By Chef Judi Gallagher
It won’t be long before the chill of late autumn and winter remind northerners to start planning their escape to the sunshine state of Florida. When investigating Gulf of Mexico getaways, do consider the new Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa.
Set in an idyllic waterside locale, balanced between the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the picturesque Intracoastal Waterway, this casually elegant Clearwater hotel and resort is characterized by a contemporary West Indies style.
It is not often that I long for a rainy weekend to stay inside a hotel, but my husband and I actually welcomed the stormy weather during our recent visit. The hotel is offers the ultimate in relaxation opportunities with comfortable sitting areas, a great bar for sipping an afternoon mojito (views of the Gulf of Mexico included), the Shor restaurant, focusing on a farm-to-table menu and a luxury spa offering a wide array of pampering treatments.
There are packages for men, women and expectant moms, all geared to reestablish your spiritual and emotional balance through your choice of energy or relaxation massages, facials and body wraps. Bring a book and sip green tea and homemade lemon bars in between your treatments. I chose the oxygen facial (rumor has it that Madonna owns one of these specialty machines of her own) is almost like an instant lift, smoothing the creases around eyes and on forehead.
A fun half-day trip is yours when you jump on the Jolly Trolley, which winds its way all the way to St. Petersburg Beach. Or plan a day trip up to Tarpon Springs to enjoy the Greek culture and cuisine, shopping and a look at the natural sponges that made this town famous in the early days of Florida’s history.
If your preference is to stay right where you are for a few days, reserve a private cabana on the fringe of the gracious swimming pool – it’s the perfect expression of vacation-indulgence, even climate controlled inside. These Hyatt climate-controlled cabanas are equipped with wireless internet access and a high definition flat-screen television. So convenient for checking the Food Network or pick up the latest sports scores.
Since every room is a suite with a full kitchen, I recommend bringing cheese and fruit and a few bottles of champagne to enjoy in the afternoons on your private balcony before heading downstairs to Shor, the resort’s American Seafood Grill. The menu is simple and the food is simply delicious. Chef invites each guest to select the preparation and sauces that accompany fresh seafood. Or opt for an incredible melt-in-your mouth steak. Not every hotel restaurant grabs my attention and taste buds for repeat visits, but Shor gets it right under the culinary talents of Chef Brad Gillespie and with limited creative dining options nearby, I recommend reservations both nights of a weekend getaway.
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa
301 South Gulfview Blvd.
Clearwater, Florida Tel: 727 373 1234 Fax: 727 441 3672