A weekend escape from the ordinary is meant to be extraordinary. We visited four resorts in Florida to share what we discovered that would make your few days away, fabulous.
Story: John Sotomayor and Kelli Fuqua Hart
Reservations made – check. Louis Vuitton and Pierre Cardin luggage packed – check. Car cleaned and detailed – check. Prepared to experience once-in-a-lifetime, elite excursions with pampered VIP service and all worries left at home – check, check and check. It is fair to say that nothing recharges your battery like a weekend of indulgence. Fortunately, Florida has several choice destinations to satisfy that need. Saddled with the burden of learning the latest in leisure travel, I made reservations for myself to three heavenly havens: The Breakers, The Biltmore and The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island and one reservation to the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota for my cohort in lavish living, Kelli Fuqua Hart. We discovered old standards and new favorites that you will undoubtedly wish to try for yourselves. Having observed and experienced more than we have room for, we focused on some of the highlights and new attractions from each resort. The rest, you will have to learn on your own. Once-in-a-lifetime experiences checked off our bucket lists? We certainly hope not.
The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota
The Ritz-Carlton legacy extends from Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf Coast. Described as “The Incomparable, Elevated,” the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota gives the vacationer access to the extraordinary.
A place where the sunset is celebrated, the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota allows its guests an opportunity to enjoy the very best of everything. From seashore cabanas to club level lounges and all of the thoughtful amenities that follow, checking in to the Ritz- Carlton feels like waltzing down the red carpet to the luxurious world of stardom and fame.
Met by doting attendants and concierge staff, guests are immediately given proper attention upon arrival. Welcoming guests and their families and indulging them on a first-name basis is a task made simple by the Ritz-Carlton team, who makes this a practice during your stay, ensuring you know you are not just a face in the crowd.
Club Level guests are offered personal services to include unlimited, complimentary champagne and beverages, as well as breakfast, lunch, light snacks, hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, desserts and cordials. Additional complementary services include garment pressings, Internet and Wi-Fi and access to the Club Lounge.
Guests will feel like royalty amongst the refined ambience and relaxed environment of the Ritz-Carlton spa. From its soothing wells and healing waters to the indulgence of the spa’s relaxation and renewal services, spa-goers will experience tranquility and serenity in a private, yet luxurious setting.
The Sarasota members’ spa “embraces a holistic approach to physical and spiritual well-being… Based on the principles of restoring balance and harmony to the mind, body and spirit.” Guests can select from a beau-coup of options to include scrubs, peels, wraps, baths, massage and skin care.
After filling the soul, guests can fill their stomach with rich foods from all over the world. Whether you choose the casual environment of the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club Grill or the coastal cuisine at Jack Dusty, leaving hungry will not be a problem.
Guests dining on location at Jack Dusty will enjoy the motif and place settings, made up of items such as recycled crates, repurposed glass and metals. The ambience of the dining room is modern, yet crafted of industrial type decor, invoking the “feel” of a chic, casually elegant waterfront fish house. Serving selections from fresh caviar to sugar covered deep-fried doughnut holes, couscous to shrimp ceviche and a collaboration of drink mixes classified as “sippers,” “gulpers” and “sandy bottoms,” Jack Dusty offers an unpretentious yet stylish dining option.
For the more casual diner or those with children, the Beach Club Grill, on Lido Key, offers a menu made up of uncomplicated, flavorful and healthy dishes. Prepared simply, but elegantly, the Beach Club Grill offers an array of delicious gulf-coast cuisine. Guests can choose from indoor or terrace dining with fabulous gulf front views.
Transportation to Lido Key is made available by the Ritz-Carlton. Shuttles leave on the hour, every hour and transport their guests to the Beach Club Grill, Lido Key beaches, the Beach Club pool and shopping district. Shuttle services are complementary and make exploring easy and comfortable.
Guests traveling with children can still partake in adult activities with the convenience and service provided by the staff of the Ritz Kid Camp. Camps are offered from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily for children ages 5 to 12. Half-day programs and “kids’ night out” evening programs are also available. Whether it’s playing dress-up, building kites, shouting “Marco Polo” or running a silly obstacle course, children are supervised and treated safely to a day’s worth of fun activities and treats, giving parents an opportunity to enjoy the luxuries of the property while having total peace of mind.
In addition to its beaches and spa, the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota offers many other activities to its guests, ensuring a pleasant, fun-filled stay. Bicycle rental is available from dusk until dawn. And why not cycle downtown to the Sarasota’s Farmers Market on a Saturday morning? There you will meet the 70 plus vendors that offer fresh produce, plants, food and more!
And depending on the season, travelers may get to experience other notable events such as “Turtle Season” on the coastline. May 1 through October 31, Sarasota County beaches provide nesting grounds for threatened Loggerhead sea turtles, endangered green sea turtles and other species. Also, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club makes a sunny day brighter with its 18-hole championship course. Included in the Tom Fazio-designed course are sculpted fairways and lush scenery, set on 315 acres of tropical, undeveloped landscape.
Unsurpassable, the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota is anything and everything you need in a vacation destination. Come; let the courteous staff at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota present you with a pampered, prestigious and priceless getaway.