“There’s something terribly attractive about life in a place like this…it has a nice easy-going atmosphere, the kind of atmosphere I prefer to live in,” said the late actress Katherine Hepburn. She was speaking of tiny Gasparilla Island and its only town, Boca Grande, located on Florida’s southwest coast. (The island and town together are often referred to simply as “Boca Grande.”)
Boca Grande’s historic Gasparilla Inn & Club, heralded as “Florida as it was meant to be,” is a unique and very special place that takes guests back in time to the Florida of yesteryear. In fact, for years it was the secret hideaway for some of America’s wealthiest and best-known families—the Duponts, Rockefellers, Astors, Roosevelts—and luminaries such as Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. They came for the relaxed, tropical ambience and privacy as well as for the excellent beaches, boating and world class fishing (especially for tarpon).
In the town (it’s more like a village), you’ll find a handful of upscale shops and watering holes like The Temptation Restaurant (fresh seafood) and The Loose Caboose, housed in the town’s historic train depot and known for fresh fish, salads, sandwiches and homemade ice cream.
But the star attraction is the inn. Originally opened in 1911, it was later purchased by New York advertising tycoon, Barron Collier, in 1930. He expanded it and added neoclassical columns and verandas to create a stately, southern appearance. Since that era, the inn has had several owners while retaining its rarified charm and superior hospitality. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark and named the No.1 resort in Florida as well as 14th in the U.S. and 49th in the world by the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. One of the state’s first resorts, it’s, in fact, the largest surviving wooden hotel in Florida.
Luxurious, cozy suites and stately public rooms are superbly decorated in a soft, tropical pastels. The living and dining rooms are operatic in scale yet warm and intimate. You can also rent the inn’s separate cottages— with three- and four-bedroom layouts, fireplaces, parlors, porches and lanais— or the larger Sharp Houses with up to 3,850 sq. ft. They feature a full kitchen, washer, dryer, dining and living areas and a front porch.
Amenities at the inn include gourmet dining, a lap pool, spa, fitness center, personal trainers for yoga and fitness classes, croquet, golfing and tennis. Guests can also arrange boat excursions to nearby islands, as well as fishing charters, kayaking, paddle boarding and more.
The inn is family friendly and appeals to all ages. Whether you’re planning a romantic anniversary weekend, a wedding or a vacation for the entire family, you’ll find both the inn’s amenities and superior hospitality make for an ideal “home away from home.” We’ll certainly return the first chance we get!
For more information: 877-403–5099 or 941-964-4500, gasparillainn.com