The soft white beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast had been calling my name for some time, so I was excited to explore the Sarasota area with two of my girls (ages 6 and 9) over spring break. We splashed in the waves at Siesta Beach, panned for shark teeth at Mote Aquarium and capped off our days with big ice cream cones from Kilwin’s at St. Armands Circle before returning to the Hyatt Regency Sarasota.
When we checked in at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, my daughters were immediately drawn to the pink lemonade set out for guests. After a two-hour drive from Naples and a visit to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, my girls were thirsty and two glasses of pink lemonade hit the spot. We then headed up to our room so my girls could enjoy some down time (i.e., watch Nickelodeon) while I took some time to explore the hotel. Here’s what I loved over the course of our stay:
1. The kids menu. A kids menu is a kids menu, right? Not so much. We ate dinner at the on-site restaurant our first night at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. Rather than the usual chicken nuggets and burgers, the “Fun Fuel” menu featured salmon teriyaki, a build your own sub sandwich and a shaken chopped salad. While our server did tell us that chicken nuggets were available on request, I was more than pleased not to see them on the menu.
2. The fitness center. I hit the fitness center to run on the treadmill one morning, and I was pleased to see plenty of equipment. What I liked most, however, was the same day laundry service. For $5, the hotel washes your socks, shorts and t-shirt and returns them to your room. No more smelling up your suitcase with stinky workout clothes.
3. Popsicles at the pool. Every afternoon at 1 pm, the hotel offers free popsicles at the pool. While there is just one pool at the hotel, there’s a waterfall and it’s zero-entry, which is ideal for little ones. My girls also loved soaking in the hot tub with me for a few minutes after our swim. Adjacent to the pool is an area to play games, like bean bag toss and life-size Jenga, so it’s pretty easy to spend all afternoon poolside.
4. Recreation activities. The Hyatt Regency Sarasota is right on a marina, and as part of the resort fee (more on that later), a variety of activities are included, like kayak and paddle board rentals, fishing poles and bike and helmet rentals. With so many on-site activities, it can be tough to slip away to visit the famed beaches and other must-do activities in Sarasota.
5. Making s’mores. Near the swimming pool, there’s a nice-sized fire pit that the staff lights up nightly. Guests can purchase a s’mores kit for a small fee, which includes two Hershey bars, roasting sticks and a bunch of marshmallows and graham crackers. This had to be one of the highlights of the trip for my girls. I mean, really, who doesn’t love s’mores?
6. Shuttle service. St. Armands Circle, which boasts fantastic restaurants and ice cream shops, is less than a ten-minute drive from the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, but a shuttle service to and from the hotel was a welcome perk. Guests can also hop on a shuttle to Lido Beach or downtown Sarasota at various times of day right from the hotel. Sunsets from Lido Beach are a must-see.
I noted above that there is a resort fee. Honestly, I’m not a fan of resort fees since it generally boils down to “you’re charging me $25 for free wi-fi.” I find that frustrating, but at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota I felt like you got a lot for the resort fee. It’s $15/day, and the hotel is smart to hand out wallet-sized cards listing out the amenities that come with the resort fee as a reminder during your stay.
Included in the daily resort fee is wi-fi access, of course, but you also get access to all of the recreation activities above, two bottles of water a day, shuttle service, poolside activities and, for golfers, a 20 percent discount on greens fees at the nearby IMG Academy Golf Club. I’m told the resort fee may go up in the future, but for now, I think it’s at a manageable level for guests. Outdoor self-parking is complimentary, but a valet parking service is also available for $8/day or $22/overnight. Look for off-season room rates between May and September as low as $159/night. In-season you can expect to pay upwards of $219/night.
Erin Gifford is a mother of four from Washington, D.C., who shares her family travel tips, advice and adventures at Kidventurous. She was hosted by the Hyatt Regency Sarasota as a guest of Visit Sarasota County. However, all opinions expressed here are her own.