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Willa Ford

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TRAVEL FEATURE Captiva may be a tamer vacation spot than you're used to - but that don't mean you can't double-fist at noon. Score! There's a wall of candy at the South Seas Island Resort's Scoops & Slices that pleases kids both big and small. This is, perhaps, the most untouched cosmo-place I've ever visited. Sure, I bet there are some unsavory things happening around the darker necks of the woods, but when the local papers don't have anything sad to report, well…you know you aren't in the big bad city anymore. (All I could find in the local Island Sun and in the Islander was sunshine and shelling and sailing.) Where to stay I think one of the reasons I enjoyed Captiva so much was the tranquil and lush South Seas Island Resort (5400 Plantation Road). Originally a plantation that opened in the 1940s, this no-frills haven sits on a 330-acre wildlife preserve located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. It underwent a $140 million rebirth post-Charley, and it is not the sort of luxury resort you see in South Florida. Here, the biggest luxury is mastering the art of relaxation. Now, if memory serves, the properties on site are all time-share-y. There are villas and cottages and big private homes at the resort, most if not all of which are available for rent at different times throughout the year. Also, by the definition, the South Seas is a family-getaway destination. Note that that means that there are kids roaming around the sand, the new lagoon pool, the five on-site restaurants (especially Scoops & Slices, natch), maybe even the golf course on the northern tip of the island (from which I saw dolphins playing in the water for 88 MIAMI LIVING The author became obsessed with this tree limb and had to wait until the tide receded to go become one with it. It was swell. the first time ever), for sure the fishing harbor, and definitely the Sanibel Sea School, which welcomes kids both big and small (as in parents and their young'uns). And you know what? That's a good thing. Because everyone I saw my weekend at the resort was nice. Everybody was there to enjoy, to reconnect with themselves, their families, and, yeah, with nature. Cell phone reception is spotty. No one speeds while driving around their golf carts (the speed limit is 19 mph!). Folks are just happy to be there. Like I was. A spring break destination or a wild bachelor/bachelorette party weekend spot this is not (although it makes for one heckuva picturesque wedding location). I mean, the wackiest, wildest place I came across while on Captiva was the infamous – again, in the bestest way – Bubble Room (15001 Captiva Drive), a multi-themed restaurant with a great tradition of kitsch and fun that dates back to the late '70s. It's a zany, fantastical place with toys everywhere, a vintage-y soundtrack, and pink, pink, pink galore, as well as good, cool drinks and – I would say this – some of the most attractive cakes I've ever seen. It's quintessentially Captiva: up for a good time all day, every day, but in bed at a decent time. Just so can do it all over again the next day. No bags under your eyes. Just a big ol' smile on your face. ML

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