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A Cocktail-Lover’s Guide to ‘Tween Waters on Captiva Island

Personally, I love good wine and, when lounging poolside, a top-shelf gin with tonic to refresh. The wine and cocktail lists at ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island keep my thirst well quenched, but also offer a full suite of martinis, frozen drinks, signature craft cocktails, and local beers.

Sunny Sipping

Starting at the Oasis Pool Bar & Grille, the adult beverages pair well with splashy, sunny days. It’s known for its tropical frozen drinks – perfect for warm spring days this time of year.

I especially love ordering mine in a Tervis tumbler, the definitive Florida brand of insulated drinkware. Buy the ‘Tween Waters logo tumbler for $19.95 and get your 16-ounce frozen drink for free. Another cool pool bar deal, the Bucket Promotion awards you one free bottle of beer when you buy four.

Plus! Sipping poolside has never been so cool or so full of savings: Oasis Pool Bar has now launched 50% off all drinks for Happy Hour from 5:30-6:30PM nightly.

Nightlife & Nosh at Crow’s Nest

As an apertif at Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, I lean toward the Murky Water cocktail – ‘Tweenies version of a dirty martini made with Ketel One vodka and a blue cheese-stuffed olive. My beer-snob husband orders from the craft beer menu, usually Bury Me Brewing’s From My Dead Cold Hands IPA on tap, made nearby in Fort Myers. Reef Donkey APA from Florida’s Tampa Bay Brewing Co. also comes in draft, along with other crafts in bottles.

When I’m in the mood to drink my dessert, the Key Lime Pie Martini differs from others with a douse of Rumchata mixed with key lime liqueur and vanilla vodka.

Wining & Dining at Old Captiva House

Dinner at gracious Old Captiva House calls for a nice bottle of wine.

“I select the wine personally with my team,” said Food and Beverage Manager Laurent Bosc. “My goal is to offer good wines at good prices. Many countries such as Italy, New Zealand, and Australia are offering excellent unknown wine that often can compete with French and overrated Californian wines.” He urges guests to move out of their wine comfort zones to experiment with the excellent, lesser-known vintages.

I’m also a big fan of the bar’s Cumber-Tini, a twist on my usual GT with Hendrick’s gin and muddled cucumber. With that, it’s time to toast a hearty cheer to a day of sunning, supping , and sipping at ‘Tween Waters.

NOTE: Starting mid-May, kitchen and dining room renovations will mean that Old Captiva House will be temporarily relocated to the Wakefield banquet facility overlooking the Gulf.

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New wave hits ‘Tween Waters culinary scene on Captiva Island

At the restaurants of ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa, I’ve been watching what’s old become new and what’s new turn back to old. Let me explain.

It began two years ago, when the then-new Food & Beverage Manager Laurent Bosc identified a need to freshen things up – both in the kitchen and dining rooms.

His aspirations came to fruition last summer with the hiring of Greg Nelson, a longtime culinary fixture around these islands.

“Because I knew the islands so well, I knew exactly what people here want – locals and visitors,” Chef Nelson said. He is enjoying the flexibility of designing food for three different venues at ‘Tween Waters.

Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille

His first task-at-hand was to  redesign the dinner menu at the Crow’s Nest, to go along with the dining room’s new coastal, nautical vibe.

“My vision was to offer a family-oriented menu with only fresh, mostly local ingredients,” said the chef. “Only dishes we make from scratch. We don’t buy pre-made ingredients. And mostly seafood, because that’s what people want on these islands.”

Besides shrimp, mussels, calamari, grouper, crab cakes, and salmon on the seafood-heavy menu, Chef Nelson rounded things out with chicken wings, salads, grilled veggies, baby back ribs and one of his favorites: The Ultimate BLTAE. He adds avocado, a fried egg and a smear of habanero mayo to the traditional BLT formula, served on sourdough bread.

Oasis Pool Bar & Grille

Chef Nelson also oversees operations at this ultra-casual, al fresco venue, which serves lunch (until sunset) and fruity specialty cocktails. From burgers to Caribbean Jerk Chicken Salad, the menu offers meals made for families and swimwear. The Tween Beans sells coffees, cookies, and ice cream at the other end of the pool.

Duck spring roll

Old Captiva House

Old Captiva House, the resort’s finer dining venue also underwent a renaissance, beginning late 2016, when management pulled the tablecloths and high-end pricing in favor of a more relaxed attitude. Last year, it also subtracted the “old” from Old Captiva House and added sushi, which my family raves about.

With upcoming décor changes, the “old” has returned “to keep our historic, 1930s roots alive,” said Mr. Bosc.

Chef Nelson’s new breakfast and dinner menus debuted last month. On my most recent dinner there, I ordered a triple-tail seafood special that was out of this world. And you’ve gotta try the duck spring roll! Now, I can’t wait to get my tastebuds around the Artichoke Chorizo Benedict for breakfast.

A total overhaul of the resort’s main kitchen is also slated for this year, putting the final touches to a fresh, new experience at this legendary historic resort.

We love the sushi!

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Music to your ears: Jamming at ‘Tween Waters Inn

Captiva Island holds a reputation for some of the best music to be found around Southwest Florida, and you can thank ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa for that. For as long as I can remember, our visits to Captiva have been orchestrated by a party-down visit to the Crow’s Nest Bar & Grille, where live contemporary musicians take the stage several nights each week. It has always been THE place to nightlife in these parts.

In the past few months, ‘Tweenies has gone a step jivier with the introduction of its Songwriter Saturdays the first weekend of each month. On the shirttails of the famous, countywide Island Hopper Songwriter Fest each September, ‘Tween Waters has piggybacked on a building reputation for high-profile artists from the BMI circuit. The informal Saturday concerts – to further sweeten this deal – take place at the Oasis Pool Bar, where the drinks are fruity and the setting tropically splashy.

The next Songwriter Saturday hits the pool deck on Feb. 3 starting at 4 p.m. ‘Tween Waters welcomes Hugh Mitchell to the stage. He has toured nationally since 2006 as a side man for other artists in venues ranging from bars to arenas. Now he has broken out on his own with a new 2017 release.

From his hometown in Alabama, the Birmingham Magazine writes: “Hugh Mitchell has an unmistakable down-home flavor, but he isn’t the result of a country factory. Call it country, call it rock. Just listen.”

I believe I will, and that you should too.

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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.

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Songwriter Saturdays — A Relaxing Afternoon by the Pool

Songwriter Saturdays

If you thought Oasis Pool Bar was a cool (pun intended) place to hang, you’ll be surprised to find out it got even more chill with Songwriter Saturdays. The hit sounds and hip artists of Nashville hit the ‘Tween Waters stage this September for the Island Hopper Songwriter Festival, and now have returned to the resort for more live tunes — this time Poolside at Oasis Pool Bar.

The first Saturday of the month, we grabbed a carload of friends and for $50 headed to ‘Tween Waters. Admission got us parking, use of all of the free amenities at the resort, plus a live performance from Nashville songwriter Brian Sutherland. We hung out poolside, grabbed some drinks and snacks and enjoyed a “chill” day hanging by ‘Tween Waters’ Olympic-sized pool.

INNSIDER TIP: Book a room stay for Songwriter Saturdays early! Reservations fill up fast during high season and parking is limited! 800-223-5865 ** 
There’s nothing like the island breeze and a little acoustic music mixed together to put you in vacation mode. I really felt like I was transported to my own little “Margarita-ville” (sans Jimmy Buffet music, because hey, Brian Sutherland is more than just kitsch Jimmy Buffet artist — his writing style includes Americana, Florida-Folk and Alt Country). With a signature ‘Tweenies Tervis Tumbler in hand and my friends nearby, the day couldn’t have been more perfect.

Songwriter Saturdays are held the first Saturday of every month, and next up is songwriter and artist Hugh Mitchell, who will perform at Oasis Pool Bar on February 3. Currently Nashville resident and performing artist, Mithcell’s down-home flavor of music has people calling Hugh Mitchell the “golden-throated troubadour.” If you love a mix of gritty rock and intimate melodies, you’re going to want to save the date for February 3!

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Getting in the Holiday Spirit (Sans Snow) at ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island

When people from up north tell me they just can’t get into the holiday spirit in Southwest Florida, I have eight words for them: “Santa climbing a ladder up a palm tree.” To me, the holiday display at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort epitomizes all that is beautiful and festive about spending the holidays on Captiva Island.

If you are like me, and view holiday spirit as a warm, fuzzy feeling and a giving, loving pause from all that’s upsetting in the world, you’ll get it. Where is warmer than Southwest Florida, after all? What can be fuzzier than ‘Tween Waters’ traditional decorations, like old friends I look forward to seeing once a year?

And that Santa on the ladder? A clear demonstration of how islanders make magic – with a little humor — out of a tropical setting. ‘Tween Waters fills the grounds with old-fashioned decorations and thousands of twinkling lights.

The centerpiece, a towering traditional Christmas tree, marks the season’s kick off with a lighting ceremony that takes place the day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 24, this year. We like to make a night of it with dinner at the Captiva House once the excitement of the lighting, live music, and fireworks draws down.

So, you can keep your snow, frostbit cheeks, and yule log. I will happily settle for seashell-studded decorations, sun-kissed cheeks, and Santa climbing a palm tree.

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Benefits of the New Breakfast Policy

breakfast tween waters inn

I hate change, so when I heard that ‘Tween Waters was switching their breakfast policy, like many of you, I started to panic! Would they have my beloved pastries? What about the mornings when I just want something fresh? Was this going to cost me more? I just want my breakfast back!!!

After speaking to Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts CEO Tony Lapi (and maybe taking a chill pill too), I was able to calmly examine the policy a little further, and began to realize this really wasn’t the end of the breakfast world as we know it. In fact, I might actually save some money.

As explained to me, in order to maintain their bountiful buffet, they have to work that into the nightly rates. It’s built in. So removing the free breakfast buffet option, I don’t have to pay that automatically in my nightly rate — so no money lost. In fact, they reduced their rates by 8% across the board (so all cottages and suites too), meaning I’m actually paying less per night in the future.

So now that I have 8% back in my pocket — equating to anywhere from $20-40 per night — can I still spend it on breakfast? Of course! But I also don’t have to. Food and Beverage Director Laurent Bosc says they plan to have quick breakfast options, which will have grab and go items like fruit, cereals, pastries and more, all at reasonable prices, so that I can grab my breakfast, not waste any time getting to the beach, and still have money left over in my pocket each day in savings.

But some days I want a little extra — pancakes, omelets, eggs benedict, oh my! Bosc tells me that that won’t change. I will still be able to order these items from a menu for breakfast, just like I had when the breakfast buffet was in place.

Plus, with newly renovated rooms complete with partial and full kitchens in some rooms, I also have the option to make my own breakfast.

So to all of my ‘Tweenies peeps who, like me, started to fret when they heard about the 2018 policy, don’t panic! It’s designed to save us money, reduce waste and save us precious beach time, while still giving us options — and that’s the truth.

NOTE: The New Breakfast Policy doesn’t begin until 2018, and they’ve been planning this for a while now, which means your rate most likely reflected the 8% change. If you booked your reservation extremely early (around 1 year prior) your initial reservation might not have been adjusted, but has since been refunded the 8% difference. 2017 reservations are not affected by this new policy.

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Finding the Ultimate Serenity at ‘Tween Waters Inn on Captiva Island

Serenity Pool at 'Tween Waters Inn Island Resort on Captiva Island

The change was uncanny. One moment I was surrounded by the happy sounds of families unabashedly enjoying the chill welcome of a mid-summer day at the pool. Two steps later, I had entered a different world. A different mindset. Serenity.

Enter Serenity

The Serenity Pool had opened just moments before on that Thursday in July, taking relaxation to a new depth at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa – about 4 feet in depths to be exact. Infinity edged, the pool itself invites slow, leisurely immersion to soak away the day’s mental detritus. Although only separated by low walls from the main pool, tumbling water and some kind of Zen magic make it feel deliciously sequestered.

A Cabana All Your Own

Four private cabanas named for island shells – Coquina, Junonia, Lion’s Paw, and Lightning Whelk – allow you to further shut out the world with curtains or canvas flaps. Rentable for $50 a day, they come furnished with a couple of cushioned lounge chairs and umbrella plus matching upright chairs and tables for enjoying food and beverage delivered from the Oasis Pool Bar. May I suggest the Caribbean Jerk Chicken Salad with a coconut-y Pirate Punch?

Unique Serenity

Not only is this new pool a unique escape from the bustle of an active resort, it’s also unique in its construction as the only (besides ‘Tween Waters Inn’s main pool) geothermal heated and cooled pool on the islands keeping the temperature a constant 87 degrees.

Serenity Squared

An afternoon snooze and you’re ready for the final coup for your serenity afternoon. The ‘Tween Waters Spa lies only steps away, and a relaxation massage tenderizes away any lingering tension that stands in the way of you and ultimate serenity.

For a tour of the serenity pool watch out video here:

 

Cabana at the new Serenity Pool at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort on Captiva Island
A water wall separates Serenity from the main pool at ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort on Captiva Island

 

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Getting High Over Captiva.

‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa is excited to announce that now, we can take your Captiva beach vacation experience to new heights!

That’s right, parasailing has come to ‘Tween Waters Inn — and getting high over Captiva is as easy as making your reservation at Captiva Water Sports at our Marina!

Rates are $90 per person (single) or $80 per person (two or three people), and up to three persons can take flight at the same time. Captiva Water Sports will make sure you’re safe and secure, and it’s as easy as sitting back and taking off — up, up, up above the Gulf of Mexico to a panoramic, breathtaking, beautiful and perfectly peaceful view of our islands that compares to, well, truly nothing else! Note: “bottoms up” dip in the Gulf waters upon return no extra charge.

Just click here to book your parasail adventure now or call 239.472.6336 for the time of your life!

 

 

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Getting Wild & Seeing Wildlife: A Girl’s Getaway to ‘Tween Waters Inn

Two frisky manatees
Karaoke crazed!

My gal pals and I plan our annual summer getaway to a place where we can park the car and walk everywhere we need to go. So ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa on Captiva Island made the perfect match this year. An easy stroll up the beach takes you to all the island’s shops, restaurants, and bars. But truth be told, we only left the resort once. We found all the entertainment we needed right on property.

That started the afternoon we arrived. I walked out on our balcony overlooking the bay and noticed a swirling disturbance that I immediately recognized as manatees mating – a summer romance ritual not uncommon to the islands. Those frisky manatees! They went at it for the entire weekend right off the sandy shore. I was able to get close enough to snap a couple of quick pictures (I kind of felt I was invading their privacy).

At nightfall, another kind of show grabbed our attention at Crow’s Nest Beach Bar & Grille. It was Wednesday, Karaoke Night, and that usually means trouble. That third cocktail inevitably does it – lubricates our vocal chords and numbs our awareness of our lack of talent. So Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy” seemed appropriate enough.

Following our usual pattern, the second day we spent in quieter pursuits – beaching, shopping, and a lovely dinner at Captiva House. Then a night-cap toast from our balcony to those feisty, amorous, and always loveable manatees – undoubtedly a highlight of our visit.

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