Above Image © Katherine Fox, @theweekendfox
The beauty of staying at Zota Beach Resort, Longboat Key’s newest luxury beach resort, is that you can easily submerge yourself in your own secluded paradise for a day and then resurface to get back to civilization in nearby Sarasota.
Day On at Zota Beach Resort
Start the Day on a Paddleboard
One of the major benefits – perhaps the major benefit – of staying at Zota Beach Resort is the easy beach access. Take advantage of the beachfront location by strolling down to the white sand and set up for the morning. If you make arrangements the day before, you can rent a standup paddleboard that’ll be delivered straight to the resort by the Sarasota PaddleBoard Company, allowing you to explore the blue-green water surrounding you.
Lunch at the Pool
As the day’s sun gets hotter, retreat to the resort’s pool and spring for a Zen lounge. Featuring comfortable furniture, a TV, a safe for your valuables, and a refrigerator, you’ll have all you need to relax poolside for the afternoon. When you get hungry, walk over to the Cascades Pool Bar and choose from appetizers, salads, sandwiches, a kids menu, and an assortment of refreshing cocktails.
Take an In-Room Nap
You’ve paddleboarded, you’ve relaxed poolside, and you had a bite to eat. Now, head back to your room for a midafternoon nap. Residential-inspired suites are also available, which offer an additional bedroom and a living room to make you feel at home.
Dinner at Viento Kitchen + Bar
Finish the day by dining at Viento Kitchen + Bar. The “Floribbean” (with Florida, Caribbean, and Mediterranean influences) menu features guest favorites like lobster ravioli, seared sea scallops, and grilled filet, and the wine list will satisfy even the most seasoned oenophile.
Day Off in Sarasota
Hang With the Big Cats
What began as a family-run rescue operation in 1987 has blossomed into a full-fledged sanctuary. The Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary takes care of these creatures (including lions, tigers, primates, birds, and even bears) for life – up to 20 years for the lions, twice as long as it would be in the wild – and has three large indoor and outdoor complexes to house the animals. The daily shows change occasionally, but you can buy tickets online beforehand.
Lunch at Duval’s
Known by many as the place to get the freshest (they receive fish daily and fillet everything in-house), seafood in Sarasota, Duval’s is also embedded in the local community, both in terms of their regular diners and the fishermen they work with. In addition to the day’s fresh catch (served as a sandwich, entree, or salad), consider trying the lobster bisque or New England clam chowder as well.
Not Your Ordinary Garden
After seeing and experiencing some exotic fauna this morning, explore the magnificent flora at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. What used to be the home of William and Marie Selby was transformed into one of the leading centers for the study and conservation of plants, a 15-acre property that welcomes 130,000 visitors each year. Highlights include the Towering Bamboo Garden, the Children’s Rainforest Garden, the Koi Pond, and the Mangrove Bay Walk.
Dinner at The Rosemary
The Rosemary’s owner George Armstrong grew up in a military family and was constantly moving around. Serving his vision to open a restaurant that represented all his favorite tastes, The Rosemary’s menu is full of favorite dishes from the cities in which he has lived. One menu highlight: the Bermuda Fish Cakes (fresh local whitefish baked with Bermuda red onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, saffron, and island spices, and drizzled in a Bermuda pepper sauce).
Where to Stay Zota Beach Resort