With only a few weeks left of summer break and the uncertainty of the new school year looming, I felt the ocean calling my name.
As a beach girl, my soul was craving the ocean, the sound of the waves hitting the beach and the sight of seagulls running along the shore and pelicans gliding on the breeze. But I wanted to go to a controlled environment not too far away. TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach was the perfect getaway.
Only an hour from my house in New Tampa, TradeWinds offers two resort choices in one, Island Grand and the RumFish Beach Resort, located on 31 acres right on the Gulf of Mexico. And with seven pools and 10 restaurants to choose from, I felt there was plenty of room to be outdoors while keeping a social distance. My stay by the ocean with my son Zack would clear my head and restore my senses after months of craziness happening in the world.
We stayed at RumFish, which has been totally redesigned and the rooms recently renovated. The welcoming atmosphere relaxed me as soon as we entered the hotel, even though everyone was wearing masks.
Our room was a Gulf Front Suite with a balcony overlooking the pool and a direct view of the beach. With two double beds in one room and a living room set up in the other, we had plenty of space, and a kitchenette equipped with refrigerator, microwave and dishes separated the two rooms.
The blue TradeWinds beach bag on the bed was a nice surprise. It was filled with two plush green and pink beach towels and emblazoned with the perfect sentiment for a weekend getaway: the resort’s slogan, “Just let go…”.
Zack and I changed into swim clothes and proceeded to check out the resort and the amenities at the two hotels. Some of the activities were not open due to the coronavirus — the floating ocean water park, the nighttime fire pit and ’smores — but that didn’t stop us from having fun.
The first afternoon we explored the paddleboats and worked up quite a sweat. After perusing all seven pools we decided that the one at RumFish was the best for social distancing and views of the beach. I was so hot I jumped right into the pool and spent the rest of the day hanging out there.
There were many seating and lounging areas to choose from: blue lounge chairs, hammocks, tables with chairs, and groupings of couches with green cushions around individual fire tables for nighttime use.
The Gulfside Grill, located on the ground floor of RumFish, accommodated our pool as well as the adult pool on the other side of the hotel. Each morning we would order breakfast, coffee and chocolate milk in the Gulfside Grill, then take it outside to eat at one of the poolside tables.
We stayed safe: Walking around the hotel, we wore our masks; we didn’t go into an elevator with more than a couple of people; and we opted to eat outside.
The SandBar at the Sandbox Beach Lounge by the pool is where I would order lunch and a mid-day cocktail before heading back out to the beach. My son loved the food.
We reserved a complimentary private cabana for two with lounge chairs and a bright blue cover to shade us from the sun. It was a wonderful way to be on the beach, have our own space and not be on top of anyone, with miles of open ocean, sandy beach and salty breezes.
Zack also paid more than a few visits to the High Tide Slide, a three-story, 200-foot inflatable slide with four lanes for racing. It’s set up in front of the Island Grand and kids can ride it as often as they like.
I spent my days floating in the gulf, enjoying nature, looking for shells and watching jet skis, boats, parasailors and banana boats speed across the water. By late afternoon Zack and I were ready to pack up and head over to the pool until dinnertime.
There are several great restaurants in the vicinity, including The RumFish Grill at our hotel. I’d heard rave reviews and was looking forward to trying it Thursday evening.
On Tuesday we ate at 1200 Chophouse, a short walk south of TradeWinds on Gulf Boulevard. There was a wait due to limited table space, but it wasn’t too long before we were able to enjoy a wonderful dinner of steak, potatoes, salad, which I accompanied with a glass of Uppercut Cabernet.
On Wednesday night, we were able to walk right into Snapper’s Sea Grill, which is located across the boulevard from RumFish. We had a lovely dinner savoring their large sea scallops risotto, and I had a glass of Lola Chardonnay from Sonoma County.
Thursday evening was our night for RumFish Grill. We made reservations for 7:30, and they had an amazing table ready for us in front of the 33,500-gallon aquarium, which lines the whole back wall. The restaurant is decorated throughout in a bright under-the-sea motif.
With incredible fish of all shapes, sizes and colors swimming in the tank next to us, we sampled some of the restaurant’s seafood delicacies, including steamed mussels and Cedar Key clams (with chorizo, pickled onion, sherry and Spanish olive oil) and Florida snapper ceviche. Zack ordered grouper nuggets with fries as his main course and I had the spiced blue crab bisque with a glass of Kendall Jackson Chardonnay.
When we left on Friday morning we felt rested, relaxed and totally restored from our few days away at the beach.
TradeWinds Islands Resorts, 5500 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, FL, tradewindsresort.com.