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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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Desperately Seeking the Green Flash at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Sunset is always gorgeous at ‘Tween Waters Inn’s beach – with or without flashes.

Have you seen the green flash? No, not the Captiva restaurant by that name, or some sunset superhero who plays tricks on your eyes. It’s something people profess they witness on occasion from the beach at the ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa. I suspect rum is involved.

The green flash, they’ll tell you, is a true scientific phenomenon. I, a devoted island sunset observer from way back, have my doubts. Probably because I’m not scientific – wrong side of the brain for a writer to understand concepts such as “refraction,” “bending light,” and “atmospheric prism.”

Here’s the lowdown on this beach-time highlight. It happens at sunset, more often when the horizon is cloudless.  Stare fixedly at the sun as it slips over the edge, and somewhere in there – don’t blink now! – the sun may send up a second-long flicker of green. Or not.

My suspicions stem mostly from the fact I have never seen the green flash. From ‘Tween Waters, I have applauded pink chiffon and whipped cream-layered horizons. I have sighed over gilded seas ‘neath silver-lined clouds. I have stared so intently my pupils dropped the course. I’ve even tried rum, if you can believe that!

So, no, I am not a member of that elite club of green flash alumnae, or , as I like to call them: “liars.” But that does not stop me from watching sunset at the beach. It is, in fact, as good an excuse as any. Who knows? Maybe tonight….

Keep your eye on the (big yellow) ball!
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Valentine’s Day on Sanibel and Captiva Islands

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. I love LOVE. Valentine’s Day may be a card-selling, candy-making corporate ploy, but it’s also a great day to celebrate love and romance. And what better place to do that, than in the setting of “America’s Most Romantic Sunset.”

I’ve planned ahead this year (which, let’s be honest, is a first for me!) and ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa has me all set for this to be the best, ultimate romantic Valentine’s date.

First, I’ve got plans for a couple’s massage at the Spa at ‘Tween Waters Inn, located right on property next to the Areca building, for Saturday before the big day. Couple’s massages are a fun way to relax and enjoy a massage, while still spending time together (rather than him on the golf course and you at the spa!). To book a massage, call and speak to Georgie or any of the friendly spa receptionists at: 800-223-5865.

INNSIDER TIP: Valentine’s Day is a busy day at ‘Tween Waters Inn, so be sure to book in advance and call for reservations!

While I enjoy watching America’s Most Romantic Sunset from the beach, my plan for Valentine’s Day involves getting dressed up in my LBD and sand dollar necklace from T.H. Osprey (the on-property gift-shop at ‘Tween Waters Inn), which doesn’t mix well with cuddling on a blanket in the sand, so instead, we’ll pay respect to the sun from the porch at Captiva House and Crow’s Nest — a can’t miss seat to SWFL’s main attraction.

I really wanted an exceptional and unique dining experience this year. We’ve dined for Valentine’s Day at a variety of establishments — everything from Olive Garden to dinner in New York City — but this year, I wanted something unique and “pure romance.” I didn’t have to look far — Captiva House is boasting a special Valentine’s Day Menu from Chef Jason Miller and sous chefs Kit Dillon and Eddy Alexander. Picture this: The backdrop of a dusk as the sun has set. Low candlelight. Live piano music drifting through French doors. White table clothes with a setting for two. Savory entrees. A bottle of wine between the two of you. And something sweet to share? Umm, sold.

INNSIDER TIP: ‘Tween Waters Inn sells Captiva Dining cards, $100 buys you $120 dining — saving you $20. Must buy in advance and have mailed to your home. 

As the official romance expert at ‘Tween Waters Inn and a lover of love, I am confident this Valentine’s Day will be the. best. ever. At the rate I’m going, I better plan for St. Patrick’s Day while I’m at it.

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Anniversary at ‘Tween Waters Inn

I love, love. I love celebrating love. I hate trying to come up with unique ways to demonstrate the depth of my love.

For my wedding, people were asked to write down pieces of advice for the happy couple. At the time, most of the advice was innocuous — don’t fight about the toilet seat, don’t go to bed angry, and always celebrate holidays and special moments. These seemed like common sense, and after living with my then boyfriend for seven years, I knew the toilet seat and angry bed rule, but the celebrating specials moments seemed like a no brainer. Of course I would celebrate our anniversary! Why wouldn’t you? Of course when February 14 came along, I would think of my loved one. Why wouldn’t you?

Now in my third year of marriage, I’ve realized that it’s a lot more difficult to devise unique ways to celebrate our love — I thought about throwing in the “celebration” towel completely. I was stumped for a traditional “leather” gift, or any gift for that matter. Frantic, I stayed up all night scanning homemade Etsy pages and Pinterest boards for “anniversary” gifts and ideas. Frustrated, I went to Instagram to lose myself in mindless photos of friends’ dinner tables, when I came upon a ‘Tween Waters Inn image of the sunset with the claim of “America’s Most Romantic Sunset.” It was a great reminder that I had a romantic resource right at my fingertips!

When I contacted ‘Tween Waters Inn to find out how they might make my anniversary special, they had a multitude of suggestions from beginning to end of my mini-vacation. It started out with champagne in the room upon arrival, and then delectable dinner for two at Captiva House. If you’re celebrating an anniversary, Chef Jason Miller will include free dessert with champagne purchase.

For our second day, I scheduled a relaxing couple’s massage with Georgie, the Spa at ‘Tween Waters Inn manager. From what I hear from Innsiders Lyle and Michele, she’d have us relaxed into a bleary-eyed-, can-hardly-walk-out-of-the-spa-state. For our final evening, I thought I would keep things light with a romantic picnic basket for the beach to complement “America’s Most Romantic Sunset.”

INNSIDER TIP: Anniversary couples might also try renting bikes or a kayak at the marina for additional action.

Like with every two-night vacation, the resort also included the standard $100-value resort coupon book, free breakfast, free wifi, free parking, daily newspaper and no-resort fees. Booking all of this was as easy as calling the friendly reservationists at 800-223-5865. They’ll even work to coordinate your spa reservations and picnic basket, and keep it all a secret from your loved one.

After that, it was easy as call, confirm and keep it a secret. Rather than frantic and frustrated, I was now enthused with the idea of celebrating our anniversary. While I didn’t quite find my typical “leather” gift for our third anniversary, I don’t think my husband will mind when he has a drink in hand and ocean waves as his backdrop. Three years down, only roughly 62 left to celebrate. (Which reminds me, I should probably call ‘Tween Waters Inn to set up next year’s anniversary celebration too).

 

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Captiva House Restaurant’s Secret Recipe

Captiva House Restaurant Recipe

I can’t cook. I don’t state this mildly or even humbly, I seriously can’t cook. We eat out a lot. A lot.

The closest thing I’ve made to an actual meal might be grilled cheese — and I’m not exaggerating. And while my partner Mathew is a Food Network junkie, I hate to have him cook for me every day, so we end up eating out quite a bit. But just because I don’t cook, doesn’t mean I don’t love to eat.

I have particular and wide tastes. I can’t stand cheap, generic food. Instead, I live for a spicy, exotic meal, a fantastically prepared seafood dish, a gooey handmade pasta or…an flakey wrap. And the only place on the islands to find any or all of the above, is Captiva House restaurant at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

Innsider Tip: You can now buy a $120 dining gift card for $100 (a $20 savings!) online! The card is sent to your house and then you can use it throughout the year! Buy yours now: http://tween-waters.com/shop/

The island snapper wrap isn’t just any ‘ole wrap. The name sounds casual, but once you sink your teeth into delicately cooked asparagus, savory crimini mushrooms, perfectly roasted peppers and face-melting snapper, all wrapped in a flakey filo dough, you’ll basically be living in elegant ecstasy for the next hour. Oh! And I forgot to mention this dish comes with pesto cream and goat cheese polenta all drizzled with aged balsamic glaze. When I die, you can drizzle me with all of the above.

So what good would being an INNSIDER be, if I couldn’t get the super secret “innsider” recipe for the snapper wrap, and share it with you?! After a little begging and pleading, the amazing Jason Miller, Executive Chef and Food and Beverage Director at ‘Tween Waters Inn, was kind enough to share the recipe. So grab your apron and your best Emeril Lagasse (as he is a Florida native) mindset, and I’ll grab my wine so I can watch, and get cooking! Here are the deets:

For wrap:
1/6 One roasted red pepper, chopped
1 oz Red snapper
½ Stalk of asparagus
2 oz Sliced crimini mushrooms
Filo dough
A spoonful of pesto cream

For polenta:
2 Cups water
2 Cups milk
1 Cup medium polenta
1 Package of goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Begin with the Snapper:
1. Cut each snapper fillet in half crosswise. Season per taste.
2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat until hot. Place snapper skin sides down, in skillet. Make certain to press on snapper with a spatula for occasionally to prevent curling. Cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip, and cook until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Prepare the vegatables:
1. Chop red pepper and roast sauce pan until beginning to soften. Use only 1/6 of full red pepper.
2. Sautee asparagus until “crunch” is gone. Chop into small pieces.
3. Chop crimini mushrooms and sauté until soft.

Combining the veggies and snapper:
1. Combine the snapper with roasted vegetables, and roll in one filo dough slice.
2. Place on nonstick baking sheet in oven. Cook for 25 minutes, or until filo dough is flakey.

While baking the wrap, prepare polenta:
1. In medium pot with high sides combine the water, milk and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce the heat to low and slowly pour in the polenta while whisking constantly.
3. Cook the mixture for at least 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened and cooked.
4. Stir in goat cheese until thoroughly mixed.

Final plating:
1. Places pesto cream on plate, followed by a few spoonfuls of goat cheese polenta.
2. Bias cut snapper wrap and place on polenta.
3. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the top and garnish with micro pea shoots.
4. Devour!

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A DOG’S DAY AT THE BEACH — Pet-Friendly Beach Resort

A family vacation wouldn’t be a family vacation without my best furry friend, Wrigley. My dog “bestie” goes everywhere with me — whether it’s a trip to the kitchen or a trip to Captiva. But that means finding hotels to accommodate Wrigley is nearly impossible. So imagine my surprise when I found out that not only was Wrigley able to spend the weekend with me on Captiva, but it was also pretty easy and accommodating.

‘Tween Waters Inn is indeed pet-friendly, and owner-friendly too, with approximately 15% of the resort available for pets and their owners. Yes, there are some limitations, and of course some fees associated with my furry family vacation, but I expected that. Pets are allowed in various types of rooms — everything from Bay View Guest Rooms, Studios and Cottages, and cost $25 per day, per pet, limit of two. I found that pretty easy to swallow, considering a kennel would have cost as much, or more, and then Wrigley wouldn’t have had a “Dog’s Day” enjoying the beach and bird watching. Seriously, she was in doggie heaven.

COST: $25 per day, per pet, limit two

WHERE: Various room types, including Guestrooms, Studios and Cottages

EXCLUSIONS: Weight limit, Certain breeds

HOW TO BOOK: Online or Call 800.223.5865

EASY!

Pets are allowed on a leash around property at ‘Tween Waters Inn, but are prohibited from public common areas like the restaurant and pool — makes sense. Being a lab mix, Wrigley was allowed at the resort, but some larger dogs (discuss with the resort on weight limit) and breeds are excluded for insurance purposes including Pit Bulls, Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman, Rottweiler, Chows, Akita, Wolf Hybrid, Husky and Presa Canaroso.

I was most impressed by ‘Tween Waters Inn, that the resort wasn’t just “pet-friendly,” but friendly to pets. The staff greeted Wrigley with enthusiasm (and boy, did she enjoy the attention), the accommodations were roomy enough for her “king-sized” doggie bed, and pet treats at check in (limited time).

Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better vacation with wo(man)’s best friend. It made my vacation on Captiva Island more enjoyable knowing that Wrigley was so happy, and knowing we didn’t have to leave her in someone else’s care.

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THINGS TO DO: Pool Day at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Conjure up your favorite Jimmy Buffet song and keep it in mind as you spend the afternoon with me, settled into my lounge chair and soaking in the rays beside the Olympic-sized pool at ‘Tween Waters Inn.

It’s a typical day on my Captiva vacation — I’ve just enjoyed my free continental buffet breakfast — and now it’s off to the pool for me. It’s obligatory sun-worshipping day today. And who could argue with me? I’ve got a perfect 78 degrees as the pool opens for me at 11:30 this morning and not a cloud in the sky.

At the heart of the resort (and centrally located), the pool at ‘Tween Waters Inn is the pumping, beating, life of the resort, and has something for everyone. There’s both a smoking and non-smoking side, drinks, food, a kiddie pool, spa tub and a coffee bar (plus shop with all the essentials you may have forgotten). But me? I’m geared up, with my favorite Sun Pac suit, a little sun protection, my nice, soft resort towel, and headphones (I like to mellow out at the pool, so I bring my own tunes).

Every hour is “happy hour” when you’re poolside in the sunshine state, but all joking aside, it’s time for me to grab the local favorite from the Oasis Pool Bar — a rum runner. Personally, I like mine with white rum rather than spiced rum.

Innsider Tip: Buy a ‘Tweenies Tervis Tumbler for $19.99 and get it filled with one free drink, or two for $29.99.

Dip and Flip: Time to flip, which probably means I should take a dip in pool. I’ve been told that they keep the pool at an even 84 degrees, which means even on a cool day the pool is comfortable. Plus, it’s geothermally heated, so ‘Tween stays Green and you get to leave a smaller environmental footprint.

Despite the miles of sugar sand beach within hopping distance, it’s a busy day at the pool, but I’ve still been able to claim a chair and escape from it all. I think that’s what I love most about the pool at the resort — whatever your style, whatever your scene, you can find it poolside.

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7 Signs You’ve Partied Too Hard at Hallo’Tween

Halloween Costume Party Tween Waters Inn

In the upcoming months, there are oodles of events to choose from to get your “party” on. Kicking off the season is the legendary (hey, they don’t call it the “Legendary ‘Tween Waters Inn” for nothing!) Hallo’Tween party. And as this year’s motto goes, you haven’t “Halloweened” until you’ve “Hallo’Tweened.” Take it from an Innsider: these are 7 signs you’ve partied too hard at this year’s bash:

1)   You’re still donned in glitter, makeup, fabric and plaster, and that’s just your head. Hallo’Tween is known for the cleverly clad, raunchily robed and gruesomely garbed costumes.

2)   You woke up singing songs from Deb & the Dynamics’ set list. Recent years’ tradition has Deb & the Dynamics returning to the Hallo’Tween bash to get partygoers up and dancing all night long.

3)   Your feet, legs and arms are killing you. Remember that Hocus Pocus scene where the parents can’t stop dancing? That was totally you last night.

4)   You’ve got $1000 burning a hole in your pocket. Yep, you read that right. The zaniest and best costume clad contestant receives a grand prize of $1000.

Innsider Tip: Make your reservation ASAP to spend the night. After a night of spooktacular fun, you won’t want to drive home.

5)   You saw both the sun set and rise at ‘Tween Waters Inn. Events start at 8PM at ‘Tween Waters Inn, but you caught the sunset while prepping the perfect costume and the sunrise at your personal little after party.

6)   You’re still facedown in your hotel pillow. You booked your hotel room in advance and got a great deal on a Bayside studio, and with check out at 11AM, you’re still hitting the Zzz’s hard.

7)   Your camera roll looks like it was on the set of The Hangover. You might have gone a little crazy with the camera this year, snapping photos of strangers dressed in everything from Pharrell’s hat to a bath pouf. Hey, what’s that tiger doing in your photos?!

Whether you partied too hard, or maybe just right, the memories, or lack thereof, of this year’s party were legen…wait for it…dary. Legendary.

Halloween Hallo’Tween Party
Scariest Costume Wins a Prize
Cash Costume Prize for Halloween Party
Party All Night With Live Music at ‘Tween Waters Inn
A Great Way to Celebrate Halloween
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America’s Most Romantic Sunset – ‘Tween Waters Inn

Sunset on Captiva Island

Local rumor is, ‘Tween Waters Inn and Captiva Island have the “most romantic sunsets in America” and Travelocity backed up that claim in an article years ago.  Now recently, USA Today named the resort one of the 10 most romantic coastal destinations in the United States, citing the romantic sunsets, white sandy beaches, shops and dining. So, naturally, my husband and I needed to vet this buzz, and soak in the romantic evening rays for ourselves.

We found that Captiva is one of the few local places where visitors can experience a truly unobstructed view of the sunset. Times vary based on season — be prepared for a sunset as early as 5:00PM in the winter, and as late as 8:30PM in the summer. 

INNSIDER TIP: If you’re looking to plan your dinner accommodations around the sunset, be sure to check out the sunset times on weather website like weather.com or wunderground.com

Really, there’s no gear needed to enjoy the painted sky each evening on Captiva, but if you’re looking to pay homage to the sunset and desire to make it an “event,” a blanket to sit on, some bug spray and champagne on ice with some plastic flutes will do nicely. Mathew and I even opened our iTunes on our phones and found a few classics like “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” and “When the Sun Goes Down.”

Legend has it that right before the sun dips below the water line, there’s a green flash that appears, but when the sun made its descent, there were beautiful oranges, pinks and purples in the sky, but no green in sight for us. It’s no hardship having missed this — it gives us another chance to come back, watch another sunset and look for that legendary green flash again.

I’ve traveled many places, seen plenty of sunsets over water, fields and mountains, but rarely have I seen such an event as a Captiva sunset. Whether you’re struck by the beauty of the calm water and orange ball sinking into the earth, or the various people facing west in tribute to another day complete, there is no doubting Captiva’s claim to romance.

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Sunset on Captiva
Captiva Island Sunset
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How to Keep Cool with Hot Family Fun at ‘Tween Waters Inn

'Tween Waters Inn Captiva Island Pool Hotel

It’s summertime! For our family, that means it’s time for Michael and I to pack up the kids, and several bottles of sunscreen, and head to the ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa. With its location on a barrier island that jets into the Gulf, the average high temperature is 85°F, but come June, July and August, that number creeps up to about 90°. Although the Gulf breezes keep things comfortable, there are plenty of ways to keep your cool around the resort.

Poolside, Gulf side, bay side – what’s your pleasure? After hitting the free breakfast buffet, my boys Dustin and Devon beg us to take them over to the beach to swim and hunt for shells. The Gulf of Mexico is warm and welcoming in summer and depending on the wind, you could find yourself jumping waves or floating on shimmering water as smooth as glass. Many times, we’ve seen dolphins right off shore. Love that!

If your gang is more adventurous, you can rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks right onsite and paddle on the bayside. You might just find yourself alongside a manatee, or three.

Fresh water fans can head to the Olympic-sized pool that just happens to have a full-service pool bar and grill at the deep end. Here’s an Innsider tip: purchase a ‘Tween Waters Tervis tumbler at the resort and have it filled at the pool bar with your favorite frozen concoction for free. Devon prefers a strawberry daiquiri, virgin of course. Tervis tumblers (non-breakable, guaranteed-for-life drinkware) make the perfect souvenir. They’re easy to pack, lightweight and you’ll use them forever.

The newest addition to the pool deck is the shaded toddler wading pool. Your little ones can splash for hours without fear of sunburn. Now that’s a bright idea.

Sunny regards,

Jill~

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