(Pictured) The brilliant white sands of Siesta Beach in Siesta Key, was voted best beach in the U.S.
Four of the "Top 25 Beaches in the United States," including No. 1 and No. 2, are on Florida's West Coast, according to TripAdvisor's 2015 Travelers Choice Awards. Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, in the Sarasota area, led the pack this year. Next was St. Pete Beach, last year's No. 1 and a perennial favorite in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area. Clearwater Beach came in at No. 8, and Ft. Myers Beach took the 18th spot.
Down in Southwest Florida, the new owners of the 474-room Naples Grand Beach Resort have completed an $18-million renovation of its rooms, 83,000 square feet of meeting space, and dining areas. The 726-room Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa is closed through July for an expansion that will add 85 rooms (for 810 total) and more than 50 percent more meeting space (for 100,000 square feet total). In August, it will reopen as the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.
In Fort Myers, work has begun on a new 225-room Sheraton. It will be connected to the Harborside Events Center, which will begin its own expansion project next year. That will include a new roof, windows, and doors; a kitchen remodel; a new sound and lighting system; and interior upgrades. Both projects are scheduled for completion in early to middle 2017. On Sanibel Island, the 400-room Sundial Beach Resort has wrapped up a multimillion-dollar room renovation as well as added a new fitness center, and six HydroGrid tennis courts. In Bonita Springs, the 454-room Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa is overhauling its 14,000-square-foot ballroom and pre-function area. The 263-room Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village has added four new breakout rooms overlooking the marina, as well as increasing its Internet bandwidth.
The new Westin Sarasota is scheduled to open in August 2016 in the heart of the city's arts district. It will feature 15,000 square feet of meeting facilities as well as a rooftop pool.