Visit Sarasota County held a press conference Wednesday to unveil Siesta’s newest accomplishment, the 2015 Travelers’ Choice Award for the best U.S. beach from TripAdvisor.
Siesta placed first out of 25 other beaches, receiving 2,010 excellent ratings from visitors. St. Pete Beach and Ka’anapali Beach in Hawaii placed second and third, respectively.
County commissioners, administration and staff joined the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and Visit Sarasota County at the Siesta Key Pavilion to learn the news. Melissa Surane, TripAdvisor’s Florida representative, presented the award to County Administrator Tom Harmer. Commissioner Alan Maio and Carolyn Brown, director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, joined him to receive it.
Brian Wigelsworth, founder of the Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition, designed a sandy version of TripAdvisor’s award. He started at 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and worked on the sculpture until 8 p.m. He wanted to make a big sculpture on the beach, but Tuesday night’s rain prevented a large-scale sculpture.
“It’s because of the visitors and their experience when they came here,” Harmer said in reference to why Siesta won.
Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, said this was an award that Siesta won on its own, without being nominated or promoted.
“It’s a great tribute to the businesses on the Key and county staff … our beach ambassadors are a big thing,” she said.
Alana Tomasso, chairwoman of the board of directors for the chamber, said everyone on Siesta Key knows how special it is, but that the honor in the award rested in visitor reviews.
“It’s visitors going home and talking to people about their experience on our island,” Tomasso said.
What visitors said on TripAdvisor
“Best beach ever.”
Jim C. Raleigh, N.C.
Luv2trvl98, Geilenkirchen, Germany
“It’s why people go to Florida.”
travelerCOTAPTA, La Crosse, Wis.
By the Numbers
94% - thumbs up
2,566 - reviews
2,010 - excellent ratings
764 - visitor photos