The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
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What it is
A 266-room grande dame on Sarasota Bay with an 18-hole Tom Fazio-designed golf course.
What it isn't
Lackluster. Activities include clay tennis courts, a cabana-lined pool, a tiki bar...the list goes on.
What we think
Sarasota can get short shrift when compared to her other Floridian sisters—Miami, Palm Beach, even kittenish Orlando. She shouldn’t. The Gulf Coast town is chockablock with draws, including the Ringling Museum of Art, housed in a shell pink Venetian-inspired palazzo. This outpost of Ritz-Carlton is worthy of a trip alone, thanks to its seemingly bottomless activities list (did we mention the indigenous-inspired spa?), its four toothsome restaurants (don’t miss Jack Dusty, a locavore seafood joint), and rooms so well appointed Nancy Meyers herself would feel right at home. Each is large (starting at 425-square-feet) and fitted with an honor bar, marble bathroom and Asprey amenities for a contented sojourn.
You're here because
The epitome of relaxation is an on-point tiki bar, and this one, the Lido Key Tiki Bar, ranks: a thatched roofed structure set directly on the sand, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. That they serve rum runners and Mahi Mahi BLT’s is just a bonus.
After a day on the water, you’re exhausted—sun and fun takes it all out of you. Which is why the treatment you chose at the spa, the Remineralizing Sea Escape, is so darn restorative. After the seawater marine scrub you emerge from the chrysalis feeling like a little mermaid: refreshed, renewed, and ready for more.
In the tony bayfront district of Sarasota, directly on Sarasota Bay itself. Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is less than a mile away, and home to performances by the likes of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.