A place of hushed island breezes and deluxe seaside escapes, the Gasparilla Inn and its home island of Boca Grande are one of a kind entities. The spirit is captured by a throwback approach to Florida in the old days, before booms of tourism when sleepy gulfside towns served as escapes for the social elite. The entire makeup of the Gasparilla Inn preserves this time and feel from the décor, to the clientele to the rooms and services. It is a hotel that is purposefully pre-modern and as such may not attract everyone, but it is a unique and lovely place.
The hotel is currently celebrating its 100th year of service and it ranks on the U.S. register of historic places. As the history of Boca Grande has developed so has the hotel. It has a 250 slip marina with access for full sized yachts, a practice that dates back to the days when a boat was the only way to get to the island. Nowadays a causeway bridge with a toll is the main means of access. Our impressions of the hotel staff were excellent. Upon check in the staff were informative about the layout of the hotel, which covers quite a bit of ground from the golf course, to the main building, to the villas to the beach club. The hotel has an abundance of personnel constantly offering advice, answering questions and ready to give a quick golf cart ride to anywhere on the premises.
For accommodations there are a variety of options. Overall the hotel has 66 rooms and several suites in the main Inn building. In the streets and lawns surrounding the main building there are another 76 bedrooms which are contained within cottages and villas of various sizes and with various amenities, sitting rooms and kitchenettes. Wireless internet is included and works well, beds are Tempurpedic and furnishings have very much that old time subtropical charm which the hotel prides itself on.
There is no shortage of excursion and outdoor activities to choose from. Some are more or less seasonal based on weather and availability. There are airboat and seaplane tours, croquet, sport fishing, tennis, pool and beach facilities and a remarkable golf course. The 18 hole golf course is a major attraction and has been held in just as much esteem as the resort itself for its beauty and charm.
When guests come away to be relaxed it makes sense to have a good Spa. The beach club is a major complex that sits in perfect view of the Gulf of Mexico. It features a small but well equipped health facility, a multipurpose exercise room with classes offered, a restaurant and pool deck and a 9 treatment room facility offering a range of massages and therapies. There are steamrooms and saunas for use with treatment as well. The environs of the spa have an adult only lap pool and an on site salon.
Overall the hotel is a luxurious attraction with good attention to a particular kind of guest. It is a costly place to stay and will probably disappoint most discerning guest who expect a more modern and metropolitan approach. Here the standard is to maintain that old time atmosphere and value for cost is calculated more in the character of the hotel than in its particular amenities and benefits.