My husband and I decided to take a weekend trip to the beach. It’s one of the best parts about living in central Florida, right? Choose your coast, choose a city & go! We had narrowed it down to Longboat Key on the Gulf side but didn’t know where to stay without going over budget. With a little research and booking.com, we ended up at the beautiful Zota Beach Resort. It was luxurious and because the resort has its own private stretch of beach, it was pretty peaceful. It was the perfect weekend getaway.
Opened in June of 2017, Zota is part of the Opal Collection, a premier line of luxury hotels and resorts, located in the best destinations from Bar Harbor, Maine to the southernmost tip of Key West, Florida. The name is inspired by the indigenous name for Sarasota, Zara Zota. Early Spanish explorers thought the white beaches looked like the Sahara, called Zara. Zota means blue waters, so Sahara by the blue waters is Zara Zota eventually becoming Sarasota.
Zota Beach Resort consists of 2 towers separated by an infinity edge pool, outside bar and a private beach. The south tower is new construction, with balconies at a 45 degree angle facing the gulf. The north tower was a former Hilton. In July of 2014, the building was taken down to the bones and rebuilt into Zota with views of the pool and 10 rooms facing the gulf. There is a price difference between the 2 towers, however, you get the same amenities.
Let’s talk about the rooms! Beautiful! They are peaceful, with walls the color of the ocean. The balcony overlooking the pool and gulf was the best spot to enjoy the glass of bubbly offered to us at check in. Rooms come with a small fridge, coffee maker and large, luxurious bathroom. Bed is super comfy, too.
The private beach is what you would expect, white powdery sand & crystal clear water. Zota offers luxury beds & umbrellas to rent as well as lounge chairs. You can also rent kayaks and paddleboards for the afternoon. The pool area is lined with 120 chairs, a poolside food & drink service, an oversized game of chess, 3 hammocks and a jacuzzi pool that fits 25. They offer 8 “Zen Lounges” to rent poolside that come with a refrigerator and complimentary fruit plate inside, a safe, tv, couches and a ceiling fan to keep you cool. We decided to stay in one for the afternoon and loved it. We ordered pina coladas and snacks and spent the afternoon doing absolutely nothing. I think I fell asleep, I can’t even tell you the last time I took an afternoon nap!
Zota offers 24/7 access to a fitness area with luxury equipment. The view overlooks the pool and gulf, so you can remember that you’re on vacation and that you should stop working out! I’m kidding, but seriously, the view is killer.
I spoke with Roy Padgett, General Manager at Zota. Roy has been working with the Opal Collection of properties since 2002. He started at the Longboat location about one year before they opened to oversee construction and to get the resort up and moving.
I asked Roy why someone should choose Zota. “It’s beautiful! If you want a quiet time at the beach, without a lot of people around, Longboat Key is the place to go. We are a perfect resort to relax at.”
Roy walked us around and talked about some of the amenities. The resort is modern, with lots of glass so you have beautiful views everywhere, water features throughout the lobby and pool area and a relaxing turquoise color throughout. Inside, you’ll find a business center, ATM, a facility to rent for parties or wedding receptions and a restaurant called, Viento.
We decided to stay at the hotel for dinner and sat outside, overlooking the pool and gulf. The sun was setting, the breeze was blowing and the food was so delicious. I started with the Handshaken Coconut Daiquiri a drink made of coconut rum, lime, agave with toasted coconut on the rim. Delicious! The perfect tropical drink for a sunset at the beach. For dinner I had the Lobster Ravioli made with sauteed spinach, roasted tomatoes and sherry butter. My husband ordered the Grilled Filet with truffle mashed potatoes, carrots and barolo jus. Both dishes were decadent, and absolutely worth every calorie. We finished with creme brulee decorated with tiny flowers, like everything else that night, it was delicious.
I asked Roy when the best time of the year to come out for a quick weekend vacation. “Anytime in the summer, avoid the holidays and spring break. After Easter the rates go down.” With St. Armand’s Circle only a few miles away, it’s definitely easy to make a long weekend of it.
I’m so glad we ended up at Zota. Not only was everything beautiful, but it was the little things that made our stay feel so special. We were offered prosecco at check in, they have fruit water ready for you in the lobby at any moment, they serve freshly baked cookies in the afternoon, and the employees were so kind and made us feel like we were the only people at the resort.
We will definitely be going back!
4711 GULF OF MEXICO DRIVE, LONGBOAT KEY, FLORIDA 34228
LOCAL 941.383.2451 RESERVATIONS 855.335.1102