Boca Grande is one of Florida’s best kept secrets… Located on Gasparilla Island, Boca Grande is a tiny seven-mile-long barrier island on Florida’s Southwest Coast midway between Sarasota and Ft. Myers. It is a charming bit of paradise with a small-town feel of yesteryear. There are no high-rises, no fast food restaurants, no chain stores, and no traffic lights. Billboards and other exterior advertising are banned by the Conservation District.
Visitors flock to Boca Grande to savor the white sand beach, world class fishing, golf, tennis, and fine food. But most of all, they come for the privacy and unadulterated peace and tranquility this little-known island hideaway affords. On Boca Grande, there are no traffic jams, as golf carts are the preferred method of transportation to tool around the tiny island measuring about seven miles long, and only one mile across at its widest.
Second home owners and regular visitors have included the DuPonts, Vanderbilts, J.P. Morgan, Katherine Hepburn, George Steinbrenner, and the Bush families. And of course, Mimi McMakin, who has overseen the interiors of The Gasparilla Inn & Club for nearly two decades. A getaway destination opened for snowbirds in 1913, The Gasparilla Inn remains one of the largest surviving resort hotels in Florida, and it is the center of village life on Gasparilla Island.
Last year, Mimi McMakin of Kemble Interiors and her team completed a refresh of The Gasparilla Inn & Club.
“When you work on a property that is so appropriate for its setting and loved by generations, one of the most important things is to not mess it up,” Mimi told Town & Country. “Many people have strong emotional connections with the Gasparilla Inn, having gone there with their parents, even grandparents, over the years. That being said, there’s a fine line between charming patina and simply worn out.”
A native of Palm Beach, she has always been one of my favorite interior designers, and no one captures “Old Florida” like Mimi McMakin. You can read about her historic Florida roots here.
Walking through The Gasparilla Inn’s sun-bathed, pillared entrance and into the lobby, guests are embraced with the tranquil civility of a time that stands still at this classic resort. The Gasparilla Inn also happens to be a fabulous place for a destination wedding! One of my dear friends was married on the island last month, and I was delighted to see Mimi’s renovation first hand!
Let’s begin with The Beach Club, located directly on the Gulf of Mexico, which is accompanied by nine private cottages. The Beach Cottages took my breath away!! The cottages provide the rare opportunity for waterside living with all of the impeccable services of The Gasparilla Inn & Club, in addition to a central pool and cabana for Beach Cottage guests to mix and mingle in a more private setting.
A team of artists were employed by Mimi to hand paint the walls, and her attention to detail can be seen throughout, like coffee tables filled with local sand and shells encased in lucite, beautiful tropical murals, and whimsical wicker animals.
And here are a few images I took inside the Inn… beautifully decorated for Christmas!
“What do you do with a hearth that is not in use?” asked McMakin. “Stuff it with sea shells!”