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    Your Guide to Great Resorts in Florida

    By Lauren Tjaden

    From north to south, east to west, Florida has some of the world’s best and most exclusive resorts. In fact, they are so comprehensive, with spas, golf and tennis courses, restaurants and shopping complexes, that some travelers never leave the grounds. Florida resorts can offer the perfect getaway for a variety of desires. That includes providing local guides for sightseeing excursions.

    Planning a vacation or weekend getaway in one of Florida's resort hotels is all about anticipation. And often, that anticipation is about a worry-free trip where everything is handled for us. That means no dishes, no laundry and no cooking. No sweat. Florida resorts to the rescue.

    Adults want a night out and the wee kids need tending while the teens demand a place to dance to the hottest music? Check. The honeymooners want a relaxing couple’s massage? No problem.

    He requests an early-morning tee time and she prefers late-afternoon tennis? Yes and yes.

    And what about dinner reservations, a fishing guide or yoga classes? The concierge’s got it covered.

    Read on to discover your perfect Florida resort getaway.
     

    South Florida | Central Florida | North Florida
     

    Play the beautifully redesigned by golf icon Jack Nicklaus at Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, featuring a setting on the white-sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. The resort is Southwest Florida’s only beachfront resort with an onsite golf course, spa, and tennis center.

    Play the beautifully redesigned by golf icon Jack Nicklaus at Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club, featuring a setting on the white-sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. The resort is Southwest Florida’s only beachfront resort with an onsite golf course, spa, and tennis center.

    - Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club


    South Florida
     

    The Florida Keys

    The Florida Keys offer superb fishing and snorkeling, and are known for their free-spirited, old-Florida vibe. A drive down the Overseas Highway will reveal quirky roadside attractions, pastel-hued mom-and-pop hotels and down-home eateries, all surrounded by miles of emerald waters.  The southernmost city of Key West adds notorious nightlife, touristy temptations, and a vibrant arts community to the mix.

    Here are some area resorts to consider:

    Nestled on an exclusive 27-acre island just 500 yards off of Key West, award-winning Sunset Key Cottages embodies what a tropical vacation should look like. The resort boasts lush landscaping, superb waterfront dining and a spa, as well as activities like jet-skiing, parasailing, and tennis. The resort is accessible via the 24-hour Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina ferry.

    Hawks Cay Resort is situated midway down the Florida Keys, on a small, secluded island known as Duck Key. It’s encompassed by aquamarine water, and offers glorious sunrises and sunsets as well as an utterly relaxed vibe.  Fishing, snorkeling, paddleboarding or even gliding along with the ocean breeze on a kiteboard are some of the adventures you can experience at the resort.

    Baker’s Cay Resort Key Largo, Curio Collection by Hilton promises soaring views of Florida Bay. This luxury resort invites you to pamper yourself at the Greenhouse Salon, cool off in waterfall pools or enjoy an assortment of watersports. Its guest rooms and suites feature private balconies, modern décor, and indulgent amenities.

    Check out more offerings from the area’s visitors services: fla-keys.com/places-to-stay/


    Southwest Florida

    Southwest Florida is heralded for its beachfront resorts, snuggled against the placid waters of the Gulf of Mexico—but the resorts and the destinations in which they’re located possess very different vibes from each other. That’s good news for visitors, because you’re sure to find one that suits your personality.

    For a quintessential beach town, complete with a pier and white-sand beaches, choose family-friendly Fort Myers Beach. You’ll find the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on the north end of the island, hugged between the bay and the Gulf. This premier resort offers rooms and spacious villas, a to-die-for-pool, family dining at Bongos Bar & Grill, and amenities like breakfasts that include made-to-order omelets.

    Sanibel and Captiva Island are as famed for things they don’t have—which are high rises, traffic lights or chain restaurants—as for the things they do have, which include miles of bike paths, world-class shelling and abundant nature. Charming, quirky Captiva is home to ‘Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa, a Florida classic that promises tennis, pickleball, a spa, pools, The Crow’s Nest Bar and Grille restaurant, and far too much more to list. For an unforgettable evening, take a sunset sailing cruise out of the resort.

    Known for its high-end shopping, art, and dining- and incredible golfing and beaches—Naples is sure to deliver an indulgent getaway. The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club is a study in laid-back luxury, with fabulous restaurants, a spa, pools, and fabulous sunsets over the waves.

    Check out more offerings from the areas’ visitors services:

    Southeast Florida

    Nightlife! Celebrities! Shopping! Culture! I’m talking about Miami Beach, of course, the perfect vacation city for the easily-bored. But Southeast Florida’s towns and resorts are varied to suit all tastes, with destinations that include soul-soothing Hutchison Island, swanky Palm Beach, and vibrant Fort Lauderdale.

    Take a peek at these Southeast Florida resorts to see if one's right for you.

    The Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort is fun and offbeat, but lavish too. This destination resort, inspired by the lyrics and lifestyle of singer Jimmy Buffett, is located on the celebrated Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, complete with bars, cafes, shops, and even a beach theater. Paintings of parrots and Jimmy’s own surfboards decorate the walls, and huge chandelier concocted from upside-down margarita glasses dangles from the lobby’s ceiling. The resort is as lux as it is delightfully different, offering three pools, a full-service spa, eight restaurants, and a flowrider.

    Want to feel pampered? Stretched along the Atlantic on ‘Millionaire's Row’ in Miami Beach, the historic, iconic Fontainebleau is awash in glamour and luxury. Encompassing 22-acres, it boasts signature restaurants; two chic nightlife venues; a two-story spa, and an astonishing poolscape.

    Hutchison Shores Resort and Spa, snuggled against the Atlantic Ocean on Florida’s Treasure Coast, delivers a serene experience. Build a sandcastle on the peaceful beach, sip a drink by the pool, or indulge in a massage at the spa.

    Check out more offerings from the areas’ visitors services:

    Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

    Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

    - Matt Stroshane for Walt Disney World Resort


    Central Florida
     

    Central Florida

    Orlando is famed for its theme parks, and they’re home to conveniently located, stunning resorts.

    Here are some favorites.

    Resorts at Disney World and Resorts at Universal Orlando include mind-blowing animal lodges, rock-n-roll shrines, Italian villas, Polynesian villages and more.

    Looking for a unique resort? One that requires cowboy boots? Check out the Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo in Polk County. Roughing it makes way for “glamping” here.

    Set on 500 acres, The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes offers so many amenities you can spend your entire vacation on the grounds. They include 11 restaurants that use food produced on-site in the resort’s apiaries, gardens, and chicken coops, as well as a lazy river pool, fitness center, kids program, spa, and a championship-level golf course designed by Greg Norman. Activities include nature walks, kayak tours, fishing excursions, mountain bike rides, and falconry classes.

    Here are more places to stay from the areas’ visitors services:

    Central West Florida

    You'll find historic hotels in St. Petersburg, as well as fabulous beach resorts lining the coast all the way from family-friendly Clearwater Beach to sophisticated St. Pete Beach. The mood varies from town to town; Pass-a-Grille Beach, located just south of bustling St. Pete Beach, is charming and walkable. Sand Key, located a mere mile from the much-more-active Clearwater Beach, offers a quieter retreat.  Tampa is known its graceful Riverwalk, Busch Gardens theme park and cultural offerings like historic Ybor City.

    Here are some standout area resorts:

    Dramatic. Sophisticated. Historic. The Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach embodies old-world glamour, enticing visitors with fine dining and amazing sunsets. ‘The Pink Palace,’ born in the heyday of the Gatsby Era in 1928, is still a favorite with modern visitors, offering unique adventures like dive-in movie nights as well as a kids day camp and even a special pet program that’s guaranteed to make tails wag.

    The 1920s-era Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club is the perfect mixture of traditional elegance and modern comforts. Situated in the city’s dynamic downtown district, this award-winning property is close to Vinoy Park, Tropicana Field and the Dali Museum. It promises fitness classes, tennis, pools, a golf course and spa. The waterfront location and private marina are more than a treat for the eyes; you can charter a boat there and discover the bay.

    The AAA Four-Diamond Sandpearl Resort Clearwater Beach  offers a heady mixture of the Florida Gulf coast’s natural beauty and welcoming, personalized service. It's home to Clearwater Beach’s only Four-Diamond restaurant, Caretta on the Gulf. Amenities include a full-service spa, zero-entry pool, high-tech fitness center, and enrichment programs that run the gamut from kayaking tours and sailing excursions to organic cooking demonstrations.

    Here are more places to stay from the areas’ visitors services.

    Central East Florida

    The Atlantic Coast of Florida offers resorts in vibrant Daytona Beach and family-friendly Cocoa Beach, in addition to under-the-radar, quieter locations like Indialantic. If you’re looking for waves to play in, you’ve come to the right coast.

    Here are some must-visit resorts:

    A luxurious beachfront paradise, Westgate Cocoa Beach Resort is an all-two-bedroom Polynesian-themed oceanfront resort situated a mere mile from the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. It’s home to a 75,000-gallon tropical-themed waterpark that includes a lazy river. Besides amenities like a game room, beach volleyball court, shuffleboard and more, the resort offers complimentary sunscreen and after-sun body lotion.

    The Shores Resort & Spa, sandwiched between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach, is upscale—but definitely not uptight. This award-winning resort features a Tiki Hut Beach Bar, a marketplace, and an assortment of dining options in addition to beachfront fire pits and an expansive pool deck with cabanas.

    Here are more places to stay from Daytona Beach’s visitors services and from the Space Coast’s visitors services, which includes Cocoa Beach.

    The façades of charming houses in Rosemary Beach in Northwest Florida

    The façades of charming houses in Rosemary Beach in Northwest Florida

    - Bill Strength


    North Florida
     

    Northeast Florida

    Beautiful, peaceful Amelia Island, snuggled against the Atlantic Ocean in Florida’s northeastern corner, encompasses the historic, charming village of Fernandina Beach. It offers outdoor adventures like horseback riding on the beach and kayaking as well as luxury accommodations on the island’s southern end. Jacksonville - or Jax, as the locals say- is a great value destination with a young, hip atmosphere, promising beaches, fishing, historic neighborhoods, a street arts scene, and more. Flagler Beach is funky, offbeat and fun; St. Augustine, brimming with old-world charm, dining, art and culture, holds bragging rights as the oldest city in the United States.

    Investigate these fabulous destination resorts to find the one that’s a fit for you.

    Idyllic. Luxurious. Enormous. Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort is all this and more. The resort sits on an astounding 1,350 acres, offering oceanfront accommodations, stunning pools, championship golf, and a full-service spa, never mind 3.5 miles of pristine beach.

    Hammock Beach Golf Resort & Spa, situated against a gorgeous stretch of unspoiled beach in Palm Coast, has to be seen to be believed. Casually lux, the resort is ideal for golfers, with a Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course as well as a Tom Watson-designed Conservatory Course, festooned with waterfalls, brooks, and field stone work. But your whole gang will love it; wait until they lay eyes on the 91,000 square foot water park featuring a lazy river and water flume.

    Originally built in 1888, the Casa Monica Resort & Spa sits in the heart of St. Augustine's Historic District, putting you within easy strolling distance to San Sebastian Winery, Flagler College and Castillo de San Marcos. To say it’s grand is no exaggeration; it immerses visitors in its luxuriant history, surrounded by sumptuous chandeliers, intricate tapestries and astonishing art galleries.

    Check out more offerings from the areas’ visitors services:

    North Central Florida

    Equestrians should gallop over to Ocala/Marion County, the horse capital of the World, to find their perfect resort. Florida's capital city of Tallahassee is ideal for those whose love history, culture and the outdoors. St. George Island, a pristine beach getaway cradled by the Gulf of Mexico, is where visitors should go to reconnect with nature, take a breath and kick back. Hip, historical and ever-so-walkable, the quint fishing village of Apalachicola makes for a getaway packed with arts and culture.

    Here are some area resorts that are bound to please.

    Bring your horse when you visit the super-lux 5-star World Equestrian Center Hotel, located at the heart of the World Equestrian Center resort in Ocala. Opening soon, it’s pet-friendly – of course—with a spa, salon and fitness center, a 500-seat restaurant, and 254 extra-large suites, some outfitted with balconies where you can watch world-class equestrian events in the stadium arena. Shopping, dining, and everything the discerning equine and equestrian could wish for are among the resort’s amenities.

    St. George Island isn’t home to any grand resorts, but it has some lovely vacation rentals and a couple of mom-and-pop hotels… and if you’re looking for breathtaking, pristine beaches and plenty of elbow room, this pet-friendly oasis can’t be beat. Here are places to stay: floridasforgottencoast.com

    Nestled in the heart of Apalachicola’s Historical District, the Coombs Inn & Suites encompasses three sophisticated Victorian Mansions. Ranked by Travel and Leisure Magazine as ‘One of the 30 Outstanding Small Inns in the United States,’ the Inn offers lavish guest suites furnished with European antiques, original oil paintings and oriental carpets.

    Check out more offerings from the areas’ visitors services:

    Northwest Florida

    Northwest Florida Resorts are as varied as the folks who visit them.  Pensacola is historic, with an energetic downtown. The bustling city of Destin, known as the ‘World’s luckiest fishing village,’ is a favorite with families, while Panama City Beach offers white-sand shores and plenty of affordable beachfront lodging. Upscale South Walton is home to walkable neighborhoods that include WaterColor, Rosemary Beach and Seaside. Florida’s Forgotten Coast encompasses under-the-radar gems like Cape San Blas and Mexico Beach.

    Here are some popular retreats.

    Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico in Destin, The Henderson Beach Resort & Spa can provide a romantic escape, a family getaway, or both at the same time. Ditch your sandals and dig your toes into the resort’s private, sugar-sand beach, indulge in some grownup-time by the adult pool in a cabana, or take a cruise down the lazy river. Bliss-out with beachside yoga and meditation, or spoil yourself at the Salamander Spa. Eating options include a poolside grill, a ‘50s-themed ice cream shop and the Primrose restaurant.

    Discover southern hospitality and the indulgences of an opulent boutique hotel at WaterColor Inn, nestled on the white sands of Santa Rosa Beach in South Walton. Framed by a pine forest, the 500-acre community is cradled between the Gulf of Mexico and a coastal dune lake. Amenities include a boathouse, tennis courts, a spa, shops, restaurants, a fitness center and a private beach.

    Though Portofino Island is ideally situated close to Pensacola Beach’s eateries and shops, you may not feel the urge to travel far from the resort. You're sure to be comfy in its two- and three-bedroom beach condos, and it’s a virtual playground, encompassing a waterpark, a spa, and restaurants. It offers activities for kids, dolphin excursions, tennis lessons, parasailing and more. Boredom is never on the agenda!

    Check out more offerings from the areas’ visitors services:

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