Wagging tails and floppy ears now greet guests at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa near Fort Myers, as two 140-pound Newfoundland dogs are clocking in to work (or rather, hangout) each day.
Hoss and Honey Bear have delighted guests from the day they arrived in the summer of 2013. Caught off guard by the sheer size of the dogs at first, young and old alike gravitate to these gentle giants. Kids cuddle them and even grown men lie down on the floor to be next to them.
After getting comfortable in their new Southwest Florida home, it appeared the Newfies wanted to put down roots. So in July, Hoss and Honey Bear tied the knot in a slobbery ceremony. Rumor has it that work has already begun to expand the Newfie family; look for announcements and perhaps puppy naming contests on the resort's Facebook page soon.
Hoss and Honey Bear, enjoying their wedding reception with hotel guests — Photo courtesy of Gina Birch
With the addition of the four-legged employees, Coconut Point adopted the Paws & Palms Pet Program, allowing dogs of up to 50 pounds to check in with their owners. Beds and bowls are provided in the room, and the front desk even has a doggie menu.
While the dogs are a fun feature at the hotel, there are so many more reasons for getting away here, like relaxation and decompression. These coveted sensations arrive in a number of ways. The 26-acre resort overlooks the breathtaking Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve, where you can enjoy native vegetation and wildlife.
Stroll along a quarter-mile-long boardwalk that winds through mangroves, ending at a boat dock where you can catch a ride to the beach. If walking to the dock doesn’t suit your fancy, the hotel provides a trolley service.
The newly restored beach is on Big Hickory, a private island with beautiful, soft white sand and lots of shells. Your arrival involves no trudging; it’s a 15-minute water taxi to your comfy beach chairs and protective umbrellas.
But for ultimate relaxation, book a service at the 19,000-square-foot Stillwater Spa. Besides just the standard spa offerings, try an Ashiatsu, where therapists suspend themselves overhead and use their feet to release your bound up muscles. Or go for the water Shiatsu, which takes place in a warm pool.
At night, the resort comes alive with twinkling lights and a tiki torch-lined walkway that leads to a giant fire pit surrounded by sprawling banyan trees. This is a family-friendly fire experience, with s'mores for dessert. A second, smaller pit is located outside of the popular Tarpon Bay restaurant. Here you can order cocktails and listen to jazz music from the restaurant bar on the weekends.
Dining at Tarpon Bay offers great outdoor views and seating, along with cozy booths inside — Photo courtesy of Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort
Tarpon Bay is a romantic restaurant that has the charm of a Key West cottage. Grab a table inside or on the screened-in patio, overlooking the new butterfly garden, the waterfront gazebo and the lovely lighted fountain in the middle of the lake. The menu and wine list have recently been updated, and while the focus is on local seafood, you’ll find many other delectable options. For a unique experience, be sure to grab one of only eight seats at the popular Ceviche Bar.
Coconut Point has a little something for everyone: business travelers, families, sun lovers, romance lovers and, now, dog lovers.