Frequently recognized as one of America’s best beaches, Siesta Key is a stellar, year-round tropical paradise bursting with fun in the sun for all ages.
Along the Sunshine State’s central Gulf Coast, Siesta Key beach showcases the finest and purest sand in the world—99.01 percent pure quartz, to be exact. The greatest asset of the 2.3-square-mile Siesta Key island, Siesta Key beach teems with a parade of sand sculpture artists, bohemians, globetrotters, fishermen, and the full gamut of modern and traditional families basking in unadulterated palm-fringed, sun-drenched, quartz-infused bliss. After several years of placing in the Top 10 list of “America’s Best Beaches,” as rated by Dr. Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” and the Travel Channel, Siesta Key, the jewel of Sarasota County, finally took home the crown in 2011 and hasn’t looked back since.
While the actual title of No. 1 beach may still feel fresh, real estate investors have long recognized the power and prestige of Siesta Key. In fact, the median property value of homes anchored in Siesta’s pillows of sugarloaf sands runs over $600,000. Siesta Key’s most prized homes take shape as extravagant beachfront estates and beautiful condominiums on the island’s western shores, as well as luxury bayside homes on the island’s east.
The general vibe of Siesta Key recalls that of Key West, translating to sentiments of community, commitment to hospitality, and a come-as-you-are mentality. Don’t expect to wear your latest haute couture for dinners out; most eateries have more alfresco than interior space, and flip-flops are welcomed. The sun shines almost every day of the year, lending to Siesta’s carefree spirit. However, it’s nearby St. Petersburg that features in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest period of continuous sunshine—768 consecutive days.
Siesta Key’s famously white and powdery beaches[/caption] Siesta Key revolves around 24/7 beach bliss, where days consist of long ambles, building sand castles, sunbathing, snorkeling, beach volleyball, and long lunches of fresh fish and seafood. Beach activity quiets by late afternoon, when time stands still to frame what is arguably the most picturesque sunset in the country. Come nightfall, those not heading over to Sarasota often make their way to Siesta Key Village to patronize the large collection of laid-back beach bars and restaurants.
To avoid the crowd, head beyond the village to quieter bayside restaurants like award-winning Ophelia’s on the Bay, which has celebrated 25 years on Siesta Key. Ophelia’s is typical of Siesta Key in that establishments on the island are far more “tried and true” than “fly by night”; hence, most have been island establishments for decades. Each locale has its regulars, but that doesn’t mean Siesta Key has no room for newbies. In fact, the island has already welcomed five new restaurants in 2013.
Given Siesta Key’s small size, most island visitors and locals mix time between Siesta Key proper and adjacent Sarasota and other keys, like Lido Key and Longboat Key. It takes two minutes to cross the bridge to Sarasota proper for cultural endeavors like opera, theatre, and museums, as well as world-class dining and nightlife. Sometimes, the hour or so drive to St. Petersburg and Tampa beckons to further increase the diversity of cultural offerings.
Luxury travelers longing to stay on Siesta Key proper gravitate toward the island’s most coveted address, Hyatt Siesta Key Beach, A Hyatt Residence Club (to learn more on what there is to do at Hyatt Siesta Key, click here). Alternatively, they stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and play on Siesta Key and at the Ritz’s Beach Club.
North of tiny Siesta Key and separated by a small body of water, tinier Lido Key houses the fabulous Beach Club of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. Gulf Coast visitors who like a healthy balance of beachfront beauty and big-city sophistication revel in The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota’s world of perpetual indulgence, world-class dining, seclusion, and exclusivity.
The principal building of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota sits on 11 acres in the heart of downtown Sarasota, a stone’s throw from the city’s dining and entertainment scene, and a short bridge away from Siesta Key. The lobby boasts old-world elegance, now synonymous with the Ritz-Carlton brand. All 266 rooms feature private balconies and views of Sarasota Bay and are decorated in earthy hues of rust and green. An immaculate club level, a sensuous spa, and a design-driven swimming pool augment a superb experience of escapism and pampering.
Across the bay on the downy sands of Lido Key, the Ritz-Carlton Members Beach Club provides guests a picture-perfect private beach (on par with Siesta Key beach), a beachfront heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi, a children’s pool, exceptional eats at the Beach Club Grill, and excellent pool and beach cocktail and food service. A complimentary shuttle transports passengers to and from the hotel and the Beach Club. In addition, guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota have access to the award-winning par-72 Tom Fazio-designed 18-hole championship course of the 315-acre Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, located 13 miles from the hotel.
Hyatt Siesta Key Beach
The two-year-old residence club has put Siesta Key on the map for the luxury traveler.
Hyatt Siesta Key
Even before its coronation as “America’s Best Beach 2011,” Siesta Key Beach was abuzz with the arrival of its most grandiose residence club to date, the 44-unit Hyatt Siesta Key Beach. Nestled on a private swath of pure quartz beach, this sunrise-tinted, low-rise complex houses 44 design-savvy two-bedroom/two-bathroom condominiums. Throughout the 2,395-square-foot premium residences, natural light channels through floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors. From the living room to the bedroom, colorful accessories and handcrafted mahogany furnishings mix with Italian porcelain. Full gourmet kitchens feature Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances and restaurant-quality Nespresso machines. In the master bedrooms, expansive bathrooms feel more like spa suites, with jetted massage tubs and separate enclaves lined with multiple showerheads. With oversized dens and expansive second bedrooms and bathrooms, the units comfortably fit six—perfect for group getaways, couples’ retreats, or family vacations. And because the Hyatt Siesta Key Beach is in fact a residence club and not a hotel or resort, ownership opportunities are available.
Guests and residents of the Hyatt Siesta Key Beach enjoy Hyatt’s complimentary resort-style amenities, like pillow-top beach loungers; a fitness center with on-call personal trainers and house bikes for zipping through nearby nature trails; non-motorized water sports; and daily continental breakfast. Nevertheless, it’s on the condos’ outdoor terraces where guests spend most of their time, especially around sunset. With unobstructed western views of the Gulf of Mexico, the spectacle of sky and sea engulfing the sun plays out like a living work of art.