Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Wed June 22 2016

Clearwater Beach's Opal Sands Offers a Luxury Vacation Unlike Any Other

Hotel & Resort | Michael Schottey | June 22, 2016

Clearwater Beach's Opal Sands Offers a Luxury Vacation Unlike Any Other

PHOTO: Opal Sands Resort at Sunset from the Pier. (Photo by Stacey Schottey)

It’s the best resort on the best beach in the country.

Located just footsteps from the white sands and calm blue waters of Clearwater Beach, Opal Sands is the brand-new offering from The Opal Collection which is quickly raising the bar when it comes to luxury resort accommodations in Florida and beyond.

Open just a few months at the time of this writing, Opal Sands still has that new-hotel smell about it, but whatever opening kinks they may have had are clearly long gone because the service and accommodations are just as stunning as the view.

From the moment one drives up into the resort, steps into the ultra-modern lobby (complete with sand sculpture), or turns a new corner anywhere on the property, it is almost as if the entire experience was hand-crafted as a series of literally breathtaking sights to see.

READ MORE: Dr. Beach Announces 2016 Top 10 Beaches

The rooms themselves are beautifully appointed with Florida-chic earth tones, dark woods and off-whites that beautifully combine with the Gulf backdrop, making guests feel like they have a private room right out on the sand. Opening the balcony door only intensifies the experience with the sound of the waves rolling in and the potential for nightly entertainment drifting up from one of the nearby restaurants and bars.

In Clearwater, the beach is the biggest draw, so every single room at Opal Sands is a Gulf-view room with massive floor-to-ceiling windows and private balconies. Suites on the corners of the building boast wrap-around balconies with views both of the beach and the inlet, which provides opportunities for both sunrise and sunset views — possibly the most romantic and picturesque accommodations available in the area.

But oh, that beach…

PHOTO: The Sunset over the Gulf of Mexico (Photoby Stacey Schottey)

Clearwater Beach is beginning to evolve into a Venice Beach-like atmosphere with summer festivals nightly down along the pier. From vendors, food, street performers and plenty of beach activities to see and do, it’s an eclectic mix that at first seems incongruous with the over-the-top amenities at Opal Sands.

Any juxtaposition fades quickly away, however, as the fun takes over. Whether it’s spending a day in a covered cabana taking occasional dips in the warm, calm Gulf of Mexico waters or renting equipment to get out and see some nearby aquatic wildlife, no one would fault anyone for just spending an entire day at the beach before walking back up to their room.

The area offers so much more, though — especially when one considers that Clearwater Beach is only a short drive to Tampa and St. Petersburg. Kids and adults alike can meet “Winter” from “A Dolphin Tale” at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. The entire family can enjoy the Busch Gardens amusement park. Or, get out on the Gulf itself with all kinds of day cruises ranging from speedboat rides to Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise.

Within the resort confines is even more fun and relaxation though for singles, couples and families of all shapes and sizes. The zero entry pool is just a few steps up from the beach itself and is complete with palms, fountains and a full-service poolside bar as well as a secluded hot tub area with fantastic views (remember, sunsets). The Opal Collection is known for doing Spas as well as anyone in the business, and Opal Sands is no different in that regard which ramps up the rest and relaxation factor of the setting in a big way.

PHOTO: The Zero-Entry Pool at Opal Sands (Photo by Michael Schottey)

Sea-Guini, one of the resort’s restaurant offerings, provides breakfast, lunch and dinner service with a gulf-inspired, Italian menu, which is expertly executed. The prices — especially for breakfast — seem a tad on the high side, but are in line not only with resorts in the area but with local restaurants as well. Moreover, the quality of the food and the portion sizes make the price seem like a value by the time that first bite touches your lips.

It may seem like an odd thing to highlight, but the kid’s menu, especially, is done really well, standing out in a sea of frozen chicken nuggets and bland pizza parents are used to seeing.

For a more relaxed setting or more casual fare, the Sandbar provides some of the best specialty cocktails on the beach and “bar food” done with the same level of excellence as the Italian/seafood right up the stairs. The “Sun Splash” cocktail fits about as well with the atmosphere as any drink possibly could, while the “Beachside Mary” is almost like a second meal. Pair either with Conch Fritters and the Blackened Fish Tacos for a fantastic lunch or dinner.

READ MORE: Tampa International Airport to Feature More Local Dining Venues

Within walking distance from the hotel are plenty of other dining options of all types and the extremely helpful concierge desk, bell staff or valets are always more than able and willing to hand out recommendations and directions. This displaced Midwesterner wholeheartedly suggests Detroit Coney Island, but Pearly’s Beach Eats is a bit shorter of a walk and has fantastic fare in a quirky low-key setting. If you’re craving wings, the original Hooters is just a short drive over the bridge back into Clearwater proper.

If anyone enjoys sun, sand and beautiful water, Clearwater Beach needs to be added to the upcoming destinations. For the complete experience and the most luxurious way to enjoy Clearwater Beach, Opal Sands Resort sets the bar and offers a beach life vacation that is second to none.

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