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Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach in Sarasota, FL

Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach in Sarasota, FL

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Company Info:

Rating: 3.07

Address: 1540 Ben Franklin Dr., Sarasota, FL, 34236

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    Comments (29):

    1. Ingrid G.
    UPDATE: Well, apparently Leona has shuffled off this mortal coil. I read in the paper that her dog, heir to the fortune, is staying at an 'undisclosed location' in Florida.  I wonder where that might be?
    ---------------------------------------
    When I'm in Sarasota visiting my mom, I sometimes like to stay at a place that brightens my mood. However, hotels on Lido key are either super expensive or those weird condominium kind of places with decor from the 70's. That is why I love the Helmsley. The rooms are big, bright, and clean. Many of the rooms are right on the beach with a view of the Gulf--you can actually see dolphins jumping from your window!  The Helmsley has a nice poolside bar and pool, as well as a full service restaurant. Generally the staff is very pleasant. But the best thing is that Leona herself often stays here---once we sat right next to her at breakfast.  When you're in Sarasota and want to stay at a true original, go for the Helmsley!

    05/05/07 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    2. Gulshan I.
    Ok so they sent the charger and battery via UPS along and charged us $30+ which included some sort of a fuel charge and some other charges. Serves me well for leaving it behind.

    16/05/11 | Link | Rating: 1.0
    3. Chris P.
    Im actually sitting by the pool at the Helmsley as I write this.

    We checked in yesterday and so far everything had been great. The hotel has obviously been around for a couple decades but they have done a good job maintaining the property.

    I got a beach front room which has a fantastic view of the gulf. The carpet and decor in the room is a bit outdated but still in good condition and seemingly clean. My only complaint about the room is the balcony door. It looks like it belongs on the front of a South East DC liqour store. Management should consider replacing it with something a little more aesthetically pleasing.  

    The staff had been quite pleasant and helpful.

    My favorite things about the Sandcadtle...
    1. Free rides to St Armands Cir
    2. Pool side bar and the pool itself
    3. 10 steps from the beach

    It's not the Ritz but you get a lot for the price. I'd stay again for sure.

    21/11/09 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    4. Moraima D.
    I have to say this hotel exceded my expectations, don't get me wrong it's nothing fancy but for the price and being right on the beach I thought we were going to get a very rundown place. We chose this hotel after reading reviews all over , because we wanted to stay right on the beach, no driving to and from, but the other places around were way to expensive.
    Everybody was nice, specially the beach boys helping with the chairs and umbrellas. The room was clean, again nothing fancy just a standard hotel room. I would've prefer to have a queen bed at least instead of two full since it was just my husband and I. The shower is tiny though, and the AC is way to cold almost all the time and you can't control it. It has two heated pools which is awesome and one is huge so it never felt crowded, although we didn't use it that much. We were mostly at the beach were they have complimentary chairs and towels but you have to rent the umbrellas for $10 a day and it's totally worth it. At least during July when the sun is to it's maximum power.  the beach is fantastic!!! We didn't have a beach front room, but it was just a matter of going down a flight of stairs and there it was :-)
    We had dinner and breakfast there just one day and for being hotel food it was pretty good, but a little pricey. That's why we decided to skip their food for the rest of the week. They have small refrigerators in the rooms so we went to a supermarket and bought cereal, milk, bread, cheese, deli ham, crackers, juice, water and had breakfast at our room and made sandwiches for the beach so we didn't have to go out for lunch either. It rained every afternoon but late enough that it was ok to go back to our room and get ready for dinner. We had dinner in different places every night based on reviews from here, and hang out at St. Armands circle and Siesta key village. A very relaxing vacation.

    21/07/11 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    5. Kyle T.
    Best part about this hotel: just feet from the beach. And that's about all. I was really disappointed in the hotel. It needs to be cleaned up, painted and fixed up. It might be the worst hotel on the block. I actually just got back last night from a week there. The hotel claims to change the sheets every three days...not the case. One of the beds had a rip in the sheet, and it was there the whole week. The outlets in our room didn't all work and same with one of the lights. The shower nozzle needed to be greased up a little because it was hard to use.

    Now we basically only used the hotel to sleep, but the pools were nice there. No hot tube which is a little upsetting. We did use the restaurant 3 times. Over priced food for small portions, so go check out the circle for some nice places to eat.

    On the beach they gave you chairs to sit on along with beach towels. So that was nice.

    Look its not the best hotel at all, but if you are looking for just a place to sleep at night, then why pay for something better?

    27/02/12 | Link | Rating: 2.0
    6. John A.
    I stayed here with my wife and teenage daughter from July 29 to August 2, 2011 and had a great time.  The Gulf is only about 50 yards away across a white, sandy beach.  We especially enjoyed spotting dolphins jumping out of the water less than 100 yards offshore.

    This is a clean, family-friendly hotel that is reasonably priced and has a perfect, uncrowded location right on the beach.  It is clearly an older building (perhaps 30-40 years old) but appears to have been remodeled in the past few years.  Being an older building, the bathrooms are smallish but not tiny.  Everything in our room was clean and in good working order.  Being the hottest time of year, I was thankful for the A/C!

    I found the employees to be very friendly and helpful.  Only once did I have a problem (not enough towels in the room).  Five minutes after I called the front desk, housekeeping was at the door with fresh, clean towels.

    NOTES:

    * There is a free, on-call shuttle to drive you to (and pick you up from) nearby places.  If you take advantage of it, be sure to tip the driver!

    * There are PLENTY of clean pool towels available near the pool.  Don't bother bringing your room towels down to the pool or to the beach.  The pool towels are bigger and you can use as many as you need.

    * While I didn't see much of it, be aware that people smoke in all of the outdoor areas (pool bar, outdoor restaurant seating and room balconies).  Smoke doesn't bother me but it does my wife and thought that I should mention it.

    * A 16% gratuity is automatically added to the restaurant and bar bills.  Another guest (a local) told me that this is because the hotel gets a large number of foreign tourists who don't tip at all.  I don't know if that's true, it's just what he told me.

    04/08/11 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    7. Shelley B.
    As a Florida native, i've been visiting the Helmsley Sandcastle for about 15 years and even spent my honeymoon here. This place, along with Barnacle Bill's and the Sarasota Jungle Gardens on Tamiami Trail, is a treasure of Sarasota. That is, if you are looking for the true natural beauty of Lido Key and not the pampered, sickly vacation experience offered at the likes of the non-beachfront Ritz Sarasota.

    The rooms at the HS are small, but cozy; the bathrooms are basic, but clean. The room service is friendly, the food is delicious and runs until 11pm (although they were kind enough to extend the deadlines for us a few times!).

    Just next door is an adorable tiki bar thats been there since the 1950s! It has a fire pit, perfect for watching sunsets in the cool Florida winter. The bartender there trained under Don the Beachcomber.

    The stretch of beach in front of the Helmsley is arguably the most beautiful on Lido, towards the south end of the island near the park. I've stayed at other Lido hotels and the Helmsley is by far the best location for the money.

    Come here for a true Florida vacation, if you are looking for peace, friendliness and natural beauty without breaking the bank.

    29/12/10 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    8. kim k.
    If you like to walk into a double bed hotel room with semen stains on BOTH throw pillows and shams this is the hotel for you.  I was disgusted and brought suspect pillows and shams to the manager at the front desk who agreed to change them without apology or anything when we both knew what they were.  Then some manager of sorts knocked on our door, came in with  new linens and then yelled at a housekeeper in front of us to make sure that the linens were changed properly.  Everything was shabby.  I would never go here again.

    01/03/12 | Link | Rating: 1.0
    9. Dale Z.
    We stayed here for about 3 days. It was alright. Nothing special.

    The great thing was that it was right on the beach.. we didnt have an ocean view room, but it was literally only a 30 second walk to the beach.. that was great!

    The heated pools were cool, there is a laundry area onsite that comes in handy with old school arcade games, like Galaga, which is awesome.

    The rooms are typical hotel rooms. Nothing fancy. My only complaints were that the rooms smelled musty, like they have flooded before and that if it falls under 60 degrees outside, the A/c doesnt work. There was also some mold spots on the shower curtain.

    The service was great, the people were friendly and the parking was close and plentiful.

    The beach is amazing. So close and so private. They have cabanas, chairs, etc..

    for the price we got it on from Priceline, I would stay there again.

    13/03/11 | Link | Rating: 3.0
    10. Sherry M.
    I would like to give 3.5 stars. We stayed Columbus Day weekend.  The hotel was definitely from the 50s, only 4 stories and several different buildings. We had an ocean view room with a king bed. The rooms have been updated and are comfortable but not luxurious. It was clean. The bathroom was not the best feature, it was on the small side but the rest of the room was spacious. The entry was overlooking the pool area and the other end of the room had a balcony overlooking the sea. There was a pool bar where you could order drinks and food with easy access from the beach. We had dinner one night and the stuffed grouper special was very good. I would definitely stay here again for the beach, location, price, and drinks.

    10/10/12 | Link | Rating: 3.0
    11. Foodie On T.
    Dated, horrible beds,dodgy plumbing,very thin walls ( noisy ) if all the other hotels in the area weren't sold out we would of moved if we could! Only redeeming feature,on the beach.

    10/11/12 | Link | Rating: 1.0
    12. Pam A.
    This hotel is awesome for all crowds, from young couples to older retirees. This is my second stay and the service has been consistent. Daily free papers are delivered to your door, the maids are friendly, beach staff is helpful and the rooms are comfortable. Each room comes with an empty mini fridge which allows you to fill them with what ever you like. There's always parking close to your room as well. The beach itself is the best in the area, calm waters where the wildlife is plentiful. One money saving Tip is to rent your beach umbrella from ABC rentals for $25 a week, where as if you were to rent a beach umbrella from the hotel it is $10 daily.  The down side is, is that since the beach staff knows you don't need help with an umbrella they are less likely to assist you with setting up your beach chair.

    08/06/13 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    13. Anna L.
    I want to say I love this hotel but I really think that it is in need of a facelift!  

    There are two pools which I loved lounging around during the day because they gave you free poolside food (wings, nachos, fruit/cheese, etc).  Be careful of seagulls and crows though..they are known to attack your plate if you don't cover it up!!! I had that happen to me twice :(  but it was funny.  The hotel is right along the beach and has it's own private section which is fantastic if you want to get a quiet swim in during the day..vs. going to a super crowded beach where there are naked kids running around.  They provide free towels and beach chairs.  Umbrellas are hard to come by during hot hot hot days and so call ahead and reserve.

    If you don't have a car, consider renting one or use their in house car once or twice.  It is free and they are quick to get it in case you want to stop by St. Armand's circle.  

    I  heart the mid century design.  I was fascinated by the logo and kept taking it's picture (mainly because I'm a designer and so I click away when I see inspiration!! haha).  The hotel is a lovely pink and the beach chairs are pink & white striped.  It's so nice to just sit there and view all of it at once against the blue ocean.  

    The room is clean but the doors and and fixtures NEEDS to be replaced and the bathroom needs to be remodeled.  I was quite disappointed when I got to the room because of all the old fixtures.  I also wish there was a kitchen or at least a microwave. However, it is clean and there is a giant closet to put all your stuff in.  I was a little scared to use the bathroom though but got over it after the first day...when you gotta go you gotta go - _ -

    18/06/10 | Link | Rating: 3.0
    14. Meredith E.
    This was our second stay at this hotel. First the positives: the pools are wonderful - heated and very clean. They are also salt-water. The beach there is lovely and we spent a lot of time swimming in the gulf. The location of the hotel is great - close to Armand Circle. Also, the restaurant serves a very good lunch (we didn't have breakfast or dinner there, so can't speak to that). The restaurant staff are very friendly and helpful, as are the people at the front desk.

    Downside is the place needs some cosmetic work. The grounds are beautiful, but we found a couple of things out of order - hairdryer broken, lights out, shower very hard to work (stuck!). The staff is friendly. Some here have mentioned the bartender - I like her a lot - she was always friendly to me.

    We plan to stay here next year again because the price is right and the pool is awesome!

    15/06/13 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    15. Scott H.
    Meh.
    The location is great, right on the beach and very close to downtown. Other than that, this place is barely one star. Staff is indifferent. Maybe because we got a deal online, they even mentioned we should have booked directly with them. But I thought the point of an online deal is to introduce people to their hotel in hopes they will return.
    We got to our very basic room to discover two twin beds. Err, call me nutty, but I like sleeping next to my wife. We called the desk to ask for a room with a queen sized bed but were told that had we booked directly through them, we could upgrade but since we didn't we were stuck. Oh well.
    We were starving, so we went down to their restaurant. Horrible, horrible, horrible. Our waitress could not have cared less that we were there. Zero personality on that one. All we wanted was sandwiches and I ordered a chicken parm. I have never had such a flavorless sandwich in my life. How bad was it? If I was blindfolded, I could not have even told you what it was. In fact, I couldn't even tell you it was tomato sauce!
    So, location is great, everything else is mediocre. I check pieces for other hotels nearby, and there are much more attractive properties for a similar price.

    10/05/12 | Link | Rating: 2.0
    16. Willy M.
    Hotel is clean and service was excellent.
    Hotel it's right on the beach.
    The hotel is pretty old and the a/c system is quite ancient. Besides all that My family and I had a great time.

    30/09/12 | Link | Rating: 3.0
    17. Jason Y.
    Great staff, very helpful. Little pricey but not horrible. Booked through Travelocity Christmas week for 140ish a night on the north side, 2 double beds. Bartender is very friendly and helpful aswell! Beach front is very nice, heated odds are awesome.

    26/12/13 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    18. Jane A.
    This hotel offers great value for the price they ask.

    It is not a new hotel. It's nothing fancy and it is unpretentious, but clean, light, and offers everything you need if you love the beach and splashing in clean water.

    The hotel is right on the beach - the only location with such proximity to the beach in Lido Key. The sand is white and fine. The water was really warm and amazing.

    The staff is friendly and always helpful. The food in the restaurant is good - we couldn't get enough of their blue crab bisque. You also have an option of dining at the circle that is five minutes drive from the hotel and has a lot of fine dining places and shopping. My favorite was Tommy Bahama's and Crab and Fin.

    The parking in the hotel is super convenient - you drive up almost straight to your room no matter what floor you are on.

    Make sure you ask for an oceanfront room - you can watch the sunset from your balcony, although you may have to share it with the neighbors - the balconies are not separated.

    Helmsley is about 20 minutes away from Siesta Key, which is rated number one beach in the US. We were unable to find lodging in Siesta but Lido was close enough to drive if we wanted to go there for a swim.

    Highly recommend.

    27/05/12 | Link | Rating: 5.0
    19. Annie T.
    Very friendly and accommodating staff. You get what you pay for....pay extra for a room in the newer building. Otherwise the other rooms need to be updated. Restaurant food is surprisingly good...comparable to some St. Armands restaurants. Location to the beach is perfect and attendants at the beachside are very helpful. Downside though is the Wifi signal flactuates depending on how many users are logged on. Overall, a great experience.

    23/07/14 | Link | Rating: 3.0
    20. Deborah D.
    We really enjoyed our stay at the Sandcastle and will be back.  The staff was incredibly warm and helpful.  We had no issues or challenges with wheelchair and service dog.  The rooms are a bit dated, but clean and all in good working order.  The gulf view rooms have a nice little balcony.  The pool area is very nice and perfect water temp.  We enjoyed the weekend live music and many options for watching sunsets.  The on site restaurant is good and has plenty of outdoor seating.  It was very convenient to have access to guest laundry and gift shop.  Beach includes shady areas and you can request umbrella and chairs/towels that they set up.  Beware of of sting rays, a fellow guest was stung.  Lots of pretty shells to collect.  Dan caught a snook on a fly rod right in front of our room.  Overall excellent time!

    11/10/14 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    21. Masha Halpern B.
    Beautiful location on beachfront- older style hotel with larger room sizes. Easily accommodates a king size bed and a "cot' for a third or pack n go crib. Easy to access private wifi- private patio on first floor ocean view. Good room rate for season.Older style decor and small bathroom with limited food selection on site would be my less positive comments on offerings. Friendly staff, amenities and ocean front would be THE positive plus quiet atmosphere a few minutes drive from downtown shops and places to eat. Our January visit was colder than usual so they turned on the heat for us- the gerbils in the system were up all night squeaking- may have needed servicing- and the sweet ants decided heat was for them and came to see us in the bathroom...Nothing beats the room with the view though. For a short visit and a great location to sleep in- this was a good I would consider it.

    19/01/14 | Link | Rating: 3.0
    22. Mark H.
    I'm going to up the ante on my previous review (read below) based on my recent stay this week and go from 4 to 5 stars. The level of friendliness with the staff and the old school charm of the room with it's wonderful gulf view all remain the same. However, due to car trouble, we decided to stay put at the hotel for our entire stay. This prompted us to try their food--AND IT WAS OUTSTANDING!

    THE BURGER (as it's called on their menu) was incredible. Big enough for two moderately hungry people to share with an order of fries. The bacon was thicker than most burgers, and the flavor was intense. This may actually be the best burger I've ever eaten.

    BREAKFAST BAGEL SANDWICH was also massive. Who's eating this whole thing? 2 or 3 scrambles eggs, 4 slices of bacon, American cheese and served with home fries. Who wants to go lay on the beach and expose their bloated stomach after eating this monster? Again, probably best if you split it with someone, unless you're starving.

    GROUPER SANDWICH was very good, and the size was decent. Not the thickest, flakiest filet I've ever seen, but it exceeded all of my expectation considering that it's hotel food. Very flavorful... The batter they use is light and crunchy and the tater sauce is made fresh--not out of some jar.

    Next year, we will do the same and remain on hotel grounds for eating purposes.

    20/07/11 | Link | Rating: 5.0
    23. Deke K.
    I had an excellent experience at this hotel with a deep discount for a conference weekend.  It's hard to find beach walk-outs under $200 and this was half that per night for my four days there.  Front desk was friendly, quick and accommodating.  They were VERY busy and still found time for concierge-type recommendations and kept a menu at the counter which helped decide wheter to eat in or out.

    The rooms ARE dated but they don't have the often FL beach "smell" of mildew.  They have yellowed outlet covers and worn carpet.  I had a new "hard" and comfortable bed a great full cable TV and lots of sunlight.

    The two pools had a greenish tinge but were well used. The outdoor bar was not a popular place, bartender didn't seem friendly and did not have regular nor late hours.  The cute gift shop on site had reasonable prices, advertised open 9 to 6 daily but was not open on two occasions within those hours during my stay.  They lost at least $50 in my business not being opened on my last day.

    There was no lifeguard on this stretch of beach and you could not see the red flags posted as unswimmable so use water "sense".  Neat tiki hut shade and great place to watch sunsets.  There were lots of "lower class" guests who did not control their screaming kids during the day.  It was also well-populated by German speakers.

    A highlight was the Candlelight Restaurant onsite, serving five-star food.  They had  $19 buffet one night with four meat options and 3 desserts with many salads in between.  I enjoyed a fabulous seafood chowder ($4), great onion rings ($4) and crisp grilled asparagus ($2) one night as "tapas".  I did have trouble getting served for breakfast at their outdoor cafe (disorganized waitresses) and learned they had a $10 breakfast buffet that I enjoyed one morning.  Homemade waffles with cherries sauce, hash, fresh Florida juice, and the usuals.  I don't like that they auto add the tip to the bill.

    All in all, you won't find cheaper digs on this beach.  If you want newer and classier, pay more elsewhere.  I loved the memories of beach stays gone by and LOVED the food and view at this place.

    11/2014.  The latest "deals" are $100/night plus a steep resort fee.  (bummer)  The gift shop is pretty sparse but everything else still makes it a great place.

    09/05/13 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    24. New York N.
    We stayed in an ocean front room and a what great view of the Gulf of Mexico.  That's about it.  The room was very dated with wallpaper peeling, moldy carpet, bathtub leaking and not enough outlets in the room.  Housekeeping even forget to take our left over food from the night before- Yikes!  Although the staff was "nice", they lacked class and sophistication in accommodating our needs. I would of expected better from staying in an ocean front room but we learned not to expect much and went to St Armand's & Longboat Key to get the service we were accustomed to.

    27/01/15 | Link | Rating: 2.0
    25. Ann K.
    This was our second time staying at the Sandcastle and I can honestly say I won't go back.  First time was great--yes, the rooms are dated but the view can't be beat and the experience was overall very pleasant.  We just returned and the experience left us  very disappointed, especially considering how much the resort fees have increased since the ownership changed.  For three days, no one cleaned our room despite multiple calls to the front desk.  When they did come, no supplies were replenished.  We unfortunately left my two year olds stuffed animal in the room and after three days and repeated calls to the hotel and housekeeping I have yet to talk to anyone who can tell me if they found it.  Just got off a VERY rude call with the front desk person.  I don't usually write reviews but if you are considering a trip to the area I would strongly advise you look elsewhere.

    11/02/15 | Link | Rating: 1.0
    26. Rody D.
    Stayed 2 nights.
    Its the location that counts, the sunsets are a fairytale.

    Pro's
    - location, location, location
    - Free wifi
    - hotel organises activaties, like movie nights at the swimmingpool
    - dinner buffet, value for your money, dessert buffet is fantastic

    Cons
    - rooms are bit outdated, can use some paint as well.
    - breakfast buffet, if you like greased food, this being the place to eat

    Be aware when making reservation via booking.com our did came through.
    Reception gave us last room available

    16/07/14 | Link | Rating: 4.0
    27. Hoolia C.
    The hotel is really more of a motel with a million dollar view. The rooms are musty and in need of repair, the food is less than stellar, and most of all,  the management is in dire need of hospitality lessons. The location is great, but spend less than 5 minutes driving from the Hyatt Regency to Lido and you can have an excellent lodging experience and a beautiful view - plus be within walking distance of downtown Sarasota.

    20/05/15 | Link | Rating: 1.0
    28. Carlos V.
    The two stars are just for the beach and the white sand. Except that:
    - the room was dirty (the bath tub: hair and cockroache)
    - the alleys of the rooms are noisy
    - the foid aint that great

    Voilà, tout est dit.

    03/05/15 | Link | Rating: 2.0
    29. Brett N.
    Why 4 stars? Because what else do you need other than a cheap night on the beach?

      ---   ---   ---

    When I'm staying on the beach, I really don't need much, so Sandcastle was a perfect match.

    The girlfriend and I just wanted a 24 hour staycation near the sand, and we didn't want to break the bank for it. The room we stayed was definitely no frills, but it was also huge! For anyone interested in bringing in the air mattresses or sleeping bags, our room could have easily slept about 6-8 people on the ground. I'm not sure if all of the rooms are that big, but ours was enormous for a standard hotel room.

    We enjoyed the dimly light balcony at night, and the views of the pool and shuttleboard court by day. The beach was just beyond the pool, as well. Everything we wanted to do in Sarasota was a short drive away.

    An all-around solid experience.

    09/10/14 | Link | Rating: 4.0