Despite having grown up just two hours away from Sarasota, somehow I had never had the pleasure of exploring Florida’s Cultural Coast and all the little treasures it holds within such as the charming town of Longboat Key. Not only is Longboat Key a gateway to miles of beaches with fine sand and shallow waters, it is also home to the area’s newest luxury beachfront resort, Zota Beach Resort. I delighted at the opportunity to explore this pristine property and its surrounding attractions during my long-overdue first trip to Sarasota. Over the course of my weekend stay I learned very quickly that Zota Beach Resort is truly a local gem that it is making waves across the city and proving it’s here to stay.
After a scenic drive through Florida’s West Coast, my companion and I arrived at the opulent property and immediately stepped into an atmosphere that invited us to sit back, relax and enjoy ourselves. Needless to say, we were more than excited for our stay and checking out our room was at the top of the list! Zota Beach Resort’s stylish guest rooms and suites were outfitted with all the necessities required for a comfortable stay, as well as various in-room luxuries. From plush beds and flat-screen TVs to refrigerators and coffee makers, our accommodations set an impressive tone for the weekend and continuously reflected the laid back elegance of the property.
Our spacious suite featured a balcony overlooking the crystal blue waters and a breathtakingly beautiful sunset at dawn. In spite of our first-rate accommodations, our growing appetite forced us to tear ourselves away from the exceptional views in search of lunch. In no time we had pulled up a seat at Viento Kitchen + Bar, Zota Beach Resort’s trendy restaurant and wine bar. An open-air lounge overlooking the pristine pool deck was the perfect spot to enjoy an enticing lunch of calamari fritto, roasted garlic hummus, zota salad and a mouthwatering blackened Luau Grouper sandwich. Led by Executive Chef Jason Pellett, Viento Kitchen + Bar’s innovative menu and extensive wine list was an excellent start to what would go on to be an unforgettable weekend.
A stroll through Marie Selby Botanical Gardens seemed like the perfect way to work off our hefty meal so my companion and I hit the road and headed to beautiful Sarasota Bay to explore the 15 acre tropical, urban oasis. Unparalleled horticulture displays allowed us to relax amidst nature’s beauty as we were carried away by botanical bliss. One would think the walk was enough exercise for the day, but we were only just getting started! After heading back to Zota Beach Resort, we donned our gym attire and hit their 24/7 fitness center to get our hearts pumping. The facility was outfitted with a variety of high-tech cardiovascular machines with built-in TVs, strength training equipment, room for stretching, towels, water, and even spare earbuds for us forgetful travelers! The third floor placement of the facility also meant I had incredible views of the Gulf of Mexico to keep me motivated during my workout and keep me motivated it did! I added two extra miles to my usual treadmill routine and felt like could’ve ran till sunrise, but dinner reservations at Shore restaurant meant otherwise.
Shore is Sarasota’s expression of a mid-century, al-fresco coastal eatery. The venue was awarded OpenTable’s Top 100 Hot Spots in the U.S. for 2017 and it wasn’t difficult to see—and taste—why. The oceanside diner featured an assortment of creative recipes combined with local favorites, all served in an open air dining space. My companion kicked off the meal with an appetizer of spiced whole roasted cauliflower served with goat cheese, shishito purée, zante currants and hazelnut pesto. I opted for Kung Pao calamari served with napa cabbage, red pepper, and toasted peanuts. My main course came in the form of free range fried chicken served with mac ‘n’ cheese, coleslaw, and crystal hot sauce honey. I assure you every bite was just as delectable as it sounds! With full appetites and a busy day ahead of us, we headed back to Zota Beach Resort to enjoy a night of peaceful sleep and stress-free relaxation.
After fueling up with a piping hot breakfast at Viento Kitchen + Bar, my companion and I set off on a mission to explore some of Sarasota’s finest attractions. Unbeknownst to me (a die-hard Seminoles fan), Florida State University is the steward of the state art museum of Florida and one of Sarasota’s most notable cultural institutes, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Also known as the The Ringling, our first stop on the property was a tour of Ca’ d’Zan, the home of the circus king and his wife which still stands regal on the grounds. Walking around the dazzling mansion felt like entering a time capsule that perfectly captured the splendor of the roaring 20s and the romance of the Italy the Ringlings so loved.
Steps away from Ca’ d’Zan was the Ringling Circus Museum where we explored parade wagons, posters, stage props, glittering costumes, and even the cannon that shot daring performers through the air to delight packed houses in great cities and small towns across America. Our next adventure took place just a few minutes away at Mote Aquarium where guests can get an up-close experience with a variety of marine animals and fish, including two touch tanks and a 135,000 gallon shark habitat. More than 100 species of marine life call Mote their home and we even have the opportunity to witness scientific research—as it happens—in viewable working laboratories.
Upon returning from our excursions, my companion and I kicked back in luxurious poolside cabanas and enjoyed a savory lunch and handcrafted cocktails from Cascades Pool Bar. Between refreshing dips in the resort’s sparkling infinity-edge pool and stretching out on the sun-drenched pool deck, I wasn’t sure if we would ever make it to the beach, but we were on one of the most sought-after Gulf-front destinations in the country so beach time was a must! Eventually we ventured across the sugary soft, white sand in front of the resort and entered the Gulf of Mexico to watch the bittersweet sunset of our final day. After returning to the property—and taking a quick dip in the hot tub—we headed to Viento Kitchen + Bar for an exquisite farewell dinner of “Floribbean” cuisine influenced by Florida, Caribbean, and Mediterranean cooking techniques and flavors.
I didn’t think I would fall in love with Sarasota on my very first trip, but it more than easy to do with Zota Beach Resort in the mix. In just two days at the property, I left with a deeper understanding of why visitors from across the globe are heading to Longboat Key and booking accommodations with this elegant property. Zota Beach Resort offers guests a secluded Gulf-front getaway that is only minutes away from Sarasota and Bradenton’s world-class attractions, but don’t be surprised when you find it hard to leave your accommodations! Delicious dining options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Viento Kitchen + Bar mean you may be perfectly content to spend your entire vacation sipping cocktails by the infinity-edge outdoor pool as Zota Beach Resort’s stellar attendants and speedy poolside service takes care of your every need. From stylish evenings at their chic wine bar to splashing in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, I assure you that nothing but relaxation awaits you at Zota Beach Resort. Reserve your stay today to discover Longboat Key’s premiere retreat and experience beachfront luxury like no other.
Zota Beach Resort
4711 Gulf of Mexico Dr
Longboat Key, FL 34228