Vacation Guide: Accommodations

By ericg December 1, 2012

Here to Stay

A roundup of the region’s best resorts.

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Looking towards the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota from the docks at Hyatt Regency Sarasota.

Sarasota is no stranger to great hotels—and why should it be? We’ve got great local amenities—from our beaches to our arts scene—and our lodging aims to be equally as great, whether you’re in town for business or pleasure, whether you want your hotel room to have a sparkling view of the city skyline or the soothing turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Each of the local accommodations listed here aims to be your home away from home and to make your stay as convenient and relaxing as possible. You’ll find the usual in-room luxuries (coffeemakers, high-definition televisions, refrigerators, luxurious linens, spa showers, fluffy terrycloth robes), but you’ll also find business centers, 24-hour fitness facilities, award-winning restaurants and spas and aqua pools and private marinas. And, of course, wherever you stay will be convenient to beaches and other outdoor amenities, exciting shopping, museums, galleries and other local attractions. In fact, some of them are right outside your hotel or apartment door.

So go, explore. Take advantage of all Sarasota has to offer. Then you can come back to your room, drift off to dreamland on your king-sized bed and wake up and do it all again the next day.



Best Western Midtown, 1425 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 955-9841. Mere minutes away from downtown entertainment and stunning Gulf beaches, Best Western Midtown offers many activities nearby. Inside the hotel, guests can enjoy a number of amenities including free high-speed Internet access in every room, cable satellite television and a complimentary continental breakfast that features classic “Southern Style” biscuits and sausage gravy. There is a spacious deck to sunbathe on and a heated pool to relax in. Don’t forget to bring the four-legged friends; Best Western Midtown is a pet-friendly hotel.

Hotel Indigo Sarasota, 1223 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. (941) 487-3800 or (877) 846-3446. Hotel Indigo is a sanctuary of calm. Magnificent murals and seaside cottage décor create a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere in 95 guest rooms and suites. Guests are encouraged to use both the cooling and hot spa, as well as the complimentary fitness studio. The hotel also includes the H2O Bistro, which offers an array of salads, flatbreads and more. For busy guests who don’t have time to sit down, there’s the option of “H20 to Go,” which supplies a selection of quickly delivered items. Sarasota’s nightlife is right outside the door, including attractions such as the Sarasota Opera House and the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall less than a mile away.

Hyatt Regency Sarasota, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. (941) 953-1234. The only Four Diamond hotel in the Sarasota area, Hyatt Regency Sarasota is a water lover’s dream, with activities such as sailing, scuba diving, kayaking and more. Even the on-site dining in Currents Restaurant overlooks the beauty of the bay. Hypo-allergenic rooms with a state-of-the-art air purification system make breathing easy while guests take pleasure in amenities like cable/satellite TV, high-speed Internet access and video on demand. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to Lido Public Beach, from which guests can walk approximately half a mile to St. Armands Circle, where they can spend the day dining and shopping in upscale boutiques.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, 1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota. (941) 309-2000. The Ritz-Carlton brings extravagance to Sarasota. Guests can appreciate city, bay or marina views from their private balconies just outside rooms featuring plush featherbeds, Egyptian cotton linens and terry bathrobes. Business gets done with high-speed Internet, graceful writing desks and multi-line telephones. Once the work is complete, relaxation can begin at the spa and salon or the hotel pool with daily food and beverage service. The Member’s Beach Club also provides programs for children, such as Ritz Kids Camp and Kids Night Out, with supervised games and crafts from 6 to 9 p.m. When it comes time to dine, guests can do so in style thanks to several restaurant options, including the Golf Club Grille and a new, seafood-themed restaurant set to open in January 2013.



Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel, 1540 Ben Franklin Drive, Sarasota. (941) 388-2181 or (800) 225-2181. Boasting two heated pools, 600 feet of private beach, and cabana, umbrella and bicycle rentals, Hemsley Sandcastle Hotel allows guests the perfect opportunity to enjoy the Florida sunshine. Each comfortably styled room comes equipped with helpful amenities such as a coffeemaker, complimentary morning newspaper, hair dryer, mini-fridge and WiFi. Dining is just as pleasant as lodging, with a la carte breakfast items at the Sandcastle Coffee Shop and delicious entrées at the Candlelight Restaurant and Lounge. The pool bar

is open from 11:30 a.m. daily for cocktails and light snacks. Meeting rooms are available for small parties of 10 to larger groups of 200, and conference planners are accessible for help at no charge.

Lido Beach Holiday Inn, 233 Ben Franklin Drive, Sarasota. (941) 388-5555. This beachfront hotel offers a wonderful rooftop bar, allowing guests a stunning view from floor-to-ceiling windows as they dine (kids age 12 and under eat free). The pool is another favorite, as it overlooks the beach and houses a poolside tiki bar. The hotel also offers such amenities as an on-site fitness center and same-day laundry services. All standard guest rooms have private balconies, and the four suites on the seventh story feature flat-screen TVs, Jacuzzi tubs and wet bars.

Lido Beach Resort, 700 Ben Franklin Drive, Sarasota, (941) 388-2161 or (800) 441-2113. The Lido Beach Resort presents a variety of rooms to choose from, such as the one- and two-bedroom standard rooms, the vacation condo-style suites and the deluxe kitchenette rooms, all varying in size to best suit the quantity of guests. The variety continues down by the two pools, one of which is only for guests 18 years of age and older. The three poolside Jacuzzis, tiki bar and garden center (with waterfalls) guarantee guests will have plenty of ways to relax when not in their rooms. Back inside, the Lido Beach Grille offers dinner, wine and a panoramic view of the Gulf.



Longboat Key Club, 220 Sands Point Road, Longboat Key. (941) 383-8821. Just minutes from St. Armands Circle, the Longboat Key Club is ideally located on its own exclusive stretch of white sand beach, where it offers an idyllic and challenging golf course, award-winning tennis gardens and a 219-slip deep-water marina. The 218 newly renovated rooms, each with its own balcony, have easy access to any of the club’s six restaurants. Guests will also want to take advantage of the 9,000-square-foot spa for a full menu of luxurious treatments.



Gulf and Bay Club, 5730 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota. (941) 349-7101. Located on lovely Crescent Beach, the Gulf and Bay Club encourages guests to walk the feather-soft sand or swim in one of the three heated pools, including a lap pool. Fun and exercise are easy with seven tennis courts, a shuffleboard court and indoor basketball/racquetball courts. The on-site fitness center includes trainers (available by appointment) as well as six dry saunas, a hot tub and two clubhouses with libraries, pool tables and TVs. Two freshwater lakes are home to the resident swans, Romeo and Juliet, whom guests can befriend while enjoying a picnic in one of the barbecue areas.

Holiday Inn Express Siesta Key/Sarasota, 6600 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 924-4900. Popcorn, hot chocolate and fresh fruit in the lobby are just the start of what the Holiday Inn Express has to offer. King or double bed guestrooms, located both poolside and city side, come with wireless Internet, microwave, mini-fridge and flat-screen TVs, among other accommodations such as coffeemakers and hair dryers. There are also King Leisure mini-suites and two-room Executive King Suites, the latter including a toaster oven and extra 42-inch flat-screen TV. The outdoor pool is kept at a comfortable 87 degrees and the neighboring hot tub is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Jonny’s Free Beach Rides provides shuttle service for hotel guests to all of Siesta Key and select spots in Gulf Gate Village.

Hyatt Siesta Key Beach, 915 Seaside Drive, Sarasota. (941) 346-5900. These residences are designed and decorated with luxury in mind. A selection of room sizes makes living comfortable, whether guests are staying seasonally or year-round, living alone or bringing the whole family. The list of amenities is extensive, including but not limited to the beachfront pool, private cabanas, steam room and spa, fitness center and library. Dining is never boring with restaurants like Ophelia’s on the Bay and Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar just minutes away.

Midnight Cove, 6302 Midnight Cove Road, Sarasota. (941) 349-3004. Midnight Cove’s condominiums span more 10 acres of tropical scenery, just a mile from Siesta Key Village and all its shops and restaurants. Close to the exhilarating nightlife of downtown Sarasota, guests have a neverending list of activities to engage in. Two- and three-bedroom rooms come with either screened-in lanais or open balconies, from which the colorful Siesta sunsets can be viewed comfortably. Tennis courts, picnic areas and two sky-blue pools provide ample opportunity to have fun and relax on-site.

The Palm Bay Club, 5960 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota. (941) 349-1911 or (800) 725-6229. Consisting of eight buildings and extending over nine acres of land, the Palm Bay Club has something for everyone. One-, two- and three-bedroom suites are available and come fully furnished. A private beach, fishing pier and complimentary fitness center give guests plenty to do during the day, while the lighted tennis courts provide fun even after the sun goes down.

Sarasota Surf and Racquet Club, 5900 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota. (941) 349-2200 or (800) 237-5671. One- and two-bedroom condominiums offer spacious relaxation for both couples and entire families. Individually decorated, the rooms come equipped with a full kitchen (with dishes, silverware and cooking utensils), cable TV and screened-in lanais. The resort includes two heated pools, four tennis courts and a fitness center. The recreation room is perfect for meetings and small gatherings, while the beach pavilion encourages picnics and barbecues.

Tropical Shores, 6717 Sara Sea Circle, Sarasota. (800) 235-3493. Guests are presented with a wide range of rooms, including options such as the mini-efficiency, the deluxe efficiency and the sundeck studio. One- and two-bedroom suites are also available, and all rooms come with standard features like beach towels, hair dryers and Sealy pillow-topped beds that are perfect for falling into after a busy day. Swimming pools, shuffleboard courts and barbecue tiki huts provide guests myriad opportunities for enjoyment.



Comfort Inn, 5000 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 351-7734. Guests can start their day right with free perks like coffee, newspapers and wireless high-speed Internet access. The lobby also includes a business center equipped with fax and copy services for those travelers who bring their work with them. All rooms include hair dryers, irons and ironing boards. For those traveling with extra companions, select rooms are available with sofa sleepers, refrigerators and microwaves. Non-smoking rooms are available. For an inexpensive nightly fee, guests are also welcome to bring along their small pets. Popular attractions like Asolo Repertory Theatre and the Ringling Museum are less than a mile away.

Courtyard by Marriott Sarasota University Park, 8305 Tourist Center Drive, University Park. (941) 360-2626. Amenities at the Courtyard Sarasota University Park will not disappoint, with a refrigerator, microwave and wet bar included in every room. Spacious bathrooms feature beautiful granite countertops and plush towels. Guests can watch premium cable channels on their 42-inch flat-screen TVs or get to work with the free WiFi and ample workspace. When temperatures drop, there is a heated pool to float in and a toasty fire pit to curl up in front of. On-site dining includes The Bistro, open for breakfast and dinner, and local dining is within walking distance with restaurants such as Bonefish Grill and the Carmel Café.

Courtyard by Marriott Sarasota Airport, 850 University Parkway, Sarasota. (941) 355-3337 or (800) 228-9290. There are four room types to choose from at the Courtyard Sarasota Airport, including double bed rooms and king bed suites that feature a sofa bed and balcony. The fitness center comes with free weights and cardiovascular equipment, while the outside area provides both a whirlpool and heated swimming pool. A complimentary business office awaits guests in the lobby, complete with computer and printer. On-site dining offers fresh breakfast items and a variety of choices for dinner.

Golden Host Resort, 4675 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 355-5141 or (800) 722-4895. Guests of the Golden Host Resort can borrow a book from the on-site lending library to enjoy as they relax by the 50-foot pool. Other hotel amenities include shuffleboard courts, high-speed Internet and complimentary continental breakfast. The tropical Bahi Hut Cocktail Lounge is a must-visit, having served guests for more than 50 years with its famous mai tai and other cocktails. Children aged 12 and under stay free in all rooms. A few smoking rooms are available on request.

Hilton Garden Inn, 8270 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 552-1100. Events for up to 150 people can be held in the Hilton Garden Inn’s spacious meeting room of 1,850 square feet. This, paired with the 24-hour business center, makes planning all the more convenient. With five styles of guest rooms to choose from, such as the standard king and one king mini-suite, everybody can find a specialized space to rest comfortably. Rooms include rollaway and sofa beds, coffee/tea makers and premium channels on TV.

Holiday Inn Sarasota Bradenton Airport, 8009 15th St. E., Sarasota. (941) 355-9000. Sports fans will be right at home in this hotel’s Sporting News Grill, a dining experience with nine 50-inch televisions, all showing premium package sports. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the grill also has a full-service bar so guests can have a drink and unwind. There are a number of recreational areas outside, such as the gorgeously decorated indoor pool and Jacuzzi-type spa. A steam room, sauna and private massages offer pampering, as do facials, pedicures and manicures. Families can stay in the Kids’ Suite so children will have their own room, complete with two bunk beds. Couples traveling alone will enjoy a Jacuzzi room, featuring a two-person remote-controlled spa.

Hyatt Place, 950 University Parkway, Sarasota. (941) 554-5800. Thanks to the Bakery Café, the New Gallery Menu with 24-hour service, and the Kitchen Skillet (serving complimentary breakfasts of hot sandwiches, cereals and more), there are plenty of ways to dine at the Hyatt Place. All guest rooms are smoke-free and offer amenities such as the oversized Cozy Corner sofa-sleeper and a Hyatt Plug Panel so staying connected to personal devices has never been simpler.

La Quinta Inn and Suites, 1803 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 366-5128. At La Quinta, guests can look forward to comfortable beds, free wireless Internet and complimentary Bright Side Breakfast. On-site amenities include a pool, fitness center and laundry room. Rooms have a microwave, mini-fridge, coffee-maker and more. Pets are welcome, though some restrictions do apply.

Ramada Sarasota, 7150 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 358-1000. Right on Sarasota Bay and just minutes from the area’s beaches, Ramada Sarasota is ideally located. Handicapped-accessible rooms and free parking are just a couple of the helpful features the hotel has to offer. The on-site restaurant, the Bearded Clam, is open daily. There are several event facilities, including conference rooms and a ballroom. Local attractions like the Ringling Museum and Sarasota Classic Car Museum are just a couple of miles away.

Residence Inn by Marriott Sarasota Bradenton, 1040 University Parkway, Sarasota. (941) 358-1468. Located directly across the street from the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, the Residence Inn Sarasota is perfect for weary travelers. Fully equipped kitchens welcome extended stays, as do the irons, hair dryers and voicemail. Dining options include free buffet and continental breakfast, local restaurant delivery and the Evening Social, where guests can mingle while enjoying complimentary food and beverages.

Springhill Suites by Marriott, 1020 University Parkway, Sarasota. (941) 358-3385. Suites here are newly renovated with a modern décor, featuring a privacy wall to separate living and sleeping areas, plus in-room pantry, mini-fridge and wet bar. The hotel includes a fitness center, outdoor pool and complimentary breakfasts like the buffet, continental and Grab-n-Go.



Runaway Bay, 1801 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, (941) 778-0000. More than 150 individually owned condominiums are available for weekly, monthly or seasonal rental, surrounded by the alluring Anna Maria Island neighborhoods and attractions. Every unit features a fully equipped kitchen, while the Runaway Bay property includes a fishing pier and tennis court, as well as the largest heated swimming pool on the island.

Anna Maria Island Resorts, 115 Third St. S., Bradenton Beach, (941) 778-0156. The Anna Maria Island Resorts are made up of four separate resorts: The Tradewinds features charming villas and cozy cottages, most with full kitchens; Tortuga Resort offers studios and one- and two-bedroom units, as well as the on-site Le Petit Café where the specialties are crepes, paninis and desserts; Seaside Resort has studios, rooms and a Gulf-front penthouse perfect for a romantic vacation; last but not least, the Tropic Isle comes with luxury studios, poolside rooms and the Gulf View Townhouse, which accommodates six.



Country Inn & Suites, 5610 Manor Hill Lane, Bradenton. (941) 363-4000. Guests at the Country Inn and Suites sleep soundly on the deluxe Serta Elite Pillowtop mattresses that come with every room. All rooms also include coffeemakers with complimentary coffee, spacious bathrooms and large desks with adjustable chairs. Guests can begin their day with complimentary breakfast, fresh cookies and coffee. The friendly and professional staff can help in the laundry facility, fitness and business centers. The hotel recommends dinner at nearby restaurants such as Gecko’s Grill and Pub and Peppermill Eatery, within walking distance.

Fairfield Inn and Suites Lakewood Ranch, 6105 Exchange Way, Lakewood Ranch. (941) 552-4000. Fairfield Inn and Suites accommodates both short and long stays, with rooms featuring high-speed Internet, irons, coffee pots and hair dryers. The suites offer extra amenities such as CD players and an extra TV. Breakfast is complimentary, while local dining options include the Alamo Steakhouse, Monty’s Pizza and First Watch.

Hampton Inn and Suites, 8565 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park. (941) 355-8619. The Hampton offers both smoking and non-smoking rooms, as well as allergy-free PURE rooms with specialized filtration systems to remove unwanted air particles. The ideal 1,200-square-foot meeting and event space can be used for conferences and training sessions, while the hotel also offers complimentary wireless Internet access throughout the premises. Other hotel amenities include complimentary breakfast, outdoor swimming pool, dry cleaning service and a fitness center.

Holiday Inn Lakewood Ranch, 6231 Lake Osprey Drive, Lakewood Ranch. (941) 782-4400. Out of 128 rooms, guests can choose from options like the Double Guestroom and the Executive King Suite, all of which include amenities such as a 32-inch LCD HDTV and premium cable television channels. Local dining is an option, but you don’t need to leave the hotel to indulge in a fantastic dinner: The on-site Alamo Steakhouse and Grille serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is located mere steps from Osprey Lake, where guests can appreciate a lovely view after their meal.

Sun-N-Fun RV Resort and Campground, 7125 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. (800) 843-2421. This award-winning resort is fun for all ages. Premium, Gold and Standard RV and camper homes can be rented for a vacation that’s refreshingly different from a hotel stay. Camping sites are pet-friendly and come with different options, though they all include a picnic table and full hookups for cable television, electrical services, water and sewer. Children will be kept entertained with events like Camp Sun-n-Fun, while parents can relax in the Lifestyle Day Spa, complete with indoor pool and wellness center. Activities are wide-ranging with the on-site restaurant, live entertainment and much more.

Wingate Inn and Suites, 5464 Lena Road, Bradenton. (941) 755-0055. Standard guest rooms include everything a guest could need, such as comfortable recliners, coffee makers, HDTV and more. Junior and executive suites may be more suitable for guests who plan on an extended stay, and these include extra amenities like wet bar, Jacuzzi tub and another television set. The hotel also proudly features free washer and dryer, Neutrogena bath products and DIRECT TV with the NFL Network.



Bentley’s Resort, 1660 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey. (941) 966-2121. Modern and chic, Bentley’s offers rooms from standard double beds to executive suites. The hotel also boasts numerous dining choices, including the Osprey Beach Tiki Bar and Grill, as well as Morgan’s Restaurant and Seattle’s Best Café and Coffee Shop. Guests can also visit the Underground Night Club and Jaguar Lounge for a soulful dance club experience.

Best Western Plus Gateway Siesta, 6600 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. (941) 924-4900. With lush tropical landscaping outside and cappuccino, popcorn, fresh-baked cookies and fresh fruit inside the lobby, Best Western Plus Gateway Siesta, located just one mile from Siesta Beach, makes you feel welcome the moment you arrive. Amenities include free full breakfast, high-speed Internet, fitness center, pool and more.

Best Western Plus Ambassador Suites, 400 Commercial Court, Venice. (941) 480-9898. Hotel amenities here include a sundeck, ballroom, laundromat and wheelchair-accessible rooms. All guest rooms feature a kitchenette, sitting area and individually controlled air conditioning units. Restaurants like Cracker Barrel and Quiznos are directly adjacent to the hotel, while Outback Steakhouse and Chili’s are within five miles.

Hampton Inn and Suites Bayside, 881 Venetia Bay Blvd., Venice. (941) 488-5900. Guestrooms and suites come with free high-speed Internet and HBO, which guests can watch comfortably on 32-inch flat-screen TVs (37-inch in the suites). The hotel offers a free continental breakfast, as well as a 24-hour convenience store and gift shop.


Locals Welcome: The Tiki Bar at the Lido Beach Resort

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One of the most-searched categories by Florida vacationers is “tiki bar.” Search no longer; just head to the poolside tiki bar at the Lido Beach Resort, where you’ll instantly feel like you’re on holiday. There’s lots of room around the big pool to stretch out on a lounge chair and soak up the Florida sun; if you get too hot you can move under a shaded umbrella or—our preferred strategy—slip right into that sparkling blue pool. The bar is famous for its mai tais, but they also make excellent renditions of other tropical drinks and serve a variety of wine and beer as well. You can also order pretty good sandwiches, salads and light bites.

The only downside: Though the pool is right on the beach, the fence that surrounds it doesn’t allow you much of a Gulf view. That’s OK, though; you can hear the waves in the background and the people-watching is always good, especially on weekends, when they often have live music as well. Tip: From 5-7 p.m. every day it’s Happy Hour, with the food as well as all drinks at half price. Sunset, anyone?

700 Ben Franklin Drive, Lido Key. Open Monday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday noon to 8 p.m.


Locals Welcome: The Bayview Burger Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota

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The best-kept dining secret in town? Hands down, it’s the Bayview Burger Bar at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota—yes, we said the Ritz—where, for just $7.50, you can savor a prime Angus beef burger with all the fixings while relaxing under an umbrella on the manicured lawn that overlooks Sarasota Bay. Fancier options abound (we’re fans of the Zen burger, with pineapple, scallions and teriyaki sauce), and you can go healthy with a Caesar or ahi tuna salad. Our Foodie’s Notebook star chef Judi Gallagher raves about the hand-dipped shakes—chocolate, Tahitian vanilla, Plant City strawberry, root beer float and Nutella marshmallow are your choices.

Service is as charming and efficient as you’d expect from a hotel that calls its staff “ladies and gentlemen.” But there’s nothing stuffy here; you get plastic silverware along with the grand surroundings.

1111 Ritz-Carlton Drive, Sarasota. Open Friday-Sunday, noon-8 p.m.


Locals Welcome: Third Friday Happy Hours at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota

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It’s only a few minutes from downtown’s office towers, but the Hyatt Regency Sarasota feels like a different world, with its sleek, bright interiors with lots of glass and water views (the design inspiration was none other than Lilly Pulitzer and her colorful tropical prints). Hard-driving business types can end their work week and get a welcome shot of relaxation during the hotel’s Third Friday Wine and Food Happy Hours.

For just $25, you can sample unlimited wines from around the world and small plates at Currents Restaurant and Bar, known both for its contemporary cuisine and striking bay views from a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows. Each month the food and beverage chef chooses a different theme—Germany in October, for example—featuring five or six different wines and pairing them with a salad, charcuterie, hot items and dessert—definitely enough for a meal. A flamenco guitarist adds to the mellow atmosphere. It’s a great place to feel like a pampered hotel guest while you unwind and connect with other Sarasota professionals.

5:30-7:30 p.m., third Friday of every month. 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. (941) 953-1234.

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