Thursday, January 22, 2009
It seems I have passed on the travel gene to my daughter, Taryn. For the last several years, Taryn has been given a choice in December of a birthday party or a trip. For a teenager to pick a weekend with her mother, aunt and mother's friend over a party with her own friends, there's got to be good times happening on these trips! This year was no exception. We forewent the usual NYC choice for a weekend closer to home, staying at my client's resort, the Tortuga Inn Beach Resort on Anna Maria Island. This was not our first time there. In fact, Taryn and I have visited this lovely resort a number of times over the past few years since my agency has had the County as a tourism client. We opted to try staying in a different part of the resort than normal.
Tortuga is on a narrow section of the island in Bradenton Beach. So narrow that one side is the beach with no buildings and the other side is simply the resort abutting the bay. The resort is narrow as well, with the original building near the front and thus the beachside (west). The middle building is newly constructed with a parking garage and 2 floors above housing very large one and two bedroom suites. This is the building we usually stay in, allowing us to travel with the whole family and friends and have lots of space (and our little doggies). The backmost building is comprised of two "houses" overlooking the bay, with only a couple units in each. There is a private jacuzzi and pool with a dock between them. A very private setting. I stayed in one of them once all alone on a business trip... definitely on my agenda to go back with hubby.
We chose the front building so we could be close to the main resort pool and directly across from the beach. Of course, with December whether in Florida varying from summer heat to winter chill, we knew not that we wouldn't be going in the pool that weekend. I like this resort also because you can choose the exact unit you want when booking. I chose Unit 244, right up the steps overlooking the pool. The unit was really cute, with the same tropical Tommy Bahama style decor all of the units have. These original but totally refurbished units have all the upgrades of the middle units, but also have that Olde Florida charm that only comes with an older building. The living/dining room area had 2 sliders right out onto the patio/balcony where the stairs were. The funny thing is, on Saturday, while Taryn, Chris and I were at the spa (that's another day's story), Cheryl came out of one of the bedrooms to find a strange man standing in our living room. Cheryl had been playing the new Elvis duet Christmas CD that Chris brought, and the man came into the unit to actually turn it down! When asked what he was doing in our room, he replied by saying he thought it was a common area, like a cabana. I guess with the sliders open, it did look like our condo was part of the pool area! Too funny! The rest of the weekend we joked about being on display for the other guests and always made sure we were sitting in the most flattering positions while the doors were open, should anyone happen by.
On evening one, we checked in, had a cocktail and then headed up to our favorite island shop, The Sanddollar, to wait for Christine to arrive. After doing a little damage, we went to nosh on an appetizer across the road at Hurricane Hank's. My first time at this little joint, I had no idea what to expect from the food. A casual, bar/diner atmosphere, my expectations were not hugely high, but bar food was fine with us for the first evening. To my pleasant surprise, I thought the food was awesome. Taryn and I shared the best crab cake I think I've ever had. It was so good I ordered it again for dinner. Normally I could take or leave a crab cake, but not this time. They have a lot of seafood choices, and good reviews on TripAdvisor. I will admit, Cheryl's tuna wasn't great - but she seems to have a magnet for getting a crappy meal (kind of goes with the accident-proneness). By the time Chris arrived and ate from our leftovers, we began having a little fun with the waiters and waitresses, picking up a t-shirt for my husband signed by the whole staff.
A highlight moment, meeting Vinny and his sweet lady Rita. They had met after both losing their spouses, and were newly in love. Rita told us they had to leave, because they were going home to get lucky. Seriously. That's what she said.