Feeling Sarasota

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota melds sophisticated elegance with casual Gulf Coast style.

The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota melds sophisticated elegance with casual Gulf Coast style.

Feeling Sarasota
Florida’s wild west is explored.

My memories of Sarasota include tensing up my body with the thought of seeing a naked woman parade down the processional aisle to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance.” You see, in 2000 my brother graduated from Sarasota’s own New College, an honors college for the liberal arts. And if you know anything about New College, well, at important affairs, like graduation, business suits are often substituted for birthday ones.

So more than 11 years later, I figure eradicating that thought would only do me some good. This past summer I saw Sarasota in a new way – as an adult. Doing adult things. Like enjoying refreshing frozen drinks at the only luxury hotel in the area. We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, which actually happens to be two properties: one located on the bay and the other on the beach.

Let’s start with the bayside property. This is where all the guest rooms and suites are located, and where the fabulous Mobil Four-Star signature restaurant Vernona sits. Upon arriving, our affable bellman introduced us to the property, answering the normal amount of annoying questions journalists tend to have. We arrived just in time for Sunday brunch at Vernona, to which our bellman politely walked us. The restaurant has outside seats available overlooking the beautiful bay, and the non-pretentious atmosphere makes dining there appropriate for couples, families and everyone else in between.

And if the bayside property is where guests go to rest, then The Beach Club at Lido Key is where guests go for fun. A shuttle ride away from each other (complimentary shuttle service is available), The Beach Club is a members-only club that hotel guests are able to take advantage of. Two pools and a gorgeous beach are at guests’ disposal as well as the yummy casual cuisines and drinks from The Beach Club Grill. Ritz staff members are always within a few steps in the event you want to order something while lounging on the beach or at the pool.

Did my recent trip to Sarasota erase any cringing memories I previously had? Sure it did. No longer is the thought of a naked body cruising down the aisle the only thing emblazoned in my mind when I think of this great city. But in case you were wondering, no, a naked body did not appear 11 years ago at my brother’s graduation. Only the multiple threats of one did.

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2011 issue of Gold Coast magazine.

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