In the middle of a stressful month, I headed to Sundial Beach Resort on Sanibel Island, Florida. Sun, sand, seashells, and a fully equipped condo in a feels- like-home resort (but better) made for a perfect three days stress reliever. Sundial Beach Resort is a family-friendly getaway where people who want pampering can find it, and kids who crave kid stuff can find that too.
The resort’s location on Sanibel, a barrier island on Florida’s west coast near Fort Meyers offers laid back beach combing followed by lounging at one of five swimming pools. For the active types there are plenty of options to do. Kayaking, paddle boarding, pickleball, tennis, and a fitness center are among them. There’s even yoga on the beach. If you are a golfer, head to The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club. Sundial Beach Resort guests are welcome to enjoy this 18-hole course for a fee. For kids ages 6 to 13, Turtle Scouts is a three-hour camp experience of themed sessions from pirates to nature to kites. There is a $55 charge for each stand-alone session.
Sanibel Island is known for its seashell bounty. With its a beachfront location, ocean access couldn’t be easier. At Sundial Beach resort, the wealth is not far from your condo’s front door no matter which building houses your unit.
There are several separate condo buildings of units ranging from studios to three bedrooms situated around beautifully landscaped property. The result is an atmosphere of easy-going upscale living.
My stay started at the reception desk late at night after I arrived from the Southwest International Airport in Ft. Myers. Check-in was a smooth process. Within minutes I was in my two-bedroom condo checking out my new digs. The master bedroom with a window overlooking the ocean, a king-size bed and a flat screen TV was just off the spacious living room/dining area. My three nights were true slumber bliss. The second bedroom, appointed with a twin size bed and condo’s third TV, could be a child or teen’s dream of “me time” come true.
For hangout time, the living area’s sectional couch, coffee table, end table with stylish lamps and ocean-themed artwork created an atmosphere for company. Even though I was the only company, I enjoyed watching the large flat screen TV night while I unwound. Also, wonderful? The fully equipped kitchen. A Keurig coffee maker served me well each morning. Although, I didn’t cook a thing other than coffee, I imagined how the full-size refrigerator, stove and oven could be put to great use by a family. Like the rest of the condo, the bathroom had an upscale beach vibe. I particularly liked the walk-in shower, thick towels and high-end bath products.
One late afternoon, friends of mine who live on Sanibel came over. We sat on the patio sharing a bottle of wine and a cheese and cracker plate. Wine glasses and a bottle opener are included in the bounty of kitchen amenities. My patio had an ocean view so this was a perfect visiting space. I spent most of my time at Sundial out of my condo, however. The rest of the resort grabbed my attention.
The main building houses several resort amenities in addition to the main pool and the recreation center. At Seabreeze Café, a bar and restaurant combination, I grabbed a hearty bowl of seafood chowder one afternoon. One morning I took in the breakfast buffet.
The buffet includes an omelet station and a bounty of hot and cold items from fresh fruit to homemade baked goods. It is worth the $18. Once I filled my plate, I headed to the outdoor dining area that overlooks the pool with an ocean vista. Other dining options are the Shima Japanese Steakhouse, The Turtle’s Pool and Beach Bar, and Slice of Paradise. Whether you’re after upscale dining or casual fare of pizza and a sandwich, you’ll find it. If you want sushi take out, Shima has a Grab N Go option. Before my friends left, they ordered a few treats to take home. I planned to grab a cocktail at Turtle’s Pool and Beach Bar with its tiki hut appeal but ran out of time.
One late afternoon, friends and I hopped on the complimentary bicycles to cycle the few miles from the resort to the historic Sanibel Lighthouse. The lighthouse, an island fixture since 1884. It’s location near one of the island’s pristine beaches is a bonus.
With a bit of planning, we could have packed a picnic and made a longer visit. At Baily’s Marketplace, the onsite version of Sanibel’s iconic Bailey’s General Store, you can pick up everything from deli items to fresh fruit to toothpaste and beachwear. It’s possible to have items delivered to your condo without a delivery fee. I didn’t do the delivery service but a traveling friend did. He said it was great.
If I had more time, I would have taken a bicycle out for one more day. The island is perfect for cycling exploration. There are 25 miles of bicycle trails that are smooth and well-marked. Pick up a map when you pick up your bicycle.
Known for its environmentally friendly attitude, Sanibel Island is rich with an abundance of wildlife. Loggerhead turtles are an important part, and May to October is the nesting season. This is when hatchlings make their way to the ocean by the light of the moon. Sundial Beach Resort follows the strict protocol of keeping outside lights to a minimum and gives guidelines to guests of proper beach etiquette like filling in any holes you create in the sand as you leave.
Condo rates at Sundial start at $309 and can go up to $657 and higher depending upon the time of year, day of the week and number of bedrooms. You can book directly on the resort’s website or try Hotels.com or Priceline.
Post and photos by Jamie Rhein. I was hosted by Sundial Resort as part of the Midwest Travel Journalist’s fall conference but all opinions are my own.