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Casa Ybel Resort

Sanibel, Sanibel Island 33957 PHONE: 239-472-3145 Map it / View Street Address

Featured Review: Casa Ybel Resort

By Ronald G. Helms, Centerville, OH 
First printed in Sep/Oct 2011

Florida is a large state with demographics, climate zones, geography, and economies that are extremely varied. The visitor is likely to spend several years touring the state in order to enjoy the variety of activities and opportunities that Florida offers.

One charming, congenial, guileless, and serene location is Sanibel Island. "Sanibel Island on the Gulf coast of Southwest Florida is linked to the mainland by the Sanibel Causeway. A short bridge over Blind Pass links Sanibel to the unincorporated town of Captiva on Captiva Island. More than half of the two islands are preserved in its natural state as wildlife refuges. Visitors can drive, walk, bike, or kayak through the J. N. 'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge." Nearly 6,500 people reside on the Sanibel, and a primary source of income is tourism.

Interval International currently lists 16 different timeshare properties on Sanibel and Capitva, with 13 of these resorts listed as "premium" properties. An important variable to bear in mind is how well the property survived Hurricane Charley in 2004. Sanibel and Capitva are prime hurricane targets.

We are fond of the insouciance of Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club (2255 West Gulf Drive Sanibel Island, FL 33957 239-472-3145). We have heard Ybel pronounced several ways, and the locals pronounce the "Y" as a short "I" as in "igloo." Perhaps a map from the visitors' center is useful, but it is difficult to imagine getting lost on Sanibel and Capitva. This is not Hilton Head.

And while we thoroughly enjoy Hilton Head and its urban neighbors to the north and south, Sanibel and Capitva invite an irenic and serene lifestyle. The Interval International description is very accurate: "Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club is set on 23 tropical acres, with more than a quarter-mile of private beach. The three-story lodges offer terraces that overlook the Gulf of Mexico. On-site are an Olympic-sized heated pool, a wading pool, a poolside bar, and a heated spa. Guests also can enjoy six tennis courts, barbecue grills, and the Thistle Lodge Waterfront Bar and Grill restaurant." The limited photos at the Interval International website do not do justice to this premium resort.

Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club provides a full kitchen, comfortable living room, excellent bedrooms (all units are two bedrooms) and the all-important large screened lanai. All of the units will have a Gulf of Mexico view, and all units will provide a tropical Florida view. The two bedrooms are located on the second floor. The master has a king size bed and there are two twin beds in the guest bedroom. We have stayed at Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club during spring break, summer holiday, and during Christmas. The heaviest traffic naturally occurs in the winter due to the city of Ft. Meyers and the nearby Ft. Meyers' Beach. Our first Christmas holiday forty years ago was spent at Ft. Meyers' Beach, and it felt "sinful" to enjoy sun, beach, and the Gulf of Mexico when our friends and neighbors were battling the ice, snow, and Ohio winter. It did not require many southern Christmas vacations to overcome this misperception.

Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club in December is a pure enrapturement. Sanibel and Capitva do not suffer in the winter from the "snowbird invasion" that infects Ft. Meyers. Creative is the best concept to apply to the homeowners' and to the businesses' Christmas decorations. Many tall palm trees take on the green and red Christmas lights in December.

The on-site swimming pool is an Olympic size pool which provides swimming for adults; children have other water areas. My wife enjoys the beaches for sunning, swimming, and perhaps most important, shelling. The best shelling is found on the beaches of Sanibel and Captiva Islands. The islands rank tops in the world for shelling because of geography.

Sanibel Island does the twist as it parades along the coastline among a string of other more orderly, straight-and-narrow islands. The east-west torque of Sanibel's south end acts like a shovel scooping up all the seashells that the Gulf imports from The Caribbean and other southern seas. There are six grocery stores listed for Sanibel and Capitva. We generally find necessary provisions at Jerry's Foods of Sanibel or at Bailey's General Store; both are located on Periwinkle Way. There are 100 plus restaurants ranging from breakfast to delis to Italian to seafood to fine dining.

The breakfast restaurants provide a late breakfast or early lunch. We really like the Lighthouse Cafe that serves breakfast from 7:00am until 3:00pm; so do many of the locals and tourists. Call ahead and ask for the "slow" times at this restaurant. We are looking forward to our next Ocean Frittata -"delicately seasoned Shrimp, Scallops and Crabmeat sauteed with Broccoli and fresh Mushrooms, topped with an Artichoke Heart and our creamy Alfredo Sauce." Years ago, I ordered my wife a Lighthouse Mimosa, and her response was "this is a waste of perfectly good orange juice." So we now split a pitcher of the fresh squeezed orange juice.

We have never patronized the family/ fun dining places, and at our age will not endure the "fun." The famous "golden arches" and its ilk will not be found on Sanibel! The Thistle Lodge located on the property of Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club is a fine dining restaurant, and we have enjoyed several very nice dining occasions within steps of our timeshare.

We can always count on importing several pounds of Sanibel shells back to Ohio. One caveat: the State of Florida has outlawed the collecting of live shells on the island.

We fly from Dayton or Cincinnati into the Ft. Meyers International Airport, take a van to the car park, and drive the 25 miles to Sanibel.

One of the neatest features of Sanibel and Captiva Islands is the almost total absence of "chain" stores and restaurants. Sanibel and Captiva have encouraged local businesses, local restaurants, and local services. In some ways, this zoning transports one back to the 1950's in the U.S.

Of course, Sanibel and Captiva would not be "paradise" without the "cute" shops that my wife believes with all of her heart that is her birthright. Because the islands are so small, my wife is perfectly content to drive around Periwinkle Way on her own. This is reason enough for me to continue our visits to Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club.

Honestly, I am totally content to enjoy our sojourn without leaving the grounds of Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club. My wife is a master of the Internet search. She knows at any given time there are 25-45 consignment shops waiting for her in Ft. Meyers. And the holiday is our common holiday. "Yes, dear" is the only answer to consignment shops. I always hope that she will fill only one suitcase with her new treasures.

We visit Ybel Beach and Racquet Club with a degree of frequency, and enjoy looking forward to our return. We saved the best for last. The Sanibel and Captiva sunsets are glorious. On some days, the bright ball of fire seems to submerge into the Gulf of Mexico.

On other days, a slight cloud cover will illuminate the western sky. At night the moon and the constellations are visible, particularly in the west because of low light pollution.

These treats from nature are delivered every night free of charge.

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Casa Ybel Resort is also known as:

  • Casa Ybel
  • Casa Ybel Hotel
  • Casa Ybel Hotel Sanibel Island
  • Casa Ybel Resort Sanibel Island
  • Casa Ybel Sanibel Island
  • Sanibel Island Casa Ybel
  • Casa Ybel Resort Sanibel
  • Casa Ybel Beach and Racquet Club
  • Hilton Grand Vacations at Casa Ybel Resort
  • Casa Ybel Resort by Hilton Grand Vacations
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