My Dad & I just returned from 1 and 1/2 months at Beach Castle Resort. We arrived just after the big freeze that killed the FLA tomato crop and stayed until 3/2/10. We have stayed in Longboat Key for 20 years+ and enjoyed our stay at Beach Castle quite a bit. First, let me say that the cold weather was not typical at all. Jan & Feb are usually pretty nice.
The pool area is somewhat sheltered on all sides by privacy shrubs (thereby diminishing wind) and there is a heated pool and hot tub on the bayside where we stayed. Both are well maintained and kept quite warm -- enough so that we were able to swim in the unseasonable weather this year, if it was sunny. Clean, enclosed bathroom facilities adjoin the pool & hot tub area.
Lissy is the onsite manager and was very friendly and accomodating. On Mondays, you'll speak to Suzanne & Shannon, so someone is always available. Our 2BDRM unit could sleep 6 if desired. It included kitchen facilities, was very well stocked with everything we needed, and pleasantly decorated. There was also a screened lanai overlooking a tropical garden. Each unit is individually owned and other units have bay views etc. Heat, A/C, etc. worked fine. Free laundry facilities, only steps away, proved to be a nice amenity -- no struggling with quarters. Shared charcoal grills are provided near the units.
A few steps across Gulf of Mexico Dr., at this narrow stretch of the island, are the gulfside units. Beach lounge chairs are provided for all the resort's guests. Anyone familiar with Longboat Key knows that it is a quiet, primo, almost private beach, on a very upscale island. Even after years of staying "gulfside", we really didn't miss anything by staying bayside. Another plus to the bay side at this resort is that there is a nice fishing dock and johnboats or kayaks available for all resort guests to use. You can rent power boats at the nearby marina if desired. You can also just sit and watch dolphins play in the bay. Beach Castle Resort is only about a half of a "city" block to The Centre Shops, where you can dine, get a massage or haircut, grab a paper, mail items, shop, or get computer access. However, Beach Castle's pool area is WiFi capable as are many of the units-- in case you want to stay "wired."
The local grocery, Harry's, is open late & is quite nearby for staples. They also host wine tastings. The Joan Durante Nature Center is only about 2 blks. away. It has ecotrails, a varied garden of roses and native plants, local wildlife, and a small playground for kids.
The island is a mix of mostly condos, private homes, mansions, and local businesses.
Publix is the large grocery store on the island about 5 min. away by car. Skip The Beach House for dining on the beach and head to Beach Cafe on Holmes Beach which is only a short drive past Cortez Rd. Much cleaner and very good food. They even stayed open just for us when we pulled into town about 8:30pm as they were closing. Nice people.
Beach Resorts location of bay/beach/commerce worked really well for us. If you just want to veg out on vacation and plan to always eat out, you probably could even do without a car. Everything you need is close and there is also a trolley that goes from Sarasota through Longboat and on into Holmes Beach. Do you really want to stay in crowded St. Armand's when you can very easily visit?
If nightlife is your thing and you do go downtown -- head to Marina Jack's on Sunday night. They have entertainment nightly, but 4:30-9pm Sunday features an incredible band called "Democracy" in the downstairs bar. The band is tight, the drinks and ALL AGE company are diverse & enjoyable, and the dancing is wild and participatory! What happens in Sarasota, stays in Sarasota!!! We met people from Belize and several other countries while there. Also while dining at Columbia House in St. Armands Circle, we asked a Canadian couple to join us for lunch. How fun! (This is one of our favorite restaurants in Sarasota. You HAVE to have the sangria +black bean soup & Cuban sandwich there -- reservations advised.) Also, food at the Sea Shack on Cortez has greatly improved. Try the lobster dinner for $19, I had it twice it was so good (and the martinis weren't bad either....) Marina Jack's has the best view of Sarasota Bay -- hands down. The upstairs has fine dining for special occasions but you can enjoy the view from their downstairs bar as well. There is a traveling exhibit of large sculptures installed along the waterfront, next to the mooring for luxurious yachts and dinner cruises. This is also the location for fireworks if you are in town on July 4.
From Beach Castle Resort, Disney is about 2 hrs, Ft Meyers 1.5hrs. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens is lovely and a short drive into Sarasota. There are flea markets, farmers markets, Amish pies, Mote Marine acquarium, fine dining and people watching everywhere. All in all, we didn't waste time grousing about the weather. There was plenty to do and the rest of the country had it much worse. I got my tan, go get yours -- at Beach Castle.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Between the azure blue of the Southwest Florida skies, and the turquoise Gulf of Mexico waters sits Beach Castle Resort on Longboat Key. A true beach-to-bay community, Beach Castle rests on one of the narrowest points of this prestigious island allowing the community to extend from the Gulf side to the bay side – a quality few have the privilege to carry. With various locations to choose from, including Gulf front, bay front, pool and garden views – this charming resort caters to even the most discerning traveler. Equipped with spacious one-, two-, and three-bedroom options, this 21-unit condominium resort offers a laid-back appeal. Beach Castle Resort is a classic choice with amenities that cater to an array of travelers providing the perfect vacation experience. Holding a reputation on the island as one of the top accommodation options, Beach Castle Resort exudes charm and perfection that wins the hearts of all who stay here. Many of our guests return year-after-year. Economically priced, combined with exceptional furnishings and unique amenities including private beach access and a bay front fishing or boating dock, Beach Castle offers vacationers a glimpse into reminiscent days of Old Florida charm and private getaways. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Beach Castle Hotel Longboat Key