By Rick & Sandi Griffin & McKenna, on November 1, 2016

Expedia Viewfinder Pick: Sandpearl Resort

An Expedia Viewfinder Pick is a merit badge for awesomeness, and I could not think of a place more worthy of this distinction than the Sandpearl Resort on Clearwater Beach, Florida.

Sandpearl Resort

In fact, my family finds the Sandpearl Resort so awesome that we make staying here an annual event and we designate five days every May as our Sandpearl Resort family getaway. Next May is already on the books.

I travel often, and I have had the pleasure to stay at incredible properties around the world, but just 30 minutes from my home is the Sandpearl, an extraordinary escape that makes me feel as though I am a million miles away.

Two years ago, just before Christmas, my daughter died in a car accident. Our family was devastated, in shock and didn’t know how we would be able to face the days ahead, let alone the holidays. We decided we should go away, but the thought of going far was too overwhelming. We opted for a stay at the Sandpearl because it was close and has always felt like our home away from home. We knew we would be comfortable there and it would give us a chance to breathe, and deal with our grief. However, what we experienced was totally unexpected.

Exhausted and downtrodden, we checked in on Christmas Eve, and the lobby was adorned in its holiday finest, befitting of its beautiful seaside locale. Our jaws hit the floor as we opened the door to our room, and we were welcomed by the soft, twinkling lights on a full-size Christmas tree, festooned with ribbons and ornaments. Tears flowed like cascading rivers down our cheeks as we took it all in. We could not have imagined how this incredibly thoughtful gesture from the hotel staff would ease our pain.

christmas sandpearl resort

Christmas at the Sandpearl

This unprecedented show of compassion in our saddest days showed us what a great hotel was about. They anticipated our needs when we didn’t even know what they were and they went above and beyond to heal our broken hearts in a series of thoughtful deeds that we will never forget. It was extraordinary. Jonathan Pelletier, Sandpearl’s Director of Food and Beverage, spearheaded the cavalcade of kindness, and the entire team showed us that awesomeness goes beyond the brick and mortar. It runs deep in the heart and soul of those who create the guest experience. Every department, every employee, that we encountered during our stay went the extra mile to see that we were comfortable, and in our darkest hour, they were our beacon of light. This is just one of the multitude of reasons we have selected the Sandpearl Resort as an Expedia Viewfinder pick.

Viewfinder Touchstone #1: Unflappably customer-focused, and pay attention to all parts of an experience.

The valet, the first to greet you is always smiling, no matter how hot it is. The Florida humidity can drain you, but the Sandpearl valets always have a pleasant hello and cold bottle of water for you at the ready.

Checking in is invariably an occasion when you are met with a complimentary glass of Champagne or sparkling cider.

Melodies from the tickled ivories of the baby grand float through the main foyer like the champagne bubbles in your flute.

Sandpearl Resort
The staff ebulliently greets you by name, and all are polite and friendly without formality.

The food is delectable, from the pulled pork nachos poolside, to the salad topped with grilled shrimp on a sugar cane skewer at Tate’s, sushi and cocktails at sunset on the balcony, and Sunday brunch at Caretta on the Gulf, Clearwater’s only Four-Star/Four-Diamond Restaurant.

clearwater beach

Viewfinder Touchstone #2: Provides a real sense of place, representing a genuine expression of a destination

The décor reflects the seaside backdrop, upscale and elegant without being fussy or stuffy.

Beach chairs and umbrellas dot the white sugar sand beach just feet from the resort, where you can also rent (jet skis, paddle boards, and kayaks).

Outdoor seating in restaurants is plentiful and blends seamlessly with the surroundings.

Poolside cabanas are an added extra that provides an elegant outdoor respite just steps from the pool and the crowds.

Palm trees surround the pool, and comfortable lounge chairs are bountiful for a perfect blend of sun and shade.

clearwater beach

Viewfinder Touchstone #3: Represents an extraordinary value, maximize time and dollars.

Location, location, location! Located at the north end of Clearwater Beach, it does not get much better than this. Close enough to all the action, walking distance to just about everything and yet it remains seemingly more private and exclusive.

We love the one bedroom suite that comfortably suits all of our needs. It has excellent Wi-Fi, a washer/dryer, a fully equipped kitchen, living room, separate bedroom, an enormous bathroom with a jetted spa tub and twin balconies for capturing that perfect sunset.

The resort is only steps from the sugar white sands of Clearwater Beach where you can see sandpipers, terns, pelicans, ospreys, and dolphins.

In keeping with a greener world, the Sandpearl Resort is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) property, with a focus on balancing their eco-responsibility and maintaining a high standard of service to their guests.

The large yet intimate grounds are impeccably manicured, perfect for many of the family activities they offer from lawn games to fireside s’mores to nightly dive-in movies. They offer enrichment programs and tours, Kid’s Club Camp Ridley, 24-hour in-room dining service, professional concierge, poolside food and beverage service, live entertainment, climate controlled, zero entry lagoon style pool and personalized turn down at night. And, that barely scratches the surface.

I think Maya Angelou said it best.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

And, we never will.

What has been your most unforgettable travel experience?

sandpearl clearwater beach