We have never had the opportunity to stay in Sarasota, Florida despite spending many spring break vacations in the Tampa, Florida area. We were amazed to discover a remarkable place to visit and play tennis as we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary in Sarasota, Florida!
Sarasota was a little over an hour drive from the Tampa Airport (tip: there is also an airport in Sarasota). We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, Florida, a property originally developed by John Ringling (of the Ringling Brothers Circus). The resort offered shuttles to their private golf course (The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota Golf Course), which had tennis available. In addition, the resort provided shuttles to the St. Armand’s Circle (shopping, entertainment and restaurants, five minutes away, just over the causeway), and to Lido Beach every 30 minutes! Besides the excursion to St. Armand’s Circle, there were shops and a Spa with fitness center on the resort property.
Nestled in the corner of the resort, we discovered the Spa, with a water healing area (separate mens’ and womens’ Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna), and co-ed access to a private veranda, overlooking the water and the pool area! The signature massage was perfect end to a great weekend (tip: club level receive unlimited spa facility privileges during stay). The resort fee included water sports and other activities. We stayed on the resort’s Club level which overlooked the Sarasota Bay. We enjoyed the view from the balcony, watching the guests below kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, or fishing just steps away from the inviting swimming pool as we dove into our anniversary weekend adventure.
Before we arrived to the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota, we requested tennis opportunities from the concierge. We specifically requested information on places we could play tennis and possibly participate in a tennis clinic. Although the resort had one well kept hard surface tennis court (tip: reservations for playing on the tennis court, on property, may be made with the Spa), the concierge steered us to the Longboat Keys Public Tennis Center, based on our request.
Coincidentally, just prior to our trip to Sarasota, we played tennis with another couple at Warren Health and Racquet Club (Warren, NJ). They were happy to share with us that they traveled to Sarasota each year, and suggested that we play tennis at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center (non-residents pay $13 each for 1 1/2 hours court time, $25 for a tennis clinic), which had har tru courts (note: we love suggestions on places to play tennis when we travel)! So with the advice of the concierge and our tennis friends, we took advantage of the beautiful spring weather, and drove our rented Ford Mustang convertible (top down, of course), the short drive to the Longboat Keys Public Tennis Center.
The Longboat Key Public Tennis center was fantastic! All the courts were filled with happy tennis players! We loved watching the tennis while waiting for our court! The tennis Pro shop was on the second floor (tip: wheel chair accessible, elevator available), so watching great tennis from the deck above the courts was a treat. We were warmly welcomed to the facility when we checked in for our court time. We noticed that the courts were well groomed, as we attacked our singles game (we have an ongoing singles match, which we continue at every tennis facility we visit). After we walked on our court, William jokingly called up to a spectator on the upper deck to watch his lines for him. When we finished warming up our game, the man said laughingly, “I can tell that she is going to win!” This tennis facility, although opened to residents and non-residents, seemed like a private tennis club. It was well run, and the courts were in great condition. On other courts, were tennis clinics, doubles matches, and singles matches! Although we could have played tennis at the The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota’s Golf Course or on property, we decided that we would return to the Longboat Keys Public Tennis Center, the next day. We were excited when we were asked if we would be interested in playing in the Sunday mixed doubles round robin! Of course, we accepted the invitation to play! Unfortunately, the Spring morning rain shower got in the way of the club’s weekly round robin; however, left us time to explore the area!
We were excited to have time to visit with a friend, who had moved down to neighboring Bradenton, Florida many years ago. Lourdes, suggested we meet up at St. Armand’s Circle. A very large shopping circle, divided into different color quandrants, with many shops, restaurants and entertainment. We walked the circle and found an organic coffee shop, the Green Zebra Cafe (great for organic smoothies, coffee or light meals). At the end of our visit, we stopped at Le Macaron for french macarons. It was great to learn that macaroons are gluten-free (yummy!). You could spend a week shopping and dining at St. Armand’s Circle.
John Ringling had great foresight to develop the Sarasota, Florida area into a beautiful resort town. We were ecstatic to finally stay at the lovely resort, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota and enjoyed playing tennis at The Longboat Key Public Tennis Center, Longboat Key, Florida. We look forward to our next visit to the Sarasota area!
Places of interest:
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, Florida (see Marriott.com)
The Longboat Key Public Tennis Center (590 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key, Florida 941-316-8367)
St. Armand’s Circle, shopping, dining and entertainment (near Sarasota Bay and Lido Beach)