Why doesn’t every hotel check-in include a complimentary glass of champagne?
This question pops into my mind as I enjoy a sip of nose-tickling bubbly upon arrival at the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida. It is really the most civilized of welcomes. What harried parent wouldn’t appreciate such a gift when she’s finally arrived at her luxury holiday destination after plane rides, baggage sorting, and a 45-minute cab ride?
This first sparkling taste of the good life at Sandpearl Resort only whets my appetite to learn more as I wander around the expansive grounds of this luxury resort.
The Sandpearl is part of the independently-owned OPAL Collection of luxury hotel properties that stretch from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Key West, Florida. Its award-winning and sustainable architectural practices (LEED Silver) set it apart from many of the other resorts along the crowded Clearwater Beach shoreline. Some of these initiatives include; a geothermal pool heating system, partnership with Clean the World to recycle soap products, sustainable building practices, and water and waste conservation programs. With hundreds of daily guests, such eco-conscious practices make a difference to the local coastal environment.
The resort is located right on the Gulf of Mexico, with a wide-open, sugar-white sand beach stretching out before it. The private beach is dotted with yellow and white-striped umbrellas and cabanas available for daily rental, as well as comfortable beach chairs, some of which are circled around fire pits for the resort’s daily ‘sunset farewell‘ tradition – a marshmallow roast and goodbye to the day.
The waters of the gulf are warm, with little wave action. The conditions are perfect for wading in the calm waves that during the cloudy days of my stay, appear more green than blue. If the pool deck is more your thing, the resort pool is a zero-entry, lagoon style family-friendly aquatic area overlooking the beach. The resort’s children’s club, Camp Ridley, takes full advantage of the beachfront location with four-hour, supervised activity sessions in the afternoons and evenings. Think nature walks, beach-themed arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and water play.
In addition to the kids camp, the Sandpearl offers a wide range of tours to local Clearwater Beach attractions, including adventure tours such as kayaking, and art tours of its impressive collection (the resort has a monthly artist in residence program). If food is your thing, the Chef’s Cooking Demo includes food and wine tasting at the in-house fine dining room, Caretta’s.
The dinner menu of Caretta on the Gulf features locally-inspired ingredients – including a wide variety of fish – that are beautifully presented and taste just as fine. There’s also an extensive sushi menu which will appeal to any kids in your party. The dining room is on the more formal side, though beach casual attire appears to be acceptable. With views out onto the beach and desserts like the deconstructed key lime pie (to DIE for delicious), I would recommend at least one visit, if not two.
For relaxed, beach-side dining, the Tate Island Grill offers large portion-sized salads, sandwiches, and burgers. The in-lobby Marketplace has a coffee bar and self-service grab-and-go area for snacks or a quick breakfast. Tip: the Sandpearl gives families a break with their Free Breakfast for Kids (under 12) program, good for in-restaurant dining only.
The Sandpearl features a large variety of guest rooms that cater to travelling families. The one to two-bedroom deluxe suites can accommodate up to six people, and include full kitchens, sleeper sofas, and washer/dryers, amenities that are perfect for a longer beach stay.
My Gulf Front Junior Suite was a 500-square feet slice of resort heaven. The king-sized bed was huge and wonderfully comfortable. I enjoyed the separate sitting room, though the private outdoor balcony with views out onto the beach and gulf became my preferred seating area. The bathroom is very large, with a bathtub whose plantation shutters open up to look out onto the room and the view beyond the balcony. While I sat out admiring the beach view, I had the pleasure of being an inadvertent wedding crasher at some beach nuptials. With such a lovely private beach area, I can see how the Sandpearl does such a booming wedding business.
There’s a lot to love about the Sandpearl. The hotel property is beautifully decorated, professionally-staffed, and with its amenities, premier Gulf coast location, private beach and views, a fabulous and luxurious choice for a family holiday.
But nothing can win over a harried travelling mom or dad like a welcoming glass of bubbly upon arrival. Let the vacation begin!
How to Get Here
The Sandpearl Resort at Clearwater Beach is easily accessible from Tampa International Airport. There is no airport shuttle to the resort, so a rental car or cab/uber ride is necessary. It’s an approximately 45-minute drive, and a hire car will cost around $70 USD one-way.
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Photo Credit: All photos C. Laroye unless otherwise noted.
Disclosure: The Travelling Mom thanks Sandpearl Resort for its hospitality. All opinions are honest and the writer’s own, as always.
Have you stayed at the Sandpearl? What did you like the most about the resort?