Accessibility Link Accessibility compliant site
Menu

Celebrating Summer on Sanibel and Captiva Island

Of course winter and spring constitute high season in Southwest Florida, and Sanibel and Captiva island fall into that mold. Yet there’s something about summer on the islands. Something more intimate and personal. Something more authentically Floridian.

So why plan a summer trip to Sanibel and Captiva islands? For one thing, the most practical thing, rates at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa and Castaways  Beach & Bay Cottages on Captiva Island; and West Wind Inn and Beachview Cottages on Sanibel dip drastically from high season, plus other incentives make it an especially attractive time of year budget-wise.

For instance, right now, all four resorts are giving away a free night when you book three. They are sweetening the deal with $100 in reward coupons and, in the case of ‘Tween Waters and West Wind, dining credits. PLUS, if you book by June 30, you score two free logo Tervis tumblers (call-in reservations only, mention “tumblers”).

The newly remastered Old Captiva House

Speaking of dining, summer means no lines, no crowds, no waiting at your favorite resort restaurants, such as Old Captiva House at ‘Tween Waters and Normandie Seaside Cafe at West Wind Inn. Likewise, on the beach, it’s easy to find a spot  you won’t be sharing with anyone but the birds of summer.

Watch for manatees in the summer.

Bayside, watch for manatees, who mate this time of year close to shore. They favor the little cove on the south end of ‘Tween Waters’ bay shoreline. Get out on a paddleboard or kayak to see more of the islands’ wildlife come alive. Baby birds are hatching. Gigantic sea turtles are laying eggs, and adorable gator hatchlings are crawling out from their nests.

Not only fauna, but flora gets showy in summer. It’s that time of year when mangoes blush with serious, ponderous sweetness. Poinicianas, oleanders, crape myrtles, bougainvillea, and hibiscus blossom. Late afternoon rains bring the islands to their lushest.

Summer: It’s a season ripe for taking life easy, waterside, with a cold drink and a good novel. The Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts have your lounge chair and cocktail ready. Just add sunscreen.

 

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Discovering What’s Old and New at Restyled Old Captiva House

Finally! I’ve been waiting for my favorite dinner-out island escape to open for months. On May 15, the highly anticipated re-opening of the Old Captiva House at ‘Tween Waters Beach Resort & Spa on Captiva Island finally happened. I was there within days to bask in the polished, refreshed setting that makes old and new a seamless time warp.

Old Captiva House’s roots reach back to 1908, when it served as Captiva Island’s first schoolhouse. After the Price family opened their ‘Tween Waters Inn in 1931, the schoolhouse, now on the National Register of Historic Places, transitioned into a kitchen and dining room to serve guests – guests, through the  years, who have included Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh,  preeminent birding author Roger Tory Peterson, and Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, an important editorial cartoonist in the 1930s who twice won the Pulitzer Prize and created the national wildlife refuge on Sanibel now named for him.

Darling, in fact, became one of ‘Tween Waters’ biggest fans and proponents, decorating the lodge’s registration book with his famed doodles. To honor the man and his legacy, the new design of the Old Captiva House has created a Darling Gallery of some of his original cartoons and engravings.

The gallery greets guests as they enter the shiny space that gleams with new furnishings and appointments and the gracious patina of its venerable years.

The restaurant retains its two indoor and patio seating areas. The veranda-like smaller dining room with its lulling sea views is a favorite, but the addition of a physical sushi bar to the larger room ups its attraction. From their handsome wood floors to new patterned, stamped-tin ceilings, the inside dining rooms spell pure class. But in a relaxed vein, despite their starched white table linens.

One of the biggest changes of the multi-million-dollar renovation is one guests don’t see: a totally revamped kitchen. But they can enjoy those upgrades in breakfast and dinner menus that, like the restaurant itself,  joins hands between before and after.

The dinner menu has made a Caprese salad convert of me. Well, for this version, anyway: grilling the juicy beefsteak tomatoes and the swap of basil pesto and lemon-infused white balsamic for the typical red balsamic send it over the top.

We also loved the addition of the “steak of the moment” option, which rewarded us with a bone-in filet mignon on our most recent visit.

And with such inventions as the artichoke chorizo benedict and cheddar bagel steak and eggs sandwich, the breakfast menu adds so much dimension to morning dine-out options on these islands. Finally!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A Classic is Reborn: The New Old Captiva House Officially Welcomes You.

It stands on the site of Captiva Island’s very first schoolhouse that opened its doors in 1908 to a few pioneering students and families. In 1931, when the first overnight guests to Captiva Island checked in at the new ‘Tween Waters Inn, Grace Price treated guests to homemade meals at Old Captiva House while husband F. Bowman Price tended to their fishing excursions.

Across the many years since, Old Captiva House has welcomed tens of thousands of guests to its tables — notable names like Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, J.N. “Ding” Darling, Roger Tory Peterson and more, as well as equally notable names like you.

Today, May 14, 2019, a new chapter of Old Captiva House has officially been written. After more than a year in the works and one-million-dollars-plus of investment, Old Captiva House has been re-envisioned and re-created to once again stand as the top island dining destination for its classic styling, contemporary design, breathtaking beauty and mouthwatering cuisine. And this National Registry of Historic Places landmark is ready to welcome you and your family to experience it all, for breakfast or dinner.

Chief Executive Officer Tony Lapi is excited. “Old Captiva House has a long tradition as a top-rated TripAdvisor Captiva Island restaurant,” he explains. “The time had come to ‘up our game’ and over-deliver to our guests with a new Old Captiva House that combines its classic style and feel with bright and beautiful additions.”

Laurent Bosc serves as Food & Beverage Director of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, and has led a team of highly talented foodservice professionals — including Executive Chef Greg Nelson, sous chefs, servers and attendants — in creating an exciting new menu of Florida-fresh favorites, along with the highest standard of service to be enjoyed on the islands. Bonus: this talented team gets to perform their magic in a sparkling all-new kitchen that rivals any in Southwest Florida for state-of-the-art preparation and presentation.

Chief Operating Officer Doug Babcock anticipates that guests — both those who’ve visited the resort in years past as well as local residents — will be wowed. “The new Old Captiva House is simply remarkable, the moment you walk through those famous doors that front the Gulf of Mexico,” he says. “Your eyes literally wander from here to here to there, with so many ‘wow moments’ as you take it all in.”

Drawing from its historic past, Old Captiva House features a delightful “Darling Gallery,” a collection of original J.N. “Ding” Darling illustrations that — over his many years as guest — he would sketch in ‘Tween Waters Inn’s registration book. The illustrations are sometimes fun, sometimes silly, but altogether fascinating in their “slice of life” in the 1940s and 50s.

Open to the public (breakfast and dinner) and available for weddings, Old Captiva House has indeed embarked on a new chapter in its remarkable history. Be a part of it — make your reservations now to see, taste and experience the best dining on Captiva Island, with a Gulf-front view of Captiva’s romantic and beautiful sunsets, no extra charge.

Visit OldCaptivaHouse.com or call 239.472.5161 (Extension 421) for reservations.

 

Old Captiva House
Old Captiva House
Old Captiva House
Old Captiva House
Old Captiva House
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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!

###

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Live History at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort on Captiva Island

Step back 80-plus years to the days of rumble seats and airplanes landing on the beach — without having to leave the grounds of ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island. Begin your day steeped in history with breakfast at the Old Captiva House restaurant, which dates back to the resort’s origins in the 1930s. Read the historic plaque outside for your first history lesson.

Step inside, then, and admire the cartoons of Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, namesake of today’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel. You can see a collection of his Pulitzer Prize Award-winning political cartoons from the Des Moines Register. The resort also displays some of his original work, including a triptych piece called “The Big Parade,” depicting Captiva beachgoers back in the day.

Darling wintered for many years starting in the 1930s at ‘Tween Waters, where he had both a cottage with his wife and a studio for himself built with higher windows, said resort owner Tony Lapi. Today both cottages have been restored for guest accommodations, along with 17 others. Most of them, along with the Old Captiva House building, are on the National Register of Historic Places. Four are named for other historic figures who have visited Captiva through the years: pioneering aviator Charles Lindbergh, who is said to have landed his plane on the beach; his wife, author Anne Morrow Lindbergh; President Teddy Roosevelt; and ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh Cottage
“Ding” Darling’s humorous portrayal of Captiva shellers: The original hangs in Old Captiva House.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Top