What Florida’s west coast beaches lack in white-capped surf, they more than makeup for in clear, calm aquamarine water and powdery white sand. We found the perfect stretch during our Clearwater Beach vacation and the perfect place to stay at the Sandpearl Resort, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts.
Here, the pampering begins at check-in, when every guest receives a glass of bubbly – sparkling wine for the adults, and apple juice in plastic flutes for kids. Small touches like this exemplify Sandpearl’s AAA Four-Diamond hospitality, which is extended to all guests, even children.
Sandpearl Resort Accommodations and Amenities
I have a limited interior design vocabulary, but I was so enamored of the décor throughout the Sandpearl that I came up with my own apt description. I call it “Floribbean Chic.” The vibe is relaxed yet upscale; the aesthetic is modern with subtle tropical touches.
Our light-filled guest room included two queen beds with luxurious, crisp white linens, a 32″ flat panel TV, refrigerator, mini-bar, bathrobes, free wi-fi, Melitta coffee service, and a clock with an iPod docking station. The oversized bathroom featured a deep soaking tub and a spacious, dual-level granite vanity. It was a beautiful piece, but too high for my four-year-old daughter to reach the faucet. I think they should loan out step stools to families with young children.
Finding shell-shaped chocolates on her pillow after the nightly turndown service never lost its thrill for my four-year-old daughter, who also noted the “fancy” music (jazz) which was left playing on the radio. I appreciated the small cards left with the treats, which provided the next day’s weather forecast, as well as a “Pearl of Wisdom” and inspirational saying.
At the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, the underlying message is “Enriching the spirit and inspiring the soul.” I considered this mission accomplished the following morning at the Sandpearl Spa, which offers over 50 different treatments.
Pool or Beach? Your Choice!
The best part of the lagoon-style pool at the Sandpearl Resort is the zero-entry side, which meant my daughter could wade in at her leisure, and I didn’t need to hold onto her the entire time. It’s easy to spend an entire day by the pool. Wait for service bring food and drinks to your lounge chair, or to your private cabana (available for rent). If you forget inflatable toys for the kids, inner tubes and noodles can be borrowed at the activity desk, along with oversized beach towels.
We chose the beach only when the heat ebbed; early in the morning and at dusk. The sand was silky and cool underfoot, the Gulf of Mexico was warm, and the shells were plentiful. The sunsets in this part of Florida are legendary and celebrated every night at Pier 60. At the Sandpearl, sundown means time for S’mores on the beach, and lounging in front of the bonfire.
Camp Ridley and Other Clearwater Beach Recreation
The Sandpearl offers both full-day and half-day camps for kids ages 5-12. My daughter spent a morning making friends over a sandcastle-building activity on the beach, which was followed by T-shirt coloring, playtime with a stash of toys, lunch, and a movie. She thrilled at meeting Ridley the Turtle, the resort’s mascot. He’s been known to invite kids to join him in ringing the sundown bell on the beach!
Grown-ups get their share of recreational activities, too, including fitness sessions like sunset yoga on the beach. The Activities Desk will also arrange sailing excursions, dolphin tours, and kayaking “eco-tours.” On-site tours focus on the resort’s art collection, as well as its environmental design. The Sandpearl is a Silver LEED-certified property, and its commitment to the environment is evident everywhere; from the compostable beverage cups to the pool filtration system.
Sandpearl Resort Dining Options
The Sandpearl has three on-site dining options. Caretta on the Gulf and Tate Island Grill are both table-service restaurants, while the Marketplace is a café with counter service featuring Starbucks coffee. For breakfast, we chose Caretta, the fine-dining venue, because of the extensive buffet. My son has perfected his omelet order but was hard-pressed to finish the three-egg, western / “meat-lovers” hybrid behemoth on his plate. For each adult ordering the buffet, one child eats free. One day we ordered room service for breakfast, but were disappointed by its late arrival.
For lunch and dinner, the more casual Tate Island Grill worked better for us. Each kid’s meal came with a package of apple slices – a welcome site while I tried to keep nutrition present in their vacation diet! The beachside location was a special treat for them, while the sweet Sangria-tini was a special treat for me!
Winter in Clearwater Beach, Florida?
You’ll be hearing a lot more about Clearwater come September 23rd when the new Warner Brothers 3-D movie “Dolphin Tale” is released. It’s the true story of a rescued dolphin named Winter, who was treated at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and fitted with the very first prosthetic dolphin tail.
The Sandpearl is in partnership with the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, offering new packages which include admission to this marine rehabilitation center to meet Winter. This charismatic creature is on the verge of becoming a movie star, and she won us over! Certainly, any family traveling to Clearwater Beach for a vacation would have a great experience at both the aquarium, and at Sandpearl Resort.