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May 22, 2017

Destination: Clearwater - East Shore Resort

This year's "Spring/Summer Series" ventures beyond our Orlando borders to explore some nearby destinations to consider when you need a little getaway from the hustle and bustle of Orlando. You may be surprised to discover a whole new world just a short drive from theme park paradise. Speaking of paradise... we discovered a nice little slice of it, less than two hours west of Orlando, in Clearwater Beach!


It's immediately obvious how Clearwater Beach earned its name... crystal clear waters. Paired with that pure white, soft Gulf Coast sand, it's the kind of combination that you just can't resist. Growing up in Texas, I have always had a special love for Gulf Coast beaches, so this was a sight to behold! 



Our host resort was just off the main drag into town. It backs up to Clearwater Bay, with a private dock into the water. More on this amazing view in just a moment...



The front of East Shore Resort has dedicated, free parking. This is invaluable - especially when you consider the location. Directly across the street is a parking garage (NOT free), and across the street from there is the beach. If you've ever been to a beach town, you know that parking is a hot commodity, and it is rarely free - or even cheap. Aside from the beach itself, there are a variety of restaurants, shops, bars, and more within a few minutes walk of East Shore. It truly is the perfect, convenient "home base" for a Clearwater Beach adventure!


I spent many years living in South Florida. East Shore Resort reminded me of the cozy little beach motels I loved in the Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood area. It was the kind of place that felt more like a friend's elaborate commune of cottages than a "hotel". The owners, Billy and Terry Day, are your on-site, friendly hosts. They have owned property in the area since 1986 - and this location since 1992. They've put millions of dollars, and immeasurable thought and effort, into this labor of love, and the personal touches and details give the property so much charm and character. The gardens are immaculately maintained and beautifully blended. It's obvious that a great deal of consideration went into every last element. Hand-painted murals on the main, two-story portion of the property featured positive, beachy mantras and a welcoming life-sized representation of Billy and Terry themselves.


From the garden entry (alongside the pool), you'll find a covered patio with tables and a grill for guest use, and beyond that - the resort's private 250 foot fishing pier and dock. Here, guests can take advantage of chairs, tables, or a porch swing while taking in the breeze over the water. It's the perfect spot to watch for manatee, bird, or dolphin visitors - or just enjoy some peace and quiet. It's also a good spot for fishing, which we tried out at night under the stars. By the way, you don't even need to prepare in advance with bulky equipment for your fishing or beach adventures... Billy and Terry have you covered! On-site storage pods contain bikes, beach chairs, mats, fishing equipment, bait - even some beer and wine - that guests are welcome to utilize during their stay! The dock even holds crabbing cages, if you're feeling ambitious.


Being guests of unit 6S, we had the good fortune of enjoying another perspective of the deck as well... a view from above. Remember how I said I'd get back to that beautiful view of the bay? Well, this was the view from the dining room table in our one bedroom apartment...


Although I went straight for that window with an awestruck gasp, there was a lot more to admire about the rest of the unit. It is wide open and the space is smartly maximized with tile throughout. The furniture is very comfortable, unlike many hotels, and the windows welcome such brilliant sunshine from multiple angles. The kitchen is fully equipped with modern appliances and every convenience to make the place feel like "home". The flat-screen TV is wisely placed in the upper corner of the main room - viewable from all areas. My favorite touch - the mounted radio with cassette deck, linked to speakers spaced across the ceiling!



Off to the side of the main room at the front entry, there is a separate, spacious bedroom. The colors throughout the apartment are a well-matched white and pastel blue. Everything is incredibly soft and alluring, which makes it insanely tempting to just sink right in and completely forget your surroundings. Then, you take notice of the sliding glass door on the other side of the bedroom...


This opens up to a large balcony, shared with the adjacent unit. The balcony overlooks the large, heated pool and sundeck, with the beach just beyond. My son promptly parked himself on a lounger here and said, "now, THIS is what I call a vacation"! I have to say - I agree!


Our stay in Clearwater Beach didn't last nearly long enough - especially since it was abruptly interrupted by a call from our pet sitter prompting a sudden run home to tend to a cockatoo calamity. The round-trip robbed us of a little over four hours of time, and also necessitated a premature return home the next day, but we are already anxious to return, and East Shore Resort is where we would love to explore from. We spent a good deal of time checking out the area, both on foot and by car, and we didn't feel the slightest regret in our location. Although the whole area was nice and appealing, East Shore was a stand-out. It was certainly a combination of the location, the accommodations themselves, and the general "feel" of the place - no doubt attributed to the genuine nature of Billy and Terry Day, and the personal love that goes into the resort (which we have a special appreciation for). Billy sums it up best: "I have at least 1 or 2 people [agents] per quarter that offer to purchase my property for crazy amounts of money. All buyers simply want to tear it down and build high rise buildings. I tell them all; 'it's not for sale'. I love this little piece of paradise that I've built with the help and ideas of others. It's the most fun that I ever had losing money and it is much cheaper than a psychiatrist. Over 80% of our customers are repeat guests and many have become like family".

And, it's true - from the moment you arrive, you can't wait to plan your return visit!

East Shore Resort offers daily, weekly, and monthly rates. The unit we were offered (6S) appears to range from a little over $200/night to just under $300/night, depending on day and season. Smaller units (with or without patios/water views, studios, etc.) are also available starting at just over $150. Weekly rates range from around $700-$1500, and monthly rates run from $2500 - $4600. For more information on East Shore Resort, click here or follow them on Facebook.

Stay tuned for more to come from Clearwater Beach, including more info on some local spots we stumbled upon like...

ICE and CREAM CREAMERY
PALM PAVILION BEACHSIDE GRILL & BAR