Category Archives: Sarasota

Living the GOOD LIFE at the Beach

By Trish Utter

Beach_WEBI walked out of my hotel room for a moonlight walk on the beach and found a wildlife area within a short distance. No lights, no buildings, no cars. I saw some turtle nests and birds. The beach was lit up by the moon with just the sound of the waves and the shimmering lights from downtown Sarasota were sparkling in the distance. I felt as if I was on a deserted island.

Located in Sarasota at Lido Key on miles of private white, soft, sand and brimming with Old Florida charm sits the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel. A huge salt water fish tank located in the lobby immediately puts you in a tropical state of mind. Rooms are large and comfortable and have cable TV, safe, coffee maker, free Wi-Fi and refrigerator and the balconies overlook the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Lobby_WEBAs soon as you are on the beach you are greeted by a member of staff that whisks out beach chairs for you. I must say that the staff is extremely attentive, even the room service staff seemed to know what we needed before we did.

Guests are able to rent umbrellas, bicycles, Aqua Cycles, Hobie Cats , and Kayaks. The water on the Gulf is warm and usually calm making it a safe place for families with young children.

The hotel has good old fashioned family fun with Ping Pong, Shuffleboard, gym and Volleyball. The Pool bar offers cocktails and snacks. There is a gift shop and two heated pools, one of which is huge with tons of chairs, umbrellas and tables. The Candlelight Restaurant specializes in steak and seafood. Breakfast and lunch is served at Sandcastle Coffee Shop. I tested the restaurant out by ordering a fish sandwich…it was delicious. The food reasonably priced just like the rooms.

Trish-on-a-board_WEBSt. Armands Circle is just minutes away where you will find restaurants and ritzy boutiques that are open late …don’t forget an ice cream at Kilwins!

Something I always wanted to do but was a bit nervous about was Paddle Boarding…….yes if I did it you can too! ‘I Kayak Sarasota’ will teach you in seconds how to stand up and paddle. It is a great way to exercise and see the wild life. The boards are like oversized surf boards that you stand on and paddle, it was easy and a ton of fun.

Give yourself a break and enjoy, The Good Life!

Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel

I Kayak Sarasota

Tropical Weekend Escape

by Trish Utter


Sarasota offers world class fine art at the Ringling Museum, the excitement of a big city to the tranquility of quiet, natural beaches. There are three Keys: Longboat, Siesta and Lido which are all connected by St. Armands Circle where you will find up-scale shops and dining.

P1010645-for-webWe look forward to our annual trip to the Helmsley Sandcastle Resort, located on Lido Key. Old Florida charm abounds with large comfortable clean rooms with spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico. The property has two large heated pools, a gym, laundry room, Tiki bar, shuffle board, and my kids really enjoyed playing table tennis.

We appreciated the way the chamber maid was so quiet. On our first day she asked me what we needed and made sure we had everything without me having to ask again.

As you walk around the grounds you will meet lots of families from all over the world. Many guests have been coming to the hotel for years and now bring their grandkids to visit.

Top Picks of Things to Do in Sarasota

by Trish Utter

Siesta-Key-Drum-CircleDrum Circle I always plan my trip so that we stay over a Sunday night just so we can go to the drum circle on Siesta Key. This weekly event starts about an hour and a half before sunset. You will find about 500 people of all ages dancing and drumming on this wide stretch of white beach. It is a sight to be seen and visitors are welcome to join in. We take our djembe drum and dance the night away. This is a very colorful place. Make sure you leave time to find a good parking spot. Take chairs and your camera.

Tropical Paradise: Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota

Veranda View at Lido Beach Resort Sarasota

Lido Beach Resort Sarasota
I want a hotel located on a quiet beach with white sand and aqua marine blue water that offers affordable luxury, top quality restaurants, a pool, and a fitness center. Oh and I also want to have my own chairs and cabana ready and waiting for me when I hit the beach. While I’m at it, let’s throw in some beautiful boutiques, cafes and art galleries that are close by as well.

Does such a place exist?

Lido Beach Resort in Sarasota is the place I found that met everything I was looking for, located south of Gainesville on the Florida west coast. What impressed me the most when we arrived was the jaw dropping view from the room’s balcony. The vivid blue of the Gulf of Mexico with the whiteness of the sand was spectacular. The rooms are large, have kitchenettes and small pets are even allowed although not allowed on the beach.

Florida West Coast Fun in the Sun: Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel

The Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel Beach RecreationThere’s a breeze in the air that rustles the palm leaves that roof our cabana and the hotel staff are letting us know that our catamaran is waiting to set sail. Ah, the Good Life!

Usually I am struggling to the beach with chairs, umbrellas and towels, but here all I had to bring to the beach was…me! Every time I set foot on the beach the hotel staff had our chairs and umbrella waiting for us.

There’s no need to leave the hotel property with everything that the Helmsley has to offer. You can rent at a reasonable price, sea bikes, a catamaran, kayaks, paddle boards and bicycles. The beach is beautiful and wide and the warm water feels wonderful.