Long stretches of warm, sandy beaches aren’t the only thing enticing you to sunny Sarasota this year. With luxury hotels, award-winning restaurants and spring training, there’s a whole boatload of experiences waiting for you on Florida’s Culture Coast. If you love baseball, there’ll be two teams to root for…the Baltimore Orioles in Sarasota and the Atlanta Braves who are moving to North Port in 2020.
On the Beach – Front and Center
Of course, you want to be on the beach! Look to the Opal Collection for a range of luxury hotels on Florida’s Gulf Coast including Sarasota, Longboat Key, Naples, Treasure Island and Clearwater Beach.
Lido Beach Resort – Prime Beach Location
Just minutes from the world-class St. Armand’s Circle restaurants, shopping and bars, Lido Beach Resort offers an intimate setting with 222 newly-renovated, spacious guest rooms and condo-style suites. From Florida-inspired furnishings to flat-screen TVs and high-speed internet, the hotel’s accommodations offer everything for a delightful getaway, right on the beach. Some guest rooms/suites also are dog-friendly, so everyone can come along. Don’t miss their Sunday Brunch (10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.), named the best Sunday brunch in Sarasota. Indulge in prime rib, an omelet station, fresh fruits and salads, raw bar and more. Check their website for special offers. Complimentary shuttle service to St. Armand’s Circle gets you in the center of all the action — pronto!
The Resort at Longboat Key Club – the Key to Luxury and Pampering
Looking out my private balcony, I see a little slice of heaven. The Longboat Key Club is Sarasota’s only AAA ranked full-service resort with 45 holes of golf in two gorgeous courses, a signature spa, world-class Tennis Gardens, 8 dining venues and lounges as well as deep water marina, all on the Gulf front pool and beach. There’s really no reason to ever leave. Personalized concierge service is dedicated to your exquisite pampering, while complimentary shuttle service to St. Armand’s Circle means you don’t even need a car.
Dine Around the Resort
Portofino Ristorante features classically inspired Northern Italian home cooking in a casual, trattoria-style atmosphere. Enjoy handmade pasta, wood-fired pizza and fresh seafood, accompanied by a fine selection of Italian wines. Try the Tavern and Whiskey Bar for casual, farm-to-table cuisine with local-sourced salads. My favorite meal was breakfast at Sands Pointe. Here I lingered over a hearty cheese omelet with a bran muffin and fresh fruit as I watched the “morning commuters” walking the beach.
Tennis is the name of the game
The resort boasts a $4.5 million tennis facility at its Harbourside property, just a few miles down the road. Ranked the number one tennis facility on the Gulf Coast of Florida, tennis buffs will find 20 Har-Tru clay courts with optimal playing conditions as well as private instruction.
Relax and rejuvenate at the Opal Spa. Their personalized approach to wellness gives you the tools you need to find your own radiant center. The spa offers a variety of signature therapies, treatments and skin care enhancements. I opted for the Hot Stone Massage and entered a state of pure bliss as the warm, basalt stones melted the stress away.
Shopping and Dining at St. Armand’s Circle
St. Armand’s is like a wheel with spokes coming out from all sides. Surrounding the Circle are beautiful boutiques, cafes and fabulous restaurants like Café L’Europa and Columbia. Also recommended is Tommy Bahamas – no, not the clothier, but an upscale restaurant that incorporates an island theme with Caribbean cuisine. There’s nothing quite like sitting outside on St. Armand’s watching the crowd go by, sipping an iced mocha. Did I mention Kilwin’s? You won’t miss this famous chocolatier…your nose will lead you to the sweetest (and busiest) place on the Circle!
Spring Training in Full Swing
This is where the baseball season really starts. From February – March, the Ed Smith Stadium is home to the Baltimore Orioles spring training camp. Other baseball training camps are a short drive away; the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, New York Yankees in Tampa and the Phillies in Clearwater.
The beach is waiting…
Make plans to visit Sarasota soon. No matter what your idea of a great vacation, Longboat Key and Lido Beach blend big city sophistication with small-town ambiance for a perfect Florida getaway! For more information: call 800.522.9799
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