THE REGISTRY: REINVENTING AN OLD FAVORITE
They're spending pots of money over at the Registry Resort & Club, on the long road to restoring its glory. The 474 rooms in its 18-story tower are definitely off to a good start, newly redecorated in a honeyed Florida look, with Fortuny-style bedcovers, Moderne silver-leaf mirrors, and sexy Art Nouveau hardware. The new marble-and-Fortuny bathrooms are winners, too, with soaking tubs, stall showers, and twin sinks.
But there are some other things about the Registry you need to know as well: The hotel is separated from the Gulf by a vast mangrove preserve, so the water views are not as immediate as you might hope. "Mangrove preserve" sounds romantic, but you'll think twice before taking that sunset stroll. There's a new swimming-pool complex with a water slide and cabanas, but its scene isn't quite a scene yet; it has neither the worldly airs of the Ritz-Carlton nor the sexy promise of LaPlaya. And where's the spa, you ask?A new one is expected to open in the near future; for now, you probably won't want to use the Registry facilities.
Lafite, a Continental restaurant with a harpist, was perhaps too grand for its own good: I found it closed at 9 p.m. for lack of business. Everybody was over at the Brass Pelican, the fish restaurant, which produced an acceptable meal (rum butter-glazed Chilean sea bass with cinnamon-spiced plantains) in what aspired to be a sophisticated resort atmosphere. My poor waitress lost that battle early on, however, when I asked if there were any specials that night. "No," she responded. "Everything is full price."
Doubles from $139. 475 Seagate Dr.; 800/247-9810 or 239/597-3232; www.registryresort.com