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Drinks All Around at the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille

Martini on CaptivaThe secret to a great bar and grille is whether or not the locals hang out there. What’s better than a place that isn’t hiking up prices for tourists and that a local can trust to grab a pint (or a glass or a high ball) after a day in the sun? That’s why the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille is my favorite place to grab a drink on the Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

Not only do the locals hang out there, but it’s a great place to meet new people that may be staying at the resort on property, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. Not everyone is looking for friendly conversation, but most guests, and of course the bartenders, are ready to tell their “fish story” and share a drink with you.

But what I love most of all is the variety a seriously delicious drinks to choose from. The wine selection alone is something no connoisseur would laugh at — from Raymond, California Merlot to a great Cab, If you See Kay, from Italy, you’ll enjoy the a great selection if you love wine.

Many go for a stronger drink to end the day, enjoying the specialty drinks and martinis at the Crow’s Nest. Named for local traditions and flavors, patrons enjoy the Key Lime Pie Martini, High Tide Margarita, Pink Dolphin, Captiva Chiller and Tipsy Mermaid. The local favorite of course is the Rum Runner, which you can see ordered here or at the Oasis Pool Bar.

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, the bartenders at the Crow’s Nest have been mixing and making drinks for years, and are always up for a challenge to impress you with a new flavor. “Surprise me” might get you a new concoction or a drink they’ve been making for yours.

Whatever you’re drinking, pairing it with an appetizer or plate from the Crow’s Nest dining menu is a no-brainer. You’ll find unique options like Mahi Fingers and Shrimp and Sausage Quesadillas, plus traditional apps like loaded nachos, mozzarella sticks and chicken wings. Yum! View the full menu, with drinks, here.

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Sea Turtle Nesting Season – An Exciting Time at ‘Tween Waters!

sea turtle captiva

It’s sea turtle hatching season, and one of the most exciting times to be a visitor at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa. If you love nature, baby animals or simply one-of-a-kind experiences, then now is the time to visit.

Baby sea turtles hatch late at night when the moon is bright. And when they are ready, they follow the moonlight and head back to the Gulf of Mexico to join their relatives. This season begins in May and ends in October, but you’ll notice especially right now, the peak of that season and those hatchlings. The SCCF on Sanibel monitors sea turtle nests and so many of these hatchings are controlled and assisted. Over 100 volunteers help with the daily search for tracks that the sea turtle left behind when she emerged from the sea the night before. Not only do they monitor for successful hatchings, but the assist in the protection of these nests to ensure this happens. If you visit our beach, you may see flagged square areas, usually indicating a turtle nest awaiting a hatching.

While it may be difficult to spot loggerhead turtles, you can usually see their tracks, especially in the early morning on the beaches, so keep your eyes open when you are taking that morning walk or out shelling, and you’ll probably encounter some of the tiny turtle tracks heading back to the Gulf.

Common tips to ensuring the best for turtles include:

  • Turn off or shield all lights that are visible from the beach. Do not use flashlights or cell phone lights on the beach. This is why ‘Tween Waters asks that you shut off porch lights visible from the beach when not using.
  • Do not disturb the screens covering nests. They prevent predators from eating the eggs and the hatchlings emerge through the holes without assistance.
  • Dispose of fishing line properly to avoid wildlife entanglement.
  • Fill in large holes that can trap hatchlings and nesting sea turtles. Did you build a mote around your sandcastle? Be sure to fill it in!
  • Do not disturb nesting turtles – please do not to get too close, shine lights on, or take flash photos of nesting sea turtles.
    Pick up litter.
  • Notify us, or please call the Sea Turtle Hotline: 978-728-3663 if you notice any nest that has not been identified or a hatching in progress.

 

In 2018, a record number of nests were laid on Sanibel and Captiva for the fifth year in a row.  Of the 721 nests laid, it is estimated that over 38,000 sea turtle hatchlings successfully emerged from their nests!  Our beaches welcomed 718 loggerhead nests, two green turtle nests, and one famous Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nest. We look forward to another successful sea turtle nesting season and hope to uphold Sanibel’s reputation as having one of the darkest and most “turtle friendly” beaches in the state. Remember, after 9, it’s turtle time!

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The Top Instagram Locations at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa

Instagram 'Tween Waters

If you’re like me, Facebook is out, and Instagram is in. And if you’re looking to beef up your feed with some beautiful vacation pics to make your friends (and frenemies) totes jealous, then you’ll want to scope out these perfect ’Tween Waters locations on your next vacation:

Colorful Cottages: From their idyllic stoops to their tropic colors, the flat sides of our colorful cottages are a great color-blocking beauty to match your vacation outfit. Be sure to be courteous of the cottage guests when taking your photos (try mid-day, stay quiet, away from windows and respect privacy).

‘Tweenies Pass: On the way to pool, you may have noticed the sweet bridge, pond and colorful cottages. We call this ‘Tweenies Pass and it’s the needed zen for your insta feed.

Manatee Cove and Dolphin Lookout: It’s named Manatee Cove and Dolphin Lookout for a reason! Manatees, dolphins and wildlife love to hang by the marina, and the outlook over the docks in a great way to not only spot wildlife, but it’s also the perfect way to capture a wide-angle view of the Bay!

Beachview Balcony: Where’s the best view on property? Checkout the beachview balcony. It’s a hidden gem that many overlook, hidden between the end of the Crow’s Nest and the large Wakefield building. Those steps at the tail end of Crow’s Nest lead up to a stunning view of the Gulf. Because of its height, it’s a vantage point you don’t want to miss and a great way to capture the sunset, blues of the Gulf and wind-blown palms.

Sunset Row: Take a seat in the Adirondack chairs situated on the beach and enjoy the view of one of the top-rated sunsets in the world. No matter your seat, be it chairs, blanket or bum, the sunset is insta-worthy.

Pool Umbrellas: My personal favorite, I love to prop my perfect pedicure and drink from the Oasis and capture the edges of the classic yellow and white striped umbrellas at the pool for the iconic vacation pic.

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‘Tween Waters March Madness

It’s March and it’s madness on the islands. From traffic to guests, it is the ultimate of high season right now. But despite some of the traffic woes, it is also the perfect time of the year to visit! From crystal blue waters to stunning Greenflash sunsets, my ‘Tweenies bracket is the ultimate March Madness competition.

It’s difficult to give seeds to all of the great things this resort has to offer, so they are all on even playing field. But there are some obvious favorites: Sunrises and Sunsets, Shelling, Sugar-Sand Beaches, the Crab Races and Historic Cottages.

For me, there’s it’s no contest. I live for the sunsets on these islands. They are like none other. I placed shelling as my runner up and here’s why — although I can only handle shelling in small doses, it is by far the most unique thing about these islands. You can’t go to Anna Maria Island, Siesta Key or the Gulf Shores and shell like you can on Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The treasures are endless here, and you’ll never see a sight quite like millions of shells washed ashore.

All of the selections that made the bracket are worthy of mentioning. From an on-property marina, to historic, award-winning dining at Old Captiva House, to live music at the Crow’s Nest and a massage at the Spa.

But March Madness is about those Cinderella stories too. Those upsets that make it from the bottom to the top on sheer will and a little bit of magic. For me, those picks would be the Serenity pool and renovated rooms. I love these newer elements of the resort, and for me, they are true underdogs I can appreciate.

No matter how you fill out your ‘Tween Waters bracket, you’ll find it to be tough competition!

 

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Drinks a Flowin’ at Oasis Pool Bar & Grille

Songwriter SaturdaysSoak in some rays, splash in the pool, and then join me poolside, as I enjoy the best cocktails on Sanibel or Captiva. That’s right, I’m headed to Oasis Pool Bar & Grille.

The Oasis is the best place on the island and on property to get tropical, alcoholic drinks that will quench your thirst and your need for a little fruity cocktail, poolside. If you’re not into the fruity cocktail mixes, you’ll also find bucket specials (buy 4, get 1 free!) on beers like Corona, Bud Light, Miller, Yuengling and more.

My favorite, and also a favorite by all, is the rum runner. This mix of light and dark rum, banana liqueur, blackberry brandy, orange juice and pineapple juice, plus 151 rum floater screams VACATION! I have to watch myself, because after a few, I’m more prone to falling asleep under the sun and waking up with more than a hangover (a sunburn!).

If you’re not into rum, you might try a Mr. Delicious — a specialty drink created by one of ‘Tweenies very own bartenders. It includes vodka, lemonade, sweet tea and a vodka float, and is sure to float your boat! On the rocks, my friends love the mojitos, margaritas and raspberry lemonade twists to name a few.

With the serenity pool and Olympic-sized splash and fun pool both within steps, you could spend your day between the Oasis and loungers, so be sure to soak up some of those drinks with some tasty menu items as well. The Oasis is actually one of my favorite places on the islands to grab a Chicken Caesar wrap, grouper sandwich or grouper tacos. Haven’t tried grouper before? It’s a light, moist, white fish that isn’t strong in fishy taste — a perfect introduction to the Florida seafood scene.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ‘Tweens Beans, located just a few steps away, where you can also grab cookies, coffees and ice cream treats too!

It’s hot and happening at the Oasis Pool Bar & Grille. Will I see you there?

 

INNSIDER TIP: All Spring and Summer, enjoy music stylings from Nashville Songwriters at the “Saturday Songwriter” events, held poolside.

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TripAdvisor and ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa

DID YOU KNOW? TripAdvisor is a huge source or referrals for reservations for many hotels, but most people don’t leave a review, and many only leave reviews if they’ve had a negative experience.

I recently found out that ‘Tween Waters actually examines every review and when there are positive reviews or specific mentions of staff, they share those reviews with staff. They read every review and even respond to most — negative or positive.

Due to the nature of reviews these days, the resort takes TripAdvisor into large consideration when making decisions about the future of the resort. When they receive comments on individual updates to rooms, they respond immediately with the maintenance staff. When they received positive feedback on deals, promotions, renovations, or even staff actions and reactions, they also then utilize those to make new policies and standards for their staff training.

What I’ve noticed most about TripAdvisor is that they are constantly changing the way they evaluate and rank hotels. Currently, when search results are displayed, TripAdvisor shows first hotels with the best value. But ‘Tween Waters doesn’t rank high in value, because they do not often integrate their rates into TripAdvisor (it’s best to book direct with ‘Tween Waters). Therefore, they aren’t going to appear under “value” rankings, because they have no value (rate) associated with them. This is a flaw in the TripAdvisor system that causes the resort to lose out on potential customers like you, because they aren’t aware of how the data is being pulled. It’s imperative to be an educated consumer, but even educated consumers wouldn’t know why ‘Tween Waters isn’t listed under best value without knowing these ins and outs.

So if you love our little slice of paradise, and have stayed with the resort recently, then you’ll want to make sure to leave your positive and constructive feedback, so that not only are your ideas and feedback considered for the future, but also so that the resort has a future to speak of. They’re depending on you!

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5 Reasons Why the Tree Lighting at ‘Tween Waters is Pure Magic

Holiday Tree Lighting

It’s the most magical time of year, and while Northerners think they have the upper hand on the holidays with all of that snow and roaring fireplaces, you’ll be surprised to learn that the Tree Lighting ceremony at ‘Tween Waters has all that, a little more! As a true northerner transplant (originally from Wisconsin), I can confidently say there’s nothing quite as magical as the Tree Lighting ceremony on Captiva. Here’s why:

*Snow. I’m leading off with the big one, because yes, there’s snow on Captiva and you can find it only at ‘Tween Waters. With a giant snow machine sending out the fluffy white stuff, you can celebrate in your shorts, while enjoying this Christmas miracle.

*Food. For the first time ever, you can get the VIP treatment by joining ‘Tween Waters in the Wakefield Room and watch the show from the balcony. It includes a family style Italian Buffet and family seating, for just $37/adult and $18/child. That’s a steal, for the best seats in the house! If you aren’t interested in the VIP treatment, you can also enjoy a meal in the Crow’s Nest (special menu) or grab a hot dog and chips, or burger and chips, at the outdoor event!

November 23, 2018 | The fun begins around dusk | FREE to all | Arrive early to secure parking | Call for Wakefield VIP Dining! 800-223-5865 

*Music. Not only is CJ the DJ rocking it poolside all afternoon, and part of the evening, but the Gatlins are returning to Captiva for some live music performances starting at 8:30PM in the Crow’s Nest. During the lighting ceremony, there is a music and lights show, and some live caroling, which is my favorite ode to the traditional holiday spirit.

*Lights. With 100,000 twinkling lights, all played and synchronized to the holiday music, the light show is by far the most magical moment of the night. From candy cane palm tree tunnel, to Rudolph leading Santa’s sleigh, there is no other holiday display like it in, dare I say it, the world. Without any street lights on Captiva, this display is made extra special because it truly lights up the night and can be seen from the beach and beyond.

*Fireworks. The lights are shining brightly everywhere (says Mariah Carey), the music is playing, you’re cuddled up with your loved ones, and then the sky bursts into light. This is pure magic.

If you can’t make the lighting ceremony, you won’t miss all of the fun. The property stays lit until after the new year, and you can walk the property to see all of the beautiful lights. Be sure to stay midweek Sunday to Thursday in December to receive 50% off guestrooms, studios and one-bedroom suites too!

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Butterflies on Captiva

Southwest Florida is the shelling capital of the world, and while there are so many types of shells to love, there is one that sparks my interest and flies with my heart — butterflies.

You may have noticed Conquina shells before — they litter the Captiva beaches and are often purple or pink in color. But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that many of them are still attached together. This is because they are very tiny clams, connected at the hinge. This gives them that beautiful butterfly look. There are a ton of colors to collect, and they are my favorite hidden gem on Captiva Island.

Innsider Tip: Stay silent by the surf, and you will hear these shells wash ashore. They help provide the tinkling sound as the waves wash the shells ashore — millions of little pieces of shells making music with the ocean!

Crouching on Captiva, you’ll find more than 250 species of shells, but if you’re not as lucky as me to have a local shell-educated friend, ‘Tween Waters, Captiva Island and Sanibel Island boast a variety of local experts willing to take guests on shelling expeditions in search of knowledge and the perfect souvenir (for a small fee of course).

With an abundance of shells to chose from, you’ll be sure to go home with a souvenir or two when you visit the beaches at ‘Tween Waters. PRO TIP: Don’t forget a container to keep your shells in as you search, so that these butterflies aren’t crushed or disconnected when you bring them home!

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year — Celebrate with ‘Tween Waters

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa — event season! Yep, this is the time of year to celebrate all things — from songwriters to Hallo’Tween, Thanksgiving to New Years. And what better way to celebrate these treasured events than with parties, buffets, fireworks and music. It’s going to be huge, and you won’t want to miss it. Here’s what’s happening:

Songwriter Saturday:  ‘Tween Waters is still celebrating Nashville songwriters by the pool with another great musician every month. Our next songwriter is Clint Daniels performing November 3 from 2 PM – 5 PM, as always free to our guests with a great poolside venue. Visiting for the day? Just $50 a carload gets you a day pass, parking, live music and access to amenities.

Hallo’Tween: Saturday, October 27, Hallo’Tween is going to be a smash this year, with a variety of dining options at the Canoe and Kayak Club and Crow’s Nest! Plus it’s a night full of live music from the beloved Gatlin until 1 PM at the Crow’s Nest, CJ the DJ spinnin’ it in the Wakefield Room from 10 PM – 2 AM, and our infamous costume contest with grand prize of $1000. Wristbands are just $10 after 10PM (21 and older) and you must be there by 10 PM to enter. Make your reservation ASAP as this event fills fast and lasts all night, so you’ll want to be safe and spend the night!

Thanksgiving Buffet: Everyone loves a good buffet, and even more so, they love the ‘Tween Waters Thanksgiving Buffet. It’s a great way to gather with family and share the love, without any of the work. The menu is already live at the Old Captiva House website, so be sure to check it out and make your table reservations asap!

Tree Lighting: With over 100,000 twinkling lights lighting the property, if you haven’t experienced the ‘Tween Waters Tree Lighting Celebration, you won’t want to miss it this year. It’ll feature CJ the DJ spinning music poolside and beachside day and night; at sunset live caroling, the grand Tree Lighting Celebration with fireworks, a Captiva snowstorm and more; plus all-new holiday lighting displays. Plus new this year, in addition to dinner at Crow’s Nest, you’ll have the option of a unique VIP dinner venue in the Wakefield Room with balcony viewing of the show!

Christmas and New Year: Spending the holidays at ‘Tween Waters is extremely special. Guests enjoy the Christmas buffet, holiday lights around the property, and more intimate New Year’s Party at the Crow’s nest with champagne toast. Spend your holidays on Captiva!

However you choose to celebrate the next few months, be sure to include some time on Captiva!

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Meet the ‘Tween Waters Management Team

Sanibel Captiva Management Team

I’ve had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with the ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa management now, and have learned a different side to the hotel experience. When many of you visit the resort, you see hard working individuals riding golf carts, cleaning rooms, serving meals and drinks and spraying down surfaces, and I’ve come to appreciate each and every working piece and person to a resort. But when many of you don’t see the management side of hotel.

Meet General Manager Brett Gooch. Not only does he manage two little girls at home, but he’s also managing things at a huge 138-room resort. Oh wait, make that two 130+ room resorts (he’s also the GM at West Wind Inn). Did you know that Brett personally addresses TripAdvisor reviews? Anyone who has worked in customer service knows how difficult a disgruntled customer can be, and Brett handles it with grace and patience.

Meet President, Doug Babcock. From beach cams, to new furniture and equipment, to marketing and those discounts you receive on your stays, Doug is heading the charge on my financial and marketing ends. He’s also the General Manager of the sister vacation rental company and president of the overall Sanibel Captiva Beach Resort company. But did you know when first started, in order to get an understanding of all aspects of the resort, he did everything from take out garbage to work in the kitchen? He installed Christmas lights, did beach duty and even parking duty. Talk about involved!

Lastly, I’d like you to meet the man, the myth, the legend, Tony Lapi. Most long-time guests have met and seen Tony Lapi around the resort. This CEO of a major island resort is often found painting, fixing, installing and riding around on a tractor. He’s also been known to carry luggage to rooms, park cars, greet guests, and install renovations. Somehow, he finds time to be a generous and caring human being known to hang out at the Crow’s Nest for a drink, donate to the United Way and fight water quality issues. And did I mention he has a marshmallow gun for holiday events?

What I took away from meeting with the management of ‘Tween Waters was that no matter you position or how much you make, how long you’ve been with the organization or what else is going on in your life, the people who own and work for the resort care. They care about making a difference and truly proving their mission statement: to deliver a warm, friendly and memorable island resort experience that provides value to all our guests resulting in a desire to return. So on your next vacation, if you notice one of these friendly faces, be sure to say hello to the management team.

(Photo Left to Right: Brett Gooch, Doug Babcock, Tony Lapi and Rick Boyd)

 

 

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