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Captiva Sunsets via Text, Compliments of ‘Tween Waters

I’m in! I just became a member of ‘Tween Waters Resort & Spa’s latest communications inspiration, called ‘Tween Waters Mobile Club.

I am not typically what you would call a “joiner.” Other than my women’s book club and supper club with fellow empty-nester couples, I avoid signing up for membership. I also avoid subscribing to website email newsletters.

So why, then, did I jump the minute the invitation to join the ‘Tween Waters Mobile Club hit my email inbox? Well, that tells you right there. I DO subscribe to ‘Tweenies’ email newsletters. They bring a ray of Florida sunshine to my inbox with discounts and specials and just happy images of the beach, sand, food, and memories of a Captiva Island respite.

So why wouldn’t I want more of that popping up on my phone’s text message app from time to time? Bursts of Captiva Island to brighten my day with exclusive members-only savings and “the best complimentary sunsets.” Who could resist?

They promise three messages a month, so not too much, just enough to leave you wanting more. More sunsets. More Captiva, that island unlike no other place on the planet. An island that truly defines “away from it all.”

So, join the club! It takes literally two seconds to text “CAPTIVA” to 55222 and bam! Break out the cocktails: It’s sunset time.

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Drinks a Flowin’ at Oasis Pool Bar & Grille

Songwriter SaturdaysSoak in some rays, splash in the pool, and then join me poolside, as I enjoy the best cocktails on Sanibel or Captiva. That’s right, I’m headed to Oasis Pool Bar & Grille.

The Oasis is the best place on the island and on property to get tropical, alcoholic drinks that will quench your thirst and your need for a little fruity cocktail, poolside. If you’re not into the fruity cocktail mixes, you’ll also find bucket specials (buy 4, get 1 free!) on beers like Corona, Bud Light, Miller, Yuengling and more.

My favorite, and also a favorite by all, is the rum runner. This mix of light and dark rum, banana liqueur, blackberry brandy, orange juice and pineapple juice, plus 151 rum floater screams VACATION! I have to watch myself, because after a few, I’m more prone to falling asleep under the sun and waking up with more than a hangover (a sunburn!).

If you’re not into rum, you might try a Mr. Delicious — a specialty drink created by one of ‘Tweenies very own bartenders. It includes vodka, lemonade, sweet tea and a vodka float, and is sure to float your boat! On the rocks, my friends love the mojitos, margaritas and raspberry lemonade twists to name a few.

With the serenity pool and Olympic-sized splash and fun pool both within steps, you could spend your day between the Oasis and loungers, so be sure to soak up some of those drinks with some tasty menu items as well. The Oasis is actually one of my favorite places on the islands to grab a Chicken Caesar wrap, grouper sandwich or grouper tacos. Haven’t tried grouper before? It’s a light, moist, white fish that isn’t strong in fishy taste — a perfect introduction to the Florida seafood scene.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention ‘Tweens Beans, located just a few steps away, where you can also grab cookies, coffees and ice cream treats too!

It’s hot and happening at the Oasis Pool Bar & Grille. Will I see you there?

 

INNSIDER TIP: All Spring and Summer, enjoy music stylings from Nashville Songwriters at the “Saturday Songwriter” events, held poolside.

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Storming Normandie: Dining at ‘Tween Waters’ sister resort West Wind Inn on Sanibel

Long a hidden secret of foodies on Sanibel Island, the Normandie Seaside Café at West Wind Inn, there’s a reason officially opened to the public last October.

The restaurant is especially popular at lunch time, when you have the option of eating inside its soothing blue walls or outside at the Upper Pool Deck Bar. You can also enjoy dinner there in season, choosing from the $22 Sunset Menu from 5 to 6 p.m., or ordering from Chef Tom Sisson’s regular dinner menu.

Chef Sisson has headed the Normandie kitchen for a few years now, following a stint at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island.

While he was giving us suggestions for our dinner courses on a recent visit, a family approached him to rhapsodize about the burgers they had just finished off. “Our burgers are very popular,” he admitted. They come in three varieties at dinner, including the signature Normandie Double Decker Burger: two blackened patties with Swiss cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, lettuce and tomato.

For us, the chef recommended starting with his Zing Zing shrimp — “my own take on Bang Bang shrimp, but not fried,” he said. And what a refreshing variance that is these days when it seems every other restaurant is trying to emulate what Bonefish Grill invented. Chef Sisson sautés the shrimp and serves them with artichoke hearts and lots of good garlic in a creamy, lemon-tinged sauce flecked with tomatoes and fired up slightly with sriracha sauce.

We also followed his recommendation for Sanibel Bread. He proved his confessed predilection for Italian cuisine with this, a creative rendition of Caprese bruschetta, topped with a slice of mozzarella, diced tomatoes, parmesan and a balsamic drizzle.

On a roll, we followed more of his advice. “I’m a steak and potatoes kind of guy,” said Chef Sisson. “I butcher the beef myself.” His ribeye was double rich with a classic, soundly executed brandy cream peppercorn sauce.

The yang to the steak’s hearty character, our Sauteed Snapper Sinatra sang out a medley of flavors. “It’s really simple but delicious,” said the chef. True: a light relish of capers, diced tomatoes, onions, garlic and lemon added Florida flair to traditional Italian piccata style. The sun-dried tomato-studded risotto made a perfect accomplice.

The Sinatra counts as one of the menu’s latest entrée additions, along with Berkshire Lolli Pop Pork Chop with port demi-glace, a filet and shrimp combo, Creamy Chicken Pesto over penne, Herb Encrusted Grouper with pesto risotto, Pan-Seared Salmon with mango-pineapple risotto, and a Seafood Trio of grouper, scallops and shrimp.

New to the starters menu, coconut shrimp comes with a homemade chili Thai chili sauce while the shrimp cocktail is performed classically – once more demonstrating Chef Sisson’s culinary dexterity.

Classic also, the crème brulee ended our dinner on a creamy, sweetly brittle note.

The Normandie dining room also serves breakfast, another locals’ favorite because of its extensive offerings. Omelets run a long gamut from Greek to pesto with ham, tomato and parmesan, plus other out-of-the-ordinary breakfast items such as the BLT and Coconut French Toast. For lunch, we recommend the BBQ Pulled Pork and Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy Wrap from the something-for-everyone selection of sandwiches and salads.

Whatever time of day your hunger decides to storm Normandie, rest assured the menus describe the best line of defense for secret pleasures now let out of the bag.

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TripAdvisor and ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa

DID YOU KNOW? TripAdvisor is a huge source or referrals for reservations for many hotels, but most people don’t leave a review, and many only leave reviews if they’ve had a negative experience.

I recently found out that ‘Tween Waters actually examines every review and when there are positive reviews or specific mentions of staff, they share those reviews with staff. They read every review and even respond to most — negative or positive.

Due to the nature of reviews these days, the resort takes TripAdvisor into large consideration when making decisions about the future of the resort. When they receive comments on individual updates to rooms, they respond immediately with the maintenance staff. When they received positive feedback on deals, promotions, renovations, or even staff actions and reactions, they also then utilize those to make new policies and standards for their staff training.

What I’ve noticed most about TripAdvisor is that they are constantly changing the way they evaluate and rank hotels. Currently, when search results are displayed, TripAdvisor shows first hotels with the best value. But ‘Tween Waters doesn’t rank high in value, because they do not often integrate their rates into TripAdvisor (it’s best to book direct with ‘Tween Waters). Therefore, they aren’t going to appear under “value” rankings, because they have no value (rate) associated with them. This is a flaw in the TripAdvisor system that causes the resort to lose out on potential customers like you, because they aren’t aware of how the data is being pulled. It’s imperative to be an educated consumer, but even educated consumers wouldn’t know why ‘Tween Waters isn’t listed under best value without knowing these ins and outs.

So if you love our little slice of paradise, and have stayed with the resort recently, then you’ll want to make sure to leave your positive and constructive feedback, so that not only are your ideas and feedback considered for the future, but also so that the resort has a future to speak of. They’re depending on you!

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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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5 Reasons Why the Tree Lighting at ‘Tween Waters is Pure Magic

Holiday Tree Lighting

It’s the most magical time of year, and while Northerners think they have the upper hand on the holidays with all of that snow and roaring fireplaces, you’ll be surprised to learn that the Tree Lighting ceremony at ‘Tween Waters has all that, a little more! As a true northerner transplant (originally from Wisconsin), I can confidently say there’s nothing quite as magical as the Tree Lighting ceremony on Captiva. Here’s why:

*Snow. I’m leading off with the big one, because yes, there’s snow on Captiva and you can find it only at ‘Tween Waters. With a giant snow machine sending out the fluffy white stuff, you can celebrate in your shorts, while enjoying this Christmas miracle.

*Food. For the first time ever, you can get the VIP treatment by joining ‘Tween Waters in the Wakefield Room and watch the show from the balcony. It includes a family style Italian Buffet and family seating, for just $37/adult and $18/child. That’s a steal, for the best seats in the house! If you aren’t interested in the VIP treatment, you can also enjoy a meal in the Crow’s Nest (special menu) or grab a hot dog and chips, or burger and chips, at the outdoor event!

November 23, 2018 | The fun begins around dusk | FREE to all | Arrive early to secure parking | Call for Wakefield VIP Dining! 800-223-5865 

*Music. Not only is CJ the DJ rocking it poolside all afternoon, and part of the evening, but the Gatlins are returning to Captiva for some live music performances starting at 8:30PM in the Crow’s Nest. During the lighting ceremony, there is a music and lights show, and some live caroling, which is my favorite ode to the traditional holiday spirit.

*Lights. With 100,000 twinkling lights, all played and synchronized to the holiday music, the light show is by far the most magical moment of the night. From candy cane palm tree tunnel, to Rudolph leading Santa’s sleigh, there is no other holiday display like it in, dare I say it, the world. Without any street lights on Captiva, this display is made extra special because it truly lights up the night and can be seen from the beach and beyond.

*Fireworks. The lights are shining brightly everywhere (says Mariah Carey), the music is playing, you’re cuddled up with your loved ones, and then the sky bursts into light. This is pure magic.

If you can’t make the lighting ceremony, you won’t miss all of the fun. The property stays lit until after the new year, and you can walk the property to see all of the beautiful lights. Be sure to stay midweek Sunday to Thursday in December to receive 50% off guestrooms, studios and one-bedroom suites too!

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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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Let the Music Move You at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort

What’s on your favorite vacation playlist? If, like us, you vacation often at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island, the music playing in your head, sparking fond memories, comes from the live musicians who entertained you. Who got you moving out on the dance floor. Who turned your day at the pool into a songfest.

On top of the usual weekend jams at Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, ‘Tween Waters loves to throw a party with live music. Two such lively occasions are on the horizon and should be on your calendar right now.

The resort’s biggest party bash of the year happens on Oct. 27. Hallow’Tween invites you to “Eat, Drink & Be Scary” at two separate parties that require only one admission fee – a $10 wristband. After dinner at the Crow’s Nest or Canoe & Kayak, get ready for some scary fun. A total of $1,750 in prizes assure amazing costumes that range from frightening to creative to a little bit naughty.

The live music by a ‘Tweenie favorite, The Gatlin Show, kicks in and kicks up its heels at 9:30 p.m. at the Crow’s Nest. A little bit country, a little bit of everything else you want to hear: Darryl and Andrea of The Gatlin Show are sure crowd-pleasers. On-property in the Wakefield Room, a DJ Dance Party starts spinning the hits at 10 p.m.

If you’re still in the mood for live country music, mark Saturday, Nov. 3, for the next in ‘Tweenies monthly poolside songwriter series. Singer-songwriter Clint Daniels brings his brand of Americana music from 2 to 5 p.m.

In addition to charting two songs on the country singles chart himself, Clint has co-authored songs for other artists, including the hits “Brokenheartsville” by Joe Nichols and “Roll with Me” by Montgomery Gentry.

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year — Celebrate with ‘Tween Waters

It’s the most wonderful time of the year at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa — event season! Yep, this is the time of year to celebrate all things — from songwriters to Hallo’Tween, Thanksgiving to New Years. And what better way to celebrate these treasured events than with parties, buffets, fireworks and music. It’s going to be huge, and you won’t want to miss it. Here’s what’s happening:

Songwriter Saturday:  ‘Tween Waters is still celebrating Nashville songwriters by the pool with another great musician every month. Our next songwriter is Clint Daniels performing November 3 from 2 PM – 5 PM, as always free to our guests with a great poolside venue. Visiting for the day? Just $50 a carload gets you a day pass, parking, live music and access to amenities.

Hallo’Tween: Saturday, October 27, Hallo’Tween is going to be a smash this year, with a variety of dining options at the Canoe and Kayak Club and Crow’s Nest! Plus it’s a night full of live music from the beloved Gatlin until 1 PM at the Crow’s Nest, CJ the DJ spinnin’ it in the Wakefield Room from 10 PM – 2 AM, and our infamous costume contest with grand prize of $1000. Wristbands are just $10 after 10PM (21 and older) and you must be there by 10 PM to enter. Make your reservation ASAP as this event fills fast and lasts all night, so you’ll want to be safe and spend the night!

Thanksgiving Buffet: Everyone loves a good buffet, and even more so, they love the ‘Tween Waters Thanksgiving Buffet. It’s a great way to gather with family and share the love, without any of the work. The menu is already live at the Old Captiva House website, so be sure to check it out and make your table reservations asap!

Tree Lighting: With over 100,000 twinkling lights lighting the property, if you haven’t experienced the ‘Tween Waters Tree Lighting Celebration, you won’t want to miss it this year. It’ll feature CJ the DJ spinning music poolside and beachside day and night; at sunset live caroling, the grand Tree Lighting Celebration with fireworks, a Captiva snowstorm and more; plus all-new holiday lighting displays. Plus new this year, in addition to dinner at Crow’s Nest, you’ll have the option of a unique VIP dinner venue in the Wakefield Room with balcony viewing of the show!

Christmas and New Year: Spending the holidays at ‘Tween Waters is extremely special. Guests enjoy the Christmas buffet, holiday lights around the property, and more intimate New Year’s Party at the Crow’s nest with champagne toast. Spend your holidays on Captiva!

However you choose to celebrate the next few months, be sure to include some time on Captiva!

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Introducing Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals

Vacation rentals just got a whole lot better on Sanibel and Captiva Island with the launch Monday of the new Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals — one of the largest vacation rental companies on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Florida, with currently more than 150 properties in its extensive inventory of luxury, boutique rental homes, cottages and condos. The brand represents the merger of vacation rental properties from ‘Tween Waters Island Vacation Rentals and Re/Max of the Islands Vacation Rentals, which occurred earlier this year.  For rental information or to place your vacation rental in the SCIVR program, visit www.SCVacay.com or call 239.472.5050.

Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals has been rebranded to reflect the best of both Sanibel and Captiva Island, promoting the dual locations for vacation rentals that the vacation rental company offers. This new branding and business model will include an 8-part Concierge Program for owners and prospective owners, and exclusive Renter’s Rewards that reward guests with $100-plus of valuable discounts, in conjunction with the Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts brand, to focus on both owner satisfaction as well as guest satisfaction.

“We look forward to making the vacation rental experience the best it’s ever been — in service, in revenues and in guest satisfaction,” says General Manager Doug Babcock. “We felt a fresh name with an upscale visual presentation that reflects both islands and both companies was an important step in this process.”

This new and altogether better vacation rental company is 85 years in the making — founded on award-winning island hospitality marketing through the Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts properties. Vacation rental guests benefit through a variety of advantages including a large search set of properties, Renter’s Rewards (including coupons) and the use of many partner resort amenities. Owners benefit from this partnership through the robust marketing, personalized concierge approach, and 50-plus years of real estate and vacation rental expertise on Sanibel and Captiva. Sanibel Captiva Island Vacation Rentals is managed under Doug Babcock, with Sales Manager Jackie Royka and Sales Associates Rachel Walsh and Sue Plein.

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