By Roger Cox, Editor
A family looking for a resort with something for everyone is almost certain to find what they need at this 330-acre resort, 35 miles from the airport in Ft. Myers at the very tip of Captiva Island. Tucked in among its mangroves, palms, and Australian pines is a wide variety of accommodations, from oversized hotel rooms to 6-bedroom homes. A broad swath of sand, newly restored, renowned as one of the world's great shelling beaches, runs the entire length of the resort, though that's only the beginning of a recreational array that includes an 11-court tennis complex, 9-hole golf course, a marina with charter fishing fleet and a highly-regarded sailing school, two zero-entry pools, one of them with two waterslides, a day spa, a fitness center, and much, much more. There are also excellent children's programs and a free on-property shuttle.
Pro Shop: 239-472-5111, ext. 4151
The big news for tennis players was the arrival of the Blackwood Tennis Academy to manage the tennis operation. But it is its management arm, Blackwood Management, that has taken charge of the South Seas' tennis complex and worked to raise its tennis profile, most recently by staging a $50,000 USTA Women's Futures event that attracted a solid international field. They oversee the main complex of 7 hard courts (there are four additional across the road), all painted in U.S. Open blue. These fan out from a compact pro shop and shaded deck adjacent to the guest reception center near the resort entrance. Nick Blackwood himself is frequently on site, especially whenever there are tennis groups booked for custom-designed sessions, one of their specialties, and he has engaged a core group of pros to handle guests' day-to-day tennis needs.
Tennis Programs. Like anywhere else in southern Florida, there are seasonal variations in the tennis calendar. Private lessons aside, there are typically daily clinics for adults, kids, and those 10 and older and Cardio tennis three days a week. Those programs are supplemented on a seasonal basis by nightly evening clinics by level (beginner and intermediate) and social round robins. Groups are welcome at any time of the year and the staff will help craft packages specific to their needs.
Courts & Fees. 11 Hard courts (4 with lights); of those, 7 are near the reception center, the remaining 4 scattered among the various clusters of lodging. Court fees: Included in the resort fee.
Beach. The 2½-mile-long boulevard of sand bordering one side of the property is one of the world's foremost shelling beaches.
Golf Courses. The resort has a par 27, 9-hole course of its own but can also arrange for guests to play at the 18-hole Dunes course on neighboring Sanibel Island.
Spa & Fitness Center. Located in a Chadwick's Square just across from the entrance the resort, the Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa offers massages, facials, body treatments, and salon services. The fitness center, which was near the courts when I visited, is moving to the north end of the island near the hotel, where it will have views of the marina.
And ... Other diversions, both organized and not, abound. The Colgate's Offshore Sailing School runs a variety of sailing courses ranging from two-hour lessons to multi-day Performance Sailing, Cruising and Racing camps. There is also a Sea School to learn about this natural habitat, a Nature Center, nature tours, kayak tours, fishing, shelling, biking, and jogging.
South Seas has a national reputation for the quality of its children's programs. Headquartered in four purpose-built locations—Activities Galley, Skully's Arcade, ScoutAbout Headquarters and Little Matey's Discovery Center—these venues provide diversions for toddlers, kids, tweens, teens and families and take full advantage of the diversity recreation and activity within the resort. Also available is the Sanibel Sea School, a non profit dedicated to fostering a love of the ocean in children. Campers ages 6-13 spend two-thirds of the time in the field learning by taking part.
The lodging options at South Seas begin with hotel rooms at Harbourside and continue up through one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominiums and beyond to even larger private homes with as many as six bedrooms. Some of these complexes have their own swimming pools or tennis courts.
There are four restaurants within the resort and variously open for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, among them Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille,which is notable for its Mojitos, Caribbean fare, and relaxed atmosphere. There's also an ice cream and pizza parlor, a Starbucks, and a small grocery store called Captiva Provisions. If you leave the resort, you'll find more than a dozen additional on Captiva Island, including such local favorites as the Mucky Duck.
Among the other tennis resorts similar to South Seas are:
South Seas Island Resort (CLOSED)
5400 Plantation Rd.
Travel Instructions. By Air: The nearest airport is Southwest Florida International Airport in Ft. Myers, 35 miles from the resort. By Car: Take Exit 131 off I-75 and head west on Daniels Parkway. Turn left onto Six Mile Cypress, go across the intersection with US 41 (at that point Six Mile Cypress becomes Gladiolus) and then turn left onto Summerlin Road (State Road 869). As you continue south, Summerlin becomes Sanibel Causeway. You'll pass through a toll booth and then follow the signs to Captiva Island.
General Tourist Information. For information about this part of Florida, visit the Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel website or contact them at 12800 University Dr., Suite 550, Ft. Myers, FL 33907. Phone toll-free 800-237-6444 or 239-338-3500.