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Family Hotels in Florida: Gullwing Beach Resort Experience 2016 - Florida Family Travel Guide

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Gullwing Beach Resort Overview

Yes, yes, New Englanders in Florida--how unoriginal. But if you're going to do it, we say do it right!

I'm sure you've noticed by now that like so many of our fellow northerners, we, too, flee to Florida to avoid our local weather. Predictable? Probably. Worth it? Definitely!

Located on the gulf side of Fort Myers Beach, Gullwing Beach Resort is steps from the beautiful blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico on the southern end of Estero Island in Florida. Suites are available in a range of sizes from 1-3 bedrooms with private balconies, open-concept layouts and 3 view options--beachfront, bayview or island view. We recently had the pleasure of spending nearly a week in one of the Gullwing Beach Resort's 3-bedroom suites with both boys and their grandmother while exploring the area.  We had a great time and we're excited to share our experience with our readers! Keep in mind, suites at Gullwing Beach Resort are individually owned and may vary in furnishings, appliances, etc.



Gullwing Beach Resort at a Glance:
  • Located on the southern end of Estero Island in Fort Myers Beach, FL (quieter end)
  • 66 condo units available
  • Suites available in 1, 2 or 3-bedrooms 
  • Each suite has private balcony
  • View options include beach, bay or island
  • Sits directly on For Myers Beach with direct beach access
  • Laundry in suites
  • Daily light housekeeping
  • Outdoor pool
  • Gazebo with access to grills
  • Live poolside music at certain times
  • On route of local beach trolley
  • Easy access off Estero Island when headed south
  • Watersport rentals available 
  • Parking on-site
You can book your stay or learn more about Gullwing Beach Resort on their site.


Location

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort - this was taken from our balcony with my Nikon. Beachfront for real!

Gullwing Beach Resort is a beachfront property with direct access to the expansive white sands of Fort Myers Beach. We were fortunate to have a beachview suite, which overlooked the beach directly behind the resort. If you wanted to avoid stepping foot in your car to enjoy the beach, this resort was ideal in terms of location!

As we mentioned above, Gullwing Beach resort is located closer to the southern tip of Estero Island in Fort Myers Beach. For our family, the southern end of Estero Island had more appeal when compared to the bustle of the northern end. The northern end was where the majority of shopping and dining was located (Times Square area), but the southern end had a noticeably quieter atmosphere. While you couldn't walk to as many shops and dining spots, it had a peaceful, family-friendly vibe that made it easy to relax and enjoy our time.  If you find your family tends to crave calm and quiet when going on beach vacations, definitely stick to the southern end if possible!

While we did notice there was a bit of traffic the week we were there in April (especially heading north of us), we found it fairly easy to get off Estero Island to other areas in Florida, especially when traveling south. Additionally, there were a number of amenities nearby including pharmacies, grocery stores, shops, etc. The airport was about 45 minutes from us by car with moderately light traffic. It took us about 4 hours to drive from Orlando.

Note: Keep in mind, the beach is extremely wide so it does require a bit of walking to get down to the water. If you have someone in your family with any sort of physical limitations you may want to consider renting a beach-capable wheelchair--available at several places in the area. The Gullwing Beach Resort staff were very good about providing us with recommendations of this nature and while we didn't end up renting one, we got the info for several they recommended when we visited.


The Layout

Gullwing Beach Resort had an interesting layout with parking on the bottom floor and the lobby on the second floor. Luggage carts and an elevator in the parking area made it fairly easy to transport all of our suitcases to and from the car. There were multiple elevators on the 2nd floor located on opposite ends, making trips to and from our suite fairly quick.

The outdoor pool, gazebo, grilling area and snack stand were located on the beach side of the hotel on the ground floor. Access to the beach was directly behind this area with a nice little open showering station.

Overall, we found it was easy to maneuver our way as a family around the resort throughout our stay.

Note: The elevator going from the ground floor up could get a bit congested during busier times. Make sure you allow yourself a few extra minutes if you have reservations for dining. The luggage carts were located in a little nook in the parking area near the elevators.


3-Bedroom Beachfront Suite First Impressions

To get a feel for how expansive the 3-bedroom suite really was, we strongly suggest watching our suite tour above!  We're no strangers to resort suites, but this was definitely one of the largest we'd seen to date. Not only were there 3 full bedrooms (one of which was a master with a walk-in closet), but there was a full kitchen, dining area, family room with wet bar and breakfast bar facing the kitchen, laundry nook, 2 full baths (one of which was connected to the master bedroom) and a balcony with entrances from the master and family room.

Note: If you are staying in a beachfront room, keep in mind that you will also overlook the pool. The pool stayed open past dark when we were there and we did find that we could hear loud, young guests in the pool from our suite until about 10:30 pm. We were located on the 5th floor, so noise may be less higher up.


The Layout

The open-concept layout of the suite was quite nice! The master bedroom and bath were located on the beach-facing end of the suite, the kitchen and living area were in the middle and the second bath and 2 additional bedrooms sat down the hall by the entrance.

With 3 adults and 2 children, there was more than enough room in our suite to stretch out.


The Beds

The bedrooms consisted of 1 master with a king, 1 room with a queen and 1 room with 2 twins. Everyone found their beds to be comfortable and everyone seemed to sleep fairly well throughout our stay. Bedding was reasonably soft and not overly heavy, though we found it easy to control the temperature of our suite to keep the heat out. While we requested extra pillows as we have several family members that prefer to be propped up a bit while sleeping (we do this everywhere we stay), we found they were all fluffy, comfortable and moderately firm.

Note: Each bedroom had its own TV, side table(s), closet and dresser.

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort queen bed

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort twins

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort king (master bedroom)


The View

With a beachfront suite we were curious to see if it would offer a full or partial view and we're happy to say it was all beach! In fact, we had a view of the beach from both our balcony and master bedroom.

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort View - this was taken from our master bedroom with my Nikon. Our view was fantastic!

The Bathrooms

As we mentioned, we had both a master bath and guest bath (located near the queen bedroom and twin bedroom). The guest bath had a stand up shower, single vanity and toilet with some storage in the vanity. The master bath had a stand up shower, double vanity, whirlpool tub, water closet and plenty of storage in the vanity.

Water pressure was great and the temperature was easy to adjust (read: the water got warm without a chilly wait!). We always tend to find that suites with two bathrooms are a bit more convenient with 4+ people--shorter lines for showers and less dancing in the hallway for our heavy water-drinking family!

The bathrooms were nicely appointed with lots of stone, dark wood and tile.

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort guest bathroom

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort master bath

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort master bath

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort master bath whirlpool tub

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort complimentary toiletries (Korres brand was supplied in both bathrooms)


The Kitchen

Having a full-size kitchen instead of a kitchenette was absolutely fantastic! The kitchen had all of the usual appliances (all of which were full-size), toaster, coffeemaker and was stocked with cookware, flatware, plates, bowls, cups, etc. We made quite a few of our meals in this kitchen and it served us well!

We always find that having a kitchen during our stays saves us quite a bit of money and makes it easier on us dietary-wise as we have a number of food restrictions in our family. 

Note: Upon arrival a roll of paper towels, a packet of dishwasher soap and a packet of laundry soap was provided. We definitely recommend bringing or buying aluminum foil and/or ziploc bags, cooking oil and spices/seasoning. 

 
Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach resort kitchen


The Laundry

Of all the in-room amenities we get excited over, a washer and dryer are definitely in the top 5! Probably even the top 2. Having kids and visiting the beach, there is almost nothing better than being able to do a load or two of clothes when needed without having to leave your room. Granted, we've been to many fantastic hotels and resorts where we've visited the laundry rooms during our stays, there is something so incredibly luxurious (is this a parent thing?) about doing laundry in your room during your downtime.

*Big happy parent sigh*

 The washer and dryer were both able to hold small to medium loads and got the job done well!

Note: While Gullwing did provide a packet of laundry detergent, if you have a lot of allergies we recommend bringing or buying your own nearby. We were able to pick up our usual allergen-free detergent at a grocery store nearby.

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort in-room washing machine

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort in-room dryer


The Dining Area

We love rooms that have dining tables. Picnic-ing on the bed sounds fun and I'm sure there are plenty of families that enjoy it, but we have 2 spill-proned children (I'm guilty of this as well!), so eating at a table is the least stressful for us. ;)

Our suite had enough chairs for all 5 of us to sit around the table, which was a decent size.

Note: If you're traveling with a larger family or more than 5 or so people and don't want to eat in shifts, there were 4 additional seats at the breakfast bar and 5 additional seats at the wet bar. Plenty of options!

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort dining table


The Breakfast Bar

We spent most of our mornings eating breakfast here while chatting about our plans for the day! Such a great addition to the suite.

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort breakfast bar


The Wet Bar

While none of us drank during our stay, for those that plan to let their hair down and entertain this is a fantastic feature! If you don't plan to drink, this is a great little area with additional seating.

Note: This is also where the in-room safe was located!

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort wet bar. You can also see the lovely welcome gift they left for us, which we mention below!


The Family Room

The entertainment area of the suite was a great hangout spot during our downtime! The curved couch was quite large and angled towards the large flat screen tv. We did find that the couch was a little on the worn side, but not uncomfortable for lounging for a bit.

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort family room


The Private Balcony

Since we had a beachfront room, our private balcony faced the beautiful beach next to the resort! The balcony was large and came equipped with a table and chairs, drying rack for bathing suits (so handy) and was fully screened-in! Honestly, the fact that we didn't have to deal with bugs while enjoying our view was absolutely fantastic and such a thoughtful touch.

Gullwing Beach Resort Fort Myers Beach Review Florida Family Travel Guide
Gullwing Beach Resort private balcony (beachfront suite)


The Welcome

Gullwing left us a really sweet welcome gift that included a zip-top tote and two insulated water bottle holders (which you can see in the image above for the wet bar). We actually used them on our beach trips, which was fantastic! They also included some coupons to local businesses--restaurants, watersports rentals, etc.


Housekeeping

Housekeeping at Gullwing Beach Resort was offered as "light housekeeping" a.k.a. fresh linens/towels/toiletries daily. Full housekeeping was available for a fee, however, we did not choose to request it. We didn't mind that only light housekeeping was provided and it was generally good until the very end of our stay. The second to last day we were at the resort we came home from a beach trip to find all of the towels for the entire suite piled up and left in the hallway next to a vase and toiletries in the bathrooms had not been replenished. We called down and asked if this was normal as the rest of the housekeeping service we'd received throughout the week had been so consistent, but they assured us this was not up to their standards and they sent up some toiletries.

Given the consistent nature of the light housekeeping provided during the rest of our stay we're assuming this was a fluke and not the normal level of service provided.


Gullwing Beach Resort Final Thoughts

Gullwing Beach Resort's 3-bedroom suite offered a fantastic stay overall for our family. Especially with 2 parents, 2 kids and a grandmother staying in the suite, the additional space was very welcome!

We loved that the suite included a full-size, fully-equipped kitchen along with laundry. Resorts that take the time to offer amenities that ensure your stay as a family is headache-free get special props from us!

While the noise from the pool at night was a little bit of a bummer, it didn't go past 10:30 pm or so and we were thankful to have a beachfront view, which was really quite spectacular! We did notice that there were some loose/cracked tiles here and there in the floors, but generally most things were up-kept and/or newly renovated. Furniture had a beach-y, lived-in feel and while not new, nothing was super tattered or thread-barren. Each unit is privately owned, so things could vary from suite to suite.

The overall size of the suite was quite impressive and could easily have comfortably provided enough room for a party larger than ours! The location of our resort was perfect for us and kept us out of the bustle of the northern end of Estero Island. While we didn't have the ability to walk to many stores or restaurants from the resort, we were steps from the beach and found it easy to get around to other areas nearby that we wanted to visit, such as Sanibel Island and Lover's Key State Park.

The staff at Gullwing Beach Resort that we interacted with were all courteous and helpful.  While we didn't use the outdoor pool (we always prefer salt over chlorine), we noticed quite a few families enjoying it during our stay.

In the end, I'd say we were all extremely happy with our stay at Gullwing Beach Resort. It was relaxing, fully of plenty of beach time and a welcome vacation from the cold back home. While we would recommend trying to get a beachfront suite on a higher floor (beachfront really is worth it), we think the resort is a great family-friendly option overall for families visiting the area hoping to take advantage of the gorgeous beaches and avoid some of the over-stimulation of other parts of Fort Myers Beach with little ADHDers.

Great for larger families and multi-generational traveling, too!

You can book your stay or learn more about Gullwing Beach Resort on their site.



Note: This stay was hosted by Gullwing Beach Resort. All opinions are our own based on our experience.


24 comments:

  1. If you can't rent a house when going to the beach, reserving a large family-style suite is definitely the next best thing! :) This resort looks amazing! And when it comes to Florida, I have always preferred the Gulf side to the Atlantic.

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    1. Isn't the Gulf side gorgeous? And I agree!

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  2. Beachfront is always the way to go! Whenever we go somewhere where there's a beachfront option, we almost always pay more for it because I love spending time out on the balcony to enjoy it :) And this resort looks like a fantastic place to visit! Makes me miss FL, too!

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    1. We're 100% with you! Beachfront is definitely the way to go if you can. :)

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  3. This is gorgeous and I love the color scheme. Directly on the beach is a MAJOR bonus!

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    1. Definitely! The ocean is our personal favorite, that's for sure ;)

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  4. Gorgeous place! My MIL is going to FL next week and I'll still be stuck in MD where spring forgot to come :/

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    1. Aw boo! We're from the northeast so I feel you! A chilly 50 with rain for us--definitely wishing we were headed back this weekend lol

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  5. We're planning to head to Florida on a family vacation in January and this post has been an awesome resource. Love that you did a full review of the 3-bedroom suite. I always wonder if I'm getting my money's worth when I book those. Thank you!

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    1. Welcome! We really love Florida for family trips--so many different areas and family-friendly things to do :)

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  6. Looks like a great and awesome location. Thanks for the tip!

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  7. What an awesome getaway with an incredible view! There's nothing better than vacationing near the ocean!

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  8. I could use a beach vacation right about now!

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  9. Now this really makes me want to go on vacation! Looks like a great resort.

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    Replies
    1. It makes me want to hop right back on a plane, too! lol

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  10. Looks lovely!!! I'm ready for summer time!

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  11. Such a pretty beach and the hotel is great!

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  12. That looks amazing!!! So beautiful. I need to go there so badly.

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    1. It's really worth the trip!

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