17 Top-Rated Resorts on the Florida Gulf Coast
Florida's magnificent Gulf Coast stretches from the Everglades in the south all the way to Pensacola on the northwestern edge of the Panhandle and is where you'll find many of the top-rated hotels and resorts in the US. And for good reason; it's where so many Americans go when they feel the need for a beach holiday, where they'll find themselves mingling with copious Canadian, British, and European travelers also wanting to escape winter.
Those on the lookout for great places to stay are certainly spoiled for choice. The big brands are all represented, among them some of the world's best luxury hotel and resort names. Leading our list of top-rated resorts on the Gulf Coast are the Ritz-Carlton, Naples, popular for its sheer opulence and its sporting activities, as well as The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, located in the heart of the Gulf Coast's creative capital.
A huge resort that's part of a smaller hotel group, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, near Sarasota, is an excellent choice for families and groups, while the intimate 55-room The Pearl Hotel, Rosemary Beach is perfect for couples. Find the best place to stay for your next seaside vacation with our list of the top-rated resorts on Florida's Gulf Coast.
1 The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
As the go-to place on the Gulf Coast for those with money - tour its chic neighborhoods, and you'll see some of the most expensive real estate in Florida - Naples offers no end of elegant luxury accommodations. Leading the way in sophistication and opulence is The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. From check-in to check-out guests are spoiled by the sheer elegance of this beachside resort.
The resort offers 450 rooms and suites, and despite being big, attentive staff members ensure you won't ever get lost in the crowd. The feeling you're somewhere special is even more evident if you book a beach-view room, where you can enjoy the gulf's magnificent sunsets from the comfort of your balcony - better still if accompanied by dinner. Wherever you lay your head, you'll be treated to other great features, including exquisite décor and well-appointed and spacious marble bathrooms that come with comfy bathrobes.
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, also boasts numerous fine amenities. Highlights include two heated outdoor pools with private cabana rentals (one of the pools is adults only), a kids' splash area, a video games room, a large fitness center, tennis courts, a full-service spa, seven restaurants, and guest privileges at two championship golf courses.
Address: 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, Florida
Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
2 The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Sarasota
This is a favorite for too many reasons to list (but we'll try anyway). For many, it's the sheer size of the property. Covering 410-acres adjacent to the gulf, The Resort at Longboat Key Club has everything needed for a memorable sun vacation: proximity to a beautiful, 13-mile sandy beach with no end of watersports and adventures; fantastic on-site dining; 45 holes of golf, plus tennis courts and a fitness center; and a world-class spa. There's even a full-service marina offering jet-ski and boat rentals. (Hot Tip: If you do feel the urge to leave the grounds, make sure it includes a visit to nearby St. Armands Circle, popular for its excellent patio dining and people watching.)
The Resort at Longboat Key Club offers guests a choice of 223 bright and spacious rooms and suites. Standard features include pillow-top bedding, private balconies, HDTVs, and large bathrooms (with bathrobes). Those needing a little more room can spread out in one of the resort's one- or two-bedroom units, which include handy full-size kitchens plus separate dining and living rooms.
Address: 220 Sands Point Road, Longboat Key, Florida
Accommodation: The Resort at Longboat Key Club
3 The Pearl Hotel, Rosemary Beach
Located at the northwestern-most area of Florida in an area known as the Panhandle, the recently built The Pearl Hotel, Rosemary Beach, opened its doors in 2013 and immediately became a favorite for those looking for a great place to spend a beach vacation. Holiday highlights include lazing under an umbrella on the hotel's private beach, being pampered at the well-equipped spa, dining at the restaurant or in your room, working out at the fitness center, and enjoying guest privileges at area golf and tennis clubs. A nice perk is the inclusion of complimentary use of bikes, canoes, and kayaks.
With just 55 rooms and suites, it's certainly one of the gulf's quieter luxury hotels. All rooms come with quality features such as the virtual concierge service (via iPad), an Apple TV plus HDTV to view it on, large bathrooms, and spacious balconies. A nice touch are the treats left behind by staff at evening turndown, along with unlimited soft-drinks.
Address: 63 Main Street, Rosemary Beach, Florida
Accommodation: The Pearl Hotel, Rosemary Beach
4 Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater Beach
One of the top-rated vacation properties in Clearwater Beach, The Sandpearl Resort is certainly worth considering if luxury accommodations are your thing. The resort consists of bright, well-appointed one- and two-bedroom suites, and you'll enjoy great features, including full-kitchens, separate living areas, large bathrooms with stand-alone showers and bathtubs, laundry facilities, as well as over-sized balconies. Popular with couples are the romantic king suites (double queen versions are available), each with a living area and pull-out couch.
A definite draw at Sandpearl is the magnificent beach. In addition to lounging around in the comfort of your own private cabana, the resort provides wonderful beach hammocks, a great place to kick-back. There's also a private marina offering rental slips as well as boats, and experiences such as dolphin spotting or fishing excursions can be arranged. Other notable amenities include a conference center, restaurants, heated outdoor swimming pool, a spa, and a fitness center.
Address: 500 Mandalay Ave, Clearwater Beach, Florida
Accommodation: Sandpearl Resort
5 The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
Another of the leading luxury brand's Gulf Coast vacation properties to consider, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, is perfect for those wanting a mix of urban and beach experiences during their vacation. The well-appointed and bright guestrooms comprise 266 rooms with a choice of king or double queen beds. Notable features include the elegant marble bathrooms (bathrobes included), HDTVs, as well as spacious balconies with great city views. If your budget allows, be sure to upgrade to the huge 2,450-square-foot penthouse, which comes with separate dining and living areas, as well as two large balconies.
It's a real treat being able to easily walk to the many fun features of historic downtown Sarasota from the hotel, too. Nearby highlights include the beautiful harbor area with its park-like setting, along with plenty of great shopping and dining opportunities. On-site amenities include a full-service spa and hair salon, a large fitness center, plus a restaurant. Concierge services are also available. When some down time on the beach is called for, guests have access to a nearby beach club, along with tennis and an 18-hole golf course.
Address: 1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota, Florida
Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
6 LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples
Another of the many great hotels and resorts located in beautiful Naples, LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort is perfect for those looking to indulge themselves a little while on holiday. On-site amenities include the chance to rent a private poolside cabana (the resort has four swimming pools), a world-class spa, and excellent dining. For those wanting to work out (either solo or under the guidance of a personal trainer), there's also a large fitness center.
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort offers a variety of spacious and elegantly decorated guestrooms, complete with custom-made furnishings (the four-poster beds are exquisite) and original local art. Options include the 600-square-foot king rooms featuring pillow-top mattresses, large bathrooms, and spacious furnished balconies with excellent beach or garden views. Larger 850-square-foot one-bedroom units are certainly worth the additional cost, and come with separate living areas and large bathrooms.
Address: 9891 Gulf Shore Drive, Naples, Florida
Accommodation: LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, A Noble House Resort
7 Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, Bonita Springs
The delightful Hyatt Regency Point Resort & Spa offers guests a superlative vacation experience on Estero Bay in Bonita Springs, a lovely community not far from Naples. Nestled on 26 acres overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the resort offers 454 guestrooms to choose from, each well-appointed and including amenities such as free Wi-Fi, large HDTVs, fridges, and coffee makers, along with a choice of two queen or a king bed. A great option are the larger suites, which include a balcony, or better still the 1,500-square-foot, one-bedroom units with separate bedrooms, living rooms, and dining areas. A club level upgrade is also available that provides access to a comfortable lounge area with free breakfast and hors d'oeuvres.
The large grounds mean there's plenty of room to spread out, and plenty of room for some amazing water activities. Highlights include a superb 900-foot lazy river, four large swimming pools with waterslides - one of them is more than 5,000 square feet in size, while another has been set aside for adult use only - a hot tub, and a beach area. There's plenty of poolside seating, and luxury private cabanas are available for rent. There's also on-site dining, as well as a full-service spa.
Address: 5001 Coconut Road, Bonita Springs, Florida
Accommodation: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa
8 The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
Elegantly designed in a classical Italian style, the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, offers some of the top accommodations on the Gulf coast. All guestrooms are bright and comfortable and include such standard features as a choice of king or double queen beds, large marble bathrooms with complimentary bathrobes, HDTVs, and spacious balconies. If your budget allows, consider staying in one of the larger deluxe suites with separate living areas. If even more space is needed, the ultra-luxury Presidential Suite comes with additional living space, including a dining room, living room, two bathrooms, and two spacious balconies.
As one of the Gulf coast's leading golf resorts, guests can choose to play on either of the two championship courses on-site. Also popular for sports enthusiasts are the floodlit tennis courts. Afterwards, find a quiet spot on the large pool deck area, or have the resort's shuttle service whisk you away to the private beach at the nearby Ritz Carlton, Naples. Other amenities of note include a full-service spa, along with plenty of great dining options. (In-room dining is also available.)
Address: 2600 Tiburon Drive, Naples, Florida
Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort Naples
9 Watercolor Inn, Santa Rosa Beach
Located in the Gulf coast community of Santa Rosa Beach, the wonderfully named Watercolor Inn offers vacationers an intimate alternative to the area's many larger resorts. The 60 rooms are each a good size (500 square feet) and come with great features, including spacious balconies with comfy seating and superb views, king beds (plus a pull-out queen sofa bed), large bathrooms with stand-alone showers, HDTVs with DVD players, mini-fridges, Keurig coffee makers, and separate seating areas. A nice touch are the fresh cookies dropped off in your room during the evening turndown service, and the complimentary soft drinks and juices.
In addition to its superb beach location - the gulf's famous soft sand is just feet away from the resort (beach bags provided) - guests can enjoy special privileges at three nearby golf courses, free bike and kayak use, and a gym. Other great features are the complimentary valet parking, boat and paddleboard rentals, and beach bonfires. There's also an adults-only pool.
Address: 34 Goldenrod Cir, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Accommodation: Watercolor Inn
10 Hyatt Regency Sarasota
Being within walking distance of the lovely downtown area of Florida's most charming arts district is a definite plus for those staying at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. The area's also known for its excellent shopping, dining, and entertainment opportunities, along with a lovely marina and park area. (Hot Tip: When booking your room, try to choose a view over Sarasota Bay if available.)
The hotel's guestrooms are bright and well-appointed, and come in either two queen or one king options. Standard features include spacious bathrooms, separate living areas, HDTVs, and balconies. When not in their rooms, guests are most likely to be found relaxing around the heated outdoor swimming pool, or enjoying the hotel's kayaks, paddleboats, and paddleboards (motorized craft can be rented from the hotel's full-service marina). Also on-site: a restaurant (in-room dining available), a fitness center, and a free shuttle service around town and to the beach.
Address: 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, Florida
Accommodation: Hyatt Regency Sarasota
11 Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort
Another great Panhandle vacation destination, The Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort offers a variety of first-rate accommodation options, ranging from luxurious suites suitable for couples, all the way up to much larger townhomes and villas boasting as many as four bedrooms. Notable features of these spacious units include multiple bathrooms with separate showers and bathtubs, cozy fireplaces, kitchens, good-sized living areas, as well as private balconies or terraces.
There's no end of fun around this large resort, either, especially for sports enthusiasts. Highlights include golf privileges on the resort's course, as well as tennis (the resort has 15 courts), with the chance to get private tutoring in either discipline. Another plus are the four large, heated swimming pools with plenty of room to lounge around and sunbathe. The resort also provides complimentary bicycles, as well as water toys, including paddleboards and kayaks (rentals of jet skis can be arranged). Also available is a full-service spa, a fitness center, and dining.
Address: 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy, Miramar Beach, Florida
Accommodation: Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort
12 Guy Harvey Outpost, a TradeWinds Beach Resort, St. Petersburg
Set amid five-acres of prime real estate overlooking the beach in St. Petersburg, the Guy Harvey Outpost, a TradeWinds Beach Resort, should be on everyone's luxury getaway shortlist. The resort itself offers many great features, one of the most notable being the huge 33,500-gallon aquarium in its main restaurant. Beach fun includes swimming and watersports like paddleboarding and kayaking, fire pits, and lounging in your own deluxe private cabana. Other on-site amenities include a retail outlet, regular live entertainment, two swimming pools (one designated as adults only) plus a hot tub, and a marina. Exciting adventures and excursions, from fishing to diving, can be arranged by staff.
The bright, spacious rooms are equally appealing. Features of note in the standard rooms include twin beds, spacious bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, HDTVs, mini- fridges, plus microwaves, coffee makers, and toasters. Larger two-bedroom units are also available and come with a kitchenette, dining and living areas, and two bathrooms. A number of pet-friendly units are also available.
Address: 6000 Gulf Blvd, St. Pete Beach, Florida
Accommodation: Guy Harvey Outpost, a TradeWinds Beach Resort
13 The Henderson - A Salamander Beach & Spa Resort
Another first-rate vacation spot on the Florida Panhandle that's worth considering, The Henderson - A Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, offers guests a choice of 170 beautifully appointed rooms and suites. One of the most popular options are the lavishly decorated gulf-view guestrooms. These spacious king suites feature an exquisitely decorated bathroom with separate shower, a large sunken bathtub, and a window that can be opened that looks into the sleeping area. The even larger spa suites come with their own private elevator.
A highlight of your stay is spending time relaxing around the resort and enjoying its luxurious amenities. A must-try is the huge 10,000-square-foot spa, a world-class facility that offers everything from massages to beauty treatments. Other notable amenities include a fitness center offering personal trainers and a variety of classes including yoga; two large outdoor swimming pools, one of which is designated adults only (cabana rentals available); plus dining options, including in-room dining.
Address: 200 Henderson Resort Way, Destin, Florida
Accommodation: The Henderson - A Salamander Beach & Spa Resort
14 South Seas Island Resort, Sanibel Island
The fact its neighbor is a 330-acre wildlife preserve certainly adds to that feeling you're somewhere special when you're staying at South Seas Island Resort, Sanibel Island. It's not only peaceful, it's distinctly lush and tropical. Outdoor activities include plenty of water-based fun, including kayaking, paddle boarding, boating, and sailing, while sports enthusiasts can enjoy a round of golf or a game of tennis (bike rentals are also available). Best of all is the beach. Thanks to the wildlife preserve, you've got close to 2.5 miles of sandy heaven to explore. There's also on-site dining, swimming pools offering private cabana rentals, plus a fitness center.
Guestrooms are spacious and cover an area of 650 square feet, either with beach or marina views. Notable features of these bright and spacious rooms include a choice of king or two queen beds, large bathrooms with separate bathtubs and showers, good sized balconies, a work desk, and HDTVs.
Address: 5400 Plantation Road, Captiva, Florida
Accommodation: South Seas Island Resort
15 The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
The Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg has taken a leaf from the grand old resorts of the past when it comes to providing guests with memorable luxury experiences. Although located close to the area's top attractions, as well as its best dining and shopping opportunities, The Vinoy offers no end of great excuses to stay on-site. Amenities include sports facilities, such as a golf course and tennis courts, a fitness center, plus two heated outdoor swimming pools. There's also an on-site marina offering slip and boat rentals, along with on-site dining, full-service spa and hair salon, kids activities and camps (plus babysitting services), and a games room. Bike rentals are also available.
When it comes to accommodations, guests are equally spoiled. Popular choices include the standard 405-square-foot rooms with two queen or a single king bed, along with a spacious bathroom (plus bathrobes), desk, and good-sized balcony. For those needing more space, shoot for the one- or two-bedroom suites, each with an additional guest bathroom and pull-out couch.
Address: 501 5th Ave NE, St. Petersburg, Florida
Accommodation: The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
16 TradeWinds Island Grand Resort, St. Pete Beach
Set amid 20 acres overlooking the Gulf in St. Pete Beach, TradeWinds Island Grand - part of the same company that owns the neighboring Guy Harvey Outpost - offers no end of family fun. Highlights of the property's top-notch amenities include the use of a cabana when at the beach; access to five heated outdoor swimming pools, including an adults only pool and a three-story-tall waterslide in the waterpark area; plenty of on-site restaurants, from casual to fine-dining to family options (plus in-room dining); rentals of paddleboards and jet skis; a fitness center offering yoga classes; kids craft programs and activities; outdoor movies; and a full-service spa.
The rooms are also exceptional, and include a number with views overlooking the gulf. Options include cozy standard rooms with two double beds; a handy wet bar area with sink, microwave, mini-fridge, toaster, and coffee maker; as well as an HDTV. Larger suites are also available that come with separate jet bathtubs and showers. A number of pet-friendly units are also available.
Address: 5500 Gulf Blvd, St. Pete Beach, Florida
Accommodation: TradeWinds Island Grand Resort
17 Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande
The wonderful Gasparilla Inn & Club is perfect for those looking to enjoy a quieter, traditional-Floridian vacation experience. This charming resort is more than 100 years old, and the quiet island after which it's named - Gasparilla Island - has managed to remain relatively untouched by the kind of resort development seen elsewhere in Florida. The guestrooms are charming affairs, each of the 63 elegantly appointed standard guestrooms are available with either a king or two queen beds.
There are also a number of spacious beach chalets, too. Perfect for larger families and groups, the largest of these luxurious properties is 3,850 square feet and consists of four-bedrooms, a large kitchen with modern appliances, plus dining and living rooms. These units also come with handy laundry rooms. On-site amenities include a heated outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a restaurant. Staff can also handle bike and watercraft rentals, as well as assist with booking adventures and experiences along the beautiful coastline, such as fishing. Golf and croquet are also offered.
Address: 500 Palm Ave, Boca Grande, Florida
Accommodation: Gasparilla Inn & Club