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Sarasota's ultimate luxury suites.

A recent issue of Gourmet enthusiastically highlighted Sarasota, but along with all the praise pointed out that we lack a venerable grand hotel. That's true, but sybarites need not despair, since we do have several hotels with exclusive, luxurious suites, where privacy and pampering are guaranteed. In these lofty quarters, furnishings are a cut above, rooms are enormous and views are sweeping. These spectacular suites carry princely pricetags, but even so, they're heavily booked and during prime season usually have waiting lists of hopeful VIPs and CEOs. Here's where the high-fliers land locally.

The wealthy from all over the world seek the 1,700 square feet of the deluxe two-bedroom suites of The Resort at Longboat Key Club. The club itself is an exclusive setting, with beautifully manicured grounds, five restaurants and golf and beach amenities galore, all for the use of registered guests and club members only.

The top-of-the-line suites are in such demand at this Four Star/Four Diamond hotel that they built 25, each with full kitchen, a huge living/dining area and two large bedrooms. A 52-foot balcony runs the length of the suite, admitting views of the north end of Longboat Key, the multi-blue hues of New Pass and the Gulf of Mexico and a lush green golf course. The suites have welcomed such guests as General Alexander Haig, Chief Justice Warren Burger, Congressman Tip O'Neill, Mrs. Anwar Sadat, Lana Turner, Cher, the late Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli and Wayne Newton.

Rates are $550/night in season; $290/night off season. 301 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key. 383-8821.

The atmosphere at The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort is more casual, with a selection of 25 different specialty suites that are beachy but loaded with luxurious touches. Many are in exquisitely renovated beach cottages that dotted the shoreline when Dr. Klauber purchased the property in the late '60s. Perfectly placed for great views of sunsets and for stepping off the deck right into the sand, these weathered, cedar-shake-shingled havens promise romance and fantasy.

The Presidential suite is strictly for a single or a couple. The French doors lead onto a screened deck, with an open-air deck beyond, perfect for sipping a cool drink while listening to lapping waves. The furnishings are an appealing combination of French country and tropical rattan. There are a full kitchen, a marble bathroom with a bidet and a convenient, hidden washer and dryer. $565/night in season; $505 night, summer rate.

You can also pick from three private beach houses, Vagabond, Castaways and Beachcomber, ranging from three bedrooms and three baths to two bedrooms and two baths. Lots of windows let in the sun and the gorgeous view. What's special here is that you don't really feel as if you're in a resort, but in a private hideaway. Heighten that impression by having the Colony's legendary kitchens cater intimate dinners or parties for you. $740 night/high season; $635 night/off-season.

All guests are just steps away from the Colony's renowned tennis facility, with its 21 courts, and the Fitness Center with personal trainers. The Colony Restaurant has won international acclaim, and the food is every bit as good, just more casual, at Windows, the new outdoor Gulf-front dining area.

Celebrities who have enjoyed the casual charm of the Colony include Tom and Dick Smothers, Burt Reynolds, Dustin Hoffman, Shirley Jones, Pat Paulsen, Bob Greene and the stars, producers and directors of the French Film Festival.

The Hyatt Sarasota is on the mainland, close to the heart of downtown's cultural and financial offerings, but there's a yachting atmosphere, with gorgeous views of the waterway, marina and the Intracoastal from the deluxe, bi-level suites. These classy accommodations are rich in crystal chandeliers, sophisticated artwork and furnishings, and offer fully stocked wet bars with brass fixtures. But the piece de resistance is probably the wrought-iron spiral staircase leading up to a huge master bedroom with a great waterway view, easily seen from the king-sized bed. There's also a large marble bathroom with a separate dressing area.

Because it's so close to the Van Wezel, many show-business stars have stayed here. Locals also book these elegant suites, for wedding nights and other celebrations. The catering department will provide anything you want in grand style. They're also the best (and most comfortable) seats in the city for the Christmas boat parade, the Fourth of July fireworks and the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix (the Hyatt is race headquarters).

In keeping with the spirit of Sarasota, the deluxe suites are named after circus greats. Two of the four bi-level suites are one bedroom ($450/night) and two have a connecting room for two-bedroom capability ($550/night). They're so popular the rates don't drop in off-season. 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, 366-9000.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Clubhouse Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sarasota Style
Author:Holler, Janis Frawley
Publication:Sarasota Magazine
Date:Apr 1, 1993
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