Looking for a special place for a special occasion, a place where you'll be pampered and treated in the manner to which you'd like to be accustomed? How about a Florida inn with plenty of atmosphere and ahh? Here are some that might fit the bill.
- CHERYL BLACKERBY, Palm Beach Post
The nine-room Josephine's Inn is in the heart of Seaside, a picture-perfect planned community of pastel clapboard houses built next to the white sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.
In the winter, pine logs crackle in fire-places as guests get warm under thick comforters covering four-poster beds and settle into loveseats and wingback chairs.
The two-story, tin-roofed Josephine's was built in 1989 but has the elegant grace of the turn of the century with a two-tier veranda and white picket fence. Check-in is at a Victorian desk in a parlor, which has a fireplace and polished pine floors. Each of the rooms is different, but all have antique furniture, and marble baths, and all but one have fireplaces. Wood is stacked outside.
Fall room rates start at $200, including champagne breakfast, and will go down in winter; 38 Seaside Ave.; toll-free 1-800-848-1840; www.Josephinesfl.com.
MARQUESA, KEY WEST
The compound of four 19th century "conch" houses is home to elegant guest rooms and the inn's famed Cafe Marquesa. The AAA Four-Diamond (for 15 consecutive years) inn, surrounded by a lush tropical garden in the heart of Old Town, is one of the city's most beautiful inns, winning many restoration awards. Evening turn-down service includes fresh towels and a Godiva chocolate on your pillow.
Rooms have marble baths and high-end amenities, and most have views of two pools. The inn is perfectly located just one block from Duval Street and four blocks from Mallory Square and the Gulf of Mexico. Continental breakfast is brought to guest rooms or served in the poolside garden.
Summer room rates start at $175 and will go up to $235 on Oct. 30; 600 Fleming St.; toll-free 1-800-869-4631; www.marquesa.com.
Seven wood cottages, some with their own private piers, are clustered on the east end of the 100-acre Cabbage Key, where hundreds of boaters stop for hamburgers and fish sandwiches on weekends. You can get here only by boat, helicopter or seaplane.
You won't find luxurious accommodations or pampering here - no spa, no turn-down service, no TVs or telephones, no gourmet dining - but you will find a star-filled sky, spirited conversation and a cozy room in the main house, built of cypress and heart-of-pine, to lay your head.
Cabbage Key, just west of Pine Island, has been a welcoming respite since the 1930s.
Rates start at $99 per room in the main house, and cabins range from $145 to $289 per night; (239) 283-2278; www.cabbagekey.com. Overnight dockage for boats up to 100 feet is $1.50 per foot.
The Island Girl ferry offers six 20-minute daily runs to Cabbage Key from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every odd hour, from Pine Island; (239) 633-8142; www.tropicstarcruises.com; fares are $35 per person round-trip.
TARPON LODGE, PINE ISLAND
Tarpon Lodge is where millionaires in tattered shorts mingle with local anglers, and where mystery writer and neighbor Randy Wayne White drops by to chat.
You never know who'll come in - Jeb Bush or Bob Vila.
You don't come here to watch TV in your room, although you can do that, or get a massage.
You go to Tarpon Lodge for the comfortable beds with a view of Pine Island Sound, the corn chowder and seafood prepared by Jethro Joseph from Grand Cayman, and the fishing.
Summer rates through Oct. 31 range from $95 to $215; winter rates range from $115 to $235; 13771 Waterfront Drive, Pineland; (239) 283-2517; www.tarponlodge.com.
PONTE VEDRA INN AND CLUB
The hotel's Great Lounge, with its comfy club chairs and sofas, dates to 1928, but the rest of the small Mobil Four-Star hotel, including a spa and fitness center, is strictly modern state-of-the-art.
The resort, centered on 300 oceanfront acres south of Jacksonville Beach, includes 36 holes of golf, 15 tennis courts, four restaurants and three lounges but still has the atmosphere of an elegant inn.
The hotel's sister resort, the Ponte Vedra Lodge & Club (a mile down the beach) is even cozier, with 66 rooms, some with fireplaces.
Summer and fall rates start at $210 and will go down to $190 in December; toll-free 1-800-234-7842; www.pvresorts.com.
THE DELANO, MIAMI BEACH
With its towering white columns and billowing white floor-to-ceiling curtains, the Delano's lobby resembles a stage set.
Follow the columns to the open-air Blue Door Terrace restaurant, originally owned by Madonna, to the garden and swimming pool with underwater music.
The urban-chic all-white bungalows next to the pool are where the celebrities stay.
The guest rooms in the hotel are also white - white floors, white walls, white marble in the bathroom, and white orchids on the white desk - ethereal as a dream.
The beach is steps beyond the pool.
The renowned Agua Bathhouse is a luxurious spa on the roof with 360-degree views.
Rates start at $355 and include continental breakfast for two; 1685 Collins Ave.; (305) 672-2000 or toll-free 1-800-697-1791; www.delano-hotel.com.
THE NATIONAL, MIAMI BEACH
To see one of the best interior art deco restorations in South Beach, stay at the National, which reproduced the two-story lobby down to the original furniture and light sconces.
Then check out the 205-foot-long pool in back, which is not from the deco period but serves as a reflection pool for the towering, streamlined deco building.
The AAA Four-Diamond-rated boutique hotel, which originally opened in 1940, recently unveiled a $3-million renovation of its 151 guest rooms. Splurge for a room with an ocean view.
The hotel has a prime location next to the beach and is a short stroll from the shops and cafes on Lincoln Road.
Rates start at $159, but ask about special packages; 1677 Collins Ave.; toll-free 1-800-327-8370; www.nationalhotel.com.