The Top 10 Resort Hotels in Florida (Outside of Miami Beach)
From the sugar-soft sands of the Emerald Coast to the breezy beaches of the Keys, Florida’s 8,426 miles of shoreline make the state a perennial favorite among vacationers. This year, T+L readers expressed their appreciation for the calm, warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico — seven of the Top 10 resort hotels in Florida are on the state’s tranquil western coast.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Hotels were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.
Related: The 2018 World's Best Awards
This year’s top spot went to a World’s Best newcomer, the Pearl Hotel, a tony, European-inspired property in the resort town of Rosemary Beach, in the Panhandle. The fresh, contemporary spin on traditional glamour makes it stand out from the crowd, and stellar amenities — including access to golf and tennis facilities and a selection of spacious pools at St. Joe Club & Resorts — put this year’s winner over the top.
Taking second place is a return favorite, Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, in the Florida Keys. This adults-only, 5½-acre private island offers a true escape — its 30 suites are free of distractions (there are no phones or televisions, so you can truly disconnect) and put the focus on nature, with eco-chic design and features like outdoor showers. As of right now, the hotel remains closed because of last fall’s Hurricane Irma, but it plans to reopen within the year. “Love the exclusivity, and the professionalism of the staff,” said one fan. “Hope Little Palm comes back real soon.”
Sunset Key Cottages is also set on its own private island in the Keys. The 27-acre property, which features immaculate gardens, pastel cottages, and a quiet stretch of beach, is just a short water-taxi ride away from Key West. The resort rebounded quickly from the storms, to the delight of its guests. “Hands down my favorite place to go in the world,” said one.
The rest of this year’s winners also have something for everyone, from the expansive greens of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples to the action-packed kids’ camp at the Resort at Longboat Key Club. Gasparilla Inn & Club, last year’s No. 1 winner, is a white-columned, self-described “Old Florida–style” resort set on the car-free island of Boca Grande. (Think plenty of floral prints and wicker furniture.) The beloved property draws the same returning families year after year. “I’ve been going with my parents since 1990,” said one fan. “My favorite place on earth.” Added another: “It has an understated elegance to it and is polished without being slick in any way.”
10. Resort at Longboat Key Club, Longboat Key
9. Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater Beach
8. Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande
7. The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
6. Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
5. Sunset Key Cottages, Key West
4. Opal Sands Resort, Clearwater Beach
3. The Henderson, a Salamander Beach & Spa Resort, Destin
2. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa, Little Torch Key
1. The Pearl Hotel, Rosemary Beach
The Pearl’s 55 rooms and suites offer a laid-back glamour that makes it feel like staying in a particularly posh friend’s beach house. Each comes with a stocked complimentary minibar and luxe Kerstin Florian spa products. Some rooms overlook the bone-white beach and the gulf beyond; others, the pool with its chic, graphic black-and-white cabanas and splashy yellow umbrellas; still others, the quaint town of Rosemary Beach. The one thing that’s certain is there’s not a bad view in the house. That goes even for the outdoor lounge area, since the hotel itself has the look of an old-world chalet, updated with clean lines and black-and-white striped awnings that lend it a modern, youthful feel.
See all of our readers' favorite hotels, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2018.