Florida tourism is at an all-time high this year as people are "snow done" with the long, brutal winter and early spring weather. Airports are overcrowded, and the Marriott Resort Marco Island is no exception. This resort is at full capacity during my escape from the polar vortex.
So, what does a winter-worn traveler do upon arrival? First, take a walk on the white sand beach and dip my toes in the ocean. And then take a nap on the balcony lounge chair overlooking the same water scene for the sole purpose of being out in the warm air. Oh, and the best part is that this time of year there is little humidity, with temperatures hovering in the low 80s just about every single day.
Now that I’m acclimated to Marco Island, it’s time to take the next step and head to The Spa at Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort.
To the spa technician who asks me to choose from a few massage oil blends, I answer: "Eucalyptus and peppermint oil, please," with the mindset that eucalyptus will serve my post-flu symptoms of lingering congestion, and the peppermint will revive me. To the question on selection of teas, I choose the white ambrosia. These are the most strenuous decisions I will make before I lie on the infrared massage table with the goose-down cushiony bedding.
Now, when I mention this massage, let me be clear: This is a heavenly massage treatment that is new to the resort. After 50 minutes of working through my knotted muscles and hydrating my skin, the service isn’t over. This is when the massage therapist covers each foot in a warmed towel, and covers my eyes with a scented mask before exiting for 20 minutes so I can nap. When the therapist returns, a bell is rung with chimes that gently awaken me, the eye mask is removed and I climb off the table feeling refreshed and ready to embrace the rest of the day.
Yes, I was smitten with this spa and returned the next day for a deluxe Moroccon oil pedicure before I left to head back to the cold climate I escaped.
Surprisingly, during my short stay, I didn’t venture outside of the resort at all. There simply was no need, other than to take a two-plus hour catamaran ride to Kice Island to gather shells. Dinners were spent on property, first at Korals for sushi with a few cocktails of the aptly named Marco Island Sunset. My favorite menu selection was the ceviche of daikon-wrapped sea scallop with Florida red snapper and yellow fin. The Tropic Sunset selection looked pretty in pink and was also quite tasty with spicy tuna, white tuna tataki and nori dust wrapped in soy paper.
Breakfast could have been at Tropiks Restaurant, but hey, breakfast served in my stylishly designed room to enjoy on my deck overlooking the beach was my preference. Whatever you decide to do for the day is a personal choice, but know that golf on-resort is prestigious, the beaches endless and accommodating with complimentary lounge chairs and towels. And the 10,000 Islands Waverunner Tour (MarcoIslandWaterSports.com) is not to be missed, if only to experience the challenge of jetting on the ocean before slowing down along the Everglades to marvel at the dolphins and manatees, not to mention a bald eagle in a nest with its baby.
Shopping was on property as well, with the spa and a few women and men’s stores along the corridors between buildings. Other than time spent shopping or at one of two golf clubs on resort, there are plenty of water sports such as paddle boarding, Hobie Wave sailboats to ride, as well as parasailing, kayaking and pedal boating, but not much else to do other than take a long walk or run on the stretch of white sand, and that’s the point here: to slow down on Marco Island and make watching sunsets the only thing on your to-do list.
Sunsets are spectacular on Marco Island, and the added attraction of dinner at Quinn’s is only the beginning. Gather under one of the resort’s Chickee Huts and pop open a bottle of Champagne to celebrate the sensational sunset. Then head to Quinn’s, where you can dine casually on the cusp of the sandy beach, listen to a live band entertain and watch a fire dancer perform gymnastics with lit torches as entertainment. The fish tacos are a good choice here, and a margarita or two washes it down. If you prefer a more upscale menu, Kurrents offers dining outside, and has the best pistachio-crusted red snapper dish I’ve ever had to the pleasure to taste. If you prefer Italian, lunch at 400 Pazzi’s is where you can score the best flatbread pizzas, and be sure to order a side of grilled artichoke hearts.
PISTACHIO CRUSTED WHITE FISH
• 2 1/2 lbs. fresh white fish cut into 6-oz. portions
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 8 whole eggs
• 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
• 1 lb. pistachios (shelled)
• 1 t chopped cilantro
• 3 oz. olive oil
• 3 whole lemons
• Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
In a food processor, finely chop breadcrumbs and pistachios. Set up breading station (keep separate): flour, eggs and breadcrumb/pistachio mixture. Place fish fillets in flour, followed by egg and concluding in the breadcrumb/pistachio mixture.
Pre-heat sauté pan over medium-high heat on stove with olive oil. Place crusted fish fillets in pan and sear both sides. Once the exterior of the fish is golden-brown, season fish with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Place seared fish on a sheet to finish cooking in the oven until an internal temperature of 155 F is reached. This is the serving temperature.
— Courtesy of Marriott Resort Marco Island
MARCO SUNSET COCKTAIL
Mix 1.5 oz. Bacardi Limon with equal parts orange juice and pineapple juice. Add a splash of grenadine to achieve the color of the most spectacular sunset, The Marco Island sunset!
Charlene Peters is editor special features for GateHouse Media. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.