by Traci L. Suppa
A relaxed resort on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota delivers on its reputation of stellar service, sophisticated surroundings, and top-notch cuisine. Opened in 2004, the Ritz-Carlton offers a balcony in every room, so you can enjoy views of the marina, city, or Sarasota Bay.
While not directly on the beach, the Ritz-Carlton owns a private beach club on Lido Key, 3 miles away, and provides complimentary shuttle service throughout the day. Other perks for families include two pools, a kids’ club, and complimentary family photography sessions.
This downtown property is located close to the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, as well as other local family-friendly attractions, including The Ringling Museum, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
At this pet-friendly resort, check in time is 4 p.m. and check out is at 11 a.m.
Our Editor Loves
- Complimentary family portraits
- Private beach and two outdoor heated pools
- Supervised Ritz Kids program and Kids Nights Out
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
There are 266 guestrooms with 31 of them suites, including one 2,500-square-foot Ritz-Carlton Suite, the Sarasota Suite, and The Ritz-Carlton Club level. The Club Level rooms on the seventh and eighth floors give you access to a dedicated concierge, and four daily complimentary food presentations, including breakfast.
Connecting rooms are available, and primarily connect rooms with one king bed to a room with two double beds, though sometimes rooms with two double beds can be connected for more room. Rollaway beds, available for $35 a night, can only be used in rooms with king beds. Cribs are available at no charge.
All guestrooms feature feather beds, feather duvets and goose down pillows; Egyptian cotton linens; balconies; marble-trimmed bathrooms; lighted makeup mirrors, hair dryers and scales; terrycloth bathrobes and slippers; a safe; Wi-Fi access (included in resort fee); a stocked refreshment cabinet; AM/FM clock radio with a CD player; an iron and ironing board; and a newspaper. Complimentary Asprey London toiletries are provided in the bathrooms. Refrigerators are available upon request for a fee.
Limited View Guestrooms
These 425-square-foot rooms include a limited view of downtown, a balcony, and a choice of one king or two double beds.
Resort View Guestrooms
These 425-square-foot rooms include views of the resort landscape, a balcony, and a choice of one king or two double beds.
Marina View Guestrooms
These 425-square-foot rooms include views of the marina, a balcony, and a choice of one king or two double beds.
Club Resort View Guestrooms
These 425-square-foot rooms include views of resort landscape, a balcony, and Club Level access.
Club Marina View Guestrooms
These 425-square-foot rooms include views overlooking the marina, a balcony, and Club Level access.
Limited View Suites
These 625-square-foot suites include a limited city view of Sarasota, balcony, and a King bed with a separate living room.
Resort View Suites
These 625-square-foot suites include views of the resort landscape, a balcony, and one king bed with a separate living room that has a sofa bed.
Bay View Suites
These 625-square-foot suites include views of Sarasota Bay, a balcony, and one king bed with a separate living room that has a sofa bed.
Club Resort View Suites
These 625-square-foot suites include views over the resort, a balcony, one king bed with a living room area with a sofa bed, and Club Level access.
Club Bay View Suites
These 625-square-foot suites include views of Sarasota Bay, one king bed with a living room area with a sofa bed, and Club Level access.
This 1,325-square-foot suite includes views of Sarasota Bay, one kind bed, a living are with a sofa bed, two balconies, and Club Level access.
The Ritz-Carlton Suite
This 2,450-square-foot suite includes two balconies, views of Sarasota Bay, a marble foyer, a four-poster bed, a living area with a sofa bed, a Whirlpool tub, and Club Level access.
This is a pretty average Ritz-Carlton, which isn't to say it's bad. It's average. It is also tired and in need of a renovation. There have been some light updates since the hotel opened in the early 2000s but a more extensive overhaul is needed.
1) No alarm clock, radio or Bluetooth-streaming speaker in guest rooms.
2) No electrical outlets by bed. There are outlets in the two nightstands but they didn't work.
3) In-room lighting is that bad yellow color and requires you to operate too many switches.
4) Closet lighting doesn't turnoff at night.
5) Bathrobes are cheap and didn't match each other. No plush robes like most Ritz-Carlton properties.
6) Slippers were cheap generic slippers, not the nicer slippers with Ritz-Carlton logo on them.
7) Mini-bar and coffeemaker oddly located in entryway, though a small mini-bar tray with snacks is located in the sitting area by the sliding glass door. Weird design flaw.
8) No stationary, except notepad. Would be nice to have letterhead or a postcard. Free advertising for hotel if a guest uses it.
9) Pens and keycards aren't branded with Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. Just the generic Ritz-Carlton branding.
10) At this price I expect the Toto Japanese high-tech toilets that other comparable properties both within Ritz-Carlton and competing brands feature in guest rooms.
As for the lobby and check-in experience:
1) Basic. No recognition of Marriott status.
2) Most Ritz-Carlton properties offer club lounge or in-room check-in, not a transactional experience at an impersonal front desk.
3) Lobby needs updating.
As for the club lounge:
1) Basic and not much better than a good Marriott or JW Marriott executive or concierge lounge. Outside of the free alcohol it really isn't worth it. The breakfast selection was very meager and basic.
2) The eggs looks powdered. Could be wrong but they look exactly like the powdered eggs that a Fairfield Inn serves.
3) No ketchup for eggs.
4) Breakfast starts too late. Breakfast should start at 6 or 6:30 a.m. during the week.
On the whole, the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota is an average Ritz-Carlton. Nice, but hardly luxurious. And charging the resort fee when the active construction at the adjoining Ritz-Carlton Residence makes sitting by the pool impossible is absurd and just wrong.
Stayed here for a business event located in this hotel. What a wonderful hotel and service. All of the staff were fantastic, and the rooms were spotlessly clean and well maintained. Also, worth noting that the supplied toiletries of Asprey were very nice.
If you are out this way on business or pleasure, definitely worth looking up. Not the cheapest but very comfortable. Also, check out Walts Seafood in Sarasota, an excellent local restaurant.
The year-round Ritz Kids program is a signature service of the Ritz-Carlton brand, developed for children ages 5 to 12. Activities are based on the four "pillars" of water, land, environmental responsibility and culture, and themes may include everything from coral reefs to recycling to food.
The home base is a colorful indoor play space with a fish tank, toys and games. During the day however, the children may be transported over to the Ritz-Carlton's private Beach Club for swimming and sandcastle building. Separate sessions take place in the morning and in the afternoon, and prices range from $40 per child to $80 per child, depending on length of session and activity.
All counselors are certified in CPR, first-aid and basic water safety. Reservations are required at least two hours in advance.
The weekly Resort Activities flyer, available at the Ritz Kids room or at the concierge in the main lobby, lists the current week's schedule for all children's programming.
Kids Night Out
These supervised evenings are the only evening babysitting services offered at the hotel, and are only available for a four-hour window on Friday and Saturday nights, from 6 to 10 p.m. There is a theme to each night's games and arts and crafts, such as pirates, aliens or spies. The fee is $80 per child for the full four hours, which includes dinner and refreshments. Reservations are required at least two hours in advance.
The Beach Club on Lido Bay
The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club, 3 miles away, is a private beach on the Gulf of Mexico, and has an outdoor heated, zero-entry family pool and whirlpool. Additionally, a full-service fitness center, three lighted tennis courts, and the remote location for the Ritz Kids program are here. There is no lifeguard near the pool or beach, but the water is only 3.5 feet deep. Guests under the age of 12 need adult supervision. Towels are provided. There are food and drink services on the pool deck, and cabanas are available for daily rental. There is also another restaurant here, the Beach Club Grill, and the Lido Key Tiki Bar is directly on the beach.
To get to the beach club, you can either drive and use the valet parking there, or take the complimentary hotel shuttle service, which leaves the main lobby at the top of every hour beginning at 9 a.m. The shuttle departs from the Beach Club for the return to the main hotel every half hour, with the last departure at 8:30 p.m., Sunday through Tuesday, and at 10:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
Main Hotel Pool
There is also a heated outdoor pool at the main hotel with a whirlpool, available to guests 24 hours a day. There is no lifeguard, and the maximum depth is 4 feet. Guests under the age of 12 need adult supervision. Towels are provided. There are food and drink services on the pool deck, and there are two cabanas available for daily rental.
Adjacent to the pool area is a small waterside location where you can rent paddleboards or kayaks, and take them out into the marina.
There is also a game room at the main hotel, with six arcade-style video games, an air hockey table, and Ping-Pong tables.
Jack Dusty is the main onsite restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu focuses on local cuisine, specifically seafood. The name, Jack Dusty, is an 18-Century nautical reference to a store clerk. Jack Dusty is also known for its craft cocktail program, and there's a broad selection of microbrews, rums and spirits on the menu.
There are both indoor and covered outdoor tables, and highchairs are available. Your order can be customized to suit gluten-free and vegan diets, as well as food allergies.
There is a children's menu, presented with crayons, that includes items like hot dogs and burgers, veggie wraps, and grilled chicken. A thoughtful touch is the immediate presentation of a "kid nibble" to let children eat something right away while you order. At breakfast and lunch, this is usually a small fruit bowl. At dinner, it could be a bowl of chicken noodle soup. This is shortly followed by the serving of Naval Brown Bread, which is baked in a can and taken out at your table while still warm.
Jacky Dust is open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
The Beach Club Grill
At the Ritz-Carlton Beach Club 3 miles away, the Beach Club Grill offers tropical fare in a casual setting. There is also a tiki bar on the beach close to the water.
Room service is also available, 24 hours a day.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The resort fee is $28 per stay, and allows for complimentary Wi-Fi access, local phone calls, in-room coffee and tea service, newspaper, use of fitness center and exercise classes, bicycle rentals, golf privileges, tennis court access, and use of equipment such as snorkels, fishing poles, kayaks and paddleboards.
Kids Night Out
These supervised evenings are available for a four-hour window on Friday and Saturday nights, from 6 to 10 p.m. The fee is $80 per child for the full four hours, and reservations are required at least two hours in advance.
The concierge desk is on-hand from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, to assist with information on local attractions, activities, and dining suggestions. Ask for the handout highlighting attractions, parks, shopping, sports and recreation.
The Signature Shop is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and offers resort and evening wear, jewelry, and home dÃ©cor items. You won't find swim diapers or goggles, but you can find bathing suits and flip flops with Swarovski crystal accents. There is an ATM near the shop entrance.
The onsite business center located near the ballrooms is staffed from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can make copies, print documents, and use the PC and Mac workstations. The center also offers shipping services, binding services, and office equipment rentals.
Overnight valet parking is $28 per night. Limited self-parking is available.
The Art of Smart Timing
This is a year-round resort property in a popular vacation destination, so there is little fluctuation in rates month to month. However, July and August are the warmest months in Florida, so some value rates can be found during this time. Another consideration is hurricane season, which runs from June to November.
While the Ritz Kids program is offered year-round, during low occupancy months, the Ritz Kids room may be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
This property is a 10-minute drive to Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, and 55 miles south of Tampa International Airport, which is a larger airport served by more airlines to more destinations. Both airports have major rental car companies.
There is taxi service available at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. You can also arrange for a Ritz-Carlton driver to pick you up or drive you to the airport for a fee of $35. There is also a public bus system, SCAT (Sarasota County Area Transit) with multiple downtown stops.
The Ritz-Carlton offers its own complimentary shuttle service to its private Beach Club, but the shuttle also stops en route at St. Armands Circle, a shopping and dining district. The shuttle leaves the lobby at the top of every hour, beginning at 9 a.m. daily.
For Mom and Dad
The full-service, 15,000-square-foot spa includes 16 treatment rooms, saunas, steam rooms, "healing waters" Whirlpool rooms, and relaxation lounges. There are 100 treatments offered, including a range of baths, massages, and skin treatments, as well as a selection of couples' services.
The salon provides nail services, including an "Ice Cream" manicure and pedicure for kids, as well as hair services for adults and children 6 years or older. The adjoining fitness center includes a yoga and Pilates studio. Classes are offered every day, including yoga, aerobics, and "Bridge Walks" across the Ringling Causeway.
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, located 13 miles from the hotel, includes an 18-hole, par 72 golf course designed by Tom Fazio.