Rooms at the top

By staff January 1, 2002

Situated downtown overlooking Sarasota Bay, the new Ritz-Carlton offers 269 deluxe guest rooms, including 29 suites and one Presidential Suite, all with water views of either the bay or the marina. Each room has a fully stocked, refrigerated bar, personal safe, marble bathroom, and, of course, cable television and individual air-conditioning and heating controls, along with such signature items as plush terry bathrobes and toiletries. Complete concierge services are provided, as well as 24-hour room service and 24-hour valet parking.

Amenities are suitably lavish, including a full-service restaurant on the hotel's main floor, the Lobby Lounge, a cigar bar and a poolside restaurant serving casual fare overlooking the marina. The Ritz-Carlton Bakery and the Ritz-Carlton Gift & Logo Shop, featuring upscale merchandise, are also located on the premises, as is a state-of-the-art fitness center.

In addition, more than 18,000 square feet of conference and banquet facilities are available, and golf can be arranged at a variety of courses in the area.

Scheduled to open in the fall of 2002 are the 13,500-square-foot Spa at the Ritz-Carlton, featuring beauty, body and wellness treatments; and the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club on Lido Beach. Guests in the mood for additional pampering can choose rooms or suites on the Ritz-Carlton Club level, offering them the services of a dedicated concierge and five complimentary culinary presentations daily. For reservations, call toll-free at (800) 241-3333.

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort

The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, long recognized as the nation's No. 1 beach and tennis resort and a top-notch destination for couples and families, is nestled in the secluded surroundings of Longboat Key. With 235 one- and two-bedroom villa suites, The Colony's accommodations each feature a private sun balcony, private master bedroom, living/dining area, full kitchen and master bathroom with whirlpool bath and steam showers. Specialty suites, totaling 26 and including three private beach houses, give guests the ultimate in luxury.

A modern six-story clubhouse at The Colony 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 ser-vices. The Colony's new business center and Sports Shop are also in the high-rise.

Tennis is top-notch at The Colony, with 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 complimentary amenities include use of a state-of-the-art fitness center, complete with weight training and cardiovascular equipment. Aerobics, fitness classes, personal training and body-fat analysis are also available. And the resort's highly praised children's recreation programs for ages 3-12 are free to all guests.

The Colony Dining Room, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, offers views of the Gulf of Mexico along with 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 Colony's newest creation, The Monkey Room, with its choice of outdoor and indoor seating, features fun American, Mediterranean and contemporary cuisine. Adjacent is a comfortable lounge with live nightly entertainment. Outside, bartenders serve exotic drinks at The Bongo Bar. 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), watersports center and private, sugar-sand beach round out the amenities. Call 800-4-COLONY or (941) 383-6464.

The Hilton

The Hilton Longboat Key Beach Resort transports you to a world of elegance and rich simplicity. The resort will accommodate you in gracious comfort with 80 rooms and 22 suites, all with private balconies and in-room refreshment centers.

The Gulf view is spectacular from the Sunset Bar & Grille and Seascapes Poolside Cafe. Bask beside the sparkling heated pool, pursue various water sports, or just enjoy walking along the sugar-white sand beach. Call (941) 383-2451 or (800) 282-3046.

Holiday Inn Longboat

Nestled on a beautiful private beach, the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites of Longboat Key greets guests with a tropical look. In addition to guest rooms filled with amenities one can also select a one-bedroom suite with kitchen, an innovative Kidsuite or a room with a spectacular view of the Gulf.

The indoor recreation center includes an indoor heated pool, whirlpool, sauna, shuffleboard, billiards and more. The outdoor pool, sundeck, tennis courts, and cabana and watersports rentals offer more fun.

Dining opportunities abound with a full-service restaurant, beach bar and grill, pub, and a convenience court with Pizza Hut® and Seattle's Best Coffee®.

Call (941) 383-3771 or (800) 465-4436 forreservations; or go to

Half Moon Beach Club

Half Moon Beach Club is a charming 85-room boutique hotel located directly on Lido Beach only minutes from St. Armands Circle and downtown Sarasota.

Beautifully appointed rooms and suites, casual elegance and friendly service have combined to make Half Moon Beach Club a favorite of travelers from all over the world. Each accommodation has a private patio or balcony, and all rooms are equipped with voice mail, refrigerators, coffee makers, expanded cable TV, irons and ironing boards.

Relax on the large oceanfront deck and watch the beautiful Florida sunsets, search for sand dollars and shells in the gentle surf of the Gulf of Mexico, or enjoy a swim in the heated freshwater pool. Half Moon Beach Club's bistro-style restaurant, Seagrapes, specializes in American cuisine with a Floribbean flair.

Individual attention, concierge-style service and relaxing ambience are the signature of Half Moon Beach Club. Daily tariffs range from $99 to $189 in summer; $124 to $194 in winter; and $144 to $274 in prime season. Summer/fall offers many great "getaway" packages.

Wedding services and receptions are a specialty. For reservations or information call: (800) 358-3245 or (941) 388-3694 or surf over to

The Holiday Inn Lido

Situated just footsteps from the powdery sands of Lido Beach and only two blocks from the fine shopping and dining on St. Armands Circle, the Holiday Inn Lido Beach provides the ideal location for exploring all that Sarasota has to offer.

Sophisticated yet "Florida casual" best describes the tropical décor throughout the hotel. Captivating views of the city and bay of Sarasota or the Gulf of Mexico are standard features in all of the newly renovated guest rooms and one-bedroom suites.

In the SandDollar Rooftop Restaurant, high above Lido Beach, diners indulge in spectacular views of the Gulf and culinary delights. Refreshing drinks and "light" fare complement the relaxed atmosphere in both the Kokonuts Lobby Lounge and Pool Bar. Excellent banquet/meeting rooms, full catering and complimentary transportation to and from the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport are also available. For reservations call (941) 388-5555 or (800) 892-9174, or e-mail [email protected].

The Helmsley Sandcastle

On Lido, the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel, with its 600 feet of private, powder- white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico, is a full-service resort with a friendly tropical atmosphere. Spectacular views, coupled with superb accommodations and top-notch service, make this the perfect setting in which to relax and be pampered. The Sandcastle offers casual open-air or formal dining in two restaurants, and live entertainment nightly in its lounge. It also features two heated pools and a pool bar with complimentary hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon. A complete recreation department can set guests up with an Aqua Cat sailboat, aqua cycles or kayaks, and offers lessons on each. Each guest room includes a refrigerator, 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 (800) 225-2181.

Radisson Lido Beach Resort

Set in a tropical oasis and featuring 222 one- and two-bedroom suites, kitchenettes and guest rooms, the Radisson Lido Beach Resort is just a short stroll from the shops and cafes of St. Armands Circle. Walk the sandy beach, enjoy the beachfront pools and Jacuzzis, experience an intimate dinner overlooking Sarasota Bay or sip a cocktail and watch the sunset from your balcony or the tiki bar. For reservations call (800) 441-2113.

Hyatt Sarasota

Hyatt Sarasota on Sarasota Bay provides a relaxing escape into an oasis of lush gardens, blue waters and spectacular sunset views. It's an ideal setting for business and pleasure, recreation or relaxation. And the Hyatt is just steps away from downtown, Sarasota Quay, theaters, museums, restaurants and the G.WIZ children's hands-on museum.

A panoramic atrium is the introduction to 297 newly renovated guest rooms, including 12 suites. Relax by the pool or challenge yourself with water sports, championship golf, fishing, boating, bicycling, health club and more.

On Hyatt's private marina sits the Boathouse restaurant, which provides a casual dining setting with a bay view. Recently completed: the new, 10,000-square-foot Sarasota Ballroom. This state-of-the-art ballroom features 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 expands to 20,000 square feet, making it the largest conference facility between Tampa and Fort Myers.

For toll-free reservations, call (800) 233-1234, or locally (941) 953-1234.

Also on the mainland: Sarasota's Holiday Inn Downtown, with 100 rooms (including 30 with private balconies and bay and marina views), meeting spaces, an outdoor pool and a 24-hour restaurant. For reservations call (941) 365-1900 or toll-free (800) HOLIDAY.

Conveniently near the airport are the Hampton Inn, which offers meeting facilities as well as an outdoor heated pool and exercise room (call toll-free (800) 336-9335 for reservations); and Courtyard by Marriott, with spacious guest rooms, an outdoor pool, exercise room and meeting room. For reservations call (941) 355-3337 or (800) 321-2211.

Further south, in the cozy town of Venice, the Inn at the Beach Resort offers deluxe accommodations, including kitchen and garden suites, set along Venice Beach. Call (800) 255-8471 for information. Also in Venice: the Hampton Inn & Suites, boasting 76 guest rooms and 34 double suites, outdoor heated swimming pool and state-of-the-art exercise room. Call (941) 488-5900 for reservations.

For top-quality vacation properties on Longboat and Lido Key, you can also turn to the Florida Vacation Connection, which connects vacationers with privately owned, fully equipped homes, condominiums and resorts. Amenities vary, but include the beach, swimming pools, hot tubs, tennis courts and boat docks, to name a few.

The Connection can also help with travel plans, real estate sales, and more. Call (800) 469-4852 or (941)387- 9709 or visit

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