Have been loyal guests A review of Hyatt Regency Sarasota
My husband and I stayed at the Hyatt Sarasota for one night the first week of December. We are extremely familiar with this hotel as we live just about an hour south of Sarasota and stay at this hotel anywhere from two to six times a year. Generally, we use this hotel for a one night stay when we attend a concert at the adjacent Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall or when spending an evening with friends or relatives in the area. I would guess that over the past 15 years we have stayed here at least 25 times.
Until the construction of the nearby Ritz Carlton, we would only stay at this hotel and considered it one of the best in Sarasota (if you weren't looking for the beach experience). In recent years, there have been extensive renovations at this hotel. The rooms have been refurbished, a large ballroom and adjacent meeting rooms have been constructed and the pool has been completely reconfigured. Having said that, there are problems the Hyatt won't be able to overcome without a teardown and complete reconstruction.
First, the location is excellent - near the concert venue, the GWhiz Children's Museum, not far from Selby Gardens and the spectacular Ringling Museum. Downtown Sarasota and its many shops and restaurants is a short drive, or, on a beautiful day, a leaisurely walk from the hotel. However, the beautiful views of Sarasota Bay have been obstructed in recent year by the comstruction of the Ritz Carlton and Residences and the adjacent Beau Ciel condominiums. Sarasota seems to be all about high rise construction these days and we fear that those treasured views of the bay will become less and less available.
The design of the hotel seems to be stuck in the '70's and '80's, which may ultimately prove to be insurmountable. Many rooms have balconies and we prefer those rooms. The lobby is small, though perfectly acceptable for the size of the hotel. We have always found the staff to be unfailingly welcoming and eager to please. The rooms are average for a business hotel. The bathrooms are a real throwback, though. There is only one sink outside the toilet/shower area and nice closet space in the hall inside the door to the room. However, the shower area is incredibly small and, as another TripAdvisor reader said, you almost have to swing your feet over the tub if you want to close the door to use the toilet. It's a design feature and unless the hotel would close for a complete gutting, I don't see how this problem can be fixed.
We love the location when we attend concerts just across the street at Van Wezel - valet the car after dinner and just meander 2 minutes over to the concert. We often would like a nightcap after the concert, and on this occasion, were disappointed to find the lobby bar closed. There is a bar in the Boathouse restaurant downstairs, situated on the marina, but that seems to be more of a sports bar than a place to enjoy a quiet drink. We've eaten at the Boathouse on many occasions and consider it to be more of a "fried grouper sandwich", waterview casual restaurant - something not we'd choose to patronize on a regular basis. On the Sunday night we stayed, Scalini, their more upscale restaurant, was closed for a wedding reception, so other than the Boathouse, there was nowhere to go in the Hyatt for food or drink.
For our usual concert/dinner nights in Sarasota, we always stay at the Hyatt. Although we have stayed at the Ritz on five or six occasions, for a bed, shower and quick breakfast the next morning we aren't willing to pay double the tariff to stay at the Ritz down the road. However, even this Hyatt in the Spring, our "season", can charge rates upwards of $400 a night. There is a small Starbucks "cart" in the lobby for breakfast as well as a breakfast buffet in Scalini's, though this particular morning there were very slim pickings for pastries at Starbucks.
Don't get me wrong - if you search the internet for good rates, the Hyatt is definitely a place I would stay. In fact, we will be staying there four more times in the next two months after attending concerts in Van Wezel. However, Sarasota is undergoing explosive growth and residents and visitors are demanding more and more highend stores, restaurants, hotels and services. We like the location, the employees are great, the recent renovations are a step in the right direction, but I wonder if they can survive given the increased competition.