When I heard that Mainsail Lodging had partnered with the Autograph Collection of Marriott on a brand new hotel in Fort Myers, I knew I had to check it out. Mainsail’s portfolio includes some of Tampa Bay’s most distinctive hotels — the Epicurean, the Fenway, the Karol — so the two-hour drive south felt like a must.
I can’t remember when I saw Fort Myers last; it must have been years ago, during a visit to a relative. But let me tell you, it’s shining brightly now — and nowhere is that more true than in the Luminary Hotel, which opened just last September.
Standing majestically along the sparkling Caloosahatchee River, the Luminary boasts views of the marina on one side and the quaint downtown River District on the other. The sleek, chic lobby area, decorated all in soft greys and blues, still had that brand-new-hotel smell when I visited this spring, with amenities on all sides: the Dean Street Coffee Roastery, the hotel’s signature restaurant The Silver King Ocean Brasserie, the very comfortable Lobby Bar — all the amenities I look for, in fact, in a staycation, with Fort Myers’s many attractions in walking distance.
After checking in, my next stop was the 12th-floor rooftop bar. The Beacon Social Drinkery offers a selection of cocktails, fine wines, craft beers and small plates to enjoy while watching the yachts float along the river. Perch at a high-top table by one of the floor-to-ceiling windows or enjoy the expansive patio, where there are several types of seating to take in the gorgeous weather and soak up the water views.
The Luminary is an AAA Four Diamond Hotel with 243 comfortably appointed, technologically innovative guest rooms and suites, with luxurious bedding and upscale bath products that make this boutique hotel memorable. The name of the hotel comes from the word for “ a person who inspires or influences others, especially one prominent in a particular sphere.” The Luminary makes a point of showcasing the innovations of pioneers who lived in the area — pioneers like Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, good friends who lived next door to each other during winters in Fort Myers.
As a Mainsail Lodging property, the Luminary also manifests the pioneering spirit when it comes to food and wine. There’s a culinary laboratory called The Workshop onsite, where classes and demonstrations feature local, regional and national chefs. The hotel is also attached to the renovated Caloosa Sound Convention Center, which has 40,000 square feet of space for meetings and large gatherings.
Brent Gauthier, the newly appointed executive chef, brings that innovative spirit to the property’s five unique restaurants. While the Beacon invites guests to start their evening with a cocktail and a small plate, the Silver King Ocean Brasserie offers a sophisticated menu of seafood dishes and great wines, allowing you to relax and savor the culinary experience.
If you’re not in the mood for upscale cuisine, the Oxbow Bar & Grill across the street from the hotel offers panoramic views of the Caloosahatchee River with both indoor and outdoor seating and a menu of fresh oysters, signature favorites, fresh seafood, craft sandwiches, burgers and steaks, plus intriguing cocktails and a wonderful wine selection.
In the morning don’t miss grabbing a coffee at Dean Street Roastery, where experts oversee a Gilsen coffee roaster. Then head over to Ella Mae’s Diner, located on the ground floor of the hotel with access to Bay Street, where you get transported back in time to a vintage Southern diner and can enjoy a hearty breakfast while people-watching.
After breakfast I walked across the street to explore the downtown River District, full of mom-and-pop shops, dining options and entertainment. Walking out of a cobblestone alleyway with greenery and flowers adorning the shops, we saw an old-fashioned trolley car coming down the street. We jumped aboard and got a tour of the area — a lovely experience, as the driver shared stories and pointed out the Edison and Ford homes and the laboratory building in the middle where they worked on new projects together.
The trolley provides free transportation around Fort Myers from November through April; just pull on the string to be let off at your desired destination, then hop back on when you’re done.
Coming out of the Oxbow Bar & Grill, after enjoying their delicious seafood gumbo for lunch and a glass of St. Francis Chardonnay, I roamed by the Marina, taking in the beautiful boats docked next door. I later learned that Galati Yachts is opening a new office in a retail space next to Ella Mae’s at the Luminary
I definitely recommend taking a leisurely drive down to Fort Myers for the day to peruse Galati’s yachts, learn more about their gorgeous watercraft and purchase your next fun adventure. Then head over to Oxbow for delicious food and scrumptious wine.
Or spend the weekend exploring the area and stay at the extremely comfortable, modern and accommodating Luminary Hotel.
The Luminary Hotel, 2200 Edwards Drive, Fort Myers, luminaryhotel.com.