St. Armands Circle is Sarasota’s answer to the glamour of Worth Avenue or Rodeo Drive, the resort-chic of St. Bart’s and the artiness of Key West—all in one easy-to-maneuver shopping and dining paradise.
A short ride over the Ringling Causeway from downtown Sarasota, the Circle is abuzz with trendy restaurants and outdoor cafes, elegant jewelers and some of the Gulf Coast’s most fashion-forward boutiques. Happily, St. Armands is both hip and family oriented: You can savor homemade ice cream by day and then party into the night.
BURRRberryJust warm enough for Sarasota winters, Burberry’s hot raspberry jacket ($395) has big-city style and Sunshine State color. Check out The Met’s collection of the British stalwart’s hip new colors on their classic plaid scarves ($250), then treat yourself to one of the spa’s all-new ayurvedic treatments. The Met Fashion House Day Spa & Salon, 35 S. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-3991.
That’s the way Italians toast long life…100 years, to be exact. We’re toasting Martini, the Circle’s newest shoe store, and the hundreds of miles you’ll walk in Pikolinos, the Spanish-made sneakers ($150) worn by those hot Italian waiters at downtown’s Epicure. Go to www.pikolinos.com to log your miles and blog-share trekking routes around the world. Martini, 362 John Ringling Blvd., (941) 388-9151.
She’ll purr with delight over Optical Art’s new Philippe Charriol collection of Kucha (that’s Swahili for “claw”) watches. Choose restrained pink or white, or go wild with mother-of-pearl panther or zebra dials hooked onto matching fur straps by diamond-encrusted claws. $6,450 with diamonds; $1,690 without. Optical Art, 16 S. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-2317.
Ace of Spade
Kate Spade, of course. When it comes to arm candy, Reason’s trumps with Kate’s newest drawstring pouch ($535), a blend of saddle and metallic leathers. You’ll find fashion-forward handbags from Miu Miu's new take on patent leather to cool organic textures from Cole Haan. Only the strong-willed will leave without another must-have pair of designer shoes. Reason’s Shoes, 57 S. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-1602.
Here’s the Skinny
Café manager Thai Branton confides that the skinniest fashion plates take shopping breaks for Tommy Bahama’s protein-rich salads. “Our steak salad is guilt-free,” he says of the glam set’s favorite mixed greens topped with six ounces of filet ($17). That leaves calories to spare for the bar’s secret weapon: mojitos ($9) sweetened with lemon-flavored Sprite instead of sugar. Tommy Bahama, 300 John Ringling Blvd., (941) 388-2888.
Cutting-Edge Kitchen Couture
Décor de France’s chic iridescent knives by Claude Dozorme of Thiers, the cutlery capital of France. The pre-packaged steak knife and breakfast sets come in two prismatic colorways (red to orange or green to blue); or you can buy separately in the color of your choice. Décor de France, 24 N. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-1599.
A true lifestyle emporium, Exit Art has everything from Alessi’s kitchen gifts to Eastern-inspired Me & Ro necklaces favored by Julia Roberts, Jennifer Garner, and Anne Hathaway (who debuted these irresistible new gold pieces in The Devil Wears Prada). Exit Art, 26 N. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-2827.
It’s no mystery that Crab & Fin serves the freshest fish in town. “It’s a cold job,” says executive chef Doug Hitchings, who insists that every fish be cut or filleted inside the restaurant’s walk-in freezer to preserve freshness. Exotic monchong pomfret (the Japanese call it “utopia fish”) and walu are shipped from the South Pacific by Fed-Ex. Crab & Fin, 420 St. Armands Circle, (941) 388-3964.
In the Pink
You’ll score fashion points with this tennis racket cover ($132) from Addison Craig, the go-to spot for luxury accessories. It’s just one of Oprah’s favorite upscale tennis totes from Henry Brown Bags. Addison Craig, 28 S. Boulevard of Presidents, (941) 388-3400.
Don’t forget to…
Check the list of available beauty and spa appointments posted daily outside The Met’s front door. Wickedly serendipitous and no less superb.
Carry home sweet memories of Kilwin’s: Specially packed gift baskets and homemade fudge are frequent fliers across the pond.
Try the Maine lobster dip at Lido Grille; mixed with veggies and Asiago cheese, it’s a $13 indulgence locals can’t live without.
Pick up a set of Square on the Circle’s exclusive new soft bamboo fiber sheets for an eco-friendly night’s sleep.
WHO'S IN STORE
You could say Stephanie Miller is a beauty editor whose platform is a retail shop rather than a magazine. As manager of Simply Spoiled, Miller runs a miniature Good Housekeeping, where she and owner Rhonda Gorham test every product before it passes through their door.
The result is a mix of bath potions, makeup and accessories that are cutting-edge and celebrity-endorsed, the latest finds gleaned from fashion capitals around the world. “You’d have to travel to Tampa, New York or even Paris to get these products,” Miller explains. “We’re the Sephora of Sarasota.” Indeed, the comparison plays out.
From Buttercream body moisturizer (Brittany Murphy says it’s magic; Paris Hilton loves the cake frosting scent), to DuWop’s Lip Venom (used by Sex and the City’s stars before kissing scenes for that bee-stung look), to the store’s best-selling pout-maker (LipFusion gloss), Miller merchandises magazine editorials alongside each product and uses lots of free samples to close sales.
The store’s allure is best explained by its tag line, a loose interpretation of quotes by Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker and Frank Lloyd Wright: “The necessities in life I can live without—it’s the luxuries I need.”—Carol Tisch
Rhinestone Cowgirl Miller owns both Crosses and Daisies from Simply Spoiled’s collection of crystal-studded Western belts by Kippy’s ($300 to $500). She and Madonna wear them to dress up skinny jeans.
Can’t Live Without Her Bare Escentuals—it’s minimal, all-natural, chemical-free makeup made from pure crushed minerals. The Starter Kit ($60) comes with two shades of SPF foundation, skin vitamins, finishing veil and instructional DVD. “We can’t keep this stuff in stock,” Miller declares.
Lift Off “LiftFusion ($140) is the hottest new product with celebrities, because it works like Botox without needles,” Miller says. The new, topically injectable product is the first home-use alternative to doctor-administered anti-wrinkle injections. A facelift you give yourself.
Simply Spoiled, 100 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 364-3337.
Woven Treasures Eileen Bedoukian Hampshire is a rug historian, a curator of museum rug exhibitions and owner of the new Palm Avenue rug gallery Art to Walk On. “Lady Di and Prince Charles saw my exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts,” she recalls. “But they went separately—you know, they didn’t get along.” A former Montreal dealer, Hampshire opened shop to sell artisan-quality new rugs as well as her prized antiques collection. “I told my husband, ‘If we don’t sell them now, one day we’ll be gone and these rugs will be shown on Antiques Roadshow by someone who paid $200 apiece.’” Look for gallery-like exhibitions with rugs ($600 to $120,000) rotated 18 times a year. A prized Armenian Kazak (c. 1880) is shown here. Art to Walk On, 64 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 951-5454.
Club Chair? You don’t have to travel to Paris Hilton’s new Jacksonville nightclub to test Carter Furniture’s newest concept in togetherness seating. The My Pod chair is now ready for home theaters and family rooms; it’s great for romantic TV viewing or reading to the kids. Home Resource Contemporary Furniture, 741 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 366-6690.