This post was written before Sanibel, Captiva, and parts of the surrounding area were absolutely blasted by Hurricane Ian in September 2022. While the intention is to rebuild, the causeway has been fixed, and the island is expected to begin opening to tourism in January 2023, things are not “back to normal” and likely won’t be for a long time. If you’re planning to visit the area, make sure to do plenty of research to find out what’s open, what’s available and what’s just not even there anymore.
On a recent trip to Sanibel, I decided to split the trip up and stay a couple of nights in Fort Myers before moving over to the island. I had been wanting to check out the new Luminary Hotel & Co in downtown Fort Myers and this seemed like the perfect time. It’s part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection which means it’s a boutique hotel with some of Marriott Bonvoy’s perks (earn points, book with points, status recognition, etc.).
When I stayed here in late November 2021, it had been open just less than a year and still had that new hotel shine.
The Luminary Hotel & Co sits right on the Caloosahatchee River in downtown Fort Myers. “Downtown” is a relative term here. Think more historic and less businesslike. First Street (just behind the hotel) is a quaint, cobblestone street lined with historic buildings that have been converted into shops and restaurants.
The Luminary Hotel is about 25 minutes from the airport (RSW), about 40 minutes from Fort Myers Beach, about 45 minutes from Sanibel, and only about 5 minutes from the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.
The Vibe & The Room
Inspired by the creative pioneers of Fort Myers (including Thomas Edison), this place has a very strong sense of branding that stops just short of feeling like a theme. It has a trendy vibe, but is still very casual and everything about the place is very modern with historical touches.
All of the public spaces in the hotel are well designed and in good condition (it was still a brand new hotel when I stayed here though so I wouldn’t have expected to see any wear and tear).
The room was stylish and well thought out with great amenities. A great minibar, plenty of outlets for charging, streaming on the TV, a posh bathroom…all good and on par with what you’d expect from an Autograph Collection property. My favorite touch though was the glass water container (a carafe??) that you could fill up down at the ice machine. There were cups and glasses in the mini bar and it was nice having water in the room without having to stop and buy plastic water bottles.
This seemed like a fairly large hotel, but the lobby itself wasn’t that big and while there are several different restaurants on property it’s a little disjointed.
If you stay at many Autograph Collection hotels, you probably know that they fall into a pretty wide spectrum regarding amenities and level of luxury. There’s not as much of a set standard level as there is with other Marriott brands.
Overall, I would say this particular property is on par with a high end Courtyard Marriott. Great branding, well designed spaces, but not really much to speak of in the way of service and definitely not what would be categorized as luxury. But a really solid hotel.
We had breakfast one morning at Ella Mae’s Diner which is part of the hotel, but it has an outside entrance. It’s very cute, but I think I ordered wrong (the breakfast sandwich). It wasn’t great…probably go with the pancakes!
We capped off one evening at the Beacon Social Drinkery which is the rooftop bar. Because it was winter (and daylight savings time) it was completely dark by 5:30 or so but it was still pretty to see the lights. This place was fine, but I wasn’t overly impressed. Unless you’re just a real rooftop bar junkie or you’re staying in the hotel, I don’t think I’d go out of my way to come here.
The coffee shop in the lobby is a nice touch. It’s on par with a Starbucks as far as selection and price and super convenient to have if you’re staying there on business or just need something quick before you head out.
The main attraction nearby is historic First Street. I had dinner at Ford’s Garage one evening. It’s now a chain, but this is the original. It’s a really well themed place and the food was surprisingly good. It’s basically TGI Fridays style, but the burger was phenomenal and the atmosphere was a lot of fun. I also read a lot of recommendations for The Lodge and it looked pretty good (like a Texas themed TGI Fridays) and Capone’s Coal Fired Pizza would be a place I would try too.
This area is convenient if you’re staying nearby and the cobblestone streets, alleys, and historic buildings are charming, but I wouldn’t say it’s a big foodie destination. The restaurants are decent but not outstanding so it really depends what your expectations are (note my using TGI Fridays as a comparison to the two most popular spots ; )
If there’s a “don’t miss” attraction in Fort Myers, it’s the Edison and Ford Winter Estates and they’re a quick five minute drive down the river from the Luminary Hotel & Co. This is a two hour minimum visit and even if you’re not a huge history or museum buff, seeing the well preserved historic homes (and Edison’s lab) is pretty interesting.
I think you’ve probably gathered by now…I really liked this place. It’s a great mid range hotel and I love a good theme. And it has great views out over the river. But at the same time, I’m not exactly sure who stays here.
I’m a travel blogger with strong loyalty to Marriott and a love for boutique hotels who was going to be in the Fort Myers/Sanibel area for a trip and wanted to check it out. I suspect that’s a pretty narrow niche.
This place must do a lot of business and conference travel (it seemed like they had the space), but I’m not sure what recreation travelers this really appeals to. The little downtown area is nice, but it’s just that…little. Maybe it’s more of a draw for locals looking for a staycation, because I don’t think it’s a big enough deal for someone who’s coming from out of state on vacation. And it’s too far to go back and forth from the beach.
Pricing & Booking
I ended up shuffling my trip around so I could get a better rate at this hotel. Right after Thanksgiving, there were a few nights where this place was about $280/night before it jumped to $400-$700 for the rest of the winter. All things considered after staying here, this is not a $400-700/night hotel. I was happy enough with it for the price I paid, but it’s not a place I would splurge for.
Check rates here.
More posts about the area:
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