Most likely when you think of vacationing in Florida you think of the hot spots of Miami, the Keys, Ft. Lauderdale, or the tourist mecca of Orlando. But a few years ago my wife, Rachel, and I found a fantastic getaway. Located about 10 miles south of Fort Myers Beach and 15 miles north of Naples, is the quietly growing community of Coconut. By using our Hyatt Vacation Club membership, we now try to make the Coconut Plantation on Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico an annual getaway.
Flying into Southwest Florida International (RSW) gets our vacation off on the right foot. Perhaps one of the cleanest and most enjoyable airports in America, RSW sets the tone of relaxation from the moment we landed. With a dedicated area on the ground level of the airport, getting a rental car is as easy as renting a car can be. And we’re off on vacation!
A drive of less than 20 minutes find us at our destination- The Hyatt Vacation Club’s Coconut Plantation. Off the Tamiami Trail and onto Coconut Drive, the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Coconut sits against the sun-filled sky. All of the amenities at this 4-star resort are available to those staying at the Coconut Plantation, located less than 1/4 mile further down the road. In between these two resorts is a gorgeous golf course called Raptor Bay. With water and sand placed strategically throughout the 18-holes, Raptor Bay turns out to be an enjoyable round of golf.
The first thing you will notice when walking into the main lobby of Coconut Plantation is the one-of -a-kind scent of what else? — coconut oil! From the beautiful mahogany wood floors to the warm two-sided fireplace, and welcoming “come sit in me” chairs, the Coconut Plantation screams, “Get ready to relax!”
We traditionally start our retreat with lunch at the Corkscrew Restaurant, located poolside at the Regency. However keep in mind that saying ‘poolside’ may be somewhat confusing for first-timers, because both the Regency hotel and the Coconut Plantation resort each boast 5 pools each! And between both locales, and the golf course, visitors can choose between 5 distinct restaurants.
Settling into our room is always a treat. Each room at Coconut Plantation has a beautiful lenai, with each screened in patio offering up a unique view. Whether the view is of the golf course or the resort’s pool area, each is always a relaxing. With studio, 1-bed, and 2-bedroom units available, the HVC quality never wavers. With granite counters in the bathroom and kitchen, cool tile floors in the living area, and comfortable carpets in the bedrooms, the Coconut Plantation is a fabulous home away from home.
With cascading waterfalls, a 1000-foot lazy river, and pools ranging from a kiddie pool to the adult pool on the veranda, Coconut Plantation has enough water to cool you from the typical 80-degree temperatures. Tennis and basketball courts, bike rentals, and an air conditioned fitness center are just a few of the other amenities for guests. And whether you’re taking in the rays at the Regency or the Plantation, their poolside beverage servers are the epitome of relaxation and luxury.
When we finally force ourselves to leave the grounds of this multiple resort, the south Gulf Coast offers an array of fun options. Less than two minutes away sits the vast condo/shopping area of Coconut Point. With hundreds of famous name stores, dozens of restaurants, and luxury living accommodations, this community is a modern twist on an early 1900’s city. The city of Naples is about 15 miles south of Coconut, and their pristine beaches, unique shopping, and outdoor restaurants make this a must-stop every time we’re in the area. The famous Fort Myers Beach area is just to the north of our resort and is always ready to offer up fun til the early morning hours. Picking shells on the beaches, taking in the sunsets at the pier, and great food and drink at the Yukatan is a typical afternoon and evening at FMB.
Though the region offers beautiful public beaches and the two resorts have 10 pools between them, the best part of our stay at the Hyatt Vacation Club’s Coconut Plantation is always a trip to their private beach located at Big Hickory Island, across Estero Bay and on the Gulf of Mexico. Privacy and more relaxation is the order of the day when spending time at the beach. With complimentary lounge chairs, umbrellas, and ice-filled coolers for your favorite beverages and snacks, a day at this beach will surely spoil you for future excursions.
Though this region eluded our vacation getaway radar for some time, we now have it locked in and look forward to our visit nearly every year. For more information about The Coconut Plantation or the Hyatt Vacation Club, contact 1-800-Go-Hyatt and mention this column.