AN ENCHANTED ISLAND... A WORLD APART
Where 'Forgotten Florida' is Alive
By Leigh Cort
Gardens at the Sandpiper Inn
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 islands 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 Inns 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.
Sandpiper Inns 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 ones breath away. Each is an efficiency
(from studios to 1- and 2- bedrooms) with full kitchen, a vacation where you dont
have to dine out or make menu decisions. The Sandpipers 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, Sandpipers 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 rooms patio, impeccably spotless
accommodations without the fanfare or anonymity of a 4-star hotel ~ even a shuffleboard
out the door and youre 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
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 summers
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.
a little salt air and sand in their toes with the cultural jewels of Sarasota, within
minutes one can drive to exquisite dining, John Ringlings 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 everyones taste for
upscale, yet down to earth dining.
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
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
Longboat Key, Florida 34228
of the most secluded tropical beach settings on Longboat Key
Provided by American Roads Travel Magazine - Visit American Roads Travel Magazine website.