Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: Our Trip to Holiday Inn Lido Beach in Sarasota

Few months ago, I’ve mentioned that we stayed at  Holiday Inn Sarasota-Lido Beach hotel during Memorial Day weekend. I didn’t actually have a  trip report since  at the time, I was taking  a blogcation (vacation from blogging, get it?) I thought it was permanent, but being a rambler and  a ranter, I just couldn’t resist going back to sharing my wisdom with the world. You are welcome…world!

So, originally, we planned to use a free night certificate from past IHG promo at another hotel in Sarasota for a couple’s getaway. But I decided to go ahead and switch the reservation to Lido Beach Holiday Inn (see TripAdvisor page). It was a Labor Day weekend, so I figured the kids would love to play in the ocean. You won’t see a Floridian getting in the water between October and March. We are wusses that way. Most of the hardy souls you see swimming in the ocean during winter months are usually Germans and Scandinavians.

My husband had an extremely tough week, and had to work several nights in a row. He really didn’t want to go anywhere, but agreed in the end. I told him it would be a relaxing getaway (with kids??) and I would drive most of the way. So, off we went. Let’s just say I paid dearly for this decision. He was exhausted, unhappy and  grumpy.

When we stayed here in May, they upgraded us to a large, beautiful oceanview room. Not this time.

I can only describe this view as “partial plastic.” Fresh paint? All in all, it could have been worse. You do see water from a distance. The hotel was completely sold out since it was a holiday weekend, which is why we didn’t get a nicer room.

But wait, there is more!

sarasotaNope, the hairy leg is not mine. My husband asked me to crop his face out of the photo. Probably for the best, I don’t want to make my gal readers jealous and resentful. Back off, ladies, he is mine!

When I reserved the room, I put  2 adults/2 kids in the “guests” box. Well, apparently, Holiday Inn feels that it’s perfectly acceptable for 4 individuals to share one king size bed. You better be very close, just saying… Once again, IHG is being IHG.  I thought that the room had a sleeper sofa just like the last time we stayed at this place. Wrong!

There was a bed and a chair, and that’s it. I could have made a fuss but fortunately, we brought some sleeping cots with us. Since we were using a certificate when the rates were $220 per night, I chose to just let it go. As you can see from the photo above, it was very “cosy.”  If we had to spend  more than one night, I would have lost my mind. 
IMG_2244 A very nice feature of this hotel is the fact that they have a restaurant at the very top floor, and it comes with ocean views. Unfortunately, it rained in the morning, so it’s hard to appreciate from the photo just how neat this setup is. I very much enjoyed it, and in better weather, it would be quite a treat.

Here we are having breakfast as a family. Kids eat free in Holiday Inn, and my daughter got her money’s worth. She is my spawn!IMG_2248 You do have to cross two lanes of traffic to get to the beach, but it’s not terrible. IMG_2252 Here is a photo of the front entrance. As you can see, it’s an older property, but it has been recently remodeled. Unfortunately, they decided to put carpets in the room. That is never a good idea for a beachfront hotel. Seriously, what were the owners thinking?

Yay or nay?

Overall, I think it’s a very decent place to stay as a family. Half of the rooms face the ocean, so you stand a very good chance at an upgrade, especially if not visiting during  major holidays. Of course, I’m assuming you have  a Platinum status via Chase IHG MasterCard. The rate is 35,000 points per night (you get 10% rebate with co-branded credit card) or you can use your annual renewal certificates.

This hotel is located 2 hours away from Magic Kingdom, also known among families  as “Holy of Holies.” So, there is a possibility of combining a visit here with Disney vacation. There is a lot to do in the area, and shopaholics will appreciate St. Armand’s circle, a collection of stores and cafes, located within walking distance of the property. Even though Lido beach is fairly popular, that particular spot feels uncrowded.

But the biggest reason to come here is this:

IMG_2251The beach is absolutely wonderful! I’ve been to many in Florida, and this one is probably in the top three. Even in September the water was calm, clear and the sand was nice and soft. Both kids had a blast. My daughter was entertaining the crowd, as usual. Cue Elton John’s “Tiny dancer” lyrics: Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand…

So, to recap: I do recommend you stay at this place, and hope I gave you a good idea on what to expect (or not expect). If you just want a decent/clean room to sleep in, it will do just fine. Hopefully, you will get upgraded, but don’t count on it. Either way, make sure to reserve a room with two queen size beds if traveling with kids. I was also told that you can add a rollaway for a third child at a cost of $10 per night. That’s not too bad of a deal, but prepare for your room to feel very cozy.

While I realize  there are many nicer beach resorts in Florida and beyond,  most of them will likely be out of reach for my target reader. In spite of few issues, I think this place hits the mark where it counts. The rooms are clean, the rate on points is reasonable in high season (especially when using renewal certificates), and there are no parking or resort fees. Oh, and the beach, let’s not forget the beach, folks! Overall, we made lemonade out of lemons and enjoyed spending time as a family. Even my husband has fond memories of the trip now that it’s over.

This blog is about your typical middle-class family, and will probably be mostly helpful to  middle-class families. The main reason I came back from “blogcation”  was because I felt that more can be done to make miles and points hobby  accessible to regular individuals. This isn’t a knock on other writers in my niche, as quite a few are doing a terrific job. Still, most of the content in The Hobby is meant for “1-percenter” families. I guess I want to help bring balance to the force.

Readers, have you been to this hotel? Do you plan on going?

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11 thoughts on “Making Lemonade Out of Lemons: Our Trip to Holiday Inn Lido Beach in Sarasota

    • @Shoesinks It is a very nice beach! If you can handle having 5 of you in one room, I strongly recommend it. The area is not what I would call “low key,” but it’s not overbuilt either. On the plus side, there is a ton to do in the area. If you and your daughter like shopping, this is the place. Of course, it depends on how many IHG points you happen to have.


    • @Clint Sanibel is WAY better for shelling, there really is no comparison. The sand in Lido beach is mostly soft and powdery. There are some shells here and there, but you will have to hunt for them. In Sanibel, they are literally everywhere. Apparently, it’s one of top places in the world for shelling. The downside is: Beaches in Sanibel are not quite as nice compared to the ones in Sarasota. So, it comes down to what you are looking for.
      Overall, I do prefer Holiday Inn in Sanibel and the area in general. But it has a motel-type setup, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s also harder to score an upgrade, as they only have a few oceanfront units. Holiday Inn Lido Beach property has interior corridors which many prefer. You also have a decent chance to get an upgrade, and those rooms are quite nice. I recommend you look at Trip Advisor for info on both. Also, don’t hesitate to ask additional questions.


  1. Several years ago we stayed a little to the north at Hilton Longboat Key which was also owned by the same hotel management company. I thought that beach was also very nice. Apparently the Hilton has been demolished and rebuilt new as the Zota Beach Resort (opening Spring 2016…no major chain affiliation which is a bummer because it looks nice). It’s funny that they put 4 of you in a room with only a king-size bed. What were they thinking? That happened to us the first time that I ever tried to use PointBreaks. I booked online and the room type description for a Candlewood property in Houston was “1 bedroom, max. capacity 4 people”. At any other extended-stay hotel, this means there is a separate bedroom (maybe not a true wall, but at least a partition) and a sofa bed in the living area. My family and I arrived around 6:30PM and checked-in. I walk to the room and open the door to find what most places would call a studio. There was only a chair and 1 bed – I’m not even sure that it was queen-sized, it may have been a full. The “kitchen” was also a joke – it was only something like a hot plate, microwave, and tallish dorm refrigerator. I go back to the desk and say, “Sorry, I reserved a 1 bedroom for 4 people not a studio. There is no sofa bed in that room. Where are my kids supposed to sleep?” The guy apologizes and explains that’s what Candlewood calls a 1 bedroom. Says they expect people to bring cots/sleeping bags and that he’s asked them over and over to change the description but they won’t. He even got punched in the face one time by an angry guest over it! Unfortunately, the hotel is sold out and he doesn’t have any other rooms available. Even though it’s after the 6PM cancellation window, he agrees to refund my points. I go back to my car and scramble to book a hotel for the next 4 nights. Thankfully Marriott came to my rescue and I was able to book the immediate night at a nearby Fairfield Inn with the remaining nights at the Courtyard Galveston Island Gulf Front under very good rates.


    • @Erik I remember seeing that Hilton resort listed on HHonors website. I was hoping to stay there on points, but then it disappeared. Too bad it won’t be resurrected as a chain property. Just goes to show you that it’s always best to have concrete redemption plans for hotel points.
      It is completely insane what happened to you in that Candlewood property. To say that they expect people to bring their own sleeping contraptions is ludicrous. What if someone is flying? Ahh, that’s typical IHG nonsense, unfortunately. I’ve seen rooms with two queen beds claiming only double occupancy, so it goes the other way too. I found that calling ahead helps to clarify issues, but who has time for that? Good thing their points are so easy to earn via promotions, and their coverage is so outstanding. I consider IHG to be similar to this wacky but generous relative. Or rather it’s like a box of chocolates, and you know the rest!


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