Tag Archives: St. Pete Beach

Key West Parrot Key Resort

Florida Easter Specials

 

Spring Break in Florida isn’t just a college thing. Each year, couples and families also make the annual pilgrimage to the Sunshine state to shake off winter, and they often plan their travel around the Easter week holidays. For anyone who is looking for bunnies and eggs rather than keggers and poolside dance parties, here are five resorts that celebrate Easter with special events and incentives.

Parrot Key Resort

Key West’s premier waterfront hotel and villa resort offers a basket full of special Easter weekend activities, that includes special water sports and dining packages, along with savings on room rates for those who can make it a long weekend. The fun begins on Saturday with the Migration Mania & Great Egg Hunt at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden. Easter Saturday kicks off with the Earth Day 5k Run/Walk, followed by brunch at Cafe Blue. With the Stay Longer Save more package, guests who can extend their weekend by staying three nights or more can save up to 35 percent on room rates. https://www.parrotkeyresort.com/deals/staymore

Parrot Key Resort

Parrot Key Resort sits on the Key West waterfront, just minutes from the airport, and a short hop to marinas and the downtown shops, restaurants and attractions of Duval Street. Photo: Parrot Key

Fontainebleau Miami Beach

At this landmark Miami Beach hotel, families can make Easter memorable with a day filled with sweet treats, crafts and interactive activities. The day begins with an Easter brunch that’s given a contemporary twist by the chefs at Vida. At noon, the hotel’s traditional Easter egg hunt takes place, followed by an afternoon of activities that includes crafts such as making a personal stuffed bunny. A live DJ performance sets the tone with interactive games and activities like a hula-hoop contest, limbo showdown, and an “egg”-citing relay race. www.fontainebleau.com/easter

Fountainebleau Miami Beach

For more than 60 years, the Fontainebleau hotel has remained one of Miami Beach’s most recognized resorts. Recent renovations add a new luster and appeal to this landmark property. Photo: Wayne Camlin/Flickr

Sirata Beach Resort

On Easter Sunday, this St. Petersburg Beach Resort will stage a day of family- friendly activities that will include an Easter Bunny photo shoot, egg hunt and live musical performances, all taking place around the resort’s south pool. Guests can also enjoy a special Easter buffet in the Majestic Ballroom; the Easter buffet will feature seven different food stations. By booking at least a week in advance, guests can save up to $50 on the hotel’s unrestricted rate. www.sirata.com/specials-packages/advance-purchase- save/

Sirata Beach Resort St. Pete Beach

Sirata Beach Resort is located on a narrow barrier island on the southern end of St. Petersburg Beach, with water views on both the Gulf of Mexico and the Boca Ciega Bay Aquatic Preserve. Photo: Tim Boyles/Flickr

Omni Amelia Island Plantation

Easter is a special time at this premier North Florida beach and golf resort. On Saturday morning, parents and children gather at Magnolia Garden for the annual Easter egg hunt. There are more than 4,000 eggs up for grabs, including a golden egg filled with special prizes. On Easter morning, the Easter Bunny will make room deliveries of special Easter bags filled with candy and prizes. The whole family can enjoy the Sunrise Café which will host a special Easter brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Adults are not left out of the treats, as the Omni golf shop will offer 20 percent off on retail items, and host a special Easter Egg Hunt Golf Clinic. www.omnihotels.com/AmeliaIsland

Omni Amelia Island

The Omni Amelia Island Plantation is located on historic and scenic Amelia Island, 350 miles north of Miami, and hours easier to reach for travelers driving from northeastern states. Photo: Omni

Ritz-Carlton Resort of Naples

Easter is about good food and family time at the Ritz-Carlton. On Sunday, the Ritz-Carlton, Naples will serve its annual grand Easter Ballroom buffet. Special Sunday seating for the Lemonía Easter buffet are also offered at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort. In honor of the holiday, the resort will also host a special children’s Wonderland Tea. Inspired by Alice in Wonderland the tea will feature Alice, the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts as well as whimsical confections. Accompanying adults may enjoy traditional afternoon tea service with a selection of tea sandwiches, scones and pastries. The festive tea concludes with a story read by Alice. http://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/naples/

Ritz Naples

Ritz-Carlton Naples is a five-star luxury resort set on the Gulf of Mexico. Rooms at the resort overlook a swath of lush tropical landscaping that leads to a white-sand beach. Photo: Kay Peter Foeh/Flickr

Sirata St Pete Beach

Special Year-End Incentives on St. Pete Beach

 

The Sirata Beach Resort is a family and pet-friendly property located directly on the Gulf of Mexico. Guests enjoy access to miles of privately owned white sand beaches complemented by three beachfront pools. Families can enjoy age appropriate youth and adult amenities that include personal cabanas, a children’s playground, fitness center, game room, beach bars, fire pits and numerous water sports.

WHAT: Special room rates, upgrades and added incentives

WHERE: Sirata Beach Resort, St. Pete Beach

WHEN: Through December 17, 2017

DETAILS: Guests who book and stay at the resort through December 17, 2017 will receive a special room rate of $99/night (resort fee of $5 not included). Travelers who take advantage of this offer will also have their choice of: four complimentary drinks at one of the beach bars on the resort’s property, breakfast for two at either Compass Grille or Rum Runners, or guest room upgrade to the next best available room. The offer is valid on new bookings, may not be combined with any other offers or promotions and can be booked through the online booking system.

INFO: http://www.sirata.com/specials-packages/lets-talk-turkey- rooms-99night

Sirata Beach Resort St Pete Beach FL

Florida’s Cyber Monday Hotel Deals

 

The Monday after thanksgiving, AKA “Cyber Monday,” isn’t just about online deals on big screens and new clothes. Hoteliers across the state of Florida are getting in on the online action by creating special incentives for travelers who reserve a room during this special booking window. Here are some of the premier properties that are offering deals.

Sirata Beach Resort, St. Pete Beach

With three beachfront swimming pools, a fitness center, water sports, sand volleyball, miles of private beaches and cozy oceanside fire pits, this family-friendly and pet-friendly beach resort is a favorite for active vacationers. Sirata Beach Resort is located in the heart of St. Pete Beach, with shopping and other area attractions nearby. The Cyber Monday special provides 30 percent savings on the total price of a stay at any time from November 13, 2017 through November 30, 2018. www.sirata.com

Sirata Beach Resort

A view of one of the three pools that overlook the sands of St. Pete Beach and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico at the Sirata Beach Resort. Photo: Sirata Beach Resort

The Perry Hotel, Key West

Key West’s newest luxury hotel doesn’t try to dazzle, and instead seeks to blend into the waterfront vibe of the Stock Island Marina. The concrete is rough, the wood is reclaimed, and the metal framing has a calculated patina. Step inside, however, and you’ll not want for creature comforts in the 100-room waterfront property. Rooms with expansive balconies provide saltwater lagoon or marina views, and feature inspired local artwork, gorgeously tiled oversized showers, and flooring reminiscent of driftwood or a storied old boat. Two on-site restaurants serve up Executive Chef Ryan Fredstrom’s interpretations of American Coastal Comfort Food, featuring fresh catches from the nearby docks. Cyber Monday deals give travelers 40 percent off the best available rates for stays between November 27, 2017 and June 28, 2018. Visit www.perrykeywest.com with promo code CYBER.

Perry Hotel

The Perry Hotel combines rustic elements of Key West’s maritime traditions into a modern décor. The property sits in the heart of the Stock Island waterfront district. Photo: Perry Hotel

Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater Beach

Set directly on the Gulf of Mexico, the site once occupied by the area’s most iconic resort, the Sandpearl provides a modern take on the grand beach hotels of Florida’s past. Upscale rooms are decorated in Old Florida style. Touches such as private beachside cabanas and nightly beach bonfires add a unique and family- friendly ambiance, but amenities such as fine dining and premier spa services are also provided. Cyber Monday specials allow beach goers to save 40 percent on stays between November 27, 2017 and February 13, 2018. Visit www.sandpearlresort.com with promo code CYBER17.

Sandpearl Resort Clearwater

The Sandpearl Resort was created in the tradition of Florida’s grand beach resorts, with pool decks set in tropical landscaping, and beachside dining just steps away from the sand. Photo: Sandpearl

Art Ovation Hotel, Sarasota

Luxury accommodations and fine dining are just the beginning at Art Ovation. Hotel guests are rewarded with curated exhibits, creative performances and interactive art experiences at Art Ovation. The property’s location in the heart of downtown Sarasota puts travelers close to area attractions such as Bayfront Park, area galleries, museums, theaters, and the upscale shops of St. Armand’s Circle. Gulf beaches are also just a short hop away. Cyber Monday specials provide a 30 percent savings off the best available rate, along with complimentary daily breakfasts. This offer is valid for travel anytime from January 2018 to December 31, 2018. Visit www.artovationhotel.com with promo code 7YM

Sarasota Art Ovation Hotel

Guests can enjoy 360-degree views of downtown Sarasota from the rooftop pool at the Art Ovation Hotel. The adjacent Perspective Bar is a favorite happy hour destination. Photo: Art Ovation

The Julia, Miami

Sitting in the heart of Miami’s trending South of Fifth neighborhood, and just one block away from the beach, the 29- room Julia provides guests with unique accommodations that are close to all the best of South Beach. The property showcases it’s original 1930s Art Deco facade and Mediterranean Revival architecture, but also benefits from the modernizing touches of designer Stephen Busto. The eclectic lobby includes antique touches, including the original Cuban tile flooring, and the hotel features original works by local and international artists. Travelers can experience the Julia for a special rate of $99 a night by making Cyber Monday reservations for stays of two nights or more between May 1 and September 30, 2018. Visit www.thejuliahotel.com with promo code CYBER.

The Julia Miami

In the heart of the Miami Beach the lobby of the Julia Hotel has been reimagined and updated to include elements from the hotel’s historic past. Photo: Julia Hotel

The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Sarasota

It’s the next best thing to a private beachfront estate. Guests at the Longboat Key Club enjoy the benefits of a private island lifestyle, with championship golf, six on-site restaurants, a full- service spa, and an oceanfront pool all right on site. This beachfront serenity doesn’t involve isolation, however, as the resort is just a few minutes drive to all of downtown Sarasota’s attractions. Cyber Monday incentives allow guests to save 30 percent on stays of three nights or more made between December 1, 2017 and February 15, 2018. Visit www.longboatkeyclub.com with promo code CYBER17.

Longboat Key Club

Guests at the Longboat Key Club enjoy exclusive amenities such as the marina pool on the grounds of a 410-acre resort and golf club. Photo: The Resort at Longboat Key Club

NYAH, Key West

This hotel’s Build Your Own Room concept brings elements of the dorm room to the vacation experience, in a good way. NYAH, as in Not Your Average Hotel, lets groups of 2 to 6 guests customize their accommodations to include combinations of single, double or bunk beds. Perks like personal charging stations, property-wide Wi-Fi, three pools and two Jacuzzis and daily communal happy hours keep the adults-only crowd happy and mingling, and all the action of Duval Street is just three blocks away. During the Cyber Monday Sale, the gang can secure a rate of $149 a night for a 4- single-bed room, staying two nights or more between May 1 and September 30, 2018. Visit www.nyahotels.com with promo code CYBER.

NYAH Key West

A four-bunk room at Key West’s NYAH opens to a pool deck. All guests sleep on premium memory-foam mattresses, with private lockers and personal charging stations. Photo: Paul Stoppi/NYAH

Opal Sands Resort, Clearwater Beach

Everyone gets a million-dollar view at this freshly minted Clearwater Beach hotel, where floor-to-ceiling windows bring expansive views of the Gulf of Mexico into every room. These seaside vistas are complemented through the hotel by original works of art curated by master artist Christopher Still. Guests can stroll Clearwater Beach’s powder-white sands, relax in the zero entry pool, indulge at the spa, or enjoy locally sourced dining. With Cyber Monday savings, all this can be had for 45 percent off selected rooms. This offer is valid for travel between November 27, 2017 and February 13, 2018. Visit www.opalsands.com with promo code CYBER17.

Opal Sands Resort Clearwater Beach

A standard king suite at the Opal Sands Resort features an ocean- inspired décor and opens to a private balcony with direct west- facing views of the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Michael L Rixon/Opal Sands

Lido Beach Resort, Sarasota

Overlooking powdery white sands and the turquoise waters of the Gulf, the Lido Beach Resort is one of west Florida’s most desirable beachfront properties. The hotel’s spacious rooms and condo- style suites showcase a welcoming Florida inspired décor, and most include kitchenettes or full kitchens, as well as private balconies with breathtaking views. Separate family and adult-only pools allow everyone to have an enjoyable swim or sunning session, and the hotel’s award-winning Lido Beach Grille specializes in modern Gulf Coast cuisine with a Caribbean flare. Guests who book during the Cyber Monday sale receive 30 percent off three-night or more stays between December 1, 2017 and February 15, 2018. Visit www.lidobeachresort.com with promo code CYBER17.

Lido Beach Resort

The pool at the Lido Beach Resort overlooks a white sand beach and the Gulf of Mexico. This setting is ideal for taking in nightly sunsets over the water. Photo: Lido Beach Resort

Duck Key

Florida Fall Beach Resort Specials

 

Ah Fall. Football, leaf season, a hint of chill in the air. If you are ready to flip the script on the autumn season, why not plan one more escape to the beach. And there’s no need to max out the credit card to do so because resorts across the state of Florida are offering special enticements and savings to travelers who show up after the summer rush. Here are four top picks.

Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa

Escape to Florida’s Emerald Coast with the Beauty & The Beach package and you’ll enjoy special rates and complimentary perks such as daily breakfasts and spa treatments. This 2,100-acre property is located on one of the Gulf of Mexico’s best powder- soft sand beaches, and includes a championship golf course, three pools, award-winning dining and the Serenity by the Sea Spa. There, you can indulge in signature treatments that incorporate sea salts and seawater pearls. In addition to a complimentary spa session, the package also provides 20 percent discounts on additional treatments. Experience the Serenity Sea Escape Facial, Seawater Tonic Wrap or splurge on the Tranquility half-day spa journey. Afterward, enjoy some retail therapy with a special shopping pass to the Silver Sands Premium Outlets. The package is available from September 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018. Minimum night stay is two nights and the package must be booked at least three days in advance. Rates start at $289 for a two or more night stay. www.hiltonsandestinbeach.com; use code PB; 800-559-1805

Sandestin Hilton

An admiral suite at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa rewards guests with panoramic views of Destin Beach and the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Hilton Sandestin

Sirata Beach Resort

The all-inclusive lifestyle comes to St. Petersburg Beach, where the Sirata Beach Resort is offering luxury accommodations, fine dining, libations and a full range of resort amenities at special all- in-one rates. This family friendly hotel in St. Petersburg sits directly on the Gulf of Mexico surrounded by 13 acres of palm- shaded tropical landscape. Each luxury appointed guest suite features a separate bedroom, spacious living and dining area and a fully equipped kitchen; suites include garden, ocean or pool views. Amenities include three beachfront pools, two whirlpools, three award-winning restaurants, a fitness center, premier game room, bike share service, live music, family activities, water sports and more. All inclusive package rates include all taxes and gratuities, and will be available all year. Packages start at $399 per night for two guests in a one-bedroom king, with a four night minimum stay. Additional adult guests are $150 per night per person. Children 12 and under are an additional $75 per person per night. www.sirata.com; 877-214-0421

Sirata Beach Resort St Pete

Sirata Beach Resort sits in a prime section of St. Petersburg Beach. This location combines ocean views with easy access to area attractions such as shops, galleries and museums. Photo: Sirata Beach

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

This fall, you can vacation like the other half for a third less. The Eau Palm Beach Resort is one of only two Forbes Five-Star resorts on this upscale island, situated on a private beach with seven acres of oceanfront with lush tropical gardens, breathtaking ocean views and cooling tropical breezes. All guest rooms and suites offer private balconies with ocean, pool and gardens views. Suites have separate bedroom, living room and two bathrooms. Club level rooms include a personal concierge, four indulgent meal periods in the Eric Villency designed Club Lounge, unlimited featured beer and wine selections, and daily pressing service. The resort features five restaurants, a fitness center with, spinning, yoga and Pilates classes, three Har-try clay courts, two pools, a range of child and youth programs and a 42,000-square- foot spa. Stay a minimum of three nights through October 31, 2017 and get the third night on the house. Enjoy! www.eaupalmbeach.com; 844-482-1788

Eau Palm

The Eau Palm Beach Resort is an upscale oceanfront enclave of luxury. A recent redesign of the property’s 309 rooms and suites showcase the design work and furnishings of Johnathan Alder. Photo: Eau Palm Beach

Hawks Cay Resort

It’s a tropical island you can drive to. Hawks Cay sits on the small island of Duck Key, half way between Key Largo and Key West, and just a short causeway away from the Overseas Highway. The resort’s 60-acre grounds face a private lagoon with direct access to coral reefs and the aquamarine water of the Atlantic Ocean. Guests enjoy offshore, flats and backcountry fishing, diving, kayaking, kite boarding and standup paddle boarding programs. The resort boasts 177 guestrooms and 250 two- and three- bedroom villas, a full-service marina, six restaurants, saltwater lagoon, five swimming pools, kid and teen clubs and the award- winning Calm Waters Spa. During the fall, the resort is offering the Fall into the Keys activities special that includes a $50 dining credit, half-hour kayak rental for two, half-hour paddleboard rental for two and one-hour bicycle rental for two. The package is available when two or more guests book a three night or more stay. Bookings must be prepaid and travel completed by December 21, 2017. www.hawkscay.com

Hawks Cay

Hawk’s Cay is a small slice of the Caribbean set in the heart of the Florida Keys. Its waterfront location makes it a favorite with divers, fishermen and boaters. Photo: Jason Stemple/Hawks Cay

 

 

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Florida’s Best Memorial Day Parties

 

Memorial Day is certainly a time when we should pause to remember and honor those who gave service to our country. But it’s also a three-day weekend, and the start of the summer season. Cities across the State of Florida will celebrate the holiday with concerts and beach parties. Here are six of the best.

Great American Beach Party, Fort Lauderdale Beach

The Venice of America kicks off the summer season in style with an all-day beach party. Seven bands perform everything from surf rock and oldies to funk and country. There are plenty of vendors, food and drink, and activities that include a sand castle building contest, classic car show, family fun zone and a military tribute to our service men and women. It all starts at 10 a.m., Saturday May 27.

Sunset Music Festival, Tampa

On Saturday, May 27th and Sunday, May 28th, fans will gather to dance the weekend away to the hottest acts in electronic music. More than 50,000 are expected to fill Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium to take in performances by more than 40 artists on three stages. Headliners include Major Lazer, RL Grime, Above & Beyond and Zeds Dead.

Jacksonville Jazz Festival, Jacksonville

Now in its 36th year, this event has grown to become one of the country’s largest jazz festivals. From May 25 to 28, a 15-block area of Jacksonville’s downtown will be transformed into a lively street festival, with local food, art, vendors and live jazz on three stages. The all-star lineup of performers includes jazz icons and Grammy winners such as Chic Corea, the Rippingtons, Commodores and the Pacific Mambo Orchestra.

Taste of Brickell Food & Wine Festival, Miami

Exceptional tastes from more than 40 of Miami’s premier restaurants will be complemented by fine wines and spirits when the 6th annual Taste of Brickell returns to downtown Miami on Saturday, May 27. Festivalgoers will enjoy gourmet samplings, cooking demonstrations, and interactions with featured vendors. The event also includes live concerts throughout the day and evening, an exotic car exhibit, and arts and crafts booths.

Johnny Chisholm’ s Memorial Weekend Party

In a tradition dating back to the 1960s, LGBTQ groups from across America will gather at Pensacola Beach over the Memorial Day weekend. Since 1991, a weekend-long series of celebration has been organized by nightclub owner Johnny Chisholm. Nightly happenings include stage shows, costume contests, dances and concerts. The party runs from Thursday, May 25th through Monday, May 29th.

Bands on the Sand, Treasure Island

This small oceanfront community just west of St. Petersburg will once again host Bands in the Sand. This two-day beach party and music festival kicks off on May 25th with a lineup that includes some of the top names in the Tampa Bay music scene. Now in its ninth year, this family friendly event includes food, art exhibits and crafts tables. The grand finale of the event is a fireworks show over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Palm each Eau Palm Resort Florida

Florida’s Best Mother’s Day Getaways

 

Sure, you could do the usual, and bring some flowers and a card when you meet for brunch at the local favorite. But this year, why not go all out and treat mom to a beachside getaway at one of Florida’s premier resort destinations, where spa pampering, fine dining and sea breezes make for special memories.

Gale South Beach

Awaken mom’s inner supermodel with a weekend of pampering, shopping and beach time at one of the hottest boutique hotels in the heart of South Beach. Upon arrival at the Gale, she’ll relax with a welcoming glass of Prosecco and find a gift set from GuyandGirl spa waiting in the room. Following some retail therapy along Lincoln Road and a relaxing Swedish massage at Club Essentia Spa, she can relax with a complimentary libation at the Regent Cocktail Club and use an online shopping credit to pick out a new piece from jewelry designer Shandi Levy. After a night on Ocean Drive, she can sleep in to take advantage of a late check out.

Gale South Beach

The Gale South Beach is one of Miami’s most celebrated boutique hotels. Room are arranged to combine open design with private spaces. Photo: Gale South Beach

Lowes Don CeSar Hotel

This Gulf Coast landmark is a regional favorite for Mother’s Day brunches, but why settle for just a Sunday drive and meal when you can extend the experience and treat her to a Spaliday weekend at a four-diamond beachfront hotel. A two-night stay comes with a $150 credit at the on-site Spa Oceana, which can be used for signature treatments such as the Sea of Life facial, Floral Blossom manicure or a massage on the hotel’s rooftop cabana. Come Sunday morning, she has two brunch options to choose from: a Mother’s Day edition of the hotel’s famous Champagne Holiday Brunch in the historic King Charles Ballroom, or a beachfront seating at the Sea Porch.

Don CeSar St Pete

As part of the Mother’s Day package, guests at the Lowes Don CeSar can enjoy a massage on the deck of the hotel’s spa, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Don CeSar

Boca Raton Resort and Club

This pink-walled waterfront landmark certainly won’t be the only hotel in south Florida offering spa-and-brunch packages for Mother’s Day, but it may be the best. The hotel’s Mother’s Day-cation package rewards guest with special rates between May 6 and 10, and includes a $179 credit at the award-winning Waldorf Astoria Spa, which has been named one of the top 100 spas in the world. Afterwards, mom will enjoy guest privileges at the Boca Beach Club, and access to the resort’s full range of amenities. The weekend’s hardest choice may be deciding which of the five available brunches to attend. Options include ocean-view dining at Seagrille, a sampling of Tuscan flavors at Lucca, a casual dining experience on the terrace at 501 East, a sophisticated three-course presentation at The Blue, or a lavish spread at the Boca Country Club.

Boca Raton Resort Club

The Yacht Club facilities at the iconic Boca Raton Resort & Club is just one of many amenities available as part of the hotel’s Mother’s Day-cation package. Photo: Boca Raton Resort

Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa

Treat mom to a weekend at one of the world’s most prestigious beachfront addresses without breaking the bank. This Forbes Five-Star oceanfront resort is located in the exclusive enclave of Palm Beach, just a couple of miles from the new President’s vacation home. For Mother’s Day, Eau Palm Beach is offering special room rates starting a $199, with full access to all of the properties extensive amenities and services. Also in play is the unique “Queen Mother” spa package, which is a 90-minute indulgence that includes a hand-drawn bath of exotic florals, oriental teas, and precious oils combined with a hand washing and polishing of the skin, a delicate dry buff, and a warm butter and silk massage. To cap off a special weekend, there is a Mediterranean-themed Sunday brunch at Temple Orange Bistro.

Eau Palm Beach Pool

The adults-only tranquility pool at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa provides a scenic oasis for evening relaxation or inspiring sunrise dips. Photo: Eau Palm Beach

The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club

Turn mom’s special day into a longer getaway by taking advantage of a 4th night free special offered during the Mother’s Day weekend. And since brunch will certainly be on the schedule, the resort includes an additional 20 percent off the popular Sunday Champagne Brunch as part of the package. The hotel spa is also offering special rates, with half-price savings on a Mother’s Day Pampering Package. This includes a 50 minute relaxation massage; a 50 minute Classic European facial and a 25 minute Tropical Salt Scrub, plus a complimentary upgrade of hot stones or aromatherapy with the massage. Afterward, she can relax with a glass of sparkling wine and chocolate covered strawberries and receive complimentary body soufflé gift package.

Naples Beach Hotel

The immaculately landscaped grounds and public areas of the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club extend to a white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Photo: Naples Beach Hotel

Omni Amelia Island Plantation

To encourage spouses or children to share mom’s special day, the Amelia Island Plantation has assembled a roster of specials and perks for two that will be available to guests during the Mother’s Day weekend. Rent a bike to explore the island at Amelia’s Wheels and mom will get her own set of wheels for free. Ditto for a round of mini golf at Heron’s Cove, island nature tours and even snow cones at the pool deck. There is a mother/child tennis round robin on Saturday, May 11, and special savings at the resort spa when mom is accompanied by son or daughter. Sunday brunch isn’t forgotten either, and guests will enjoy a special seating at the Sunrise Café.

Amelia Island Omni

After participating in some of the resort’s special Mother’s Day activities, families can relax on the oceanfront pool deck at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation. Photo: Omni Hotels

Bermuda Southhampton

Iconic Pink Beach Resorts

 

The historic pink hotels that grace beaches in Florida and the Caribbean harken back to the palazzos built by wealthy Italian families in the 19th century. When pink crossed over to the New World it was embraced by builders of the 1920s and beyond.

Bermuda is a destination that is all about pink; there are pink sand beaches, pink mopeds, pink Bermuda shorts and pink buildings. Here, the pink Fairmont Southampton stands out among the green landscape of Southampton Parish.

 

St Pete Beach Terns Fort De Soto State Park

Florida Snapshots: A Royal Courtship, Fort De Soto Beach

 

The royal tern is a common sight along the beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast. These coastal sea birds can often be seen swooping and diving in the shallows as they hunt for small fish, shrimp and crabs.

Though they often hunt and fly in groups, when mating season arrives, terns pair off. And much like male humans might entice a would-be partner with a dinner invitation, a male tern often brings an offering of food to the mating tryst, and may continue to feed her during courtship and egg laying. The bond formed by this meal sharing will last until the chicks hatch and leave the nest.

Florida Manatee

Florida’s Best Manatee Encounters

 

The first time you see a manatee, it’s amazing. And even after hundreds of encounters, I still get excited when I come across one of these huge “sea cows.” They can be 10 feet long and weigh more than a ton, but they are harmless to humans. In fact, it’s humans who pose a threat to the manatee when we don’t treat them with respect. Fortunately, there are responsible ways to interact with wild manatees, and plenty of sites all across Florida where they can be found. Here are a few of my favorite places to watch them, get up close and even swim with them.

Blue Springs Manatee

Central Florida’s Blue Springs State Park provides a refuge for manatees escaping the colder waters of the St. Johns River. In winter, the spring run may host hundreds of these animals. Photo: Stephen Meese/iStock

From Shore

When wintertime water temperatures drop below 70, manatees look for a place to warm up. They find it in the constant 72-degree water that flows from Florida’s underground springs. A great place for manatee watching is Blue Spring State Park, which is about an hour’s drive north of Orlando’s theme parks. I make at least one trip a year to Blue Springs, and never get tired of seeing as many as 100 of the big sea cows gathered in the clear waters of the preserve. In addition to natural springs, manatees have learned to take advantage of the warm water discharge from coastal power plants. Several utility companies have created viewing stations next to these discharge lagoons, and two of the best are Tampa Electric’s viewing station at Apollo Beach, and the brand new $5-million Manatee Lagoon visitor’s center in Riviera Beach. At these sites, winter months are best, but a few manatees always seem to hang around throughout the year.

On The Water

When they aren’t bunching up to escape winter cold, manatee spread out into rivers, bays and lagoons all around Florida. The areas where they are most often seen become designated manatee zones, with posted speed limits to prevent powerboats from running over these slow moving mammals. I always watch out for manatees when driving a powerboat, and keep my distance. For an up-close encounter, I use a kayak. By loosing the engine noise and moving slower, paddlers stand a greater chance of meeting up with a manatee. One of the best places to do this is the Jupiter Inlet Aquatic Preserve, which is just a few miles north of the Palm Beach area. Other good manatee paddles include the Weeki Wachee spring run, Crystal River and the mangrove islands of the Florida Keys—especially the wooded shores of Key Largo’s Tarpon Bay and the backcountry shallows near Key West. Kayaks are available for rent in all these areas, and most offer guided tours.

In The Water

Back in the day, when there were more manatees and fewer Floridians, there were a number of places where you could get in the water with manatees. To prevent hordes of swimmers from driving the sea cows from their favorite habitats, many of these sites are now designated preserves, with no swimming allowed. Two exceptions to this are the coastal springs at Crystal River and Homosassa, which are about an hour north of Tampa. A number of tour companies run sanctioned manatee encounter programs that allow snorkelers to get a first-hand look at the animals in their natural habitat. Winter months are the best, and because things can get chilly—at least by Florida standards—tour companies will usually supply wetsuits along with snorkel gear. Aside from these sites, there’s always a chance of a manatee swim-by when you are swimming or snorkeling. I’ve been treated to a number of these visits over the years, and always keep an eye out for the swirl of a manatee’s tail, or their car-size underwater profiles.

Christmas Boat Parade

Florida’s Best Christmas Boat Parades

 

With more than 700 miles of coastline, and thousands of inland lakes and rivers, Florida is a boater’s paradise. Each December, skippers across the state embrace the holiday spirit by festooning their craft with lights and joining the parade. In all, there are more than 70 such flotillas staged all across the Sunshine State, ranging from modest river rendezvous to major municipal productions. The best combine parades with additional shore side activities, and provide spectators with prime viewing areas. Here are seven of our favorites.

St. Augustine

America’s oldest city is home to one of nation’s grandest displays of holiday lights. Throughout December, the Nights of Lights celebration brightens the historic district. The annual Holiday Regatta adds a nautical element to the festivities, as a flotilla of intricately-decorated pleasure craft and shrimp boats assembles in Matanzas Bay, each adorned in brilliant lighted displays ranging from patriotic to whimsical. This year’s parade takes place on December 12th, and there’s plenty of prime viewing spots all along the downtown waterfront.

St Augustine Holiday Boat Parade

Throughout the holiday season, St. Augustine’s historic district and waterfront come alive with thousands of festive lights. Photo: Mike Gigante/Compflight

Fort Lauderdale

The greater Fort Lauderdale area is one of North America’s premier boating meccas, so it’s no surprise that the city is home to one of the largest and most spectacular holiday flotillas in the world. Hundreds of thousands come for a full day of pre-parade activities and events, and then line city waterways to take in the Winterfest Boat Parade. The spectacle is televised, and can be seen from a number of sites along the 12-mile route. For the best views, you can purchase a seat at the grandstand viewing area in Birch State Park. The spectacle takes place on December 12th.

Fort Lauderdale Boat Parade Christmas

In preparation for the Fort Lauderdale Winterfest Boat Parade, owners spend hundreds of hours transforming the vessels into floating light shows. Photo: Carlo Allegri/Getty Images

Destin

The maritime celebration kicks off well before sunset, as crowds gather at the harbor for live entertainment and family-friendly special events. As the sun sets, viewers move to public docks and restaurant terraces all along the harbor’s northern shore for a close-up view of a dazzling collection of yachts, charter fishing boats and working vessels, each vying for top honors from the Judges. After winners are announced, a fireworks display erupts over the white-sand beaches of East Pass. The show takes place on December 13th.

Tampa/St. Petersburg

The waters of Tampa Bay are lit by a trio of parades each December. First up on December 12 is the Illuminated Boat Parade on the St. Petersburg waterfront, which is part of a holiday festival that includes live entertainment, food, libations, and family activities. The following day, the Hillsborough River is filled with a mix of paddlers and powerboats that can be viewed along the riverfront between Lowry Park and Sulphur Spring Park. For a third dose of nautical cheer, head to downtown Tampa on December 19th for the Holiday Lighted Boat Parade, where the Channelside District becomes the site of an evening celebration.

Miami

From a small event staged by a few members of the Miami Outboard Club, the Holiday Boat Parade has grown into a community happening that takes over Bayfront Park on December 19th. This family-friendly gathering includes food, music and special activities, and generates donations and toy collections to benefit the children of the city of Miami. The on-water show begins at 7 pm, and is expected to draw more than 100 entrants. The evening culminates with a fireworks show over the water.

Miami Christmas Boat Parade

The colorful Miami skyline serves as a backdrop for the annual waterfront Christmas celebration and the Holiday Boat Parade at Bayfront Park. Photo: iStock

Ft. Myers

Boaters in the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area keep the fun going all day at Four Freedoms Park. The afternoon celebration is filled with food, Christmas music, a parade and even a visit from Santa Claus. As the sun sets, spectators move to shore side bleachers or position lawn chairs along the waterfront to await the colorfully festooned craft that emerge from canals and marinas that form into a floating conga line of light and music. The mix is broad and eclectic, with everything from pedal boats to million-dollar yachts showing their holiday spirit. Mark your Calendar for December 19th if you cant to catch this show.