Trade Winds Beach Resort
Deciding where to go on vacation seems a relatively easy task. That is, unless you’re planning for two families. This year we decided to vacation with some close friends on one of Florida’s many beaches. Beaches are Florida’s calling card, and the sound was loud and clear. The only challenge was deciding which beach we would choose for this year’s vacation.
We immediately discarded the idea of vacationing at Panama City Beach. We had been to PC so many times that we needed something more refreshing. So we decided to stay away from the “strip.” We toyed with the idea of going to Destin, but that idea quickly fizzled out. Time was steadily dwindling, and our scheduled time away from work was quickly approaching. We needed to make a decision fast.
After all the planning and deliberating, we found ourselves headed for St. Petersburg. (St. Petersburg! Is that not where everyone goes to retire?) With two children in tow, ages 11 and 13, how could we possibly have fun there? Despite our skepticism, we made our reservations at a Trade Winds Resort on St. Pete Beach.
Trade Winds Island Resorts, located on the Gulf, consists of three resorts that are a mere hop, skip and jump away from each other on the island. We chose the Island Grand; and grand it was! However, no matter which resort you and your family finally choose, you can sample the amenities of all three. With seventeen dining and entertainment venues, ten swimming pools (including indoor and adults only), fitness centers, and endless children and family activities, Trade Winds has something for everyone. There is even a resort mascot named Beaker, an adorable purple toucan, who will entertain your children in a variety of ways.
The resort has a multitude of programs provided through the “KONK Club,” whose motto is “Kids Only, No Kidding.” The programs are specifically designed to help your children make new friends, and give parents some quality time alone. The kids enjoyed activities such as Jewelry Creations, Sand Dollar Art, and Kite Kreation. And, if you’re worried about activities geared towards pre-teens and teens, worry no more. They can also be involved in the island life as they enjoy mini golf, arcade Olympics, laser tag and bowling.
There are also recreational activities for the entire family to enjoy, such as aerobics, snorkeling and watching for dolphins and turtles, to name a few. Just picture yourself drifting through the beautiful blue waterway on a romantic gondola ride. If gondolas aren’t your thing, try a paddleboat, and watch the swans, ducks and egrets that grace the waterway. You can even take a stroll through one of the resort courtyards, which are rich with tropical vegetation.
Not long after we had arrived, we found ourselves surrendering to the warm, friendly and courteous service provided by the staff (with only a couple of exceptions). “Turn down” service was offered every night, adding to the leisurely, casual atmosphere. We were lucky to have a suite with two balconies that provided a humbling view of the Gulf. The fresh island breezes brought the alluring scent of tropical coolers, salty beaches and lazily packed picnics. We were in vacation wonderland.
We started each day by reading the complimentary paper while we ate breakfast. Then we would head to the tennis courts to play a friendly game before heading back to the room to prepare for the beach. Every day, the sandy white beaches beckoned us to come and enjoy the beautiful blue waves that were decorated by white crests and hovering seagulls. I had heard that the area enjoys more sunshine than Honolulu. (We missed that boat!) It was either rainy or overcast all but one day of our stay. We did not mind. We were having one of our best vacations ever.
We collected seashells from the beach during the day, and at night, Loggerhead sea turtles deposited their eggs on the beach. They are known to deposit up to 120 eggs in a two to three foot hole. The turtles’ nesting season is between May 1 and August 31, and the hatchlings can be found on the beach from July 1 to October 31. Unfortunately, we were not able to witness this awesome sight. Our days were filled with activities and our nights were calm and relaxing. There was no sign of the hustle and bustle found at many beach areas.
Shopping is a must while on vacation. A few miles form the resort are unique shops and eateries at John’s Pass Village in Madeira Beach. These exclusive shops offered a variety of souvenirs to take home as a special reminder of our vacation. A visit to Busch Gardens requires about a 35 minute drive, while Disney World and Universal Studios are a mere 90 minute drive.
If you are longing for the perfect getaway, one that the whole family will enjoy, you owe it to yourself and to your family to check out this vacation spot. St. Pete offers so many things to see and do, and Trade Winds Resorts will see to it that you enjoy every single minute. —By Mary Hartley