My husband and I vacation on Captiva Island, Florida for two weeks each March. We have developed a ritual where we spend the first day of our stay at The Crowne Plaza at Bell Tower Shops before venturing out on the islands. We do so for a number of reasons.
First, the hotel is very nice and has great amenities. It has a great location, an easy drive from Ft. Myers airport and well situated to access Ft. Myers businesses and restaurants. It is literally adjacent to the Bell Tower Shops, a lovely open air shopping center south of downtown Fort Myers. We always stay on the concierge level (fifth floor) and are treated to a quiet environment, complimentary appetizers and happy hour priced cocktails, fruit and pastries in the AM and a large and very comfortable room. To us, this is the perfect "way station" before battling the traffic out to the islands and beginning the siege of "island prices".
Second, since we generally arrive during the day, it makes no sense to drive out to the islands and spend a hefty hotel fee on an abbreviated first day.
Third, we enjoy shopping at Bell Tower. Lots of great stores and restaurants. Everything from a Sak's Fifth Avenue to a William Sonoma. The restaurants offer great variety -- sushi to seafood to pizza to fine dining. There is also a multi-plex theater for those interested in catching a movie.
Fourth, we can get up early (or late) the next morning, pick up a few groceries at Publix, and head out to Sanibel Island before the traffic starts to back up at the causeway.
Fifth, let us say again that Crowne Plaza is a very nice accommodation, with friendly and helpful staff and nice rooms. Who knows? Maybe one of these years we'll entirely forget about staying on the island and just call Crowne Plaza home!