference rooms, meeting halls and first-class suites will suit traveling professionals.
Located near the city center overlooking Sarasota Bay, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is a stylish Florida beach resort with city sophistication. For the discriminating guest, the AAA Five-Diamond resort offers elegant accommodations, award-winning dining, famous personalized service and unlimited access to the Mobil-rated spa, private Gulf-front beach club and a Tom Fazio-designed championship golf course.
All 266 rooms include down duvets, Italian Frette-brand linens, Bose CD players, desks and chaise lounges, furnished balconies with bay, marina or city views, bathrooms with double marble vanities and plush Ritz-Carlton robes. The resort is a classic Mediterranean Revival blending the Ritz-Carlton tradition of refined elegance with the warmth and charm of Florida's Gulf Coast.
Under the watchful eye of executive chef Frederic Morineau, a tempting array of dining options awaits. Available to the public, the resort's award-winning signature restaurant Vernona is dedicated to serving organic New American cuisine made from the freshest and healthiest ingredients from local and regional farmers. The Lobby Lounge offers traditional afternoon tea, and the bayfront Bay View Bar & Grill is the perfect spot for alfresco dining. The Ritz-Carlton's bar, Cà d'Zan, is comfortable and classic, a local favorite for drinks, dancing and live music, and the steakhouse-style menu offers a casually elegant dining experience.
The Ritz-Carlton Members Golf Club, Sarasota is an 18-hole, Tom Fazio design scheduled to open in December 2005. Unlike many Florida golf courses, the Members Golf Club will feature significant elevation changes that gracefully roll among the lakes and extensive landscape to form a fair and memorable test of golf. The Members Golf Club is an exclusive facility available only to members of The Ritz-Carlton Members Club and guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. For reservations call (800) 241-3333.
Just steps away from downtown Sarasota's theaters, galleries, restaurants and the G.WIZ children's hands-on museum, Hyatt Sarasota on Sarasota Bay provides a relaxing escape into an oasis of lush gardens, blue waters and spectacular sunset views. A panoramic atrium anchors 294 guest rooms, including 12 suites. Relax by the new lagoon pool with cascading waterfall and a 12-person hot tub, enjoy tropical beverages at the Hurricane Hut, or challenge yourself with water sports.
The Hyatt's 10,000-square-foot Sarasota Ballroom provides a generous pre-function area, office and storage space, permanent registration desk and the flexibility to divide into eight sections. With this addition, the Hyatt Sarasota's total meeting space extends to 20,000 square feet, making it the largest conference facility between Tampa and Fort Myers.
Also, the Hyatt introduces its private marina with state-of-the-art Bellingham floating dock system. Located at the marina, the Boathouse restaurant provides casual dining setting with water views. For reservations, call toll-free (800) 233-1234, or locally (941) 953-1234.
Opening in the summer of 2006 at the corner of Boulevard of the Arts and Tamiami Trail in downtown's charming Rosemary District, Hotel Indigo has 95 warm and welcoming guest rooms (30 suites), all with hardwood flooring and area rugs, spa-style showers, oversized beds and pillows, and changeable wall murals. It's the third Hotel Indigo, following those in Atlanta and Chicago. Call (866) 2-INDIGO or visit HotelIndigo.com for details and reservations.
EAST OF I-75
The Holiday Inn Lakewood Ranch is a full-service hotel, beautifully decorated in a Southwest theme. For the traveler who can't leave work at home, each guest room has a workstation with two line data ports, complimentary high-speed Internet service, ergonomic chair and iron and ironing board to keep clothes crisp. There's also a refrigerator, hair dryer, coffee service and 25-inch television and wireless in all public meeting space (2,500 square feet). Conveniently located at I-75 and University Parkway at the entrance to Lakewood Ranch, only seven miles from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. Call (941) 782-4400 for reservations and ask about the Ecotourism Package, or visit their Web site at www.hilr.com.
If you're traveling by car, check out Sun-N-Fun RV Resort on Fruitville Road, which offers more than 150 activities in season to guests. In addition to recreational vehicle space, Sun-N-Fun has cozy vacation-home rentals (and sales). There's an on-site restaurant, Olympic-size swimming pool, exercise room, poolside bar and grill, plus live entertainment. For information call (800) 843-2421.
The Lido Beach Resort is a favorite among visitors and locals for its outdoor beachside pool bar and Old Florida charm with a simple, elegant tropical design. Located beachfront on Lido Key, 222 suites, kitchenettes and deluxe guest rooms are all just a short drive from the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and a comfortable stroll from the unique shops and cafés of St. Armands Circle. Meeting facilities consist of 6,000 square feet of flexible space with several breakout configurations available. The Sunset Terrace offers a casual atmosphere and spectacular views of Lido Beach and sunsets. Beach functions are also available, complemented by a full-service catering staff and award-winning chef. For reservations or information, call toll-free (800) 441-2113.
With 600 feet of private powder-white sand beach, the full-service resort Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel radiates a friendly, tropical atmosphere, with spectacular views and superb accommodations. Two restaurants provide casual, open-air or formal dining and live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday in the lounge. Guests can enjoy two heated pools and a pool bar with complimentary hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon. The Sandcastle's recreation department arranges Aqua Cat sailboats, aqua cycles or kayaks, and offers lessons on each.
Each guest room includes a refrigerator, coffeemaker, in-room safe, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, make-up mirror and daily newspaper. Professional meeting space accommodates all the needs of the corporate traveler, too. For information or reservations call (941) 388-2181 or toll-free (800) 225-2181.
The Holiday Inn Lido Beach is one of Sarasota's classiest hotels, directly opposite the Gulf of Mexico and just two blocks from St. Armands Circle. It features an outdoor pool overlooking the Gulf and provides complimentary transportation to and from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. Guest rooms offer one king or two queen beds and a host of amenities.
The Sand Dollar Rooftop Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with room service. Beach cabanas, beach chairs and bicycle rentals are available. For reservations call (941) 388-5555 or (800) 892-9174.
Long recognized as the No. 1 tennis resort in the nation and a top-notch destination for couples and families, The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort's 208 one- and two-bedroom villa suites are nestled in the secluded surroundings of Longboat Key. Accommodations feature a private sun balcony, private master bedroom, living/dining area, full kitchen and master bathroom with whirlpool bath and steam showers. Twenty-six specialty suites, including three private beach houses, give guests the ultimate in luxury.
A modern six-story clubhouse houses the spa, with men's and women's facilities and an array of treatments performed by licensed therapists, as well as a salon with a variety of services. A business center and sports shop are also in the high-rise.
Tennis is the game to play at The Colony, so guests enjoy 21 courts (10 hydro-soft, two lighted), complimentary court time and game matching, nine daily clinics, and private and semi-private lessons led by outstanding and entertaining instructors.
Additional amenities include a state-of-the-art fitness center, complete with weight training and cardiovascular equipment, aerobics, fitness classes, personal training and body-fat analysis. The resort's highly praised children's recreation programs for ages three to 12, offered 365 days a year, are free to all guests.
From The Colony's dining room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, guests can bask in views of the Gulf of Mexico while savoring contemporary Continental cuisine and one of the nation's finest wine lists. It's open nightly for lunch and dinner and also for Sunday brunch.
The Monkey Room, with both outdoor and indoor seating, features creative and flavorful dishes with island influences. The adjacent lounge has live nightly entertainment. Outside, bartenders serve exotic drinks on the Monkey Room Patio. Tastebuds Gourmet and Wine Shop also offers sandwiches, cheeses, pastries, wine, gift baskets and more.
Banquet and conference facilities, an elegant designer boutique (Le Tennique), water sports center and private, sugar-sand beach round out the amenities. Call (800) 4-COLONY or (941) 383-6464, or visit www.colonybeachresort.com.
Located just steps from a private white-sand beach and the sparkling waters of the Gulf, the Hilton Longboat Key Beach Resort is a tropical resort accessible from Interstates 75 and 275. Newly renovated rooms are decorated in jewel tones with contemporary furniture. Oversized rooms offer two queen or single king beds, honor bar and complimentary coffeemaker, hair dryer and in-room safes. Daily local newspaper delivery, premium television channels and telephone with data port are standard. Call (941) 383-2451.
The Best Western Midtown is located in the heart of Sarasota, central to shopping, restaurants, beaches and downtown, and just minutes from all area attractions. Call toll-free (800) 722-8227 to reserve one of its beautiful guest rooms.
Just two miles from the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, the Sarasota Cay Club Resort and Marina features the Latitudes Restaurant and Lounge with indoor and outdoor waterfront dining and a popular dockside tiki bar. Newly appointed guest rooms and suites feature marina or city views. Guests enjoy a new state-of-the-art fitness facility, heated outdoor pool and 10,000 square feet of banquet and catering space. The full-service marina has 78 deep-water, transient and permanent slips as well as powerboat, personal watercraft and kayak rentals, fishing, sailing and scuba charters and guided eco-tours. Complimentary airport shuttle service, corporate and group rates available. Call (941) 355-2781 or toll-free (888) 818-2781 for reservations, or visit www.cayclubs.com.
Located just one mile north of the airport, the Hilton Garden Inn is a lushly landscaped hotel featuring all the comforts and conveniences that appeal to vacationers and business visitors, including complimentary shuttle to and from the airport. Nearby attractions include the Powel Crosley Mansion, Ringling Museum of Art, Mote Aquarium, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and the theater district. There are 115 rooms, a comfortable lounge and bar, heated outdoor pool and fitness center with spa. Call (941) 552-1100.
The Courtyard by Marriott is located directly across from the Sarasota-Bradenton airport and is near the Ringling Museum of Art, Ringling School of Art and Design, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and FSU Center for the Performing Arts. It's also just a 10-minute drive to Lido Beach and the Sarasota Youth Baseball Complex. Amenities include wireless high-speed Internet, a heated outdoor pool and whirlpool, fitness center and the Courtyard Café breakfast buffet. For reservations call (941) 355-3337 or (800) 321-2211.
The Best Western Golden Host is located less than one-half mile south of the Ringling Museum, the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, the Sarasota Classic Car Museum and the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. Nestled on five acres of tropically landscaped grounds are a 50-foot heated pool and shuffleboard courts. In-room amenities include high-speed Internet access and data port, telephones, irons and ironing boards and hair dryers, all accompanied by a daily complimentary deluxe continental breakfast. If you're looking for a wicked mai tai or a rollicking weekend crowd, head down to the resort's legendary Bahi Hut cocktail lounge. Call (941) 355-5141.
Physically located at 6600 S. Tamiami Trail, the Holiday Inn Express is a contemporary, tropically appointed, 131-room hotel that's convenient to Siesta Key. Fine dining and shopping are walking distance from the hotel, and it's less than half an hour to local attractions like St. Armands Circle, museums and Mote Marine Laboratory. Amenities include complimentary continental breakfast, outdoor pool and whirlpool and a health and fitness center. Business services include copying, fax machine and printer. To reserve, call (941) 924-4900.
Nestled between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Siesta Key, The Palm Bay Club's two heated pools, lighted tennis courts, yacht basin, fishing pier, private clubhouse and exercise equipment complement a secluded beach that's ideal for sunning or shelling. Suites are all fully furnished and provide breathtaking views of the Gulf and tropical landscaping. For reservations, call toll-free (800) 725-6229 or visit www.palmbayclub.com.
Situated directly on the sugar-white sands of the Gulf of Mexico, Sarasota Surf & Racquet Club is the premier beach and tennis family resort on Siesta Key. The one- and two-bedroom condominiums are fully furnished, including complete kitchens. Resort amenities include two heated pools, four tennis courts (two are clay), fitness center, business center, beachside barbecue grills and maid service. Call (941) 349-2200, toll-free (800) 237-5671 or visit www.sarasotasurf.com.
One of Sarasota's premier residential resorts, the Gulf and Bay Club is located on three miles of Crescent Beach. It offers one-month rentals of two-bedroom, two-bath units that are fully furnished and enjoy 24-hour security. Other amenities include athletic courts, fitness center, saunas, three heated pools, barbecue areas and two clubhouses. There's also a freshwater-stocked lake, covered parking and a library. Call (941) 349-7101.
Midnight Cove Condominium Resort comprises 11 acres of lush, tropically landscaped grounds on the white sugar sands of Crescent Beach and the Intracoastal Waterway. Vacation amenities include two heated swimming pools, tennis courts, boat docks, fishing, barbecue facilities and one of the area's most beautiful private beaches. Choose from mid-rise buildings, garden apartments or spacious townhomes, all with breathtaking water views. For information, call (941) 349-3004.
Crystal Sands on Crescent Beach features luxuriously appointed condominiums with full terraces and stunning views. On-site amenities include a gym and heated pool, and the building is located right on the Gulf of Mexico, just minutes from shopping and Siesta Village nightlife. Call (941) 349-7007 for reservations.
Newly renovated, the studio, one- and two-bedroom suites at Residence Inn by Marriott offer an average of 50 percent more space than traditional hotel rooms and provide full kitchen amenities and complimentary hot breakfast. It's located directly across from the Sarasota-Bradenton airport and just a few miles from Lido Beach. It's also pet-friendly and offers on-site laundry facilities. Call (941) 358-1468.
Each of the rooms (choose from a king or two double beds) at Springhill Suites features separate sleeping, dining and work areas. The many amenities include pull-out sofa beds, pantries and refrigerators, complimentary high-speed Internet and two-line telephones with data port. Rated three AAA diamonds. Call (941) 358-3385 or toll-free (800) 287-9400.
The Hampton Inn & Suites offers spacious guest rooms and suites with kitchens, complimentary breakfast, free newspaper, high-speed Internet access and a fitness center. Plus, it's close to shopping, dining and area beaches. Call (941) 488-5900 for reservations, or visit www.hamptoninnvenice.com.
Holiday Inn Venice boasts 155 comfortable rooms and three spacious suites ideal for families, groups and individual travelers. Its outdoor pool, hot tub and beach volleyball court make it a fun locale for weddings, group gatherings and reunions. Buffalo Bill's restaurant serves barbecue and now offers a formal catering division for weddings and meetings. Call (941) 485-5411 or toll-free (800) 237-3712 to reserve.
Venice's newest all-suites hotel, the Best Western Ambassador Suites, is conveniently located off I-75 exit 193 (Jacaranda Boulevard). Guests can easily enjoy sandy beaches, 40 challenging golf courses, shopping and more. It offers free breakfast, local calls and high-speed Internet, plus an outdoor heated pool, exercise facility and full conference and business center. Executive suites come with Jacuzzi tubs. To reserve, call (941) 480-9898.
For top-quality vacation properties from Anna Maria Island to Venice and all points in between, you can also turn to ResortQuest. The world's largest vacation rental property management company, they can show you countless privately owned homes, villas, condominiums and resorts, fully equipped with luxurious amenities like pools, spas, tennis courts and boat docks. For information, call toll-free (800) 237-9505 or visit their Web site at www.resortquestswfl.com.