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A Rare Dining Experience for a Short Time Only at ‘Tween Waters

If blessings can come in disguise and good things in small packages, The Canoe & the Kayak club at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island ranks as both.

I consider it a blessing that the resort’s main kitchen and Old Captiva House are undergoing renovation, not only because it promises a new and exciting experience, but also because it gives me the opportunity to revisit this adorable little cottage marina-side.

And the good things? The temporary downsized space and menu somehow concentrate the charm of a ‘Tween Waters dinner experience.

Down Memory Lane

Dining there takes me back to the days when the club served lunch and dinner there on the bay, back in the late 80s to the early 2000s. Prior to that, the historic cottage served as guest accommodations, a house for visiting band members performing at the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, and a temporary home for next door’s Captiva Island Yacht Club.

In the here-and-now, Canoe & Kayak typically functions as a special event venue. It has been called back into regular dining service, however, until the new Old Captiva House reopens later this year. In the meantime, breakfast has moved to the Crow’s Nest. Dinner at Canoe & Kayak is a casual, intimate affair huddled around a fireplace with paddle fans overhead and views through the patio of Roosevelt Channel and Buck Key.

Simple Menu, Complex Dishes

Executive Chef Greg Nelson has simplified the menu to include some of this signature Old Captiva House dishes and others that I was seeing for the first time when I dined there recently with my husband.

We started with a Roasted Shrimp Cocktail. A refreshing twist on a classic, its five jumbo shrimp wear a seasoned coating that boosts the flavor and plays well with the tangy red horseradish sauce.

For his entrée, my husband went with the filet mignon small plate, one of three listed. He immediately pronounced it the best steak he has ever tasted. The 6-ounce cut (also available in full-sized portion) benefited from an experienced grill hand and the combination of gorgonzola cream and port glaze that struck complex but harmonious chords.

Meanwhile, I was expressing the same superlatives about my pomegranate glazed lamb chops, one of four Big Plates. The just-sweet-enough glaze stood up well to the richness of the meat, grilled perfectly to my rare-to-medium-rare specs.

Both came with garlic-parmesan mashed potatoes and a colorful mélange of sliced and shredded roasted veggies that overachieved in the side dish department. Glasses of Cab Sav and Malbec made the perfect complement.

A stack of three almond cookies sandwiching key lime mousse, the Key Lime Napoleon finished our dinner on a sweet note that, too, was a blessing. And, to say the least, a good thing.

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Making History Again at Old Captiva House.

old captiva house 1

Once upon a time, a small schoolhouse on Captiva Island welcomed its very first students to their very first day of learning. The year was 1908. If you’re a local historian (or maybe just an island fan), you know that this one-room schoolhouse remains a Captiva landmark — because today, elements of the school continue on as Old Captiva House restaurant, here at the legendary ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa.

Across the years, Old Captiva House has welcomed thousands of guests to hearty breakfasts and mouth-watering dinners, all served with a front-and-center view of the Gulf of Mexico and its breathtaking sunsets. Today, this tradition will carry on with an all new look — one that embraces the past grace and charm of Captiva Island, while welcoming the future — and an all new kitchen, from which tomorrow’s top-rated Captiva Island menu will be prepared and served.

“Our design team focused on bringing the light, bright, airy and cheerful feel of Captiva to the restaurant, while adding something of ‘southern island charm’ and a nautical feel to the interior,” notes Doug Babcock, Chief Operating Officer of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts. “In the end, we’ll have created a true ‘destination’ restaurant in look, style, experience and of course, taste. We’re very excited.”

The “new” Old Captiva House will feature a variety of guest amenities not previously available, including: a welcome area with lounge seating for conversation and libations; a cozy bar with comfortable seating and outstanding views; a new Sunset Lounge with its sunset vistas; plus a beautiful main dining room with walls of French doors, lots of natural lighting and soothing color combinations. Not to mention the best dining on the island.

As the new kitchen continues construction, an impressive surrogate kitchen has been erected on-property and is currently serving breakfast and dinner via your choice of Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, or a newly renovated Canoe & Kayak Club (with an abbreviated Old Captiva House menu), featuring both indoor and outdoor seating and a gorgeous view of Roosevelt Channel and Pine Island Sound.

While the dining renovation efforts represent a significant investment, the goal is to “continue to provide our guests the best hospitality experience in Southwest Florida,” says Tony Lapi, Chief Executive Officer. “After all, as the Official Beach Resorts of Sanibel and Captiva, nothing less than the best for our guests will do.” Estimates are that Old Captiva House will excitedly debut in a grand opening sometime later this fall.

In the meantime, make your Old Captiva House dinner reservations today by calling the Canoe & Kayak Club at 239.472.5161 X425.

 

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A Cocktail-Lover’s Guide to ‘Tween Waters on Captiva Island

Personally, I love good wine and, when lounging poolside, a top-shelf gin with tonic to refresh. The wine and cocktail lists at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island keep my thirst well quenched, but also offer a full suite of martinis, frozen drinks, signature craft cocktails, and local beers.

Sunny Sipping

Starting at the Oasis Pool Bar & Grille, the adult beverages pair well with splashy, sunny days. It’s known for its tropical frozen drinks – perfect for warm spring days this time of year.

I especially love ordering mine in a Tervis tumbler, the definitive Florida brand of insulated drinkware. Buy the ‘Tween Waters logo tumbler for $19.95 and get your 16-ounce frozen drink for free. Another cool pool bar deal, the Bucket Promotion awards you one free bottle of beer when you buy four.

Plus! Sipping poolside has never been so cool or so full of savings: Oasis Pool Bar has now launched 50% off all drinks for Happy Hour from 5:30-6:30PM nightly.

Nightlife & Nosh at Crow’s Nest

As an apertif at Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, I lean toward the Murky Water cocktail – ‘Tweenies version of a dirty martini made with Ketel One vodka and a blue cheese-stuffed olive. My beer-snob husband orders from the craft beer menu, usually Bury Me Brewing’s From My Dead Cold Hands IPA on tap, made nearby in Fort Myers. Reef Donkey APA from Florida’s Tampa Bay Brewing Co. also comes in draft, along with other crafts in bottles.

When I’m in the mood to drink my dessert, the Key Lime Pie Martini differs from others with a douse of Rumchata mixed with key lime liqueur and vanilla vodka.

Wining & Dining at Old Captiva House

Dinner at gracious Old Captiva House calls for a nice bottle of wine.

“I select the wine personally with my team,” said Food and Beverage Manager Laurent Bosc. “My goal is to offer good wines at good prices. Many countries such as Italy, New Zealand, and Australia are offering excellent unknown wine that often can compete with French and overrated Californian wines.” He urges guests to move out of their wine comfort zones to experiment with the excellent, lesser-known vintages.

I’m also a big fan of the bar’s Cumber-Tini, a twist on my usual GT with Hendrick’s gin and muddled cucumber. With that, it’s time to toast a hearty cheer to a day of sunning, supping , and sipping at ‘Tween Waters.

NOTE: Starting mid-May, kitchen and dining room renovations will mean that Old Captiva House will be temporarily relocated to the Wakefield banquet facility overlooking the Gulf.

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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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Getting in the Holiday Spirit (Sans Snow) at ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island

When people from up north tell me they just can’t get into the holiday spirit in Southwest Florida, I have eight words for them: “Santa climbing a ladder up a palm tree.” To me, the holiday display at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort epitomizes all that is beautiful and festive about spending the holidays on Captiva Island.

If you are like me, and view holiday spirit as a warm, fuzzy feeling and a giving, loving pause from all that’s upsetting in the world, you’ll get it. Where is warmer than Southwest Florida, after all? What can be fuzzier than ‘Tween Waters’ traditional decorations, like old friends I look forward to seeing once a year?

And that Santa on the ladder? A clear demonstration of how islanders make magic – with a little humor — out of a tropical setting. ‘Tween Waters fills the grounds with old-fashioned decorations and thousands of twinkling lights.

The centerpiece, a towering traditional Christmas tree, marks the season’s kick off with a lighting ceremony that takes place the day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 24, this year. We like to make a night of it with dinner at the Captiva House once the excitement of the lighting, live music, and fireworks draws down.

So, you can keep your snow, frostbit cheeks, and yule log. I will happily settle for seashell-studded decorations, sun-kissed cheeks, and Santa climbing a palm tree.

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What to Do with an Extra Day at ‘Tween Waters Inn

‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa’s current offer to earn one free night when you book three nights got me thinking: What would I do with a whole extra day on Captiva Island.

Well, it did not take me long to fill that day, let me tell you. I have not yet tried the Captiva Water Sports’ new parasailing adventure from the resort, for starters. And I love to paddleboard, but somehow I always end up lolling at the beach or having cocktails by the pool, and I never manage to fit in a paddle into the quiet, wildlife-rich back waters. And why not book a jet ski ride, while I’m at it.

And whereas I have had my favorite standard Relaxation Massage at the spa, I would love some more time for a body scrub, facial, and pedicure. You know, really go for the super pamper works.

I always intend to hit the fitness center, but alas, I’ve actually never been inside. And I hear the yoga classes at the resort are zenful. I need some of that.

So, look at that: Day overfilled, and I haven’t even finished my bucket list. Now I just cannot decide between sushi at Captiva House for dinner or that life-changing shrimp and grits at Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille.

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Getting Wild & Seeing Wildlife: A Girl’s Getaway to ‘Tween Waters Inn

Two frisky manatees
Karaoke crazed!

My gal pals and I plan our annual summer getaway to a place where we can park the car and walk everywhere we need to go. So ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island made the perfect match this year. An easy stroll up the beach takes you to all the island’s shops, restaurants, and bars. But truth be told, we only left the resort once. We found all the entertainment we needed right on property.

That started the afternoon we arrived. I walked out on our balcony overlooking the bay and noticed a swirling disturbance that I immediately recognized as manatees mating – a summer romance ritual not uncommon to the islands. Those frisky manatees! They went at it for the entire weekend right off the sandy shore. I was able to get close enough to snap a couple of quick pictures (I kind of felt I was invading their privacy).

At nightfall, another kind of show grabbed our attention at Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille. It was Wednesday, Karaoke Night, and that usually means trouble. That third cocktail inevitably does it – lubricates our vocal chords and numbs our awareness of our lack of talent. So Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy” seemed appropriate enough.

Following our usual pattern, the second day we spent in quieter pursuits – beaching, shopping, and a lovely dinner at Captiva House. Then a night-cap toast from our balcony to those feisty, amorous, and always loveable manatees – undoubtedly a highlight of our visit.

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Shopping for Summer on Captiva Island, Florida

Pelican’s Roost puts the tropical in your closet.

Since summer is year-round at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa, you can find the best stock of warm-weather fashions, accessories, home décor, and supplies in its two retail shops and in one-of-a-kind boutiques in “downtown Captiva.”

I like to start at the resort’s Pelican’s Roost Sportswear, bayside at the marina. It’s like a mini department store. I head for the upstairs women’s clothing section, because I’m a big fan of Jams World shirts and dresses, and I also love the Brighton footwear and fun Wallaroo hats. Surprises lurk in every corner, such as whimsical wall clocks and bags that are “Feeling Nauti.”

Whimsical clocks at Pelican’s Roost

Of course there are men’s fashions also – name brands such as Royal Robbins, Fishware, Sperry, and Reef that fit the ‘Tween Waters salty lifestyle.

Downstairs you will find kids’ wear, swimsuits, and shelves full of practical necessities and fishing and boating sundries.

Next stop, T.H. Osprey, a delightful segue between Captiva House and Crow’s Nest restaurants. It is literally stuffed with stuff. And I mean good stuff.

Here’s where you will find a gift for everyone on your list – from the cat sitter to the grandkids. Buy her some SeaJewels toiletries or a clever Vinbrella (an umbrella in the shape of a wine bottle). Thrill them with sea-themed kids books or an animal puppet. And don’t forget a ‘Tween Waters Tervis Tumbler or a seashell wreath for yourself.

INNSIDER TIP: Score a free pina colada with the purchase of a logo Tervis Tumbler.
Vinbrellas at T.H. Osprey

 

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Digging the New Vibe at The Crow’s Nest at ‘Tween Waters Inn Resort, Captiva Island

Nautically nice, the new decor at The Crow’s Nest speaks to Captiva Island’s salty character.

My husband and I have been partying at The Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grill at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort far longer than I would like to admit. Before we had children. Before we were married, truth be told. It has always been a hot spot for late-night dancing to live bands around the fireplace. The nice thing? That hasn’t changed, even as we and our lives have.

It has, however, undergone a recent metamorphosis that continues to unfold with the brightness and drama of a butterfly. Gone is the 1980s look of dark wood and retro furnishings. Behold the lightness, the ropes, brass fixtures, and other nautical nuances. Now this looks like it belongs to Captiva Island! And to a new era.

Watch for more changes to come as the new executive chef, well-loved island kitchen wizard Greg Nelson, works his magic on the menu. “He’s a great person with great qualities,” says ‘Tween Waters Food & Beverage Manager Laurent Bosc. “Greg has top experience developing menus for beach themed restaurants. He is a leader because he’s a hands-on chef.”

Chef Greg will be overseeing menus and kitchen operations for all of ‘Tween Waters’ restaurants, including the Captiva House, Oasis pool bar, and the bar and grill that will open in May at the new adults Serenity Pool.

But for now, hubby and I are heading our fancy-free, empty-nester party-time back to where we once danced to Eagles and Van Halen covers. And still can at The Crow’s Nest.

Welcome to The Crow’s Nest new island personality.
Ropes, portholes, brass, and wood give The Crow’s Nest its salty air.
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Resort Coupon — An Added Value Experience

Added Value Resort Coupon

When choosing a vacation destination, I’m always looking for two things: quality and value. With ‘Tween Waters Inn, I certainly know that I am receiving quality — about 85 year’s worth of positive customer reviews have told me so. But what about value?

Enter: the $100-value resort coupon books. These have been a great added value to multi-night guests for a few years now, but now, more than ever, they truly are adding value to your resort experience. Here’s why:

The new coupon books feature deals from local vendors and sister properties; meaning I get to explore not just Captiva Island, but Sanibel Island too! And with a variety of offers covering a variety of amenities, I feel I’m receiving a full vacation experience, at a great value.

Upon checking in at ‘Tween Waters Inn, guests who book a two- or more-night stay receive this coupon book. It features deals from Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa and West Wind Inn, and their on-site amenities and restaurants, including Captiva House, Crow’s Nest, Oasis Pool Bar, ‘Tween’s Beans, The Spa at ‘Tween Waters Inn, T.H. Osprey, Pelican’s Roost, Normandie, The Upper Deck and so much more, including coupons for:

  • Food and beverage BOGOs and discounts
  • Gift shop discounts and coupons
  • Cabana rental credits
  • FREE spa treatments
  • Discount boat rentals and sailing adventures
  • Waverunner coupons
  • Guided kayak tour credits

In all of my years of traveling far and near, I’ve never experienced this level of added value and “freebies” from my accommodation option, simply because I booked a multi-night stay. I think that says a lot about the resort and management — not only about value, but quality as well.

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