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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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Baseball and the Beach

One of the highlights of a springtime visit to ‘Tween Waters is the opportunity to not only enjoy the beautiful beaches and warm sunshine, but also the chance to catch some exciting baseball games. Baseball fans know that many professional MLB teams descend on Florida for their spring training; it’s known as The Grapefruit League. There are two major league teams that happen to call neighboring Fort Myers home each spring, and it’s an easy drive from ‘Tween Waters.

 

There are games scheduled almost daily, and fans are encouraged to come catch fly balls, get autographs, cheer on the rookies and the seasoned stars, and take advantage of the unique opportunity to get unparalleled access to favorite players. It is a baseball fan’s dream-come-true! Plus, the weather is fantastic (think high temperatures of about 77˚ Fahrenheit and lows in the upper 50s.)  If you want to check out some games, you can get your tickets at the gate or order them in advance at floridagrapefruitleague.com.

 

And what’s better after a baseball game? How about returning to ‘Tween Waters for a refreshing plunge in the pool and a tasty grouper sandwich (or a kosher beef hotdog!) at the Oasis Pool Bar & Grille? If you’re not into baseball, but are in the sporting mood, there are lots of activities you can enjoy onsite, like biking, paddle boarding, beach volleyball, tennis, and more.

 

Then, as the sun begins to set on yet another perfect spring day, stroll over to the beach to catch a world-famous Captiva sunset. No baseball glove required.

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New wave hits ‘Tween Waters culinary scene on Captiva Island

At the restaurants of ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, I’ve been watching what’s old become new and what’s new turn back to old. Let me explain.

It began two years ago, when the then-new Food & Beverage Manager Laurent Bosc identified a need to freshen things up – both in the kitchen and dining rooms.

His aspirations came to fruition last summer with the hiring of Greg Nelson, a longtime culinary fixture around these islands.

“Because I knew the islands so well, I knew exactly what people here want – locals and visitors,” Chef Nelson said. He is enjoying the flexibility of designing food for three different venues at ‘Tween Waters.

Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille

His first task-at-hand was to  redesign the dinner menu at the Crow’s Nest, to go along with the dining room’s new coastal, nautical vibe.

“My vision was to offer a family-oriented menu with only fresh, mostly local ingredients,” said the chef. “Only dishes we make from scratch. We don’t buy pre-made ingredients. And mostly seafood, because that’s what people want on these islands.”

Besides shrimp, mussels, calamari, grouper, crab cakes, and salmon on the seafood-heavy menu, Chef Nelson rounded things out with chicken wings, salads, grilled veggies, baby back ribs and one of his favorites: The Ultimate BLTAE. He adds avocado, a fried egg and a smear of habanero mayo to the traditional BLT formula, served on sourdough bread.

Oasis Pool Bar & Grille

Chef Nelson also oversees operations at this ultra-casual, al fresco venue, which serves lunch (until sunset) and fruity specialty cocktails. From burgers to Caribbean Jerk Chicken Salad, the menu offers meals made for families and swimwear. The Tween Beans sells coffees, cookies, and ice cream at the other end of the pool.

Duck spring roll

Old Captiva House

Old Captiva House, the resort’s finer dining venue also underwent a renaissance, beginning late 2016, when management pulled the tablecloths and high-end pricing in favor of a more relaxed attitude. Last year, it also subtracted the “old” from Old Captiva House and added sushi, which my family raves about.

With upcoming décor changes, the “old” has returned “to keep our historic, 1930s roots alive,” said Mr. Bosc.

Chef Nelson’s new breakfast and dinner menus debuted last month. On my most recent dinner there, I ordered a triple-tail seafood special that was out of this world. And you’ve gotta try the duck spring roll! Now, I can’t wait to get my tastebuds around the Artichoke Chorizo Benedict for breakfast.

A total overhaul of the resort’s main kitchen is also slated for this year, putting the final touches to a fresh, new experience at this legendary historic resort.

We love the sushi!

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Music to your ears: Jamming at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Captiva Island holds a reputation for some of the best music to be found around Southwest Florida, and you can thank ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa for that. For as long as I can remember, our visits to Captiva have been orchestrated by a party-down visit to the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, where live contemporary musicians take the stage several nights each week. It has always been THE place to nightlife in these parts.

In the past few months, ‘Tweenies has gone a step jivier with the introduction of its Songwriter Saturdays the first weekend of each month. On the shirttails of the famous, countywide Island Hopper Songwriter Fest each September, ‘Tween Waters has piggybacked on a building reputation for high-profile artists from the BMI circuit. The informal Saturday concerts – to further sweeten this deal – take place at the Oasis Pool Bar, where the drinks are fruity and the setting tropically splashy.

The next Songwriter Saturday hits the pool deck on Feb. 3 starting at 4 p.m. ‘Tween Waters welcomes Hugh Mitchell to the stage. He has toured nationally since 2006 as a side man for other artists in venues ranging from bars to arenas. Now he has broken out on his own with a new 2017 release.

From his hometown in Alabama, the Birmingham Magazine writes: “Hugh Mitchell has an unmistakable down-home flavor, but he isn’t the result of a country factory. Call it country, call it rock. Just listen.”

I believe I will, and that you should too.

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Fall in Love with February at ‘Tween Waters

February is my favorite month in Florida. The weather is near-perfect, there’s so much to do and I get to celebrate two “National Holidays” if I’m lucky. February at ‘Tween Waters is no different — from Songwriter Saturdays to “Big Game” Sundays, plus a little Valentine’s Day love in between, there’s a million and one ways to fall in love with February. Here’s a few to get you started:

Songwriter Saturdays: Start off February with a relaxing day at the pool and a little nationally-recognized music. With temps rising, the Oasis Pool Bar is the best place to “chill” and relax, and now with Songwriter Saturdays, it’s an even cooler hangout. This month, enjoy music stylings from Hugh Mitchell on February 3, starting at 4PM. This “golden-throated troubadour” gives you grit and melody all and one, and now it’s all poolside to enjoy. Book a reservation ASAP because they fill up fast for these music-filled weekends or plan to bring a carful of people for just $50 for the day.

Valentine’s Day: They love love at ‘Tweenies, and there’s no better place to enjoy Valentine’s Day than the home to “America’s Most Romantic Sunset.” If you can’t make a week-long vacation out of it (this year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Wednesday), the perfect Valentine’s Day gift is a romantic dinner at Captiva House. I’ve enjoyed more than one Valentine’s Day pre-fixed menu at Captiva House, and couldn’t ask for a better way to celebrate love than with my mouth full of delicious food. Make your reservations asap!

The Big Game: Okay, so I can’t say those magic words that start with Su and end with owl, but you know the Big Game I’m talking about. Cheer on your favorite team, or just come for the commercials, but either way, you’re going to want to do it at Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille. Grab a stool and join in the fun as they give away huge prizes (TVs, spa and dining gift cards and more!). The fun starts at 4PM on February 4.

Soak in Fabulous February Weather: The last, and best way to fall in love with February is to soak in fabulous February weather by making a vacation out of it all. Save big during high season with un-heard of three- and five-night packages, starting from $263/night for a Poolside Guestroom February 2 through April 8, 2018. Plus, when you book direct, you get all of those great VIP benefits like bike rentals, kayak and canoe rentals, hassle-free cancellation and so much more. Book by calling: 800-223-5865 or getting your deal online: www.tween-waters.com.

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Living the top-rated life on Captiva Island at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Recently, Coastal Living magazine published its 2018 list of 20 Best Places to Live on the Coast. Captiva Island made the top 10. My only surprise at that was: It should have placed number one. But of course we’re talking about a board of “experts” who don’t know Captiva Island like I do. And the scope, after all, is worldwide.

IMHO opinion, Captiva Island tops out even if you can only live there for a week or three days. Especially if you are living it up at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa, with its prime location balanced between Gulf of Mexico sunsets and Roosevelt Channel sunrises.

In that way and place, the sun dictates how you live on Captiva Island. I like to start with a morning coffee on the marina docks, where I can watch the bustle of morning boaters raring to get out on the water. Ospreys squawk and scold at all the commotion. Manatees and dolphins play undisturbed around the mangroves. Captiva Island comes alive.

In between, there are two swimming pools, a pool bar, a spa, tennis courts, and dining to see you to the other side: the Gulf side, where long beach walks, seashell hunts, and sandy snoozes bring you to the magnificent, near-religious finale of solar adieu. Sunrise, sunset. If that isn’t the way to live life to its fullest, what, I ask you, is?

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