I had forgotten about the sunsets. The last time I was on Florida’s Gulf Coast was more than a decade ago when six of my closest girlfriends and I planned a spring break trip to Naples. We were 18 and in search of some (PG-13) trouble. We had visions of beach parties, get-togethers with college students and a few late nights out before heading our separate ways to school. What we found were sleepy motels, pristine beaches and what I believe was a mostly empty Chili’s where we settled for dinner, making each other burst into giggle fits by stuffing lemon wedges in our mouths. Don’t get me wrong, we had a blast—there’s even a dance video set to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to prove it—but the fiery red skies, while appreciated, weren’t necessarily the takeaway. I simply wrote off the “other coast” as a place where adults go to get away from the crowded beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale with which I was so familiar.
As it turns out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
This spring, I received an email about Treasure Island Beach Resort, a charming new boutique hotel by Ocean Properties that opened in March. A few days of sun and solitude sounded like the cure-all to life’s everyday stresses. So, my husband and I ducked out of work a little early on a Friday and made the drive across Alligator Alley to the Old Florida beach town located near St. Petersburg. As we drove over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, a glimpse of the glistening water reflecting the cotton candy-colored sunset brought back memories of the carefree girls who spent the majority of their trip simply enjoying each other’s company. I was officially in vacation mode. After checking in at the front desk, we grabbed our bags from the car and headed to our room, a corner suite with a roomy balcony dotted by two white rocking chairs.
The blues of the water and tans of the sand were pulled into the decor of the room, creating a seamless indoor/outdoor transition elegant enough to remind you this is Treasure Island’s first new hotel in 10 years, but welcoming enough to make it easy to kick back on the L-shaped sectional and catch a movie on the flat-screen when those Florida storms roll in. Giddy about having a full-sized kitchen in the room, I began poking around and found cabinets stocked with glasses, plates, silverware, pots, pans—essentially anything you’d need to cook a light meal or reheat leftovers. The real inspiration came the next day when we spotted a guest making her way through the lobby with a pitcher of frozen margaritas she whipped up in her room. After learning there was a grocery store right down the street, there was no question in my mind that the 77-room hotel was a perfect spot for a laid-back, family getaway, in which lazy beach days would be followed by hours of warm, lively conversation around the coffee table.
With dining options including the hotel’s restaurant, BRGR Kitchen & Bar—where you can order plump, juicy burgers with ale-battered onion rings the size of your hand—you could opt to never leave the property. Or you could put on your “dressy” sandals and saunter across the street to enjoy the upscale bar scene at Middle Grounds Grill. Those looking to play tourist for the weekend are within a five-minute drive to John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk, a colorful plaza with shops like Lori’s Soap & Sponge Market and restaurants like The Hut Bar and Grill, a tiki-themed establishment with live bands playing crowd favorites like Journey and Santana while guests sip on piña coladas.
Needless to say, the real gem of Treasure Island Beach Resort is its proximity to the ocean. Whether you’re enjoying the view from the pool terrace with a tropical cocktail in hand, or taking a stroll down the mile-long trail that runs behind the hotel, the sight of the Gulf of Mexico’s calm, crystal-clear waters soothes the soul. This time, as I caught one last spectacular sunset from our balcony while the salty air tousled my hair, I made a mental note to remember.
Treasure Island Beach Resort / 10800 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island / 855.660.6366 / treasureislandbeachresort.com