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Rain or Shine, Girls’ Reunion

What happens when three old friends from high school find each other on Facebook? A get-together reunion at ‘Tween Waters is planned, of course! This recently happened to me and two of my dear friends, Holly and Tina, whom I hadn’t seen in 20+ years.

For our stay, I booked us a gulfview suite with two queen beds, which was plenty spacious, even with loads of baggage. From our balcony, we could see the beach, and the onsite restaurants were just steps away.

The only drawback of our weekend was the weather! You can never control summer thunder storms in Florida, but we definitely were the recipients of a weekend washout. But a little rain (OK, a LOT of rain) couldn’t dampen our spirits. Storms bring up seashells, so we shelled in the rain, got manicures in the spa, and our Girls-Night-In was the best! We ordered a couple movies (aka Chick Flicks) to watch on the suite TV, and got dinners to go from Captiva House (we got one last taste before they closed till the fall for remodeling). So, there we were, curled up on the couch drinking champagne, eating seafood lasagna and key lime pie, watching 50 Shades Darker…yeah, it was awesome!

Spending a rainy weekend with these two ladies was an absolute blessing. Time has changed us all physically, yet at the core, we are the same fun-loving girls from yesteryear. On a side note, between us, we have 9 children – it’s no wonder we’ve lost of minds!

Next time, we’re hoping to lounge by the pool, sip piña coladas, and soak in some sun. Until then, we’ll be on Facebook.

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Sunrise, sunset at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort

“Sunrise, Sunset:” One of my favorite songs from my all-time favorite musical, Fiddler on the Roof.

Sunrise, sunset: One of my favorite reasons for staying at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island.

True to its name, it settles comfortably between the Gulf of Mexico and Pine Island Sound. For water lovers, that means the best of both worlds: beach and bayside scapes and endless water sports.

To me, it means sunrise, sunset.

In Fiddler, Tevye and Golde express, in song, a bittersweet emotion as they realize their daughter has grown. With a fled-the-nest son of my own, I get that. But nevertheless, the rising and setting of the sun are ever  joyful, introspective happenstances in my life, especially given the beauty of the moments at ‘Tween Waters.

We like to book a bayside room, where coffee and sunrise go together. Sometimes, if my husband is sleeping in, I will sneak down to the marina docks, where all is silent but for the sounds of early birds and lapping water.

From there, I can do a simple sun salutation as I feel the day come alive. Fishermen head out to catch a good tide and manatees often poke their piggy whiskered snouts out of the water. Pelicans kamikaze-dive for breakfast and dolphins arch silently at the surface. It’s magic, with the promise that the day could bring anything at all. Like an unfilled journal page.

The beach, of course, is for sunset, and little can improve upon a sand-based farewell to the day. But at ‘Tween Waters, there’s more than one way to watch sun melt into sea. Charter a sail or motor boat ride, and toast the parfait sky with a bottle of bubbly. Paddle a kayak or board out to meet the sun. Book a seaplane cruise into the gilded clouds.

Meditate on the flow of the day, the swift flight of years. Relive the happiness and tears: the filled journal page.

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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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GREEN AT ‘TWEEN: ‘TWEEN WATERS ISLAND RESORT TAKES EARTH-FRIENDLY MEASURES

Say goodbye to plastic straws at the Oasis.

Don’t get me started on the topic of plastic straws! Yes, I’m talking about that little plastic tube that gets used for an average of 10 minutes, but, because it is not recyclable, takes 100 years to decompose in the environment. In the meantime, it ends up in the stomachs of sea turtles and other marine creatures.

As it does decompose and turn into microplastic, it even gets into our own digestive systems.

Did you know that every day in the U.S. alone, consumers use an estimated 500 million straws – enough to circle the planet 2.5 times?

So I rejoiced, and not quietly, when ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island made the announcement. It will be discontinuing the use of plastic straws at its Oasis Bar & Grill in the weeks to come. (Plastic straws distributed at outdoor venues increase the likelihood and quickness with which the light straws get blown into waterways.)

“I think it is the right decision given the local ecosystem and our relationship with it,” said ‘Tween Waters General Manager Brett Gooch.

Bravo, Mr. Gooch! Let’s hope other Captiva Island establishments follow suit.

The outdoors plastic straw ban will add to a long list of measures ‘Tween Waters quietly has put into place to save the environment over the years.

Take its cool pools. They get cooled in the summer and heated in the winter using geothermal technology. For more than seven years, the resort has been employing this green system to keep the pools a consistent temperature of 84 to 86 degrees.

Like many resorts these days, ‘Tween Waters encourages guests to reuse bath towels and bed linens to reduce the resort’s carbon footprint. But ‘Tween Waters took it a step more committed via its luxury towel program.

The theory behind it? Buy plusher, bigger, more absorbent towels and you will diminish the need to a) provide guests with fresh towels daily, and b) buy new towels as often.

To further reduce the use and disposal of plastics into the environment, ‘Tween Waters introduced its Tervis Tumbler program. The resort sells a logo version of the definitive Florida brand of insulated drink ware, which recycles broken and damaged products to make new tumblers.

Buy one for $19.95 and get your 16-ounce frozen drink for free. Furthermore, bartenders at any property bar will make your drinks in your new Tervis instead of plastic to-go cups, thereby reducing waste.

Finally, ‘Tween Waters does its part, and then some, to protect the rampant wildlife that Sanibel and Captiva islands are famous for. Beyond requiring lights off for sea turtles this time of year, when they are nesting and hatching, it protects the manatees that love to congregate in the harbor with signage commanding boaters to cut their engines as they enter.

Kayak and canoe eco-tours teach guests about the manatees, birds, and other native creatures, many of them threatened or endangered.

The islands claim nearly 250 species of birds, and flocks of them frequent the marina and beaches of ‘Tween Waters. The resort has provided nesting poles for ospreys, whose shrill whistle, for many returning guests, sounds like a welcome-back call to this place so in sync with nature.

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National Seashell Day 2018

It’s fast approaching – National Seashell Day. This shellabration started in 2016 and it always falls on the first day of summer, which this year, is June 21, 2018.

As an avid sheller, this holiday makes me very happy. I don’t need a holiday to go seashell hunting, but since there IS a holiday, well, that’s a great reason to visit ‘Tween Waters and get out on their world-class shelling beach! You can even book shelling charters onsite at the marina.

Need a few tips to make the most of your shellebration? I’m your girl. I passed my exams with flying colors and am officially a Shelling Ambassador for the Bailey-Mathews National Seashell Museum. If you haven’t been, make it one of the first places you visit while on island. You’ll learn so much – and it’s just a few minutes from ‘Tween Waters.

  • Best time to shell: One hour before low tide till an hour after. Look online for the tide times for the days that you’ll be visiting or visit the onsite marina.
  • Where to look for shells: Walk the high tide line. If you can, walk in the water, too. Many shells don’t make it up to shore and are resting just a few feet away.
  • The moon matters: A full moon and a new moon make for a greater tidal event, which brings more shells.
  • The rules: In Lee County, it’s illegal to take ‘live’ shells, so if there’s a critter in a shell that you’ve found, gently put it back. (I always have my phone with me in a waterproof case so I can take a photo of the live shells I’ve found.)

I hope to see you on the beach for National Seashell Day! What a great way to kick off summer!

Beautiful shells found on my morning walk on Captiva Island.

 

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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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Coolly cruising Captiva in a little “Scoot Coupe”

I had all the posters on my wall.

The lemon-yellow Indy 500 racer coolly piloted by Rick Mears. The tri-colored Pontiac that helped Richard Petty annually rule Daytona. The black-and-gold Trans Am every pre-teen boy was sure would make him as cool as Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit.

Even the navy blue Harley-Davidson Softail my brother raced around the streets of our hometown.

OK, that last one was more a snapshot than a poster.

And I concede to still-lingering trauma from a harrowing 100 mph stint as a passenger after ol’ Mitch snatched me from college for an impromptu 21st birthday weekend in Niagara Falls.

Some years have surely passed since No. 21, but the vibe for cool means of transport remains.

Especially when it comes to cool places.

So when it came to a recent return to Captiva, the mandate was clear.

That meant another 20-minute stroll from the Tween Waters Inn to Yolo Watersports on Andy Rosse Lane, where there’s been a new addition to a burgeoning roster of ways to experience the island.

This one’s called the “Scoot Coupe,” which translates to a three-wheeled, open-air scooter car powered by a 49 cubic-centimeter gasoline engine. Said engine carries the two-seater at a super-efficient 80 miles per gallon and allows it to top out at an impressive 35 miles per hour.

It’s the perfect ride for an afternoon in Captiva’s “downtown” area, which for a brave passenger – my 10-year-old son, Ryan – and I meant a spin from lunchtime quesadillas at RC Otter’s to book perusing on the shelves at Captiva Memorial Library to vanilla bean Frappuccinos at Starbucks down Captiva Drive.

The geared-down speed limit on the island’s north end prevented us from burying the speedometer needle in the red, but the sun on our backs and the breeze past our heads were no less exhilarating as we wrapped up our voyage with a visit to the sandy shores at Alison Hagerup Beach Park.

The promise that the coupe would be sleek, elegant, practical and fun was nothing if not spot-on, and the experience as a whole provided the exact same kick-start for Ryan’s wannabe driving fantasies as the aforementioned Chaparral, Grand Prix and others did for his old man way back when.

If you plan to give it a try, remember it’s a two-seat vehicle and is made for only two passengers – meaning not two adults and a baby and not two adults and a dog, only two heartbeats per machine. Renters and drivers must be at least 18 years old (sorry, Ry…), passengers must be at least 6 and the maximum combined payload (passengers and gear) cannot exceed 415 pounds.

A valid driver’s license and credit card are required as well, and prices range from $129 for a four-hour rental to $179 for an eight-hour stretch.

A 24-hour rental goes for $199 and an additional day can be tacked on for $89. More information is available at 239-472-9656, 239-472-1296, 239-472-1162 or via info@yolowatersports.com.

I’ll certainly be back for a return trip before too long.

And who knows, maybe I’ll even give Mitch a ride to the next birthday bash.

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Hot Chicks, Cool Dudes: it’s Turtle Season!

Did you know the temperature of a sea turtle’s nest determines whether the hatchlings will be male or female? A warmer nest produces mostly females, a cooler nest produces mostly males (hence the headline).

Turtle nesting season starts on the west coast of Florida on May 1st (although the SCCF starts counting nests April 15th.) Here are some facts from last year’s season:

  • 189 Loggerhead nests on Captiva
  • 650 Loggerhead nests on Sanibel
  • 2 Green turtle nests on Captiva
  • 34 Green nests on Sanibel

Leatherback turtle nests are a rare event.

If you take your kids for a late-night beach walk while at ‘Tween Waters, you may spy a sea turtle crawling out of the water, or back to sea after laying her eggs. If you do, don’t approach her or shine light in her direction. They spook easily. The best thing to do is quietly admire the glorious gift you’ve been given to witness something so amazing.

Fun fact: To lay their eggs, female turtles return to the same beach where they were hatched!

Want to help sea turtles? Before leaving the beach, flatten any sand castles, fill in any holes, and remove toys and chairs. These are all obstacles for a crawling turtle or hatchling. You can also check for dangers, like trash or fishing line, and dispose of it properly.

Since hatchlings use their instincts to crawl toward moonlight on the water, any other light can be hazardous. At ‘Tween Waters, we do our part by reminding you to keep curtains closed at night, dimming balcony lights, and keeping lights away from the beach.

So remember, from May to October, it’s “Lights Out for Sea Turtles.”

Happy Turtle Season!

During sea turtle nesting season, keep porch lights out and blinds closed at night (they need to find moonlight on the water, not false light on shore).
Sea turtle tracks and a marked nest.
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Get the Most Out of Your Next Vacation with Vacation Rentals

One of the greatest perks of being an Innsider is knowing the best ways to make the most of your vacation. Whether it’s with ‘Tween Waters directly, or with their sister properties and rentals, Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts seems to have the perfect answer for every vacation situation.

INNSIDER TIP: Book direct with ‘Tween Waters Island Vacation Rentals via http://www.twivacay.com/ or 844.TWI.VACAY for best availability and benefits!
I love the amenities of staying at a resort like ‘Tween Waters — from daily housekeeping to being steps away from pool, beach and dining — but I also love the benefits of a vacation rental home, including long-term rental options, full kitchen setups, no neighbors and common rooms to be as noisy or quiet as we want, plus of course, lots and lots of space.

So what’s a girl to do? Well of course ‘Tween Waters has the answer, and it is their new venture: ‘Tween Waters Island Vacation Rentals. The answer is in the name — vacation rentals. What I love about this option is that you don’t have to skip out on the resort amenities while staying at a rental. You benefit by being able to enjoy resort amenities, the pool, close proximity to any one of their four properties, plus sweet discounts via a $100-value discount coupon book. Plus, if you have a large family like I do, and you all want to hang out together, the price per person of a vacation rental home is less than staying on-property. With these benefits, plus so many more it’s a slam dunk.

I have to also give honorable mention to my other Sanibel Captiva Beach Resort property favorites, Beachview Cottages, Castaways Cottages‘Tween Waters and West Wind Inn. If you’re a traditional Sanibel person and just can’t stand stay anywhere but Sanibel, there’s a bunch of great properties under the SCBR umbrella. I love the cottages because much like the vacation rentals, you have your own space, while not paying a premium to be directly on the beach (plus yep, same SCBR benefits!). West Wind Inn has its own charm, with beachfront rooms and location, a huge beautiful pool overlooking the ocean, and on-site restaurants so you never have to leave, it’s another great option. ‘Tween Waters benefits with the name resort amenities, and also has a marina, boat rental, spa and more to help sweeten the pot.

I can’t say enough great things about each and every one of these Sanibel Captiva Beach Resort properties, so whatever your preference, choose SCBR.

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Getting water-logged to chase a flying Fox

If you ask me, Michael J. Fox is the culprit.

After all, it was a movie in which he played a starring role — 1989’s “Back to the Future Part II” — that first made red-blooded American boys like me start dreaming about the airborne sweet spot somewhere between terra firma and a jet airliner at 30,000 feet.

OK, full disclosure… I was 20 going on 21 when the movie came out.

Fox is Canadian, though, so there’s got to be a favorable conversion rate in there somewhere.

Anyway, the point is that after watching Marty McFly bounce off walls and race next to cars with what amounted to a low-hovering skateboard, we all figured similar real-world gallivanting was imminent.

But now, as 49 stares down the barrel at 50… Fox’s fantasy still seems way too far-fetched.

At least when it comes to land, that is.

Fortunately, the ‘Tween Waters Inn is flanked on two sides by water, which provides a bit more opportunity for those still hoping to give ol’ Michael J. a run for his multi-colored money.

And just as fortunately, it’s only a shade more than a mile from Yolo Watersports, too.

There, at 11534 Andy Rosse Lane, TWI guests and visitors can get their Fox on in the form of “flyboarding” — an activity in which riders stand on a board connected by a long hose to a watercraft.

Motion is created when water is forced under pressure to a pair of boots with jet nozzles underneath, providing thrust for the rider to fly as high as 50 feet in the air or dive headlong down to 8 feet.

It’s $95 for a 30-minute session with the certified folks at Yolo, who’ll ride shotgun to ensure fun and safety while the paying customers – with pre-flight instructions rattling around in their heads – desperately attempt to replicate YouTube videos that make it look barely harder than riding a bicycle.

For the record, those instructions seem pretty simple and focus mainly on basic movements – 1) stand with locked legs to begin; 2) point toes down or up to move forward or backward; and 3) lift alternating knees to go in the opposite direction (left knee moves you right, right knee moves you left) — but they provide little solace as you rise and tumble with all the alacrity of a sleep-deprived toddler.

It’ll take all but full-on Olympians (read: show-offs) multiple tries (read: crashes) to stay consistently dry and vertical, at which point a true adventurer may endeavor to raise his or her game, literally, by raising elevation – which provides both the thrill of flying and the terror of crashing for the same low price.

Soreness was alongside exaltation and exhaustion by the time my half-hour was up, though the sensation of a nose full of water lasted long after I’d gotten back to shore.

Turns out a comfy chair and attentive servers at the Oasis Pool Bar quickly take the edge off, especially upon their arrival with a frosty Rum Runner or Margarita.

And, whaddya know (eh!), it only took two or three repetitions before I’d begun to forgive my Alberta-born nemesis.

Maybe not enough to punch up “Doc Hollywood” on Netflix just yet…

But I’m surely willing to negotiate.

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