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Forget the Ritz and the Westin. The coolest place to stay in Sarasota at the moment is the tiny-house resort just off Stickney Point Road. Called Tiny Siesta, it’s a collection of 10 or so tiny houses that you rent for the night, like a hotel room. It’s an idea whose time has come.

Cable TV now has entire shows devoted to tiny houses. For the still uninitiated, they are little houses on wheels. You don’t drive them around, but rather park your tiny house somewhere, usually rural, and live in it full-time. Tiny-house people are usually young and a little counterculture.

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What makes a tiny house so fascinating is the cleverness of the interior design. An incredible amount of livability is packed into less than 300 square feet. One of the Tiny Siesta houses even has three bedrooms, or, more correctly, three sleeping areas. Every inch is utilized, often for more than one purpose, and a tour through a tiny house can take a while, since there are so many little gimmicks to discover.

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Tiny Siesta is the brainchild of Jeremy Ricci, an investor who specializes in vacation rentals. When he acquired a sliver of an old RV park, he thought, why not tiny houses? He bought several of them, but now he has them made to his own specifications by Amish carpenters in Ohio and towed down.

Each one is a little different. The Siesta Lifeguard Stand has a replica of its namesake, painted the same bright yellow—there’s also a red one—serving as an enclosed front porch. Open the front door and you’re in a teensy dining area, with two stools up against a counter made from a surfboard.

Next comes the living area. Every tiny house has one, although it’s usually just a couch facing a mounted flatscreen TV. Move several steps and you’re in the kitchen. Tiny house kitchens are crucial. Ricci’s are all larger than you would expect, with deep sinks and tons of storage. The cooktop may be permanent or portable, and of course there’s a microwave and refrigerator. For preparing fun vacation meals they’re perfect. You can also cook outdoors; each tiny house has an outdoor sitting area, and at least one has an outdoor shower.

If you’ve gotten to the age where climbing a ladder or oddly shaped staircase to get to bed is a bad idea, don’t despair. Several of the Tiny Siesta houses have downstairs sleeping areas. The bathrooms are small but adequate and have real flush toilets (many tiny houses make do with the composting kind).

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“We get customers from all over the country,” Ricci says. “And Europe, too. We just had a family from Sweden.” On the November day I visited, one of the houses had just been vacated by contestants in Siesta’s sand sculpting competition. The image of a bunch of sand sculptors partying in a tiny house after a hard day at the beach sums up the spirit of the place perfectly.

And, Ricci says, some of his guests just want to spend the night in a tiny house. Maybe they are thinking of buying one, maybe they’re fans of the phenomenon. For $139 to $199 they can explore all the tiny cupboards to their heart’s content.

One of the resort’s best features is its location—about three quarters of a mile from the beach. You can rent a bike or use one of those “tips only” ride services. And even though you have your own kitchen, plenty of restaurants are within walking distance—Carrabba's, Ruth’s Chris, Gecko’s—and perhaps most important for the true tiny house fan, Earth Origins, with aisles of natural supplements and organic food, including take-out.

Tiny Siesta is located at 6600 Avenue A. Info: (941) 474-3782 or tinysiesta.com.

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