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Trip Report--South Seas Resort 7/15-7/23--Looong!

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Trip Report--South Seas Resort 7/15-7/23--Looong!

As has been the case for many of my trips lately, TA forums have been a great help, so I will always provide a trip report as a way of giving back. So here goes for our trip to Captiva/SSR in July...

First, myself (about to turn 50) and wife (52) and our 12yo daughter and her 13yo friend traveled from Louisville. This was my wife and my third trip to SSR, but first in over 10 years and so first since Hurricane Charley. We were looking to relax--beach, pool, shelling, reading, sleeping, eating, etc. My kind of vacation! I had done my research (I thought), and booked a 2BR Marina Villa and requested a newly decorated unit at time of booking. We rented a car at RSW (Ft. Meyers airport), which was nice to have, even if we didn't leave the resort every day. While the golf carts looked fun, they were limited in how far off the resort you could go in them and they were every bit as expensive as a car to rent. Plus we needed transport to and from airport anyway, and this allowed the requisite stop at Publix before the causeway to get some perishables and libations.

Check in was pretty easy, we didn't arrive until about 6pm so there was no one else at registration, they told me I had a newer unit in the first (westernmost) 600 Marina Villa Building. We had sent down a box with some food and supplies, it was right there at check in. Drove up to the north end and our room...upper floor, right in the middle of the building. Really very nice, all recently redone, nice new furniture and appliances, in great shape. Screened in porch overlooked part of the edge of the marina, and a bit unfortunately we looked right across at the Lady Chadwick cruise boat, so heard this a bit too much, but not a big deal. This time of the year, the marina is filled with manatees, though! Pretty much all day every day, except when it was choppy or raining, they were there. We often saw them from our porch, including some babies, but more often as we made the walk from our villa around the marina 3-4X per day. Sadly, most had the telltale white scars from boat props...

Quick rundown of what we did and where we ate...

We spent a lot of time both at the H2Whoa/lagoon pool complex and at Sunset Beach, the entrance to which was right next to the Marina Villas driveway. The pool complex was ok, shallow and a bit too warm pools that got crowded and the towel game was in full swing every day to get the limited number of lounges under the umbrellas. But the chaise lounges were comfortable and there is a bar and a shaved ice stand by the poolside Pointe restaurant that the kids loved. Be forewarned, the 2 water slides are pretty short and hardly impressive to jaded 12yos who have done big time waterparks! Our last full day (Sunday) we sucked it up and rented a cabana for the day ($195), which gave us room, shade, a fridge with drinks, sofas, our own private lounge chairs, and most importantly a tv I could watch the end of the British Open on! Too bad it clouded up by about noon that day!

Sunset Beach had unfortunately been significantly eroded and narrowed by Tropical Storm Debby a few weeks earlier, as had much of the gulf beach all the way down to the Mucky Duck. There was also a nasty, hot, stinky trench of water that had been formed by the tidal surge, they had built up these sand bridges across it at SSR but they were a bit unsightly. Nobody to blame for that! Umbrella, chair and towel service at the beach was always prompt and friendly.

We took a day trip to Ding Darling, always fun, and also a Captiva Cruises shelling trip to Cayo Costo that left from McCarthy's. It was a very hot, clear sunny day that day, so with absolutely no shade on Cayo Costo island due to it having been de-canopied by Hurricane Charley, it made for an intense experience. Two older women had to go back to the boat and get medical treatment/ice bags for exposure! Unfortunately we got there at high tide, so the shelling was not great, but still found some nice ones. The guides were informative and friendly, and stopped so we could check out some dolphin in Pine Island Sound.

We ate most breakfasts in the villa, had the breakfast buffet at Harborside two mornings (pretty good, though no variety from one to the next, and as expected, not cheap). Lunches were a mixed bag, we did sandwiches from the Ship's Store a couple of times (tasty, and one of the few places where you can actually pay for something in cash or credit card and not have it go on the room charge), lunch at the Pointe poolside restaurant (which was quite good and not so expensive), and skipped a couple of lunches when we had a late breakfast or and early dinner. We had dinners at RC Otters (our favorite, along with Green Flash, which had a great view from the window tables), Bubble Room (meh food but fun for the kids), the Holy Smoke BBQ place at South end of SSR (ok food, strange picnic tables in the middle of a big room), and about 3 times at Scoops and Slices, the kids kept wanting to go back there, even though the pizza was pretty mediocre. Never made it to Old Captiva Inn or Crowsnest for the crab races, but oh well...

In general I thought SSR was the same beachy, slightly frayed type of place that I remembered and loved. It is expensive, but I am a bit bewildered by the number of people that complain about little things. It's a beachy place, so not always spotless, lots of kids so not always quiet and peaceful (or spotless again!), in the tropics so you see sugar ants here and there...but then again I had a really nice new unit, and it sounds like they are not all like that. It is what it is, it is not the Ritz or Four Seasons, it is a fun, beachy family resort.

Pompano Beach...
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1. Re: Trip Report--South Seas Resort 7/15-7/23--Looong!

Thanks for sharing, sounds like you and your family had a great beach vacation! Nice trip report!

Captiva Island...
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2. Re: Trip Report--South Seas Resort 7/15-7/23--Looong!

Sounds like you had a really great beachy vacation!

I'm glad you were happy with your Marina Villa, and it sounds like at least you had some time in that Cabana you rented before the clouds! Having a beach cabana is definitely a nice splurge!

I am often surprised at the reviews that complain about the number of kids running around at SSR, they advertise themselves as a FAMILY resort and really cater to families with their kids clubs and activities. Thanks for taking the time to write a trip report, keeps us all sane in between our visits!

The Bakery
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3. Re: Trip Report--South Seas Resort 7/15-7/23--Looong!

Just MHO, but I always felt SSR's website and advertising led people to expect a 5* type place, with 5* service. It's not. It's a beachy, family retreat. H2Whoa was built for kids and families. In season, when they run out of nicely updated condos and folks get stuff in a place that hasn't seen upgrades in 20 years and are paying super premium prices, they kind of have a right to feel cheated. Complaining about the lack of lounges at the pool is chronic at all resorts, not just SSR. Complaining about kids at a family resort is silly.

I think SSR gets negative comments mostly because expectations are not met. It's not a Four Seasons. It's not a 5* resort. It's a killer location with good facilities thanks to the new pools, a nice beach, and all the problems that come with trying to run a sprawling, multi-tier resort in a logistically difficult location to staff and service. Go in with the right attitude, like you did, and you'll enjoy yourself.

4. Re: Trip Report--South Seas Resort 7/15-7/23--Looong!

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