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Fort Myers, Florida
The Romantic Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa, Fort Myers, Florida
Article by: Norm Goldman
Paintings by: Lily Azerad-Goldman
The word Punta Rassa means flat or razed point in Spanish, and to some observers gazing across from Sanibel Island, this private Floridian peninsula located minutes away from Fort Myers may have appeared ragged and ravelled before the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa was built sixteen years ago.
Part of the romance of a resort is its splendour and aesthetic pleasure, both key ingredients in qualifying a property as being romantic. Without doubt, both of these elements are quite apparent at the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa. However, another component to consider is the historical significance of the locale and who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago? This is something that goes a long way in helping couples experience a sense of escape and transformation into a bygone era.
In fact, the Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa has recently focused itself on restoring legends and creating memories. Punta Rassa is by no means short on centuries of history and lore dating back to the era of the Calusa Indians.
The Calusa Indians were the first to inhabit this corner of the world hundreds of years ago. Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon explored the area and tried to convert the Natives to Christianity. Juan was not a welcome guest or happy camper, and after being wounded by the Calusa in battle, he retreated to Cuba, where he eventually died.
During the 1800s' the area served as a cattle- shipping town, where cattle would be loaded onto ships destined for Cuba.
In 1869 the International Ocean Cable Company (later known as Western Union) established Punta Rassa as the Southern most end of the telegraph line. The telegraph operator at the time was George Schultz and he was probably instrumental in establishing the first of the hospitality properties to occupy this piece of real estate. For $1.50 a day Schultz and his wife fed the cowboys and permitted them to sleep on the floor at one end of the telegraph office during the cattle drives.
This eventually was an important influencing factor in the construction of the Tarpon House Inn that was ultimately recreated as the Sanibel Harbour Resort. No doubt, much has changed over the years, since the area welcomed such visitors as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and many more of the rich and famous, including warriors of the Civil War.
Today, the Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa's eighty- five acres set the perfect stage for weddings and romantic getaways, where couples can feel they are being emotionally and romantically swept away.
A stunning variety of lush flora surround you as you drive into the resort's entrance- way, as you are greeted with the music of chirping birds. You have the feeling of being secluded in some far away tropical island, and the enjoyment of nature is elevated to new heights.
Step out of your room for an early morning jog or late afternoon stroll to witness the magnificent beauty of the landscape, and you will catch wind of the undeniable romantic ambience that reigns here.
If you want to fill your days with more than just looking into your lover's eyes, there is quite a mix of activities just waiting to be experienced and without having to venture outside the resort's property. Everything you need is here. Something you would want to keep in mind when planning a destination wedding at the resort.
There is tennis on one of the seven fast-dry clay courts, fishing from the resort's pier, swimming in one of several pools including an indoor pool, kayaking and catamaran tours, full and half-day island hopping charters from the marina. You can even dine aboard the resort's 100-foot Sun Princess that is also available for shelling, wildlife and dolphin sightseeing, as well as fishing and private charters.
Of course you can lay low and indulge yourself experiencing the spa scene. There is a 40, 000-square fabulous Spa and Fitness Center containing quite a menu with twenty eight treatment rooms, saunas, massages, facials, wraps and scrubs, whirlpools, bio energetic transduction aide resonance bed (one of only 16 systems in the world offering relaxation through sound and music), aerobics room, indoor pool, Pilates, personal trainers, yoga, body composition and home programs.
Bear in mind that Sanibel Harbour Resort is a resort spa, where their customer service standards and philosophies are of the same outstanding quality as the front desk personnel or the concierge.
If you do decide to venture out, the resort serves as a ideal jumping off point to explore the islands of Sanibel and Captiva that are just minutes away from your front door. World renown for their shelling.
When grading a resort as being romantic or qualifying as a perfect setting for nuptial celebrations, my wife and I pay particular attention to the overall quality of service. Smiling, warm and attentive, but not a staff that is intrusive goes a long way in the enhancement of a romantic experience. It is here where the Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa excels.
After having been hit by Hurricane Charley in 2004, the resort miraculously was back in business, after a brief closure of five months, wherein not one of its employees was laid off. This clever and compassionate management decision no doubt contributes to the unbelievable devoted service on the part of their employees.
As an example, it did not take long for, Meghan, serving in the dining room of the Tarpon House, to fetch Chef Vincent N. Savignano, when we commented on his fantastic culinary abilities.
Before we knew it he was conversing with us and even surprisingly giving my wife, Lily, his secrets as to how he prepared the Applewood Fired Mahi-Mahi with pineapple soy and steamed bok choy. Oh yes- it was scrumptious!
It is little wonder that the resort merits being a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and the recipient of the Triple A Four Diamond award, as well as many other accolades.
As for the accommodations, the resort, fresh from its million of dollars in renovations, houses the new Grande Bay at Sanibel consisting of one hundred and seven rooms and nineteen suites. We had the good fortune in staying in one of the rooms where intimacy, comfort and luxury are a given, not to mention the fantastic balcony with waterfront views, as well as spacious bathrooms and lavish furnishings and amenities.
In addition to the Grande Bay, there is the resort's main octagonal pavilion, complete with cupola that his home to its reception area, meeting rooms and restaurants, as well as two hundred and forty rooms. You can also rent one of the fifty- two condos that exist in another section of the complex.
All rooms are extremely inviting, no matter where located, well furnished with a distinctive Floridian ambience.
The Sanibel Harbour Resort & Inn is bursting with all kinds of available options to celebrate the exchanging of marriage vows.
The difficult part is deciding which ones to choose. It is helpful to bear in mind the size of your wedding party and your budget.
You can choose the 100 foot luxury Sanibel Harbour Princess yacht that accommodates approximately 85 persons, or one of the areas around the resort such as the fishing pier, beach, pool area, verandas, or perhaps even Sanibel or Captiva, returning to the resort for the reception.
Those who appreciate authentic Floridian hospitality, and décor akin to a stately plantation home with a distinct romantic flavor, will not be disappointed with the Sanibel Harbour & Spa.
Sanibel Harbour Resort & Spa
17260 Harbour Pointe Drive
Fort Myers, Florida