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As I’ve mentioned in my Monday post, after stay-at-home order for most of Florida was lifted, my family enjoyed a short getaway in Siesta Key. If you have strong negative feelings about my decision and want to share them, your comments are absolutely welcome. I only ask you to leave them on that particular post.
This write-up is meant for those who are thinking about going somewhere this summer and who like the idea of a beach vacation. Siesta Key is easily accessible by car from anywhere on the east coast, and is a far more laid-back cousin of Clearwater beach. Do keep an eye on current 14-day quarantine restrictions for residents of several virus hotspots, so you are not surprised at the state border.
I’ll also give advice on other low-key destinations in my state at the end of the post. It goes without saying that no one should make possibly life-or-death decisions based on the actions of an internet blogger.
So, I encourage you to give it some thought and decide if you are comfortable with the risk (however small) of potentially infecting your family with Covid-19. While limiting human interactions for the foreseeable future is obviously the goal, it will be almost impossible to eliminate them 100% in a popular beach town. As they say, viewer discretion is advised.
With that out of the way, let’s get to my review which was not compensated by the resort.
Why and how I booked this place
I’ve never heard of Tropical Breeze Resort before, and the only reason it caught my eye was the stash of Expedia points. For those unfamiliar, Expedia points (issued by Citi) can be redeemed towards VIP-designated properties at 1.4 cents apiece. And this resort happens to be a VIP property. Just don’t get too excited, it doesn’t mean a whole lot.
I’m sure VIP properties pay Expedia a higher rate of commission, hence the special status. BTW, I was supposed to get a bottle of wine and a $10 gift card as one of the exclusive benefits. Never happened. I inquired, but the resort rep had no clue what I was talking about, and I didn’t bother to follow up. Getting worked up over some cheap wine and a $10 gift card while on vacation is downright ridiculous.
Anyway, I looked and a two-bedroom unit in this place was going for less than $200 per night. Yes, there was a dreadful resort fee of $34, but I thought it was still a great deal. The property happens to be in a prime location, very close to one of the best beaches in the country (Siesta Key).
The total was 31k Expedia points for two nights, plus $68 (payable directly to the property at check-in). I was happy with that deal. I made sure to pay $5 of the Expedia bill with Chase Sapphire Reserve in order to have travel insurance on the booking.
The reason we got a two-bedroom unit was because my MIL and husband’s sister wanted to join us. A one-bedroom apartment would have been $60 per night cheaper. I plugged in random dates during the week, and found these rates on June 2-5th:
Obviously, this isn’t as good of a deal as what I got, probably because we went when the state just started opening up. This resort is bookable via Chase, and if you have Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will get 1.5 cents per point:
A very odd “resort” indeed
Before I get into the review of the unit, let me address the strange layout of the property. It’s obvious that everyone and their brother in the lodging industry calls themselves a resort these days. That doesn’t always make it one.
So, what happened here was the development company basically bought out several streets in the neighborhood. You have houses, apartments, and even a small motel thrown in for good measure.
It’s extremely confusing, to say the least. I took a photo of the map to give you an idea. Every apartment unit is one of a kind. They also have several pools+hot tub scattered throughout the neighborhood. We only used one, which I will briefly review later.
However, it makes for a great option if you feel uneasy staying in a hotel that has a lobby, an elevator and many other potential vectors of infection. Here, everyone has their own space which is accessible from the outside. There is a row of parking spaces, designated for guests only. You unload your stuff and drag them to your unit yourself. No valets here, amigo.
I liked the fact that they let you check in over the phone and give you an access code. It’s very much like AirBnB, only you have support system in place in case things go wrong. You text the front desk if you need towels, and they leave them by your door within an hour or so. Otherwise, you don’t have to interact with resort personnel if you don’t want to.
Review of the unit
After going through a winding courtyard full of beautiful flowers, we saw our rental. Apparently, we got a two-bedroom apartment on the second floor (not mentioned on Expedia). Thankfully, none of us have mobility issues.
I loved the fact that there was a neat patio set next to the apartment, and we used it a few times to eat lunch.
The whole place has an old-Florida feel to it, something I really appreciated. In an era of high-rises, it’s nice to enjoy a laid-back charm now and again.
The living room had a set of bunks and a sleeper sofa that could be turned into a queen-size hard-as-a-rock bed:
There was a large table to accommodate your whole family:
A full kitchen with a dishwasher:
And two bedrooms with a king bed in each one:
No blackout shades, but that’s typical in Florida. The description actually said one bedroom has a full bed, which is incorrect. In fact, the photos on Expedia also didn’t match. Overall, it was a very comfortable rental that had everything we needed. It looked very neat, and I also cleaned everything with Lysol wipes.
Now, on to some bad news. My sister-in-law found some sand in her sheets. Honestly, this has happened to me so many times, I pretty much expect it. I called the front desk and requested two sets of sheets. I figured if the housekeeper didn’t change them on one bed, she/he would not bother with the other bed either. The front desk person was apologetic, and two clean sets of sheets were dropped off by the door within thirty minutes.
This is my biggest complaint about the property. If you choose to stay here, I recommend requesting a set of clean sheets right off the bat. Otherwise, bring your own. It’s honestly the only way you will know they are clean with 100% certainty. I realize this is a deal-breaker for some. I assure you, if you’ve stayed in hotels, you have slept on dirty sheets before. Trust me. Anyway, just something to be aware of with this property, that’s all.
This wasn’t a fancy unit by any means, but it was perfectly comfortable. There is a shopping area within a short walking distance, so we ordered a pizza takeout on one of the evenings. There is a laundry room located by the pool, though we didn’t use it.
There was a pool close to our unit, so that’s where I took the kids. It’s located in the “motel” part of the resort:
The pool was heated and my kids had a lot of fun playing in the water. There was only one family there and needless to say, the children did not adhere to social distancing rules. If you don’t feel comfortable with the idea of mingling with even a few strangers, I suggest simply not telling your kids about the pool.
It’s not visible from the street, so they won’t know what they are missing. Alternatively, just wait until it’s empty. I actually do regret taking the kids to the pool. It was limited exposure, but still. This is one area where I’ve slipped with the whole social distancing challenge on this particular trip.
This is the whole reason to stay here, no question about it. I timed it, and it took about 90 seconds to reach the beach after leaving the apartment. You do have to cross a small street, but there is very little traffic in this part of town, since parking is reserved for resort guests only.
The beach is absolutely spectacular. Gentle waves, clear water and powdery sand. Seriously, very few beaches can compare to Siesta Key. I’m a beach snob, so take my word for it.
The best time to avoid the crowds is on a weekday, because then you are not competing with locals.
Sunsets are popular, so it’s a bit harder to maintain distance from others (but not impossible).
It’s just a gorgeous beach…
This “resort” won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I really liked it. In fact, my husband loved it and asked to go back. And he rarely gets excited about hotels I pick. All in all, I give it thumbs up, with the caveat of not expecting too much.
It’s a mom-and-pop operation, where not everything will be perfect and where sheets may or may not get changed. Also, if you are coveting that free wine promised by Expedia VIP program, ain’t gonna happen. Just buy your own while getting groceries. Boom.
If you are looking for other low-key beach destinations in Florida, I highly recommend Sanibel and Captiva islands. They are actually a bit more laid back than Siesta Key. If you are looking to burn Expedia points, there are a few VIP properties there too, though I haven’t stayed in any of them yet. Normally, I would recommend Florida Keys, but they are currently closed to visitors. I have no clue when they will re-open.
Overall, I do believe Siesta Key is a good option for families, especially if you avoid holidays and come during the week. I can’t guarantee that you won’t come across other people. For that you will obviously be better off booking a cabin in the woods. IMO this particular resort is a good alternative to a multi-story beach hotel if you want to decrease human interaction. Will you avoid it completely? Well, no.
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.