Luxury Lodgings

By staff December 1, 2002

You'll find a variety of accommodations for your Sarasota holiday. The resorts that rim Sarasota's barrier islands promise balmy, sub-tropical breezes, unlimited water sports and relaxing rope hammocks slung beneath swaying palms. On the mainland, you can choose from stylish hotels to national chains that provide real value and roomy spaces perfect for the entire family. Some have a world of amenities available for visitors, and all are within minutes of golf courses, tennis courts, marinas and other recreational opportunities.


Situated downtown and overlooking Sarasota Bay, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, is a magnificent new landmark for the city. The hotel offers 266 guest rooms, including a stunning 2,500-square-foot suite. All accommodations offer views of Sarasota Bay, the marina or the city skyline. Each room features a fully stocked refrigerated bar, personal safe, marble bath, cable television and individual air conditioning and heat controls. There are also signature luxury items such as waffle-weave robes, Italian Frette bed linens and personal-size toiletry items.

Complete concierge services are provided, as well as 24-hour room service and 24-hour valet parking. Lavish amenities include the full-service Vernona restaurant, the Lobby Lounge (which serves afternoon tea), and the Ca d'Zan Bar and Cigar Lounge, featuring spirits and a lively atmosphere. There are also an outdoor eatery that offers casual cuisine and poolside service and a chocolate boutique offering freshly made pastries, desserts and an international selection of coffees and teas.

The Ritz-Carlton Signature Shop sells upscale merchandise, and the state-of-the-art fitness center has circuit training, steam rooms and massage therapy. Guests in the mood for additional pampering can choose rooms or suites on The Ritz-Carlton Club Level, where they can enjoy a dedicated concierge staff and five food and beverage presentations daily.

More than 18,000 square feet of conference and banquet facilities are available. A 15,000-square-foot spa is scheduled to open by late 2003, adjacent to the hotel and featuring health, beauty and wellness treatments. Also soon to come: The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club on Lido Key, a private beach experience with a beachside swimming pool tiki bar and casual restaurant. For reservations, call (800) 241-3333.

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


Half Moon Beach Club is a charming 84-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 $199 in summer; $129 to $199 in winter; and $149 to $279 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

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 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 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 recreational 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, makeup 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.

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 white sandy beach, enjoy the beachfront pools and Jacuzzis, experience an intimate dinner overlooking Sarasota at the new Christopher's restaurant, or sip a cocktail and watch the sunset from your balcony or the beachside tiki bar. The 5,800-square-foot meeting and banquet facilities can accommodate groups of up to 300. For reservations call (800) 441-2113.


The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, long recognized as the No. 1 tennis resort in the nation and a top-notch destination for couples and families, is nestled in the secluded surroundings of Longboat Key. With 208 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 services. 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, offered 365 days a year, 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 creative and flavorful dishes with island influences. Adjacent is a comfortable lounge with live nightly entertainment. Outside, bartenders serve exotic drinks on the Monkey Room Patio. 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 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.

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, you 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 for reservations; or go to


The Holiday Inn Express on Siesta Key is a contemporary but tropically appointed 131-room hotel. Restaurants and shopping are within easy walking distance, and the hotel is just minutes from local attractions.

Amenities include on-site laundry facilities and PC, copying, facsimile and printer service for guests. To reserve a room, call (941) 924-4900.

Recreation lovers should check out the Sarasota Surf and Racquet Club on Siesta Key. The resort features two heated swimming pools, two clay and two Lay-Kold tennis courts, plus a fitness and business center. There's also a beachside barbecue grill available.

Each one- and two-bedroom condominium is fully furnished with cable television, VCRs, and kitchens equipped with microwaves, refrigerators, coffeemakers and ovens. Call (941) 349-2200 or toll-free (800) 237-5671 for reservations.

Nestled between Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on Siesta Key is The Palm Bay Club, a perfect spot for sunning, shelling or relaxing by the ocean. Along with a secluded beach there are two heated pools, lighted tennis courts, a yacht basin, fishing pier, private clubhouse and exercise equipment.

A variety of one-, two- and three-bedroom suites, all fully furnished, are available with breathtaking views of the Gulf and tropical landscaping. For reservations, call toll-free (800) 725-6229.


The Holiday Inn Airport is a boat lover's dream, with a 75-slip marina, bath house facility, fuel, harbor master and marina-view rooms. Some rooms feature private balconies and patios.

Guests staying in one of the 178 guest rooms or four suites receive complimentary shuttle service to the nearby Sarasota/Bradenton Airport. They can also enjoy an outdoor heated pool, spacious sundeck and a relaxing outdoor tiki bar. The hotel offers indoor and waterfront dining from its restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Weekends, the lounge comes alive with Friday Night Oldies Dance Parties and other seasonal entertainment.

There's also a 10,000-square-foot conference and banquet facility. Call (941) 355-2781 for reservations.


Located next to the Hyatt and the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, the Inn by the Bay is one of the most central and affordable hotels in downtown Sarasota. It has 30 large rooms with private balconies overlooking the bay and marina, 70 city-side rooms, a pool and a 24-hour restaurant. For reservations, call or fax (941) 365-1900 or visit

The Best Western Midtown lies in the heart of Sarasota, central to beaches and downtown, and just minutes from St. Armands Circle. Call (941) 955-9841 to reserve one of its 100 rooms.

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. Joining these two: the new Springhill Suites, with 84 rooms and lots of amenities. Call (941) 358-3385. Or toll-free (800) 287-9400.

The Best Western Golden Host is just a half mile from the Ringling Museum, FSU/Asolo Center and Jungle Gardens. It's also home to the legendary Bahi Hut Cocktail Lounge. Call (941) 355-5141.

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. Or try Best Western Ambassador and one of its 40 rooms on the beach, (941) 480-9898; or Best Western Sandbar, conveniently located at I-75 and Jacaranda Boulevard, (941) 488-2251.

For top-quality vacation properties from Anna Maria Island to Venice and all points in between, you can also turn to Florida Vacation Accomodations. As part of Resort Quest, the world's largest vacation rental property management company, they can accommodate you with countless privately owned homes, villas and condominiums, fully equipped with luxurious amenities like pools, spas, tennis courts and boat docks. The best part-they're all private.

Florida Vacation Acccommodations is also a full-service travel agency and can help with all your transportation. For information, call toll-free (800) 237-9505, or locally (941) 383-9505. Or visit their Web site,, or

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