Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ringling, Food and More Massage in Longboat Key

I enjoyed a room service order of Vanilla Pancakes with bananas and Greek yogurt, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed that my second day at The Resort at Longboat Key was going to be rained out.

My schedule included time on the beach and in the pool, as well as tours of the extensive golf and tennis facilities. That had to be scratched, but my friend Lynn and I still scraped out a wonderful day.

We took our time getting ready in the morning and were happily surprised when the hotel once again sent two masseuses to our room. The massage was as good as it had been previously – even though it wasn’t the sunshine covered beach I was looking at from outside my window.

After the massage we headed back to the Sands Pointe restaurant for another memorable lunch. I had the Cobb Salad, while Lynn went for the tenders and mango salad, which was as good as it was the day before.

The hotel provided us with transportation to The Ringling. I have to confess that I was not overly anxious to go. I don’t have anything against the circus, I actually love it, but spending an entire afternoon at a circus museum? I couldn’t see it.

I was certainly wrong about this huge estate. John and Mabel Ringling were huge supporters of the Sarasota area and left quite a complex for the public, which has been run by Florida State University since 2000.

The Ringling consists of a Museum of Art, Circus Museum, Ca' D'zan, Asolo Theater, Art Library and the Bayfront Gardens. There is a (thankfully covered) tram that takes you around through the estate.

We started in C’Dzan, the 56 room, 36,000 square foot mansion John and Mabel Ringling hired New York architect Dwight James Baum to build.

In addition to being an architectural masterpiece, it was filled with original furnishings and even clothing from its owners. Each room appeared to outdo the previous. Even through the rain, we could remark at the view from the deck of Sarasota and its keys.


The Museum of Art was equally impressive and we couldn’t begin to put a price on the paintings in those rooms. I also enjoyed the Circus Museum, where we saw a film on John Ringling, whom I knew little about. (The story is definitely worth checking out.)

We headed back to the room in time to get dressed for our dinner at Portofino, a fine dining Italian restaurant at the Lido Key Resort. We were met there by Nancy Thielman, the spa manager for the resort’s new Island House Spa, which I was disappointed to find out was opening just after our visit. Also joining us for dinner was Sandra Rios, Director of Communications for Resort at Longboat Key Club.

Sandra and Nancy told us about the upcoming Island Spa House (sounded incredible) and the loyal residents and guests who return to Longboat Key each year. Ironically, some of them came over to say hello while we were eating and told us we have to come back and enjoy this place when the weather is better.

The dinner progressed from one fantastic course to the next. We shared the Portofino Flatbread, with sundried tomatoes, goat cheese and spinach in a balsamic dressing that I’m going to have to figure out how to duplicate at home. Next there was a tasty spaghetti squash appetizer that had tomatoes and mozzarella covering it.

I had the Pasta Bolognese, with tender meat and al dente pasta, while Lynn said the Linguine in Clam Sauce was as good as it gets.

We got an assortment of dessert with our cappuccinos, but the winner was definitely the Semi Freddo Cioccolatta e Nocciola, a chocolate-hazelnut semifreddo with crushed amaretti cookies and toasted hazelnuts in a raspberry coulis. I thought it tasted like a frozen Rocher chocolate.

While the weather didn’t cooperate for us to fully enjoy the resort, the experience in Sarasota, Lido, Siesta and Longboat Keys was enough to let me know it’s a place I want to return to. 


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