Marriott Crystal Shores, Marco Island, Florida

On this trip to Marco Island, we stayed, as we have in past years, at the Marriott Crystal Shores. Here’s the property from the 300 square foot balcony/lanai of our unit, or villa —

The villas directly on the beach are pricier, but we prefer the view down the pools, with an opposite view over the islands. You can catch the sun setting over the beach

or, if you get up early, you can step out your door with a view over the island and watch the sun rise over the Everglades. Or sleep in and catch a moonrise.

The beach is long, wide, and beautiful. The firm white sand is perfect for a walk, although the shelling in Marco is so great that a pair of flip flops may be necessary.

Crystal Shores is a Marriott Vacation Club property. That means fully equipped two (or three) bedroom condo-type units, roomy with a fully equipped kitchen, living room, dining table for six (also stools at the kitchen counter), and washer-dryer. And our unit had a 300 sf lanai. All of that’s pretty standard among Vacation Club properties, but of the 31(!) Vacation Club and Ritz-Carlton Club places we’ve tried, Crystal Shores may be our favorite.

The resort facilities include three heated-when-necessary pools, and — here’s a headline for those frustrated by people claiming all of the poolside chaise lounges before the sun comes up — Crystal Shores gently polices unused chaise lounges, and promptly clears and cleans them. You can order food and drinks from Stilts, the poolside grill, one of the best surprises at Crystal Shores. Stilts boasts a fine chef and the kitchen offers first class grouper tacos and other delights. No wonder Stilts attracts so many customers from other resorts.

Crystal Shores offers a host of activities, make-your-own sundaes, beer and wine tastings, trivia contests, yoga and exercise classes, and lots of live music. And the staff is uniformly friendly. Some, like big Tom Brady, the king of the floater, are institutions. The service is great. Employees greet you with a smile and are happy to help.

Excellent restaurants sit just across the street from Crystal Shores, including Da Vinci, The Oyster Society, and Fin Bistro, and there are many, many more places in all price points within easy reach, most featuring that-morning fresh fish from the boats in nearby Goodland. For reviews of many great restaurants of all types, see here. And there’s lots to see and do nearby, including the Everglades National Park and the Havana Cafe of the Everglades, and all the high-end opportunities in Naples.

Marco Island is a great place for a relaxed vacation, and there’s no better place to stay than Crystal Shores. Give it a try. You also might like the Marriott Vacation Club property in St. Kitts and the Ritz-Carlton Club in St. Thomas.


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