The 255-room Westin Sarasota is finally throwing open the doors this Friday, July 28. It’s been a long time coming.

Palm Beach County-based Kolter Group broke ground almost three years ago on this 18-story Marriott hotel (its first full-service hotel) at the corner of North Tamiami Trail and Gulfstream Avenue. It is next door to its twin sister, The Vue, a 141-unit luxury condominium, also being developed by Kolter, which is nearing completion.

Plenty of locals griped that the scale of these 18-story towers right up against U.S. 41 in downtown Sarasota is changing the complexion of their small city into something unrecognizable. A sneak preview tour left no doubt. This is an exciting, sophisticated, modern urban hotel that would fit perfectly in Miami Beach. The hotel opens for room reservations (depending on season, rates will range from $199 to $399 a night, right between Hyatt Sarasota and Ritz-Carlton rates), and the public is invited to experience the lobby bar, the restaurant Evoq (Westin wants this to be one of the top restaurant picks for locals in town) and the rooftop bar. Already, weddings and business groups are booking. Jim Donovan, the Westin’s director of sales and marketing, anticipates that 45 percent of the Westin’s business will be group and convention; the remainder will be business and leisure travelers. Even though the hotel was filled with workers completing last-minute tasks, Donovan found time for a quick tour.

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