Boca Grande Hotel: A Florida Happy Mistake Worth the Trip

Happy Mistake Leads to the Boca Grande Hotel

A few years ago, I stayed in Winter Garden, Florida instead of Winter Park where my friend lives. Finding the Edgewater Hotel and the charm of Winter Garden was a happy mistake. Recently, I found myself at the Boca Grande Hotel in Boca Grande, Florida. This was another happy mistake. The mistake was not knowing how far Boca Grande was from the Southwest International Airport in Fort Meyers. Boca Grande Hotel on Gasparilla Island is splendid but arriving at 10:30 pm when one has an afternoon flight out of Ft Meyers the next day is a bit dumb. It’s particularly dumb when one starts out from a Publix grocery store parking lot south of Naples after dark in a rental car.

The Boca Grande Hotel outside

As a frequent traveler, one would think I’d have a hotel reservation before driving from Delray Beach on the east coast to the west coast. Two years ago, I stayed in Delray Beach at the splendid Atlantic Hideaway. This trip, I looked to the west coast for accommodations. But I was scattered in decision making. Boca Grande Hotel turned up with a quick look at Hotels.com on my phone in my car in the Publix parking lot. Great! I reserved the room, then hit up Google Maps. A closer stay, like in Fort Myers perhaps, would make more sense. Too late. I started driving. 

When You Arrive After Hours to the Boca Grande Hotel

Boca Grande hotel on Gasparilla Island

An hour and a half later, I pulled into the hotel parking lot. The office was closed. Thankfully, the Boca Grande Hotel night staff picked up the phone when I called the number on the office door. In a few minutes, thanks to the keypad on my hotel room door, and the helpful, friendly voice over the phone that gave me the keypad number combo, I was checked in. 

So pleased that the distance between the free parking lot and my hotel room door was short, I grabbed by gear for a brief, but great night stay.

The Boca Grande Hotel Room

King room at Boca Grande Hotel

My king bedroom on the 2nd floor was large and settle-in perfect. I appreciated the old Florida nostalgic feel mixed in with a bit of grandness and Mediterranean decor. The gold tones of the bedspread, the palm motif of the wallpaper in the bathroom and the Florida themed artwork create a sense of place. The blonde wooden cabinet with the large flat screen TV and the small table with two chairs next to the refrigerator and microwave makes a space of hominess. I put breakfast in the refrigerator and eyed the coffee maker, ready for morning.

I felt invited in which is a lovely feeling when one needs to feel comfortable quickly. I’d be checking out within 10 hours so making the best of this blink and you’ll miss it stay was on my mind. It would have been great to have a weekend. The bathroom, also spacious, modern and clean captured a Florida vacation mood. With a longer stay, the room offers places to put clothes and stash suitcases. The refrigerator is large enough for lunch supplies, drinks and leftovers.  

Along with the hairdryer and bath amenities, there’s an iron, ironing board and luggage rack. 

Boca Grande Hotel bathroom

My room opened to the covered courtyard, but one slim shuttered window between the closet and the bathroom did offer a view of the marina. The inside courtyard space between the rooms does have some seating, but the Boca Grande Hotel is part of a larger complex of office spaces and businesses. The courtyard between the hotel office and the guest rooms building also has a few spots to lounge. Flowering plants and palm trees create a lovely ambiance. The bonus of the Boca Grande Hotel is its location.

Boca Grande: The Town Location, Location, Location

Gasparilla Island is one of Florida’s hidden gems. When I discovered Boca Grande Hotel, I discovered Gasparilla Island. This barrier island across the Boca Grande Causeway from Placida is halfway between Ft. Meyers and Sarasota. There’s a toll to cross the causeway. Boca Grande Hotel is on the outskirts of Boca Grande but there’s easy access in a quick few minutes’ drive. 

Uncle Henry's Marina next to Boca Grande Hotel

For those with a boat, Uncle Henry’s Marina is connected to the Boca Grande Hotel property. I walked to the marina in the morning. The hotel is also near the bike path and golf cart path that goes into the village of Boca Grande. Kappy’s Market, also next to Boca Grande Hotel is a place to pick up anything from T-shirts to snacks, plus there are bike and golf cart rentals. Those interested in fishing or snorkeling can pick up gear here as well.

What to See Near Boca Grande Hotel

Historic Gasparilla Island Lighthouse

With just an hour and a half to explore, I drove to town. Parking is easy to find. All along the beach is the Gasparilla State Park of pristine white sand laden with shells. Simply gorgeous. A don’t miss is the historic Gasparilla Lighthouse. The historic lighthouse, built in 1881 was moved from Delaware in 1927. I was fortunate the lighthouse was open for tours. If you go, take time to walk along the nature trail that fans out from the lighthouse. Parking is just $3.

Gasparilla State Park Beach

View of Gasparilla State Park Beach from Gasparilla Island Lighthouse

I also headed to the Port Boca Grande Lighthouse built in 1880. There’s a museum here, but alas, I had a plane to catch and more than an hour’s drive to Ft. Myers. I didn’t have time more than snapping a couple of pictures, taking in the ocean view and heading out. Check out the Barrier Island Parks Society website for info on the lighthouses and more.

Port Boca Grande Lighthouse

Port Boca Grande Lighthouse

Before I left town, I did stop in a local grocery to buy some food for the road. There are galleries and restaurants to enjoy here. Next time. 

Hopefully, if you go to the Boca Grande Hotel and take in the hidden gem of Gasparilla Island, you’ll plan better than I did. This was indeed a happy mistake I’d make again, however. 

Rates for the Boca Grande Hotel are seasonal. I paid $184 at Hotels.com for my room. Room options include two queen beds and an ADA Queen Room. Check rates at the hotel website as well. 

Post and photos by Jamie Rhein, member of Midwest Travel Journalists Association

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