BEST. BEACH. ON. THE. KEY.
If I could give 10 stars for location, I would be much happier in writing this review -- the reason you stay at Leona's Sandcastle hotel is because the beachfront, and the pools, are the best out there. If you're a beach / pool / sun person, this is your place. I give it 5 stars only because that's the limit.
My family's been visiting Sarasota and Lido Key for a variety of reasons for years, and after the sad sale further down the road of the Half Moon, the Helmsley Sandcastle is the best thing out there—why would you come to Lido if the beach was not your goal? If a large, luxurious pool RARELY full of crowds, is not your thing? Some reviewers have barely mentioned the beach here, and I'm boggled. This strip of beach is powder-white, soft sand, quiet and never crowded, NEVER overrun with loud groups like you often run into down on Siesta Key, easy to bring your children or family to, but also an easy place to veg out with your sister or girlfriends, or a small couples weekend. Everyone always seems like the most welcome group the hotel is hoping to see (we've seen weddings here, family reunions, bachelor weekends, Thanksgiving Family Meet-ups...), even though there are all these groups at once.
I need to say this: THIS IS NOT A RESORT HOTEL. Other reviewers have mentioned, and this is 100% true, this is an old-school hotel. Leona Helmsley kept it in the portfolio because she stayed here herself, and it's one of the last affordable properties on the Key only as long as the dog is still around, we hear. There is a café available for breakfast and lunch, and there is an on-site restaurant for dinner, but really, you are not staying at this hotel for either of those amenities. If you are traveling and need to have that all-inclusive feel, check out the Ritz two doors down. But also, realize you are doing yourself a disservice -- Sarasota's downtown has developed some truly wonderful restaurant life, especially in the last ten years, and you're missing out on a lot if you don't get even a modest rental car and venture over the bridge a few nights for cocktails and dinner. At the very least, wander down Ben Franklin Drive to the restaurants on the Circle for dinner, rather than expecting the hotel to provide it. The restaurant (really, the Room Service, actually) is perfect for that last, exhausted night, when you're already sad to be leaving the next morning & you need to stay in to try to cram all your things back in your suitcase and drink up the wine & drinks you overbought earlier in the trip. The Au Jus sandwich & fries are perfect for just such an occasion, brought to your room.
The rooms, along that same line, are pretty basic, but almost all have some view of the beachfront (unless you are really paying that illegal steal-rate; we've been in those rooms too, and the price made it ok!). The beds and the tv and the mini-fridge are all pretty pedestrian, but again: you don't come to this place to rest in your room. If that's what you need, keep looking elsewhere, you'll be much happier.
But if you're at that place where you'd give just anything for a visit to Beach Heaven, a pool where the bar maid will be more than happy to bring your cocktails to you poolside while you hang there in the sun for six hours at a stretch before you even realize how much time has passed, a tiny shopping haven with ice cream for the kids and Starbucks for your morning jog-break just a mile away, and great cocktails and steaks and seafood and Greek food just a short drive over the bridge to the mainland some nights... this is your place. You're going to love their palm trees.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A tropical paradise at the Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach in Sarasota, FloridaSandcastle Resort at Lido Beach has a relaxing sunny resort flavor, with a storybook seaside setting on a 600 foot strand of private, natural white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico.Sun. Sand. Swaying Palm Trees. And Great Service, Too. You'll be treated to thoughtful touches, such as a morning newspaper and a small refrigerator for chilling beverages and snacks. Free wifi is also available throughout the property. Plus the pleasures of outdoor dining for both breakfast and lunch are virtually right outside your door. What's more, our recreation staff can provide personalized sailing lessons. There's a convenient Gift Shop on premises and we're within easy walking distance of popular St. Armands Circle, with its fine shopping and entertainment attractions. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Helmsley Sandcastle Sarasota
- Sarasota Helmsley Sandcastle
- Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel Sarasota