Azure pools match the Gulf of Mexico.

A trade wind is a cooling and pleasant zephyr that blows constantly, which defines my stay at the TradeWinds Island Resorts on St. Pete Beach.  Everything moved constantly in the right direction — the direction of perfection.

I have lived in the Caribbean, home of resorts where everything is situated in one place and you don't have to leave the property; it was a sad surprise to find the lack of such all-inclusive resorts on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida.  There is a sprinkling of resorts found along this prettiest of the Gulf of Mexico beaches and every now and then the wind will blow in my direction and things go just right. The TradeWinds Island Resort has set the gold standard for resort on St. Pete Beach.




Welcome to The Tradewinds.

Although signs and fountains announce their locations, their view from the road is a bit hidden and do not do justice to the two sister resorts - The TradeWinds Island Grand and The TradeWinds Sandpiper.

There are a plethora of hotels and condos in this area but all-inclusive resorts are a rarity. Another rarity is an affordable room rate because all-inclusives behold top-notch amenities and service. A holiday at the TradeWinds means that you get two resorts in one. Both offer different experiences; you can sleep at one resort and hop back and forth to the other.

The TradeWinds Island Grand exudes casual luxury from the moment she greeted me. Dressed in the fashion of tropical and traditional styling, she is relaxed yet crisp, enticingly busy yet comforting and enjoyable all at once. Planted smack dab on sugar white sandy St. Pete Beach she has developed into her own island oasis.




Enjoy a sweet suite with ocean view balcony.

From my sweet suite, the Gulf of Mexico sparkled and beckoned me to throw open the glass doors and step on to her balcony for a quick look-see or a long sit-down to be refreshed with trade winds. Yet the suite's amenities, such as the fully-stocked mini bar, yells for me just as intensely as the warm trade winds that win me over.




Paddleboat the resort waterways.

A deep blue tropical waterway meanders lazily around the resort. Crisp, white magical swans and native Florida waterfowl roam freely while Japanese Koi draw the attention of resort guests as they wind along the waterway's path on paddle boats.

My attention suddenly zooms in on one single hammock. One relaxing hammock. My trance is broken as I spot Spot and Fido running along the dog walk area which weaves its way along the beachfront sand dunes, the waterways, and straight to the snooze-time hammock. Obviously pets are extremely welcomed and pampered here. They have their own pet-only room service menu. Culinary creations for canines and cats include Mutt Meat Loaf, Fido Fajitas, gourmet cat food, and special treat packs. If pets get the royal treatment that means I get the royal treatment.  Time to check out the beachside as I change from street wear to resort wear.




The Grand Palm Colonnade.

The TradeWinds Island Grand is truly grand! The lobby leaves me wide eyed and speechless.

It is an 8,000 square foot garden atrium lined with soaring 23-foot palm trees. Honestly, if they'd let me I could vacation in this lobby which is called The Grand Palm Colonnade; maybe a hammock between the palms.

A
pool-hoppin' I go from pool #1, #2, #3, #4, and yes, #5.




Pick a pool, dine and relax.


Kids' pool, quiet pool, adult pool, sports pool, there's a pool for just about everything! Lazy and tranquil, I float long enough for my umbrella'ed drink to wake me up from its chilly drops on my hand. Pool hoppin' again, an invigorating game of water volleyball wakes me up long enough to realize that it was time to go restaurant jumping.




Seasoned to perfection .

There are plenty of dining options at this property as well as The Sandpiper, the sister resort which is the laid-back, mellow sibling of the two. I roll my mental dice and it lands on the Palm Court Italian Grill. To dine under the stars or surrounded by a colorful collection of artwork is the tough decision for the night. Yet to sit by the exquisite wine collections provides the answer.

My waiter pours gracefully, delivers eloquently, and informs entertainingly. He describes the chef's culinary masterpieces and each dish takes me on a tour throughout the different regions of Italy. The antipasti selection is the Carpaccio. Tender herbed beef tenderloin served with shaved aged parmesan cheese, caper berries (the largest I'd ever seen!), and extra virgin olive oil. Succulent!

Who says that one has to stop at just one antipasti?

Calamari and Gamberoni Marechiaro are my next selections. The Calamari is so fresh as if a fisherman had hauled it from the Gulf right outside the restaurant, ran with all his might and delivered it to the chef. The Gamberoni Marechio (shrimp) has perfectly soaked up the flavor of the garlic emulsion as lemon, white wine, and butter plays happily upon my palate.




Chopped Tuscan Salad.

Two insalatas are better than one, I always say. Crisp green and red Romaine lettuces are enhanced by the crunchy garlic herbed croutons. Freshly shaved grana Padano with just the right amount of dressing makes for a muah! Salad. Chopped Tuscan Salad whisks me directly away to the countryside of Italy with its mixture of mozzarella, salami, roasted red peppers, Kalamata olives, artichoke hearts in a tomato vinaigrette.

I go a bit overboard on the entrees but hey, you only live once!

Pasta and Risotto, Pettine de Mare Provencal, Grilled Sea Scallops and Orzo Pasta all make up my very own cruise-ship buffet. The wines were paired with each selection and I was in an Italian Heaven.

After sleeping on a cloud, the TradeWinds Sandpiper unwinds me even more. Quiet and intimate, she is the balance to her sister resort.




TradeWinds Sandpiper is the quiet, intimate version of her sister.

The sunny Oasis Courtyard is only for adults. With a heated pool and whirlpool and everything else just within reach, the world can just fade away. Lazy hammocks and wooden swings require iPods and books that have been waiting for months to be put in use. A gentle hush sweeps over the resort and even the Gulf of Mexico seems to understand as its rhythm seems to lull a little more softly.




Paddleboat with swans and koi.

This resort is a personal getaway. Extremely romantic, the specialty suites include romance rooms with whirlpool tubs and a trio of penthouses boasts expansive rooftop patios.  Hidden in the serenity of a private beachside cabana and the lush courtyards I am pampered by an attentive staff tending to my every whim. A fully equipped fitness center and salon as well as Florida's hospitality enhances the relaxation and intimate appeal of this resort even more. With the two pools at the TradeWinds Sandpiper, the TradeWinds Island Resorts have a total of seven pools.

I'm tempted to go pool hoppin' again but naah... too relaxed!

Let your own special trade winds carry you to the TradeWinds for perfection.

— Feature by Lena Hunt, Florida Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent; photos courtesy of The TradeWinds Resorts.