On the surface, a recent stay at the fantabulous Hotel Indigo in Sarasota, Florida is contrary to the oft-repeated philosophy of the Inn Credible New England section of this site. This tenet states that spending the money on a luxury trip close to home is preferable to incurring the cost and the aggravation of air travel to go further away.
EVERYONE at the Indigo reflects a larger truth. People who live in nice climates are happier, and it shows. The all-star team begins with the Indigo Girls team of General Manager Melody Odell and Assistant Manager Sandra Hyland. They also have world-class Executive Chef Sol Shenker (much more about him later), very hip and equally friendly (he laughs at all my jokes) desk clerk Chevy, "and the rest."
You will not want to check out or leave. Don the shuttle driver repeatedly offered to turn back on bringing us to the airport for our flight home.
The Indigo-inspired revised credo is to leave yourself open to flying to a vacation destination that more than offsets the pain of getting there. Relevant experience includes the flight to Sarasota involving sitting next to a young mother with very bony elbows that kept poking me and inadvertently changing the channel on my in-flight entertainment system.
My beloved beats headphones (thanks again, Apple) drowned out her screaming infant but did not help with my being a regular victim of baby kicks. This inspired a tweet advocating allowing service dingoes on planes.
The Indigo is worth enduring this and so much more; it is the Barbara Eden of hotels in that it provides a paradise, offers genie-level wish anticipation and granting, and honors the few requests that it reasonably cannot anticipate. This is not to mention the luxurious Aveda amenities.
The experience begins with the aforementioned sparkling shuttle, which you must pre-arrange, waiting at the regional (and equally clean) Sarasota airport. The congenial driver keeps you entertained and provides helpful information on the 15-minute trip to the hotel. The shuttle also provides service to local attractions that include The Ringling museum (article soon), the upscale shopping and dining at St. Armand's Circle, and the beach. You also can borrow bicycles.
Chevy or one of his peers also makes you feel like a welcome family member on arriving in the well-decorated but intimate lobby. This area offers over-sized chairs that will inspire you to sit in them and say "My name is Edith Ann, and I'm five-years old."
The wow factor alone supports following the Inn Credible New England philosophy of splurging for upgraded accommodations. It is a relatively minor additional expense and indescribably enhances the stay.
The ecstasy without a trace of agony begins with walking into the moderate-sized entry with the granite-topped and well-appointed bathroom to the side. Having ample counter space and a large shower with soap dishes that are out of the line of fire of the shower head check off two more Matt Nelson desired items.
This leads into the roomy living area complete with a large pull-out sleep-sofa and an armchair. It looks as if you can get clear passage even with the bed extended.
This leads to the comfy king-sized bed. Again, there is plenty of room for clear passage,
As shown below, the entire accommodation is decorated in Florida chic with painted white furniture and pastel blue and green decor.
The wish anticipation extends beyond the aforementioned amenities including a bottle of mouthwash. I was set to run the white-noise app. on my iPad when I saw a card offering the loan of a white-noise machine and ear plugs as well as anything else that I need; the bathroom has a similar card regarding forgotten toiletries.
The hotel staff would have happily brought up the white-noise machine, but I went to the front desk to save them the trouble. I also requested body lotion, which was the best in the Aveda line, but spared Chevy the "it rubs the lotion on the skin or it gets the hose again" joke.
The white-noise machine worked well but was unnecessary. The room is astonishingly sound-proof, and provided a restful sleep every night. The feeling of wonderful isolation extends to being surprised on the Sunday morning of our stay that the hotel was fully booked the previous night. The "Quiet Zone" signs in the hall and housekeeping not starting until a reasonable hour likely help. Even then, the cleaners are amazingly quiet.
Eating at the H20 restaurant is a must. The $15 breakfast buffet is far from the continental breakfast at the Comfort Inn and is very tasty. The range of savory-to-sweet includes a omelet station, frittatas, French toast, make-your-own-waffles, pastry, cereal (yeah, I ate the Froot Loops), bagels, bacon, sausage, and potatoes.
The H20 dinner menu is a primary topic of an upcoming article on the restaurant. A spoiler is that celebrity chef Shenker has an incredible custom-made cooking system that he travels all over teaching hash-slingers that cannot compare to him. He additionally has a perfect instinct for seasoning and takes well-deserved pride in his work.
These sincere accolades are independent of Shenker naming the espresso cheesecake the Matt Nelson. A related note is that all of his cheesecakes are phenomenal; eating his will make you not want to eat any others. I know that I will break down and pay the $75 or so to have a Matt Nelson or other cake shipped to me at some point.
The more general level is that the Indigo also follows the rule of location, location, location. This Arts District property is in such a tranquil setting that one would never guess that the airport is 15 minutes away. One regret is that is that poor planning prevented getting tickets for a performance at the nearby Opera House, cabaret, stage theaters, or art-house movie theaters. This is not to mention Carol Burnett appearing at the venue down the road.
It is hoped that a trip to the 2020 Sarasota Film Festival will work out; if so, your not-so-humble reviewer will be most glad to talk all things film during breakfast and dinner; any move on my cheesecake will be cause for banishment. :-)
The immediate area also has an above-average Starbucks, terrific Whole Foods, and a few local shops and restaurants. The more developed "Five Corners" is a leisurely 15-minute stroll (not allowing for stopping to pet the herds of friendly small dogs). That neighborhood has a larger concentration of restaurants and stores.
The bottom line is that there is no cause for having reservations about making them at the Indigo, Things could not have been better, a discouraging word was never heard, and the skies were not cloudy all day.