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Finding More to Love at West Wind Inn’s Normandie Seaside Café

The baked scallops appetizer bathed in sherry cream and topped with streusel-textured parmesan bread crumbs was my first clue. But the Mediterranean Clay Pot Grouper cinched it.

The Kalamata olives. The capers. The whole cloves of mild, soft garlic. The plump mushrooms. The artichoke hearts and fingerling potatoes. The fennel-tinged roasted tomato sauce. The grouper! – so perfectly cooked to the very brink of doneness. It’s as if Executive Chef Patrick Fitz had peered into my deepest food fantasies when he created this elegant comfort food.

The grouper dish is unequivocally the star of the new, brilliant dinner menu that Chef Fitz introduced recently at the Normandie Seaside Café. Named for the famed French ocean liner, Normandie stands, in more ways than one, as the flagship restaurant at West Wind Inn, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort’s sister property on Sanibel Island.

The new chef comes to Normandie from the Blue Coyote Supper Club, an establishment renowned for its fine cuisine. He brings to this restaurant a flair for Italian and Mediterranean flavors, immediately recognizable in the fennel sprinkled through the new menu.

While I went for the new, my husband stayed with one he has long loved: crab-stuffed snapper with lobster cream sauce. It shines brighter  now from Chef Fitz’s polish and magic. He has added his tweaks to many of the familiar favorite appetizers and entrees on the menu. The garlic mussels app, for instance, has evolved into a curry cream rendition. The pan-seared scallops entrée benefits from a tomato fennel sauce and chef’s evident know-how when it comes to cooking seafood to the proper degree.

Our scallops appetizer, another tweaked rendition, came with two gigantic scallops in a ramekin, baked to a lovely pink rareness. My husband didn’t exactly lick the bowl, but he did bread-sop up every last drop.

Besides the grouper dish, a beef tenderloin tips appetizer with caramelized onion, mushrooms, and brandy reduction; and a roasted half duck entrée glazed with raspberry and accompanied by sweet potato puree also make a first-time appearance on the menu.

Expect more signs of Chef Fitz’s accomplished meddling on Normandie’s breakfast and lunch menus. He has effectively elevated the legendary café to so much more than your typical hotel food.

 

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Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts Announces New Corporate Structure

Best Hotel Captiva

Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, the leading hospitality marketing and management organization in Southwest Florida (and parent company of ‘Tween Waters), has announced a new corporate leadership structure. Effective August 1, Tony Lapi (left) has assumed the role of Chairman of the Board & President, with Doug Babcock (right) now leading day-to-day operations as Chief Executive Officer & Vice President.

“I’ve learned a lot about the hospitality industry in Southwest Florida these past 42 years,” Lapi says, “and I’ve had the great pleasure to work side by side with Doug Babcock the past nine years. This transition has been part of our long term strategy that will allow our corporation to continue its growth and success, while providing ongoing opportunities to support our community, through valuable employment and charitable contributions.”

“I’m thrilled to have the chance to lead an outstanding corporation that’s been built by the integrity, quality and hard work not only of Tony Lapi, but every one of our employees over the years,” Babcock added. “In the hospitality world today, your employees are your ambassadors, your representatives of your brand and how our guests will most remember their experiences with Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts. The fact that we’ve grown, and are such highly rated on travel review sites, speaks to the quality of our people.”

Both Lapi and Babcock are majority owners of the corporation. Lapi first purchased with others ‘Tween Waters Inn in 1976, then added Beachview Cottages in 1979 and Castaways Cottages in 1982. With family ownership of both ‘Tween Waters Inn and West Wind Inn, Babcock was key in the addition of West Wind Inn to Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts in 2015, along with the launch of Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals in 2018. In total, SCBR offers visitors to Southwest Florida their choice of “the Official Beach Resorts of Sanibel and Captiva” — over 400 highest quality lodging choices including resorts and vacation rental homes and condos; five superior restaurants including Old Captiva House and Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille at ‘Tween Waters, plus Normandie Seaside Cafe at West Wind Inn; two marinas; and day spa.

Both gentlemen have and continue to serve various organizations, councils and boards related to hospitality, tourism, community causes and water quality issues. In addition, both are graduates of Syracuse University.

About Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts LLC
Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts LLC is among Southwest Florida’s top and most experienced hospitality marketing and management organizations. SCBR operates four of Sanibel and Captiva Islands’ top beach resorts that comprise more than 400 quality accommodations, from beachfront suites to classic seaside cottages, including: ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa of Captiva Island, Florida; West Wind Inn of Sanibel, Florida; Beachview Cottages of Sanibel, Florida; Castaways Cottages of Sanibel, Florida (at Blind Pass); and Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida. The organization also excels in food and beverage service with five dining outlets, plus outstanding banquet services and facilities for weddings, corporate meetings and family reunions. In addition, Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts manages and markets two marinas, numerous recreational amenities (discounted golf, tennis, water sports and more), retail outlets and a day spa.

Learn more at www.SanibelCaptivaBeachResorts.com.

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Enjoy the Thrilling New Shark Boat!

Shark Boat Tween Waters

The newest and most thrilling adventure on the water has joined the watersports brigade at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa! Replacing the banana boat, the new “shark boat” has guests zooming across the water and splashing through the surf in a thrilling ride. The new boat holds up to 6 passengers, which makes it perfect for big groups or families ready for a good time!

Better than the banana boat, the shark boat has individual seats that keep riders safe and separated. With double the size of the banana boat, the shape and size of the shark boat helps riders to board the boat easier, keep riders on the boat, and keep them stabilized. The boat also has foam handles with knuckle guards to help guests hold on during the ride with ease.

Guests glide through the Gulf side, splashing through waves on this 12 to 15 minute ride. Enjoy it all for just $20 per rider, available with Captiva Water Sports located on-location at the ‘Tween Waters Marina or beach stand. The shark boat is pulled behind a jet ski and operated by a USCG licensed Captain. Riders must be over 40lbs and under 250lbs, and riders under 18 must have a parent or guardian present to consent.

If you’re looking for more adventure watersports while at ‘Tween Waters, try jet ski tours and rentals, parasailing, and private boat rentals — all hosted through Captiva Water Sports — available at the ‘Tween Waters Marina. Visit Captiva Water Sports for more information on the shark rides or call 239-472-6336 to book your next adventure with Captiva Waters Sports.

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Finding Your Inner Beach Bum on a Cottage Vacation

Beachview Cottages

A beach cottage is not a place; it’s a state-of-mindlessness.

It conjures up images of sunset porch views and walking out your front door with bare feet. A beach cottage promises the ultimate island vacation, where your only work is on your tan and finding out who “dunnit” in a breezy mystery novel.

Cottage vacations are my favorite, especially a Sanibel or Captiva island beach cottage vacation. Through Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts, I can pick from the historic cottages at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, the shore-hugging and casual cottages of Castaways Beach & Bay Cottages, the sweet little beach-bum accommodations at Beachview Cottages, or a stand-alone home-away-from-home out of  the inventory of Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals.

At Castaways on Sanibel Island, 15 cottages line the beach at Blind Pass with options from one to three bedrooms, each with its own personality. The rest of the property’s 22 units are pool-front, marina-side or bay-front — across the street, but still an easy shuffle to the beach. (You may want to don flip-flops for that walk.)

Castaways Beach & Bay Cottages

It feels like a return to old Florida, but with all the conveniences. You become part of the “Santiva” community here, with the convenience of a handful of restaurants and a small store, where you can buy the makings of a meal should you decide to take advantage of the cottages’ modern kitchen facilities.

The staff, too, become like family. The resort is known for its longtime employees, who get to know their guests by name.

Same goes for Beachview on Sanibel Island, a postcard property of 22 cottages painted brightly with the requisite screened porch and sandy trail to the beach and pool. The one- to three-bedroom cottages slump comfortably, like a pair of favorite shoes you’ve worn in. Newly refreshed with modern upgrades and easy-living furnishings, their board-and-bead wainscoting epitomizes cottage living.

‘Tween Waters Island Resort

At ‘Tween Waters, a few of the cottages pay honor to famous past guests such as Charles Lindbergh, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and “Ding” Darling. Some have Gulf of Mexico views, others look out onto the bay. None lie far from the beach.

Slightly more “dressed-up” than the other two properties, the cottages at ‘Tweenies appeal to a still-casual, inherently charming beach sensibility, where time seems frozen ‘neath toasty Southwest Florida sun.

And for me, that’s the main attraction to spending time in accommodations that effectively erase the boundaries between seaside and bedside.

Castaways
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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.

 

 

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Relishing Sanibel Island’s best breakfast at the Normandie Seaside Café

Bloody Marys and sauteed plantains. The Normandie had me there. Because when it comes to breakfast, I seek the unusual. The creative. The eye-opening. The excellent. Normandie Seaside Café at the West Wind Inn – one of the Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts group – has thereby become my favorite breakfast restaurant on Sanibel Island.

Let me preface it by admitting that my bestie breakfasts in the world have been devoured in the Bahamas. True, the Normandie doesn’t serve the Bahamas’ sheep tongue souse and fish soup breakfast specialties. But there are those caramelized sweet plantains, which are an alternative to grits or home fries as a side dish to Normandie’s ambitious array of breakfast specialties. (But, truthfully, the crispy potatoes fried with sliced onions makes for a tough decision.)

I find tropical influences, too, in its grilled French toast inventions: crusted with coconut and toasted almonds or, ta-da!,  topped with banana-strawberry cream cheese, fresh strawberries and bananas, and powdered sugar.

The omelet menu takes a more global tour. The kitchen fills the Pesto Omelet, for instance, with basil pesto, ham, tomato, and parmesan cheese. There’s also an Italian and Greek, but my favorite, the Fiesta Omelet, bulges with roasted red pepper, mushrooms, onions, salsa, and cheddar.

Its specialty breakfasts, on the other hand, salute the American flag with bennies and breakfast sandwiches. Seduced by the velvety hollandaise sauce and the quality English muffins, I sway often in the direction of the classic Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine.

As for the Bloody Marys, they’re just spicy, just strong enough. When we order mimosas instead, they come with just a dash of OJ, exactly how we order them.

Muffins, pancakes, granola, and a tasty bacon and egg wrap: No matter what the Normandie cooks up for you, it delivers excellence. And perhaps the true and most important test of its excellence is a seasoned service staff that knows the value of making guests feel immediately welcomed, no matter how busy they are, and ultimately satisfied. I can think of no better way to start the day.

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Win a Free Vacation at Any of the SCBR Properties

What’s better than a vacation on Sanibel and Captiva Islands? How about a FREE vacation, at your choice of four spectacular Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts properties. SCBR announces the “Choose Your Paradise” sweepstakes— a year-long celebration of the vacation choices SCBR provides!

Enter to win, “Choose Your Paradise” and you’ll have a chance to win one of three, five-night vacations, across three phases throughout the year. The Grand Prize winners will choose from Beachview Cottages, Castaways Cottages, ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa or West Wind Inn to stay five consecutive nights in a spacious and comfortable guestroom, or similar, based on availability. Winners will be randomly selected from the entry database three times throughout the year, May 31, August 31 and November 30, 2019. Entrants may enter once per day to increase their odds at https://www.sanibelcaptivabeachresorts.com/choose-your-paradise/.

In addition, all four Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts are celebrating “paradise” with its “Spring Ahead to Summer Sale,” which provides guests an additional night free when staying three or more nights. When you book direct at the property websites, you enjoy guaranteed lowest rates versus other travel sites; 100% complimentary resort fees; $100 value Resort Rewards coupon book; plus up to 20 exclusive, free amenities and services not otherwise available.

The ”Choose Your Paradise” sweepstakes celebrates the variety of options available when booking with Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts. Choose from Sanibel or Captiva Islands, intimate cottage settings to beachfront resorts with a full-range of amenities, properties with marinas and properties with beachfront views. Guests have the luxury to choose it all: Choose your island. Choose your beach. Choose your style.

Choose Your Paradise and enter to win today! https://www.sanibelcaptivabeachresorts.com/choose-your-paradise/.

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Booking, Dining, Amenities & More — It’s All Here

What does ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa have to offer that other resorts in the area do not? From VIP Book direct benefits, to no resort fees, to on-site dining, boating, spa and more, “It’s All Here.”

When you book direct with ‘Tween Waters, you are guaranteed the lowest rate out there! Find a lower rate? Give us the details and we’ll match that rate, because we guarantee that what you find on our site and with our reservationists is the absolute best we’re offering. So when you’re booking your next vacation, we’re the one stop shop, because, “It’s All Here.”

And making your reservation isn’t the only way that ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa is your one stop shop. From bike rentals to boat rentals, spa to dining, Serenity Pool to hopping Oasis Pool Bar, there’s no shortage of things to do while on vacation, and no reason to leave the resort — because, yep, “It’s All Here.”

And while you’re taking advantage of everything ‘Tween Waters has to offer, you’ll enjoy the resort’s policy on resort fees — there’s isn’t one! Unlike some resorts and hotels in the area that charge you for the convenience of the amenities all in one location, ‘Tween Waters doesn’t charge a resort fee.

From booking, to vacationing, to enjoying all the resort has to offer, you’ll find it all at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, because “It’s All Here.”

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Butterflies on Captiva

Southwest Florida is the shelling capital of the world, and while there are so many types of shells to love, there is one that sparks my interest and flies with my heart — butterflies.

You may have noticed Conquina shells before — they litter the Captiva beaches and are often purple or pink in color. But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that many of them are still attached together. This is because they are very tiny clams, connected at the hinge. This gives them that beautiful butterfly look. There are a ton of colors to collect, and they are my favorite hidden gem on Captiva Island.

Innsider Tip: Stay silent by the surf, and you will hear these shells wash ashore. They help provide the tinkling sound as the waves wash the shells ashore — millions of little pieces of shells making music with the ocean!

Crouching on Captiva, you’ll find more than 250 species of shells, but if you’re not as lucky as me to have a local shell-educated friend, ‘Tween Waters, Captiva Island and Sanibel Island boast a variety of local experts willing to take guests on shelling expeditions in search of knowledge and the perfect souvenir (for a small fee of course).

With an abundance of shells to chose from, you’ll be sure to go home with a souvenir or two when you visit the beaches at ‘Tween Waters. PRO TIP: Don’t forget a container to keep your shells in as you search, so that these butterflies aren’t crushed or disconnected when you bring them home!

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Green ‘Tween Saves Energy with GeoThermal Pool

For many years, guests have enjoyed and luxuriated in the ‘Tween Waters’ Olympic-sized pool, and now more than ever, that experience is to be celebrated. As a leader in green policies, Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts has partnered with Symbiont to install a GeoThermal heating units, which use the earth’s heat to warm or cool the pool — making these the greenest pools on Sanibel and Captiva Islands.

This time of year, with air temperatures in the 80s and 90s, keeping the pools at a refreshing temp actually comes from the earth’s heat! The GeoThermal unit can both warm and cool the pools at ‘Tween Waters. This works by utilizing the heat of the earth to transfer energy, rather than employing the heat of the earth as the heating source.

Utilizing two wells, one to bring the water from earth, and another that transfers to a heat pump, this geo-thermal process utilizes water in the ground and then returns back to the ground. This process is 30% more efficient than a traditional heat pump that uses air, and 80% more efficient than a heat pump that uses gas (what most hotels use to heat their pools). This all results in less energy being used, less waste and more use of our natural resources to provide an eco-friendly swimming experience. Plus with two pools to heat and cool at ‘Tween Waters, that’s double the energy savings!

Not only is geo-thermal heating more eco-friendly, but it’s also economical and reliable, meaning the hotel saves money on gas bills and can utilize that budget toward additional hotel improvements. This system also lasts 15-20 years (whereas a typical gas system lasts between 5-10 years) meaning less breakdowns and repairs, meaning guests will enjoy the pool all year round without issue!

This installment isn’t new — the ‘Tween Waters has been using GeoThermal energy for a few years, but the significance of how ‘Tween is staying green makes this newsworthy. For more information, visit https://symbiontservice.com Plus, visit our sister property, West Wind Inn, who has newly invested in this GeoThermal system on Sanibel Island.

 

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