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March 2006 - luxury Florida vacation on a budget

March 2006 - luxury Florida vacation on a budget

Jul 19th, 2005, 06:12 PM
  #1  
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March 2006 - luxury Florida vacation on a budget

We are looking to travel in mid-March - 2 adults and two children (4 year old and 4 month old).

We had hoped to do a very grand vacation this year to celebrate my 40th birthday but since I will be nursing the baby and also won't want the baby in the sun at all, we decided that as long as the accomodations are very nice, it doesn't really matter where we are (we will be spending more time in the room than we normally would just because of naps and sun issues so the room should be very nice and spacious too).

I have not read a lot of positive reviews on this website for the Ritz in Sarasota, however, tripadvisor reviews are very favorable. We are considering this property for budget reasons. I looked at the Breakers, Ritz Naples, and a couple of other places and was astounded at the price for a bottom of the line room (in the $650 range).

At the Ritz in Sarasota we can get a Suite with a seperate living room (the extra space will be really nice to have and will be great for my daughter to sleep in on a rollaway bed) as part of a dinner for two package for $429 per night. The dinner is in either the Beach Club restaurant or in Vernona or (most importantly for our particular situation) is a three course dinner from room service - also included is a bottle of wine and free valet parking. The dinner and wine are for every night of the stay not just one night. It seems like a good deal. Normally we would want to explore various restaurants and get out a little but I am thinking that this might not be the year for that - the dinner in the room seems like an economical yet luxurious solution.

The Beach Club although a shuttle away seems like a great little luxury as well. I thought we could bring one of those UVF shade cabanas for the baby and just use the tag-team approach: one parent for each child in case someone needs to go back to the room for a nap.

Am I missing something or could this work out just fine.

Sure, Sarasota isn't on the top of my list of places to spend my 40th birthday but what I really want is to go to Napa Valley alone with my husband or to some fabulous Caribbean villa but it is simply not in the cards this year so this seems like an economical yet luxurious compromise (we can save our pennies for the big trip when the timing is better).

Any opinions or alternative ideas.
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 19th, 2005, 06:52 PM
  #2  
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also, just to explain further why want to travel given how limited we will be with the baby....

this past winter in New England was so long and so cold and the spring was non-existent - I vowed that we would take a warm weather vacation no matter what next year. Even if we won't be in the sun, it will still be nice not to be bundled up - certainly it will be nice to sit in the shade with a pina colada!! No??
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 06:44 AM
  #3  
 
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It sounds great. I have had two kids in 2 years and we have gone to my parents condo on the beach for a week each time they were about 4 months old. The tag team approach works great especially since kids your 4-year old's age seem to have an unsatiable appetite for beach and pool. I found that I did not mind being in the room, quiet, relaxing while nursing. It was a luxury in and of itself. It's also nice that one parent can give the older child their undivided attention for a while, since their world has been turned upside down with the new sibling. And, if you are lucky, your little one will sleep comfortably in the shade cabana and you will be able to spend more time than you think on the beach. It's very easy to discreetly nurse with a t-shirt or tank top and a bathing suit. Have fun and go for it.
amcc is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 07:35 AM
  #4  
JJ5
 
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IMHO, that is not a budget price and you could have a fabulous vacation for much less money.

Just last year I got a suite-like situation with two connecting rooms within walking distance of St. Armand's Circle and with its own beachfront for a third of that price and it had an excellent room service. The total would come nowhere near $469.00 a night, even if you ordered lobster /steak to the room.

I just googled it and the webpage details all with pictures, just in case you are interested. It is a full Resort with perfect placement and full services. You would have the privacy and yet have all of St. Armand's circle to wander, stroller, and there is outdoor entertainment in the parks in the evenings within 4 short walking blocks. Your babies would not be out of place.

It is the Lido Key St. Armand's Circle Holiday Inn Resort. And don't let the Holiday Inn name fool you, as this place is NICE. Nicer than the one you are considering. Some very good shopping available as well.

I got it on Priceline but even with a March rack rate you would do better, much better than $469. You could have fine dining in St. Armand's- even with the little ones- during the daytime hours not at beach or pool. Plus you could have complete privacy and no crowds at all on the beach end. Free parking as well.

Or if you just used room service, you would do fine. They had a nice piano bar with a fabulous view, and also very good but very expensive Cosmopolitans & Martinis.

I bet they would do an Anniversary Package for you, as well.
JJ5 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 08:03 AM
  #5  
 
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I just skimmed your post, and just wanted to say that the shuttle runs on a strict schedule and takes approximately 15-20 minutes (depending on traffic). It will not be easy for you to just go back and forth. You will not want to carry a lot of stuff with you to the beach unless you take your own car. At the time we went, valet parking was available, but I'm not sure if that is included in you rate (at the Beach Club, that is). You should check to be sure if

You probably already know this, but the Beach Club is also located at the beach and requires the shuttle.

When we were at the Ritz last March, there was construction next to the Beach Club (Ritz timeshares/residence or such going up). You might want to check and see if the construction will be complete (noise). I also want to mention that the pool is a zero entry pool no deeper than 3 feet. No real swimming can take place in it. My final impression of the pool area is that once the new building is occupied, it will be crowded.

If you have any specific questions, just ask.
seetheworld is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 08:17 AM
  #6  
 
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I apologize for my incoherent post - trying to multi-task.

When I referred to the "Beach Club" requiring the shuttle, I am not only talking about the pool/beach, but the restaurant as well.

Gotta go...
seetheworld is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 08:21 AM
  #7  
JJ5
 
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You would never need to use any shuttles on Lido Key. You will merely be steps from the beach. Most probably you could have ocean view and have your own umbrellaed or cabana area. I saw that they had these available.
JJ5 is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:03 AM
  #8  
 
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I have stayed at the Lido Beach Resort, although at the time I stayed there a year ago it was a Radisson. It was a very nice place and within walking distance to St. Armands Key. It had two hot tubs and two pools, I recall. We stayed in a two-bedroom suite but I think the one-bedroom would have been just as nice (it was all that was available at the time). The Ritz' beach resort was a few hotels further down the beach and thus a longer walk to St. Armands, if you choose to walk or stroll the kids. The Ritz beach resort looked very nice but, honey, for the savings you could have a terrific dinner someplace extra special and book a babysitter as well -- every day!
Tandoori_Girl is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 03:59 PM
  #9  
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thanks for all of the info everyone. I will check out those hotel recommendations.

In case anyone has any addition recommendations, I just want to add that we don't have to fly into Tampa. We can fly into the following airports as well: West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Myers.

I had considered the Ritz in Sarasota only because I had checked all of the Ritz' in Florida (except those too far North to be warm in mid-March) on their website and this was the only one that we could afford to stay at. All of the others were well over $600 per night just for a standard room. I do think it will be nice to have a suite so that my 4 year old won't be awoken in case the baby isn't sleeping through the night yet (baby isn't due to be born until October 23rd!!!!).

So if there are any recommendations please let me know. I would say beach and pool, however, the pool would be a first priority and beach second (in other words the beach needn't be fabulous).

THANKS!!!
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 06:16 PM
  #10  
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also, any opinions on Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club in St. Petersburg?

It doesn't appear that there is a beach but the pool is right there on the property and looks quite nice from what I have seen on the internet.

I called for rates and wasn't able to get a rate for a suite, however, for a king bed room (non balcony) the rate is $179 or with a balcony (in the tower which i take it is the "new" building) for $209.

Apparently this guest tower was built in 1992 and other spaces were renovated 7 years ago.

Not wanting to come off as a prima donna, however, i will be in the room alot and I will admit that I nice freshly decorated room with a nice bathroom is important to me (which is why I was considering the Ritz in Sarasota despite the fact that the beach club requires a shuttle).

As for the Ritz Sarasota - probably the shuttle to the beach club will be problematic - also, I can't believe there isn't a regular depth pool - that seems like a bad design decision.

any other options for a new luxury hotel that won't break the bank? anywhere in Florida that will be warm in mid-March and is reasonable driving distance from these airports: fort lauderdale, ft. myers, west palm beach, or tampa?????

thanks so much
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 06:39 PM
  #11  
 
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How about the Hyatt Coconut Point, located in Bonita Beach north of Naples? Lots to do onsite, very new and nice rooms, and we got it on Priceline for a fraction of the regular price...
joan is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 06:46 PM
  #12  
 
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Hi, mamadadapagie.

I should also mention that there is a pool on location at the Sarasota RC. It is in the shade in the morning but by mid-day there is sun. It is also peaceful and a bit deeper and you could always head up to the room for the necessary naptime activities. There is also bar/food service at the pool. People are very attentive.

I agree about the Beach Club pool -- bad design and somewhat disappointing when we were there. It is not a pool for any type of "real" swimming, lol.

I completely understand your need for luxury and if you are open to having limited time at the beach, the RC might fit the bill.

By the way, happy (upcoming) 40th birthday
seetheworld is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 07:05 PM
  #13  
 
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Although I am a Sarsota fan, (spend lots of time on Siesta Key), I wouldnt think the Ritz is "exactly" what you are looking for. The beach shuttle thing just wont work for you I fear. The hotel itself, although in a location that would allow you to stroll downtown as a couple, but probably not as suitable with two kids in tow. So for your needs for this trip, I wouldnt think it works. Nice hotel and everything, but its not going to be a typical Florida "beach" holiday per se. And then if your room faces the downtown instead of the water you might be even more disappointed.
As to the Hyatt Coconut Point suggestion, I was thinking the same thing. However, my suggestion would be a suite there as well, the standard rooms arent all that large for the 4 of you. Its also not directly on a beach either though. But good pools. Good room service, etc.
We enjoyed our stay, had a suite though.
Hope some of this helps.

Sherry is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 07:42 PM
  #14  
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thanks for the hyatt coconut point suggestion. i looked at the website and called reservations. it is exactly what i am looking for - new, nice pool, etc...

the price is quite a bit more than the ritz sarasota - $560 for a suite (not part of a package so doesn't include anything). the best rate for a room was AAA for $359 per night but i don't think it will be big enough for us.

i can often get a good corporate rate through my husband's workplace, however, they don't have one.

Does anyone know of a way to stay at this Coconut Point Hyatt in a suite for less in mid-March (I realize this is high season but this is when we will be travelling).

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!
mamadadapaige is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:13 PM
  #15  
 
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don't know anything about the coconut palm hyatt.

How about the Don Cesar? I love their pool. Especially the tiki hut next to it with those yummy kahlua coladas. And their poolside restaurant. the best! You could make a trip to the Dali Museum. And the downtown St. Pete art museum.

The Vinoy is lovely but I've not been
Tandoori_Girl is offline  
Jul 20th, 2005, 09:14 PM
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(oops)

...in the rooms.
Tandoori_Girl is offline  
Jul 21st, 2005, 05:42 AM
  #17  
 
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I think that you are going to be paying premium rates wherever you look at in Florida in mid March, as you point out, it IS high season. Some people have gotten the Hyatt on priceline, but that isnt going to get you a suite. If you can handle the one standard room, then priceline may work for you.
Another location I just thought of that may work for you is the JW Marriott or the Ritz in Orlando, no beach of course, but very nice resorts. Plus those mentioned in above post in St. Pete's. Good luck.
Sherry is offline  
Jul 21st, 2005, 06:00 AM
  #18  
 
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You might want to consider connecting rooms and inquire if the Hyatt offers half off the second room. We have had good luck at Hyatts getting half off when getting connecting rooms. They also have offered their "sunshine on sale" promotion which gives you a fifth night free.
1scs1 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2005, 08:26 AM
  #19  
 
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Get a condo, baby! There are plenty of them in Sarasota (Lido Beach). The condos come with 2 bedrooms and two baths and kitchen facilities. They are right on the beach with wonderful heated pools. Fly into St. Petersburg. Much easier on budget, small, easy to rent a car, or Sarasota Airport. You are close to St. Armand's Circle, Longboat Key, Anna Maria Island for a nice drive and dinner right on the beach! Let me know if you need any other information. Naples is nice but is I think more for the younger single crowd and doesn't have as much going on. Take a side trip to Disney World (one day) or fly into Orlando for a day or two and then drive to Sarasota (not a long drive 2-3 hrs. You can't go to Florida and not be by a beach. But the kids will love Disney World. Don't wait to go to Disney World. Your four-year old will love it. Take a stroller. One day the baby will survive.
jconnors5565 is offline  
Jul 21st, 2005, 06:16 PM
  #20  
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jconnors - thanks for suggestions. i had thought of a condo, however, i think i would be apt to cook if i were staying in one and frankly i like the idea of ordering from a menu!!!!

we took our daughter to disney world in the fall. first, what a great time of year to go. with all of the kids in school we walked right onto every ride. the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed a wonderful stay at the Ritz in Orlando (which I highly recommend).

We will go to Disney again in the future - I am sure of it, but I cannot imagine going in March and fighting the crowds --- not my idea of a good time.

thanks for your suggestions anyway though.
mamadadapaige is offline  
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