Backstory: We'd booked Universal's Aventura on a cancellable basis for our first 5 nights as a backup in case our first choice of Margaritaville Resort Orlando wasn't up and running in time for our trip at the beginning of November. It's years since we've done the Universal parksówe always figure that we're paying a fortune for Disney tickets we don't have the time to get the most value from, so why would we want to spend hundreds of dollars more to squeeze Universal in to an already tight schedule? With Aventura costing a fraction of what we'd normally pay for Orlando accommodation that wasn't a consideratiion and we'd begun to talk about how much we were looking forward to all the new Harry Potter attractions, as well as imagining ourselves at the Bar 17 Bistro rooftop bar at Aventura and the Strong Water Tavern rum bar at Sapphire Falls next door.

Fast forward a month and the possibility of Margaritaville Resort being open is looking less likely and that recognition has made me realise that I'm not as excited as I should be about the prospect of Universal. Ever since we started planning it, the unwavering premise for this trip is "go with the flow". With the exception of Flight of Passage, we intend to make no FP+ reservations and no ADRs. Having to fit all the Universal attractions into a few days flies in the face of that philosophy. With each trip we plan, I talk about how much I've enjoyed the times we've spent in other parts of Florida, but Matt is a man of habit and it's difficult to convince him of the merits of taking time out when there's so much we love in Orlando itself. Indeed, we're right back to the reason we don't do Universal and it's certainly not that we don't want to, so it's not even that I disagree with him.

The upshot is that he's come around to the idea that the 5 nights (4 days) we'd set aside for Margaritaville could just as easily be spent at the coast as at Universal. My dream is the Panhandle, but even I think that's a push given the alloted time, so we've plumped for Treasure Island. We've done a few of the more upmarket options on both coasts and we like the idea of a more laid-back vibe with beach bars and live music. It has the advantage of being not too far to travel from Orlando and is nicely placed to easily take in St Pete Beach and Pass-a-Grille to the south, John's Pass and Clearwater (and everything inbetween) to the north, plus Tampa for a shopping fix and more. We've booked the Treasure Island Beach Resort (part of the Opal Collection which includes the Zota Beach Resort at Longboat Key and Hutchinson Shores Resort at Jensen Beach, both recently reviewed by Simon and Susan).

So, any recommendations for the area? It's all new to us!