Casey Key home makes the most of its tranquil surroundings
A spacious Casey Key estate reflects a life well lived for the former CEO of Cadbury and his family.
| 2:16 p.m. November 10, 2022
Back in 1977 a young couple named Todd and Marenda Stitzer were on their honeymoon in Bermuda. Like all newlyweds they dreamed of their future. They knew they wanted a happy family life with children, plus success in Todd’s career — he was about to graduate from Columbia Law School. Then, while out bicycling one afternoon they spied an old yellow clapboard house in the classic British Colonial style. It radiated charm and atmosphere, and they vowed that someday they would own a house like it.
Fast forward to 2022. They got their house — and then some. It’s not a cottage but rather an 11,000-square-foot mansion perched on an exclusive stretch of Florida beach. And behind it lies the legendary story of the guy from New Jersey who wound up running Cadbury (formerly Cadbury’s), perhaps the most iconic British brand of all.
Todd Stitzer was an unlikely CEO. A smart boy from a middle-class family, he went to Harvard, then Columbia Law and then, after marriage to Marenda, he joined a prestigious New York law firm. He quickly became a rising young star, but at a cost. “I was billing more hours than anyone else at the firm for three years in a row,” he remembers. When daughter Cate was born, Todd and Marenda decided a change was in order. They re-prioritized their life to include more family time, and Todd took what seemed like a less stressful job in the legal department of the American subsidiary of the confectionary company Cadbury.
And thus began the family’s adventures in the world of multinational business. Todd, who had never traveled abroad until he was 34, rose quickly through the ranks at Cadbury, and he was transferred to the head office in England. He had a rare talent for mergers and acquisitions and an intuitive genius for marketing. He moved higher and higher in the company and, in 2003, became Cadbury’s CEO. At the time it was the largest confectionary company in the world.
The Stitzers’ years in England were hectic but exhilarating. They bought a home in Surrey outside London and put the kids in an international school. Todd and Marenda became naturalized British subjects (they also kept their American citizenship). But when Kraft Foods absorbed Cadbury in 2010 after a dramatic hostile takeover, the Stitzers decided it was time for a new chapter in their lives. And that chapter would begin with a new home.
Marenda had been looking for the perfect family retreat in Florida, but the logical choices of Palm Beach and Hobe Sound weren’t quite right. It wasn’t until she came across Casey Key on the internet that everything fell into place. It was the perfect location. Close enough to the Tampa airport to get back to England when necessary, and just a short drive to Sarasota with its rich cultural attractions and diverse dining and shopping.
But the right house wasn’t there. Fortunately, the right lot was, and in 2011 they purchased an acre of land toward the south end of Casey Key for $2.25 million. It stretched from the Blackburn Bay to the Gulf — hence the name of their new home, “Tweenwater.”
After discussions with three different architects, the Stitzers hired Herscoe Hajjar of Naples. It turned out to be a wise choice. “The vision we had at the onset is exactly what you see,” Marenda says.
Like the house in Bermuda that started it all, Tweenwater is classic British Colonial, or “island style” as the Stitzers like to call it. Painted a sunny yellow with crisp white trim and built to the highest specifications, the home represents lessons that their adventurous life has taught them.
It is first and foremost a family home. “We all fit,” Marenda says. “It’s perfect for a whole tribe of grandkids. There are 12 beds, 12 bikes and 12 kayaks.”
The main level contains the living areas — a rather informal “formal” living room, intimate in scale, decorated in the British Colonial style. It is genteel and refined, with cool white punctuated with dark wood accents. Many pieces of furniture are English antiques collected over the years. On the walls are botanical and animal prints in the more formal rooms, with vintage travel posters decorating the “hangout” areas.
The plan of the home is designed as an “H.” This gives it extraordinary cross-ventilation, and the Stitzers keep it open to the breeze from the Gulf whenever they can. The primary bedroom is on the main level while upstairs are four more bedrooms; two for when son Parker comes to visit with his brood and, right across the hall, a similar arrangement for daughter Cate and her family. The interior is flawlessly finished, with simple but elegant built-ins and paneling and moldings and trayed ceilings, several done in mahogany.
Sports are important to the Stitzers and here the home has an almost embarrassment of riches, including an infinity pool, a virtually private beach, a gym, a sauna, a dock, a kayak garage, and the real garage, which occupies the entire lower level. It is air-conditioned and can even accommodate a bounce house.
The years at Tweenwater have been idyllic ones, particularly for a self-described “adrenaline junkie” like Todd. He is still very much involved in business as chairman of Signet Jewelers, the world’s largest retail jeweler and owner of Jared’s, Zales and Kay, among many other brands.
But a big change is coming. The Stitzers are selling their Casey Key home. “I figure I have one more big adventure left,” Marenda says. Neither Stitzer knows what’s coming next but they do know the first step: hiking in the Canadian Rockies.
Which means Tweenwater will soon have a new owner. A new rich owner, as the asking price is $20 million. It’s the most expensive home currently on sale in the Sarasota area. But look at what you’re getting. Not just an exquisite home with every possible amenity (did I mention the dog bath?) but a piece of business history.
This is the house that milk chocolate built, and it still radiates that thrill you get from that very first bite.