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Southwest Florida

Longboat Key

AN ENCHANTED ISLAND... A WORLD APART
Where 'Forgotten Florida' is Alive
By Leigh Cort

Gardens at the Sandpiper Inn

 

Heading west into the blazing sunlight that reflects in the shimmering Gulf of Mexico and then along Gulf of Mexico Drive to the Sandpiper Inn on Longboat Key, it becomes apparent that this is the ‘forgotten Florida’ and a truly unique destination. The privacy and serenity of Sandpiper Inn sweeps you away into a little piece of paradise as you walk under the arched entry. Although the island’s historical benchmarks date in stages from centuries past when the island hosted Indian vacationers, Spanish soldiers seeking gold, Cuban fisherman and finally settled by pioneer families in the early 20th century, one can still feel as if they were the first people to arrive. The extreme splendor and quiet that surrounds you on Longboat Key, particularly in the Sandpiper Inn’s garden, takes you along a path to the majestic Gulf of Mexico and a private beach hideaway prominently positioned on the dunes of the Gulf!

 
 Here in the ‘forgotten Florida’  Inn that is surrounded by luxurious mansions and high-rise condos, one can experience why Longboat Key became a seasonal hideaway for well-to-do northerners and home to a small enclave of hardy folk who could live without luxuries, all happily sharing this 11 mile ‘cay’ in harmony. Subsequently technology brought air conditioning and an end to the pesky mosquitoes, becoming vacation bliss and a meticulously planned residential community.

 

The Sandpiper Inn’s 11 accommodations bring guests back to a time when vacations meant relaxation, reading a book, beachcombing where there are more birds than people, watching a changing sunset every night that takes one’s breath away. Each is an ‘efficiency’ (from studios to 1- and 2- bedrooms) with full kitchen, a vacation where you don’t have to dine out or make menu decisions. The Sandpiper’s guests enjoy waking with the chirp of birds and sipping coffee on their private veranda nestled in their own little garden.  However, others can walk across to the street to some of the best breakfast, lunch and dinner restaurants on the island – then have the option to shop for groceries and prepare their own dinner on the dunes of the Gulf.

 

 

The Sandpiper Inn is a place where one can do everything or nothing and vacation where Money magazine identified one of the four wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. Yet despite the affluence, the casual island character remains, especially at the Sandpiper. The excellent care extended by Mary Lou and Richard, Sandpiper’s resident innkeepers, is what brings guests back year after year. Long-term guests, from a week to three months, experience gatherings at the beach, personalized names on each room’s patio, impeccably spotless accommodations without the fanfare or anonymity of a 4-star hotel ~ even a shuffleboard challenge.

 

Walk out the door and you’re in the garden with resident egrets, 200 species of birds, exquisite tropical foliage and a petite heated pool for enjoying the average year-round 73 degree temperature.

 

 

Longboat Key, a slender barrier island nestled between the Gulf and Sarasota Bay, is a great outdoor adventure. The 45-mph speed limit on the main road finds bicyclists and walkers in all seasons, breezes spanning the island from both sides keeping cool in the summer’s heat and temperately tropical in the winter. Fabulous fishing, boating and anything nautical surrounds Longboat Key, defining the island from the mangrove lined shores to the azure waters the gently touch the Gulf shore. Each season at the Sandpiper Inn finds guests enjoying the rhythms of nature.

 

Balancing a little salt air and sand in their toes with the cultural jewels of Sarasota, within minutes one can drive to exquisite dining, John Ringling’s opulent home and museum, world-class shopping, ballet and opera, celebrated golf courses and sun-drenched tennis courts from island to mainland.

 

Returning at the end of the day to a spectacular explosion of vibrant sunset colors along the beach, there is a safe haven from the rest of the world, a quiet refuge waiting at the Sandpiper. The BBQ and outdoor tables are ready to use and the aromas of steaks or fish on the grill are alluring. And for the ‘foodie’ enthusiast, tucked away under mangrove trees, along bayous, beaches and bays are fabulous restaurants that are a world away from glaring neon, towering billboards and massive mini-malls. Bait shops, marinas, open air verandahs, fine exclusive dining – there is a warm welcome awaiting everyone’s taste for upscale, yet down to earth dining.

 

At the Sandpiper Inn, there is an unspoken policy of preservation ~ a tradition of friendly hospitality that once experienced, makes time stand still. Here the guests let their vacation unfold, allowing the ‘forgotten Florida’ attitude to become part of their getaway. It takes time to unwind and let the mystery of this paradise be found. Whether hunting for an old historic site and Indian middens or sipping a frozen beverage on the beach, leaving Longboat Key is a bittersweet affair. The riches of this coastal hideaway can quickly bring you back to the past ~ while its style is definitely living in the moment.

 

 

Bury a bounty of beautiful shells under a gargantuan banyan tree for safekeeping and it may just be there some day when you return~

The Sandpiper Inn
5451 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Longboat Key, Florida 34228
941-383-2552
www.sandpiperinn.com

“One of the most secluded tropical beach settings on Longboat Key”

Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.