State of Play: Florida is welcoming travelers with open arms
Plan your summer and fall staycation plans around resorts—of all stripes—just a short drive away.
Address: 4500 SE Pine Valley St., Port St. Lucie
The allure: Spread out across more than 50 acres along the St. Lucie River, this sprawling, all-inclusive property is designed for longer stays, family getaways, and activity-minded travelers. The wellness and fitness offerings don’t just stop at tennis, beach volleyball, and group sessions for Pilates, Zumba, and yoga enthusiasts. There’s waterskiing, a sailing school—and even flying trapeze classes. The 307-room resort is divided into seven two-story buildings; most rooms run around 500 square feet, but there are larger connecting rooms with views of the bay. In addition to the more casual fare at the Marketplace and Soleil Terrace, Sandpiper sports a steakhouse restaurant, The Riverside. Best of all, on the foodie front, the resort bakes fresh white chocolate bread—every day.
Isn’t that special: Extended-stay rates drop at Sandpiper Bay after school starts, so, if your schedule allows, consider booking between September and November. Call Club Med about other specials, including deals for larger groups.
Contact: 855.258.9317; clubmed.us/r/sandpiper-bay/y
St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
Address: 501 Fifth Ave. NE, St. Petersburg
The allure: Downtown St. Pete serves as the backdrop for a venerable resort that’s approaching a 100-year anniversary. Built in 1925, the Vinoy places travelers within walking distance of the New St. Pete Pier and the area’s cultural attractions (like the famous Dalí Museum). Inside the resort, throwback glamour and modern spaces seamlessly coexist, with quaint accommodations that overlook Tampa Bay or the picturesque gardens. The resort draws its share of golfers thanks to the 18-hole championship course at The Vinoy Club. There’s also lighted tennis courts, heated outdoor pools, and an expansive exercise facility with daily fitness classes. Seafood and international cuisine dot the menu at Paul’s Landing, the Vinoy’s waterfront restaurant; the Veranda Patio offers casual fare, cocktails and live music.
Isn’t that special: Check with the property about extended stay and summer staycation packages.
Contact: 727.894.1000; marriott.com
Address: 36750 U.S. Highway 19 North, Palm Harbor
The allure: The scenic property just north of Clearwater, nestled amid 900 wooded acres, provides one of Florida’s great golfing escapes. There are four 18-holes courses—including the rolling, pine tree-lined, and challenging Copperhead tract, home to the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. There’s also an award-winning Golf Institute led by world-class instructor Dawn Mercer. Accommodations run large, including two-bedroom suites (1,200 square feet) and vacation rentals for longer getaways. Beyond the golf, Innisbrook features 11 clay tennis courts, six swimming pools, and four dining options led by Packard’s, overlooking the Copperhead Course, serving aged premium steaks and fresh local fish.
Isn’t that special: The resort’s Platinum Golf Package is a dream excursion for duffers and low-handicappers alike. The duration can be modified, but details include 18 holes of golf on both your arrival and departure days—and then 36 holes on all other days, rotating on all four courses but with at least one round on Copperhead. The package also includes breakfast and lunch in the clubhouse restaurants, and unlimited use of the practice facilities and fitness center—plus a daily one-hour clinic with an Innisbrook professional.
Contact: 888.794.8627; innisbrookgolfresort.com
Address: 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami
The allure: If views of downtown Miami from Brickell Key aren’t enough to lure customers to the Mandarin, the resort has plenty more to keep travelers entertained. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is destination relaxation at its finest, featuring six spa suites with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Biscayne Bay; outdoor yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and belly dancing classes; and more than 50 different treatments, including holistic skin care, scrubs, body wraps, massages, half-day experiences, and more. Award-winning chef Gaston Acurio puts a modern spin on Peruvian cuisine at La Mar. MO Bar & Lounge features cocktails, sushi, and live entertainment on the weekend. Sun worshippers congregate at the infinity-edge pool area, and fitness buffs make use of the 1.3-mile jogging trail.
Isn’t that special: The resort’s One More Night special provides a complementary third evening for customers who book three consecutive nights. There also are Florida resident and Staycation by M.O. packages being offered.
Contact: 305.913.8288; mandarinoriental.com/Miami/Brickell-key/luxury-hotel