Summer may be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still grab a little R&R. Road trip!
BY LORI CAPULLO
If any state is ideal for a staycation, it’s Florida. Depending on how much time you’re willing to spend on the road, there are options sprinkled from north to south and east to west, and since “season” isn’t yet in full swing, there are deals to be had everywhere you look. We’ve organized some of our favorite options according to drive time — and each offers an experience guaranteed to revitalize and rejuvenate, whether you prefer to keep your body in motion or blissed out beneath the hands of a masterful masseuse.
Four hours or less
Personal service is key here, from the resident greeter in the opulent lobby to the handwritten note on your bed at night courtesy of the turndown team. Private poolside cabanas that you can rent by the day include fans, couch, HDTV, a mini-fridge and deck with lounge chair; there’s also a private white-sand beach with chairs, umbrellas, a fire pit that is set alight nightly and a lagoon-style, temperature-controlled swimming pool. Then there’s the spa — indulge in a guilt-free Ice Cream Pedicure and chill out by dipping your dogs in chocolate, vanilla or strawberry (or, for the indecisive, Neapolitan), savoring a sorbet-like sugar scrub, then basking in a marshmallow cream mask. “Summer Duets,” a special available Sundays-Thursdays, pair up services like massages and body polishes, priced between $99 and $199. 500 Mandalay Ave., Clearwater Beach, 800-724-1778, www.sandpearl.com.
The Shores Resort & Spa Daytona
The only Four Diamond Resort in Daytona, The Shores caters to Florida residents with year-round package offers that feature rock-bottom room rates, complimentary cocktails, assorted other perks — and perhaps best of all, discounted spa services. Whether it’s couples’ retreats, girls’ weekends — whatever you seek, they’ve got you covered. Combine treatments with other goodies, such as spa products and “SpaTinis,” for one super doable price, or, if you don’t want to put in a full day, pick just one treatment from the spa menu — like the Chocolate Raspberry Delight massage followed by a Peppermint Pedicure. Through the end of September, book any room at The Shores and get a free upgrade when available to an oceanview room. 2637 S. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach Shores, 386-760-3651 or toll-free 866-396-2217, www.shoresresort.com.
Under three hours
Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina
Benefiting from the Estero Island Beach Restoration Project, Pink Shell Resort’s beach is now five times wider than it was a year ago. Choose from a varied selection of accommodations, from Gulf-front suites to 1-bedroom villas to 2-bedroom beach villas with screened balconies. Pink Shell is an ideal choice for adventurers, who can paddle board, sail, sun, swim or sightsee via a WaveRunner tour, as well as landlubbers, who will appreciate the impressive Aquagëne Spa. The 6,000-square-foot facility has 12 treatment rooms, including a Couples Suite and a Eucalyptus Steam Room, plus monthly specials (at press time, that was $20 off any 50-minute treatment, as well as an Aquagëne Refresher Package, which includes multiple treatments for a discounted price). 275 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach, 888-222-7465,
Under two hours
Marco Island Marriott Resort & Spa
A jaunt west to Marco Island may conjure images of lolling about, listening to surf gently lapping ashore. But enter the sprawling, bustling Marco Island Marriott and that perception goes out the window. Here, take wave-running tours of the 10,000 Islands, parasail, hit the tennis courts or the golf course, shop for everything from beachwear to jewelry in the elegant on-site stores, and of course, do the spa thing. The facility is a true sanctuary, with its own pool, a fitness studio and a boutique stocked with robes and wraps, skin- and hair-care products and cosmetics, aromatherapy and books. Specials and packages are worth the price, especially Spa By Design — choose two 50-minute services for $230 — and Serenity at Sunrise or Sunset: book either a 50-minute Swedish massage or 50-minute Hydration Facial at 8 a.m. or 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and pay only $99. 400 South Collier Blvd., Marco Island, 239-394-2511, www.marcoislandmarriott.com.
The Moorings Village at Islamorada
When it’s a truly peaceful and unique experience you’re looking for, The Moorings Village Resort is where it’s at. Eighteen 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom cottages and homes dot the 18-acre former coconut plantation, located halfway between Miami and Key West. Lush foliage canopies the village, where the houses have their own individual driveways, porches and yards, fully stocked kitchens, dining and living rooms, and are all within a short walk of restaurants, ice cream shops and a local market, The Trading Post. The Island Body & Sol Spa may be diminutive, but it boasts an array of treatments that rivals any resort spa, including a beachside massage (swimsuit required), facials, hair “rituals,” body polishes and, of course, manis and pedis, plus there’s a natural organic and “green” spa-tique so you can take a piece of paradise home. 123 Beach Road, Islamorada, 305-664-4708, www.themooringsvillage.com.
Under an hour
Acqualina Resort & Spa
The tallest building on Sunny Isles Beach, and definitely one of the most beautiful, Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach is all about luxury: marble bathrooms, shampoo in glass bottles with stoppers, granite and stainless kitchens — you get the picture. Now they’re offering a 3-for-2 Suite Deal, allowing guests to experience this opulent retreat for an extra night gratis through Oct. 31. The deal: luxury oceanfront accommodations, complimentary Internet access, free access to the resort’s biology-inspired AquaMarine Children’s Program and a daily $40 body or facial spa treatment credit for up to two adults at Acqualina Spa by ESPA, the crème de la crème of spas. Rates start at $575 per night for an Oceanfront Room and range to $1,700 per night for a Deluxe Two-Bedroom Oceanfront Suite. 17875 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 305-918-8000, www.acqualinaresort.com.
Wherever you live in South Florida, a stay at the Mandarin Oriental Miami will make you feel you are continents away from the madness of South Beach and even nearby Downtown Miami. Sequestered on Brickell Key, the Asian-inspired oasis is renowned worldwide for its elegant décor, topnotch restaurants Café Sambal and Azul; and, naturally, its 5-star, 15,000-square-foot spa, which this year was awarded the Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award. Its celebrity following includes Eva Mendes, Penélope Cruz and even the Dalai Lama, who make the sojourn for the signature treatments administered in suites with sweeping views of Biscayne Bay; along with yoga, Pilates, belly dancing and tai chi classes. 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, 305-913-8288, www.mandarinoriental.com.
Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Check in, drop your bags, slip into your suit and hit the massive 8,000-square-foot lagoon pool — stopping at the al fresco bar for a frozen concoction on the way, natch. Claim a chaise and simply raise your flag when you want a refill or a snack. Once you get the urge to actually move again, jump on a wave runner, grab a kayak or just walk the private beach. And when you’re ready for total relaxation, make an appointment (or book a whole day) at The Spa at Harbor Beach, one of the main attractions here. Take care of business with treatments such as the MD Alpha Beta Peel Facial, ensuring you’ll return from your vacation looking better than when you left, or simply pamper and primp, with one of over a dozen massages offered, like the must-try Signature Tropical Tiki Bliss, where heated bamboo is rolled and glided over your body. Enough said. 3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale, 954-525-4000, www.marriottharborbeach.com.