The start of a new year is almost magical — an entire year to follow through on seemingly attainable goals that only a month earlier proved near impossible to reach. Instead of a resolution, “inspiration” is really what each New Year brings to the table, and there’s no better place for incorporating a fresh start on your health than in the warm climate of Florida.
If you’re in need of a jumpstart to clean living — inside and out, and with health and wellness in mind, one getaway worth visiting is The Resort at Longboat Key.
The Sarasota/Bradenton airport is clean. Really clean. And this theme continues as I arrive on the island to The Resort at Longboat Key Club, where the landscape is meticulously maintained and the streets are void of litter and winter-washed sand.
A quick lunch poolside is where I begin my focus on healthy choices. I order a Caesar salad with grilled grouper in time to digest before my 50-minute deep-tissue massage at Island House Spa. Deep tissue doesn’t define this massage, tailored to suit my needs. A technique called “the frog” concentrates on my hips and glutes by bending each knee up and really digging into the hip. To my delight, my lower back is the beneficiary of this treatment before a shower and time in the eucalyptus-infused steam room rejuvenates my winter-worn self. The reward of dinner waits.
On the deck at Portofino, a Northern Italian restaurant with an extensive Italian wine menu, I indulge in a piece of homemade lasagna with lump crab meat and Gulf shrimp, and dessert of angel food cake topped with berries and whipped cream. This restaurant is on property, harboring the marina (over 300 slips) in a Monaco-like ambiance. Yes, it is decadent here at Longboat Key — yachts line the dock and the golfing lures some heavy-hitting corporate stars that take their private jets for some downtime on the golf course. In fact, there are 2,300 gold memberships and 4,300 actual members at The Resort at Longboat Key.
According to golf pro Terry O’Hara, the reason Longboat Key is a magnet for golfers is due to its location. “Inland it’s hot as Africa,” he says. “But here, the coastal breeze keeps you cool while playing.” He’s right, I realize, and it only took one golf cart ride to confirm.
Spending time in The Resort at Longboat Key Club condominiums is easy living, with sliding glass doors in the bedroom and living room, both offering sunset views overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, I sleep with balcony sliders open to absorb the lullaby of the ocean and to greet each day with a spectacular sunrise before the beach beckons me to take a short walk before my in-room breakfast is ordered.
The day’s activities include a golf cart ride to the Tennis Gardens, where John Woods welcomes me to the home of the USTA/ATP Sarasota Open and 20 tennis courts that received an “Outstanding Facility Award” by the United States Tennis Association. For an hour, I learn moves that will help to prevent injury while at the same time are effective in power. We play until I get my form in motion, and I jot down notes to take home with me so that I can warm up by simulating each stroke before playing. I learn a lot and am amazed at the expertise of Woods in my lesson.
Page 2 of 2 - Before I exit the Tennis Garden, a stop at Court 21 is in order, as I crave a healthful smoothie before a shower and shuttle bus over the bridge to Sarasota, where St. Armand’s Circle — a shopper’s dream-come-true — awaits. Specialty shops, boutiques, gourmet shops, restaurants, a gelato shop, hair/nail salons and more surround me. To add elegance to the already upscale Circle, statues surround courtyards where shoppers can take a rest. I am particularly drawn to Bacchus, the Roman God of Harvest, grapes, fertility (not so much this aspect) and theater.
Moving on, I stop inside Les Ciseaux Hair Salon & Spa for some hair therapy and a mimosa. Then I stop and buy a periwinkle cotton dress at a little boutique before shuttling back over the bridge to Longboat Key, back to the spa for a pedicure. But this is not your average pedicure. It’s a meticulously orchestrated procedure of soaking, scrubbing, clipping and polishing followed by a fine paddled brush dipped in remover for the cleanup. You’ll receive top-rate care here, and get a glass of Champagne during your treatment.
Dinner is my reward for a full day’s work. On property, The Tavern & Whiskey Bar is where I head for a whiskey tasting and, to start, some delicious pickled veggies that include mushrooms, cauliflower and zucchini. The friendliest bartender and servers are what makes the Tavern so special and inviting, aside from its casual atmosphere.
I listen in amazement as I’m told the bartender is infusing pear into Angel’s Envy whiskey. It’s not quite ready, so I opt to try out his coffee-infused whiskey that took three hours to infuse. It’s a palatable hit. Dinner isn’t too shabby either, with the special of halibut over a beet risotto, which looks more like tomato salsa, and Swiss chard with garlic. Amazing.
If you go, order the parsnip/mushroom soup and the beet salad for starters — you won’t be disappointed.
Another day, another health-conscious start begins with an introduction to Craig Hancock, certified personal trainer and golf Fitness instructor who heads the Mind and Motion Studio. He offers sage advice: stay on a program for two months, and then switch to another program. Crossover to yoga, as it’s good to confuse your muscles. If your body doesn’t feel challenged after doing the same walk/run, start your walk with lunges, stop halfway to do some side-to-side jumping jacks, stop and do a set of pushups or mountain climbers, or lift your knees high and run in place. If you use a treadmill, mix it up with jumping jacks or mountain climbers. He suggests a TRX class to shake things up.
Next stop: Fort Lauderdale.
Charlene Peters is editor of special features at GateHouse Media New England. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.