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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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Green ‘Tween Saves Energy with GeoThermal Pool

For many years, guests have enjoyed and luxuriated in the ‘Tween Waters’ Olympic-sized pool, and now more than ever, that experience is to be celebrated. As a leader in green policies, Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts has partnered with Symbiont to install a GeoThermal heating units, which use the earth’s heat to warm or cool the pool — making these the greenest pools on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

This time of year, with air temperatures in the 80s and 90s, keeping the pools at a refreshing temp actually comes from the earth’s heat! The GeoThermal unit can both warm and cool the pools at ‘Tween Waters. This works by utilizing the heat of the earth to transfer energy, rather than employing the heat of the earth as the heating source.

Utilizing two wells, one to bring the water from earth, and another that transfers to a heat pump, this geo-thermal process utilizes water in the ground and then returns back to the ground. This process is 30% more efficient than a traditional heat pump that uses air, and 80% more efficient than a heat pump that uses gas (what most hotels use to heat their pools). This all results in less energy being used, less waste and more use of our natural resources to provide an eco-friendly swimming experience. Plus with two pools to heat and cool at ‘Tween Waters, that’s double the energy savings!

Not only is geo-thermal heating more eco-friendly, but it’s also economical and reliable, meaning the hotel saves money on gas bills and can utilize that budget toward additional hotel improvements. This system also lasts 15-20 years (whereas a typical gas system lasts between 5-10 years) meaning less breakdowns and repairs, meaning guests will enjoy the pool all year round without issue!

This installment isn’t new — the ‘Tween Waters has been using GeoThermal energy for a few years, but the significance of how ‘Tween is staying green makes this newsworthy. For more information, visit https://symbiontservice.com Plus, visit our sister property, West Wind Inn, who has newly invested in this GeoThermal system on Sanibel Island.

 

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Changing Landscapes — New Renovations to ‘Tween Waters

Landscapes are changing at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, and for the better! The resort is always looking for ways to make the guest experience better, and some of us don’t love change, how could you not love an improved vacation experience?!

It started a few years ago with all new interiors on the main buildings. That includes gutting the kitchens, bathrooms and carpets, replacing them with granite counter tops, beautiful tile and glass showers and more. These room renovations have now included new mattresses for the whole resort, new furniture, updates to the cottages and a paved drive to cut down on the dirt and dust of this traditional “old Florida” property.

But changing landscapes don’t stop in the rooms. This year, the resort added a second “serenity” pool to the mix. For those opposed to the more active, loud, family-friendly, Olympic-sized pool, now adults can relax at the quiet, calm serenity pool. Renovations around the pool also include new pool chairs, umbrellas and cabanas and a tent over the kiddie pool.

I’m most excited to reveal this year’s plans now include renovations to the kitchen and dining experience! A complete overhaul to the Old Captiva House and Crow’s Nest kitchen will begin June 11, and will be closed for a brief four days, with plans to return power back to Crow’s Nest on June 15. Lunch will be served at Oasis Pool Bar in the meantime. With renovations and décor redesign made to the Crow’s Nest last year, this restaurant will serve as the main dining experience until fall, when Old Captiva House will complete the full restaurant updates. You can expect a new, state-of-the-art kitchen, full reno to the dining room, chairs and tables, bar top area, and new décor all meant to provide a better, more efficient and relaxing dining experience.

What I love most about these renovations is that not a single one of them takes away from the charm, history or integrity of the resort you know and love. As National Historic Register property, there are a restrictions to décor, style and even paint color that you can use, so while the resort is adding comfort and style, they’re truly sticking to tradition.

 

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The Perfect Fit — Getting Your Workout In While On Vacation at ‘Tween Waters

Olympics Beach Volleyball

I’ve really been working on myself this year, which includes working out each work day. So when it comes to vacation, I’ve made it my goal to not skip workouts. While ‘Tween Waters does have a beautiful fitness center located near the spa and free to use with any stay, it feels like a shame to walk on the treadmill when there’s so many fun ways to stay active while on vacation. So how do I get my work out in, and still have fun enjoying paradise?

Tennis: Tennis is a great aerobic workout and an even better way to enjoy the outdoors while still getting a pretty consistent aerobic exercise. Rent rackets and balls at the front desk or bring your own!

Beach Volleyball: Grab some friends and head to the beach for this seriously intense workout. If you dig into it, this can be a huge workout on your quads and even a little aerobic when you play a little three on three. Beach volleyballs are available at the front desk.

Walk or bike down the beach: ‘Tween Waters rents bikes by the marina that you can take on a nice ride along the miles and miles of road and pathways on Captiva Island (note: Captiva Island does NOT have sidewalks, so biking on the beach sometimes is safer and harder work! It’s also the reason they do not rent children’s bikes). If you’re not much of a biker, you can make the four mile trek there and back by foot to Blind Pass for the best shelling on either island.

Kayak or SUP: If you’re seeking to tighten that core, you’ll find kayaking or SUP (stand up paddle boarding) is the perfect fit. These balanced activities have your ab muscles tightening and contracting to keep you in place — and if you’re like me, crashing into the water with your lack of balance and trained muscles!

Lap swimming: Let’s not forget that ‘Tween Waters is home to an Olympic-size pool, perfect for early morning laps. The pool can get busy during the day, but as soon as it opens, it’s a great time to jump into position and get your laps in before the party begins. This is my kind of workout — both aerobic and low-impact — plus I can enjoy a cocktail from the Oasis Pool Bar after my workout.

Now that I’ve worked off some calories, it’s time to rest and relax, and then maybe earn some of those calories back at Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille or Old Captiva House! Yum!

 

 

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