Sunset in Marco Island

A beloved vacation spot for those looking to avoid the intense nightlife common in other Florida beach towns, Marco Island on the Gulf Coast is a sweet deal in late summer. Although rates at the island’s premier hotel, the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, hover around $400 per night during the winter, you can now score a room for as low as $189 per night.

The $189 rate was most widely available on weeknights, with prices hovering between $209 and $309 in mid- to late-August. July prices – particularly around July 4 weekend – were higher ($279-$409).

Fresh off a $250 million renovation that gave the property a sleek South Beach look, the hotel also boasts a new sushi bar ($12-$20 for rolls; nigiri as low as $4) that's popular with locals. The resort’s four other eateries are the beachfront Pazzi’s, which serves Italian fare like calamari and flat bread pizzas ($11-$16); Quinn’s on the Beach, which offers seafood entrees and shareable starters like coconut shrimp and lobster wontons ($15-$32); Tropiks, which features an expansive breakfast buffet ($25); and Pan-Asian-focused Kurrents ($30). While prices are higher than what you might find elsewhere on the island, dining at the property means you won't have to cut into your beach time -- and that's priceless.

Every room has a balcony with new outdoor furnishings added during the renovation. New plasma-screen televisions and triple-sheeted linens are in each room too. No matter where you stay at the resort, its private 3.5-mile white-sand beach is right out your door.

We recommend staying over a long weekend or three weeknights so you'll have ample time for pampering, eating, and exploring the barrier islands. Shelling is a very popular activity here and, thanks to a 2.5-hour “sailing and shelling” trip on a catamaran departing from the resort ($70), you can dig in at a nearby uninhabited barrier island. Guided parasailing ($100), dolphin-watching ($55) and waverunner tours ($185) are also available to guests. Rent a kayaks for $25 per hour or relax under a reserved chikee hut with a thatched roof ($50 per day).

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