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Christmas in Longboat Key? Good Idea?

Chesterfield...
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Christmas in Longboat Key? Good Idea?

We have a lot of Hilton Points and need to use them. We want to take a vacation during Christmas. Is Longboat key a good idea? We have a 5 year old and are looking to spend Thurs-Monday of the holiday weekend there. The Hilton Longboat Key is the only property I found. Does anyone know anything about it? Also how long of a drive is it to Orlando? Maybe we could do a day or two at Disney?

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Sarasota, Florida
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1. Re: Christmas in Longboat Key? Good Idea?

The Hilton on Longboat is the Hilton chain's only beachfront property in the Sarasota area. It is a nice place to stay, though some of the rooms seem to be a bit dated and maybe not up to typical top-of-the-line Hilton standards. It is right on the beach -- a lovely beach that is never crowded -- and there's a salt-water pool as well. The hotel is also close to several excellent restaurants, and you're not too far away from St. Armands Circle with its 120+ shops and restaurants, and also the Mote Aquarium which would be fun. All along Longboat is a nice area for biking; nearby is a wonderful park that your youngster (and you) would enjoy.

Depending on traffic, you're probably two hours from Orlando, maybe a bit more but not much more than that. Half-way between Longboat and Orlando is Busch Gardens in Tampa; it's a large amusement park that would make a nice day's outing.

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Chesterfield...
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2. Re: Christmas in Longboat Key? Good Idea?

This is our first Xmas away from home. We don't need anything fancy. Just a room with a nice bed, view and good beach/pool for our daughter. Are there stores like a Walmart within driving distance so we could get a small tree and gifts for "santa's arrival". Also what is the best airport to fly into. We have plenty of points for the airlines and car rentals. Disney and Orlando was a thought but don't want to overdo it. We have so many Hilton points that this is the only one on the island. Since we areDiamond members maybe they would make sure we don't get a dated room. LOL.

Is this time of year warm enough for us to swim? I heard the beach is lovely so thanks for confirming. Any place else you might suggest we vacation for Christmas?

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3. Re: Christmas in Longboat Key? Good Idea?

You won't find locals swimming at that time of year but definitely will see tourists in the water. Right now the water in the Gulf of Mexico is about 32 C; we typically stop swimming if it drops below 25 or 26. My guess is that the water at Christmastime will probably be around 20 C. I believe that the Hilton's pool is heated, though. As for the air temperature, daytime highs on December 25 average 23 C and nighttime lows 11 C.

The most convenient airport is Sarasota-Bradenton (SRQ) which would be about 20 minutes from the Hilton, but they don't have any direct flights to Europe; they do have good connections to Atlanta if you wanted to come through there. Next closest would be Tampa (TPA) which has a daily nonstop from London (British Air); Tampa would be a little over an hour from the Hilton. Fort Myers (FMY) has a flight from Dusseldorf but none from elsewhere in Europe. Orlando has several flights and, of course, Miami has quite a few.

There are very few commercial shops on Longboat, and no WalMart. The nearest WalMart would be about 10 miles away; much closer by are quite a few other shops on the mainland where you could easily pick up your Christmas surprises.

Any other place to stay? You might look at the Hilton on Marco Island (that's near Naples). It too is on the beach and about a 2-hour drive from Miami. I've not stayed there, though, and can't tell you anything about the beach, neighboring properties, etc. I'm a bit biased in favor of Longboat and think you would enjoy the quiet pleasures in this area. If you want to consider non-Hilton places, let me know and I can suggest some for you.

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4. Re: Christmas in Longboat Key? Good Idea?

Oops, I think I'd better translate some of the above post! With your address I assumed that you're from the U.K. but obviously that's not the case. So to translate... current water temp is about 89 degrees (farenheit!); by December it should be in the mid to low 70's. Air temp will be about 73 in the day and maybe mid 50's at night. As for air transportation, definitely try to fly into Sarasota; USAir has nonstops from Washington National.

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5. Re: Christmas in Longboat Key? Good Idea?

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