The Washington Times - June 30, 2008, 11:26AM

By Janice Jurist, Donne Tempo Magazine

If Miami is your brother’s flamboyant tanga clad girlfriend, Sarasota is your hipster cousin, all about understatement and culture with a tropical flavor.


The Regency Hyatt, Sarasota, FL (All photos courtesy of Hyatt)

A recent trip to Sarasota for the Forks & Corks Food and Wine festival had me in need of a quality, luxury hotel.

You just can’t sleep at the Day’s Inn hotel when your days are spent wining and dining with the Sarasota/Manatee Originals family of fine restaurants!

The choice was the Sarasota Hyatt Regency. Checking into the property, everyone from the valet to the front desk to the executive chef had one thing on their mind. The properties recent renovation.

Obviously the entire staff is proud of their new digs. And while I never saw the place before this highly touted renovation, I can tell you the place looks FABULOUS.

The marble lobby is cool and sleek and full of light. A ride up the elevator and the halls are carpeted in bands of hot tropical colors. Portraits of what I imagine are an old distinguished family of Sarasota flamingos stare down at you with flamingo hauteur.

Guestroom Hyatt Regency Sarasota
The rooms are what you would expect of a Hyatt hotel - gracious and spacious.

Very cool indeed are the bedroom balcony’s that have been enclosed in glass providing an intimate spot to sit and view the boat slips and Sarasota Bay below.

If not for the lure of the wine festival, art and cultural goings on outside I could have stretched out contentedly with a book, or just spent a day watching the changing sky and boats slipping in and out to the bay


On the breakfast buffet I was delighted to find deep pinky orange slices of Papaya

When I asked where it came from, the executive chef, Aaron Chaverria, explained how he makes a real effort to buy his fruits and vegetables locally.

Chef Aaron Chavarria, Currents Restaurant

Chef Aaron is a native of Nicaragua where his father was a renowned agricultural engineer and professor in the United States, and he insisted Aaron study agricultural engineering as well as his culinary pursuits.

The hotel’s Currents restaurant menu is decidedly Flori-bean, reflecting Chef Aaron’s Basque and native Nicaraguan roots. A beef tostada appetizer is stacked on a crunchy base with Calabrese cheese, onion straws, and roasted poblanos peppers.

Chef Aaron uses hearts of palm, oranges, avocados and shaved Brazil nuts in his Brazilian salad, tossed with passion fruit/mango vinaigrette.

The Mojo Chicken with tomato, corn, and avocado salad, black bean coulis and cilantro crème fraiche, (with sweet potato sticks, what else) definitely sums up the hotel’s ambiance of tropical sophistication.

I, pastry addict that I am, had to pass up dessert.

A point of curiosity during my stay were the young people in the hotel trudging around with violins and cellos strapped to their backs.  A bit of questioning and I found out they were participants in the Sarasota Music Festival with concerts held at the opera house, maybe a half-mile from the Hyatt.

For these musicians, or girlfriends traveling to Sarasota for a bit of sun, nightlife and fun events, this particular hotel is a particularly good location as it is in the middle of everything!

While it’s an easy 3-mile trip to Sarasota “must-see” attractions, The Ringling Museum of Art and Cad’Zan, it’s walk-able to the downtown area with its theaters, phenomenal restaurants, independent movie house, and of course, the opera space as well as the famous Van Weisel performing arts center and the visitors’ center.

The Sarasota airport is maybe a 5-minute cab ride away.  It seems that everything is just right there.

Checking out, I signed up for their emails notifying me of upcoming promotions and specials. With such a beautifully RENOVATED hotel, super friendly staff, and restaurant full of delightful and interesting food and people, I will be checking my email for an excuse to go back.

Five out of Five Golden Arrows!

Donne Tempo Magazine’s Amazonian Road Warriors find another quality hotel that has the comforts and needs of the business and leisure traveler in mind!