We stayed here for just two nights in March while catching some Spring Training baseball at nearby Ed Smith Stadium (Go Orioles!). The resort grew on us as we stayed. The somewhat aloof desk clerk was not overly welcoming, but a bell guy standing nearby heard us ask (unsuccessfully) to adjust our reservation so that we could have two rooms in the same building rather than on separate ends of the property, and took it upon himself to seek out the manager and made it happen. Props to Steve -- good stuff.
We had something they called Club Suites, which had king beds, a pull out sofa bed and sitting area (but in the same room as the bed), a full but narrow galley kitchen with an seating bar and large bathroom/dressing area. There are three "views" available for rooms -- one beach, which would be fabulous but we economized, one lagoon and one golf course. We saw both the lagoon and golf course views and found them both lovely -- the property is nicely landscaped with glimpses of water no matter where the rooms. Parking is easy by each building, and they've made what could be an ugly mass of parking lots more attractive with trellises and lots of flowering vines. Each room has balconies, and rooms on the first floors have step-down patios that are spacious. Again -- if money is no object, ask for beach views because the setting is spectacular, but you won't feel like a second-class citizen in something else.
The property is large and sprawling, although each hotel building is within a few minutes walk of another. Elevators are slow, but not agonizingly so. The sprawl would be more noticeable for those taking advantage of tennis and the spa, which are more of a committed walk from the rooms,
The beach really is spectacular. Uncrowded, with plenty of cabanas and lounge chairs and umbrellas for the asking. The beach staff is great and they do offer chair service for drinks and light meals. They don't charge for chairs and cabanas, which is nice, although I'm sure it figures into the resort fee. And prices are reasonable for rentals of stand-up paddle boards, boogie boards and other water sports. There is a volleyball net and several groups enjoyed short pick-up games. Access is via two boardwalks on each end of the property (watch out for splinters!) with showers at each. There's a small hut that sells beach toys, sunscreen, flip flops and the like. Also, there are about a dozen bikes available to sign out, even though there were a few times during our stay that they all were spoken for. No need to get up early and "reserve" space as the beach is extremely large and spacious.
Can't say the same for the pool, which was a huge opportunity lost. Two small, too crowded, too loud, too few chairs, too small bar (total of 12 barstools, tops) and it just felt uncomfortably dense with people and noise. For families with kids, a plus: Lots of "noodles" for pool use and other toys around made it easy to entertain little ones. This, by the way, when the hotel was at 100 percent capacity, so it could be more tolerable when the hotel is less crowded. We stuck to the beach.
There are several restaurants on property, but we only patronized the main restaurant off the lobby at breakfast (buffet @ $22) which was unspectacular but quite good. The basics: omelet bar, baked goods, cereals, bacon & sausage, fresh fruit. You also can order off the menu. The room is lovely with indoor and outdoor seating, and helpful, pleasant staff. Also off the lobby: a nice "library" with a work table and a selection of books and magazines, and a pleasant business center. There is free wi-fi throughout, including at the pool and on the beach (nice), but none in our building which was only a couple minute walk from the lobby building.
On to the rooms. Ours was very well appointed. Great glassware, china, etc, in the kitchen, including a fridge, dishwasher, blender, toaster, decent knives, scissors, paper towels, dish soap, etc. We also had a washer-dryer. In other words, one could stay comfortably for a long time, assuming one could afford it. The lines, towels and bathrobe are high quality, as are the furnishings -- marble or granite countertops, nice fixtures, lots of closets and drawers, extra pillows and blankets, low-key but classic decorations. Very comfortable beds and great "black out" curtains that make the rooms trip-over-your-shoes dark. Overall mood was serene, attractive and well thought-out. Each balcony had a chaise longue and table/chairs.
So, in terms of the misses, they were few and perhaps just situational given high capacity. The front desk staff was occasionally abrupt or seemed overwhelmed, although we had a couple of good experiences. It is disappointing to not have wi-fi in all rooms of a luxury resort in an era so many folks have a competing need to get online. Remember, you can't plug your iPad into an ethernet cord, and that was the only option to get online in our room. But to its credit, the LBKC did not nickel and dime us for every little thing -- getting online was free. One other downside was a very hard sell for the Chart House restaurant (part of a chain we've always found overpriced and underwhelming) when we asked where to go for dinner. As it turns out the restaurant has some sort of agreement with the resort and likely provides some sort of commission for referrals. We ate the Dry Dock Grill right down the street -- decent food and a fun waterside setting.
Longboat Key can suffer from traffic and annoyances getting from point to point -- particularly in high tourist season -- but is otherwise very low key and appealing. And downtown Sarasota is a lovely city to look at -- attractive skyline, beautiful water vistas, not too much by way of crowds or tackiness as is more common on the east coast of Florida. The bird watching is also awesome, even for people not usually impressed by birds.
Overall, a very nice resort in an area with somewhat limited lodging offerings. Quite expensive, but worth it. We left happy.