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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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Mark Your Calendar For Fun, Fun and More Fun at ‘Tween Waters Captiva.

It’s only August, but it’s time to start marking your calendar for all of the good times, family fun and (yes) occasional case of the sillies at the legendary ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, the Official Beach Resort of Captiva Island.
Got your Google Calendar ready? Here we go:
  • Saturday, August 18: 100,000 Facebook Followers Party. There’s still time to get in on all the fun this coming weekend, as we celebrate our 100,000 (and counting) Facebook followers by hosting a pool-and-beach party topped off with fireworks and $100 room nights! You’ll enjoy CJ the DJ rocking the pool deck all afternoon and into the evening, with mighty beverage specials and an over-the-top beach fireworks display at 9 PM. Call 800.223.5865 now to book your night (or even better, weekend!).
  • Friday-Monday, August 31- September 3: Labor Day Weekend. Most parts of the country call Labor Day the “unofficial end of summer.” Here at the Official Beach Resort of Captiva Island, we call Labor Day the official kickoff of four months of special events and fun! This is a weekend the whole family can enjoy, from pools and beach, to parasail and jetskis, to standup paddleboards of just relaxing poolside (either Family Pool or Serenity Pool). Plus, we’ll have our September Songwriter Jo Smith poolside on September 1. Book it at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Friday-Sunday, September 21-23: Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. It’s the Fifth Annual Songwriter Festival, and that means another chance for you to get up close and personal with a host of talented Nashville singer-songwriters, playing intimate settings throughout ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. If you love music and hanging with the artists, book the weekend now at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Saturday, October 6: Songwriter Saturday at the Pool. This monthly, singer-songwriter Brinley Addington brings his chart-topping Nashville sounds to the poolside relaxation here on Captiva Island. Make it a weekend at 800.223.5865 or book online here.
  • Saturday, October 27: Hallo’Tween. Don’t be afraid, because this all-time classic party brings out the very best in our guests — be they locals or visitors. You’ll partake of an evening of fun with live music, DJ tunes, beverages specials and big-time, cash prizes for the best costumes. Book the weekend now at 800.223.5865!
  • Thursday-Friday, November 22-23: Thanksgiving Day Buffet and Annual Tree Lighting Celebration. Here come the holidays! Be sure to book your weekend stay now, so you can enjoy all that makes the holidays so very special on Captiva and at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa. Thursday’s Thanksgiving Buffet is a must-do, then relax and recharge Friday during the day — because come sunset Friday night, it’s the Annual Tree Lighting Celebration with live music, DJ tunes, hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, a spectacular fireworks on the beach celebration and yes!, the only snowstorm in Southwest Florida. Hurry, only a few reservations remain so book the weekend now at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Tuesday, December 25: Christmas Day Buffet. Here’s one present you’ll want to find under your palm tree — a holiday vacation to ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, including the always delicious Christmas Day Buffet. Wow, this one’s got your name on it. Book it now at 800.223.5865 or online here.
  • Monday, December 31: New Year’s Eve Party. Ring in the new year in style, at the one and only Official Beach Resort of Captiva Island. This is the party to start all parties and kick off the new year with live music, laughter, fun and a beautiful sunset. Make it a weekend by booking now at 800.223.5865.
Remember: When you Book Direct you save with No Resort Fees plus a host of exclusive, VIP freebies and discounts no other travel site offers. So call our friendly on-site reservationists today at (what’s that number?) 800.223.5865 or online here. See you soon and, hopefully, see you often!
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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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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 Wowed by the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille’s New Menu at ‘Tween Waters

I consider myself something of a shrimp-and-grits snob. I’ve eaten the iconic Southern dish from here to Charleston and New Orleans. My favorite used to be the Ya-Ya Grits at a restaurant in Pensacola. It’s been dethroned, however, by the Shrimp and Unbelievable Grits on the new menu at the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa.

Believe the “unbelievable” part. Laced with roasted corn, poblano cheese, and chorizo, the grits languish in an insanely delicious smoked tomato sauce. They make the bed for meaty shrimp dusted with cornmeal and pan-fried. The crowning touch: slices of fried green tomatoes for a final Southern accent.

The shrimp-and-grits are but one indication that Chef Greg Nelson’s recently debuted menu says “wow.” We started with cocktails: I, a Murky Water (i.e. dirty martini with just the right touch of olive juice and two blue cheese-stuffed olives); my husband, one of four Florida craft beers listed.

We sampled quinoa salad and cracker-crusted crab cakes for starters. A white-peach vinaigrette adds subtle sweetness to the tri-color quinoa’s texture. Sandwiched between apple slaw and cayenne remoulade, the crab cakes burst with flavor and moistness.

Rob ordered coconut-crusted shrimp served po-boy style, the shrimp jumbo and juicy. Tasty and perfectly executed as it was, the side dish of red beans and dirty rice practically upstaged it. Over-sated, we passed on the dessert tray. We’ll return soon to try other selections on Chef Greg’s menu. Wow!

Crow’s Nest dessert tray at ‘Tween Waters Inn Resort & Spa
Shrimp and Unbelievable Grits at the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, ‘Tween Water Inn Resort & Spa

 

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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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Getting Silly with Girlfriends at ‘Tween Waters’ Crab Races on Captiva Island

Hermit Crab Races
As much fun as you can have with hermit crabs
As much fun as you can have with hermit crabs

I had taken my son and friends to the crab races at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa a time or two when they were young. Adopting and naming a hermit crab, then cheering it on in a race to the finish line: What’s a kid not to love about that?

That would have been the family-skewed races that take place at 6 p.m. every Monday and Thursday. The races take a hiatus the month of September, and will put the pedal down again starting Oct. 3, 2016.

We caught the last one of the season on Thursday, Aug. 18. This was my first adult-rated race, which started at 9 p.m. Three girlfriends joined me at the Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille for some pre-race munchies and cocktails. The season’s finale meant a big, noisy crowd – many of whom arrived super early to take one of the limited trackside seats around the round table.

I had always wondered how the adults race could get any more, well “racy,” than the family one. Commissioner Tim, who has been commandeering the races for more than 30 years, has a sarcastic, sassy sense of humor, but his witty double-entendres luckily escape the comprehension of young ones.

The fun gets a little rowdier and naughtier at the 9 p.m. show, but still the same tomfoolery, kazoo blowing, and good-natured taunting as the earlier one. Plus half the proceeds from crab “rental” ($5 each for the adult show) benefits the United Way. Good fun for a good cause.

Commissioner Tim explains the rules before the races start.
Commissioner Tim explains the rules before the races start.
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Boys to Men, This One’s for You

Whether you’re in need of a mancation or seeking some quality time with your family, ‘Tween Waters Inn has just what you need.

We’ve Got Your Back

How does a Deep Tissue Massage sound? (The answer is AHHHHH.) There is nothing better to relieve soreness, and the trained masseuses at ‘Tween Waters Spa work magic. And, have you ever had a massage of your feet and calves, and some buffing and trimming on those manly toes? It’s called a pedicure, but no one has to know. My brother says that pedicures are the best kept secret – he loves them, and he’s 6’5” and 285lbs. You want to tell him he’s wrong?

For the Golfer

Tee it up at the 18-hole championship Sanibel Island Golf Club. You’ll even receive a 10% discount when you show your room key from ‘Tween Waters Inn.

Reel Fun

If you love fishing (and who doesn’t?), ‘Tween Waters Inn can hook you up. You can rent your own boat or book a trip with a captain who knows where the fish like to hang out.

Hot Tubs

It may not be a time machine but it can take you back to stress-free times. Ease on in and bubble your cares away. There are two hot tubs to choose from on the pool deck.

Game On

If there’s a game on TV, you can catch it at the Crow’s Nest, along with your favorite cold beverage.

Sharp Dressed Man

Clean shirt, new shoes…you know the song, but did you know The Pelican’s Roost is filled with top quality clothing? This onsite shop has all kinds of nautical clothes and accessories.

Pump You Up

You won’t have to miss a single workout, if that’s your thing. You’ll find your favorite equipment in the Fitness Center. Or, just chill by the pool (oh wait, that’s my thing)!

So, take a break from the bbq, the honey-do lists, and car repairs, and get yourself over here. And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day.

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