Sun and Fun along Florida’s Southwest Coast

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 known as Orlando. For several years I have enjoyed traveling to the Southwest region of Florida to take in the charm of the area and the warmth of the sun.  I have visited up and down the Gulf Coast, from Sarasota to Sanibel, and Naples to Key West, and the draw for me is that each area has its own cool vibe that keeps me coming back for more.

Flying into Southwest Florida International (RSW) always gets my vacation off on the right foot. Perhaps one of the cleanest and most enjoyable airports in America, RSW sets the tone of rest and relaxation from the moment one lands. 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 I’m off on vacation!

A stay at the Hyatt Regency – Coconut Point is always my hotel of choice when in Southwest Florida. Located between Ft. Myers and Naples, just off the Tamiami Trail, Coconut is centrally located for loads of shopping, dining, and fun activities.  A stay at the Hyatt Coconut Point wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Hyatt’s private island, Big Hickory Island, across Estero Bay.  A free water taxi takes guests from the resort’s dock to the island every 30-minutes. While on your way you are likely to see dolphins and rays swimming alongside the boat. Once at the island, a two-minute walk to the other side brings you to the Gulf of Mexico in all her glory. (Wait, see the sunbeams shine down and hear the angels sing from above.) Privacy and more relaxation is the order of the day when spending time at this beach. With complimentary lounge chairs, umbrellas, and ice-filled coolers for your favorite beverages and snacks, a day at Big Hickory Island beach is perfect for saltwater swimming, sunbathing, and seashell collecting; and will surely spoil you for future excursions.

When in the Bonita Springs area visitors must visit the amazing Coconut Point shopping destination. This outdoor shopping and eating experience is rivaled by few. With condos above the stores, known as The Residences, to designer shops such as Coach and Aldo, and chain stores like Target and Champs, Coconut Point has shopping covered. The complex also has great restaurants such as The Grape, Stir Crazy, Tony Sacco’s, and California Pizza Kitchen. With hundreds of famous name stores, dozens of restaurants, and luxury living accommodations, the community of Coconut Point is a modern twist on an early 1900′s city.

The Gulf Coast offers an array of fun options for all interests.  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 I’m in the area. Whether shopping along Naples’ historic Fifth Avenue, enjoying an afternoon bite to eat at the Bayside Restaurant overlooking Venetian Bay, or soaking in the sand and sun at one of its public beaches, luxury can be found in every corner of this Gulf coast city.

The famous Fort Myers Beach area 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 famous Yukatan is a typical afternoon and evening at FMB. Branching out from its hub, known as Times Square and The Pier, Fort Myers Beach is home to many stores, restaurants, and nightspots to keep your vacation in high gear when not at the beach. With its many beachside hotels, FMB reminds me of the days of Gidget, Elvis, and Frankie & Annette at the beach. Fun times!

Across the bridge from Fort Myers sits the quiet little island community of Sanibel Island. Know worldwide for its seashell collecting and glorious beaches, Sanibel is one of the best places I know to get away from it all. Though there are plenty of restaurants and shopping opportunities to be found on this island, the tone and pace of Sanibel is much more laid back and easy-going. With several public beaches scattered around the perimeter of the island, taking in the warmth of the sun and searching for that elusive perfect seashell are all in a day’s pleasure on Sanibel Island.

If you’re looking for rest and relaxation in a peaceful, luxurious setting, Florida’s Southwest region may be beckoning you. With incredible weather year-round, true southern hospitality, and a slow-paced way of life, the Gulf Coast region is one of my favorite places to get away to. Whether its Naples to the south, Fort Myers to the north, or Sanibel on an island of its own, Southwest Florida is truly a slice of paradise.

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Gulf Coast Getaway at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point

For several years I have enjoyed traveling to the Southwest region of Florida to take in the charm of the area and the warmth of the sun. I have visited up and down the Gulf Coast, from Sarasota to Sanibel, and Naples to Key West, and each area has its own cool vibe that keeps me coming back for more.

Recently I took my daughter, Morgan, on a father-daughter vacation to celebrate her journey off to college. She wanted to go where there were beaches and shopping. (Did I mention she was eighteen?) I immediately thought of the Gulf Coast and began to search for places. Through my Travelocity search I came across a pretty good deal for a fly & stay at the Hyatt Regency at Coconut Point. For a little under $400 each we got a roundtrip flight out of Rochester and 4-night stay at one of Hyatt’s premiere resorts. And as if that package wasn’t good enough, our arrival flight got us into the Ft. Myers airport by 11:30am, with our departure flight not leaving Florida until 5pm. To me those are great bonus hours for some sun & fun!

Upon arriving at the Hyatt Regency – Coconut Point Resort & Spa I couldn’t help but be in awe at the true luxury that welcomed us. From the valet parking to the doormen, this place screamed “vacation”! As you enter the resort the Stillwater Spa is located to your left. This full-service spa offers an enormous menu including their ‘Aqua Massage’. As guests enter the main lobby comfortable sitting areas and the Concierge are located to the left, with the minimalistic check-in area to the right. I found my check-in to be quick and easy, with the friendly desk manager giving me all kinds of information and answering all of my questions. Included with our check-in was a glass of champagne for me and a glass of OJ for Morgan.

Located on Estero Bay, which leads out to the Gulf of Mexico, the Hyatt Regency at Coconut Point offers views that are simply breath-taking. We actually made it a point one evening to stay in our room and take pictures of the sunset over the Gulf from our balcony. Incredible!

Our guestroom was magnificent. The suite contained two queen-size beds, a table with chairs, a kitchenette, and luxurious bathroom. The decor was modern, but not over-the-top. The staff cleaned our room each day and even turned our beds down at night when we weren’t there. Classy!

The Hyatt Regency – Coconut Point was recently awarded Travel & Leisure magazine’s Top 100 Hotels in the World and Top 50 Family-resorts in North America. Guests surveys have also resulted in the resort & spa receiving the AAA Four-Diamond ranking. With its 70,000 square feet of conference rooms, six restaurants and lounges, and three pools this Hyatt Regency has it all. My favorite place to eat at Coconut Point is the poolside restaurant known as the Corkscrew. Serving up great lunches and dinners, the Corkscrew is great as you relax by the pool. For more formal dining, Tarpon Bay and Tanglewood are superb. Tarpon Bay serves the best of area seafood, while Tanglewood offers up some wonderful American grille cuisine.

A stay at the Hyatt Regency – Coconut Point wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Hyatt’s private island across Estero Bay. A free water taxi takes guests from the resort’s dock to the island every 30-minutes. While on your way you are likely to see dolphins and rays swimming alongside the boat. Once at the island, a two-minute walk to the other side brings you to the Gulf of Mexico in all its glory. (Wait, see the sunbeams shine down and hear the angels sing from above.) This mile long strip of private beach is for Hyatt guests only and has complimentary chairs and umbrellas, and is perfect for saltwater swimming, sunbathing, and seashell collecting. 

Though the resort has everything you could want during your stay- tennis, golf, pools, wall-climbing, internet, flat-screen TVs, restaurants, and more- if you wanted to venture out Southwest Florida is packed with things to do. Morgan and I had lunch at the Bayside Restaurant in Naples one day, took in the sunset and had dinner at the Ft. Myers pier another night, and shopped at the amazing Coconut Point. It is an outdoor shopping and eating experience rivaled by few,with condos above the stores known as The Residences. From designer shops such as Coach and Aldo, to chain stores like Target and Champs, Coconut Point has shopping covered. The area also has great restaurants such as The Grape, Stir Crazy, and California Pizza Kitchen.

Without a doubt if you are looking for rest and relaxation in a peaceful, luxurious setting, the Hyatt Regency – Coconut Point is beckoning you. With incredible weather year-round, true southern hospitality, and slow-paced way of life, the Gulf Coast is one of my favorite places to be. Located between Ft.Myers Beach and Naples, and just 15 minutes from the Southwest Florida international Airport, the Hyatt Regency – Coconut Point is the perfect vacation destination for your next getaway. For more information contact Erin Flanagan at 239-390-4205 or visit their website at coconutpoint.hyatt.com.