I'm new to forums myself but I recently went to FL to check out Sanibel/Captiva for myself as we were considering going there and wanted to see what it was like.
That said, we did visit Casa Ybel (among other locations) since it was practically adverstised & reviewed everywhere along with South Seas.
Here are my thoughts on it:
I have to say that the view was beautiful, but I was a bit confused by the secluded remark. It's not very big but everything is laid out nicely, the grounds were nice, the beach view from their restaurant was beautiful, however, we went there a bit incognito so that we can experience service & food first hand. But you will be among everyone in the resort, people were all over and we couldn't find a private location anywhere as their beach is shared with neighboring resorts.
We had their Sunday brunch and I was a bit disappointed. We had gone over their wedding menus and we decided to pick items on the menu that were the same or close to what we would pick for guests (and ourselves obviously!).
First off, Thistle Lodge (or was it Lounge?) was beautiful in a classic sort of way. Woodsy, charming, comfortable feel. We were seated by the windows facing the beach, where we watched people enjoying the sun and the pool and the lawn.
The waitress brought us water and asked what we would like to start with and we chose mimosas. They arrived after a long while and we placed our order.
It took FOREVER for our appetizers & main course to arrive.
People on other tables had gotten their meals somewhat already and I believe the waitress mentioned something about the kitchen was behind so she offered a mimosa or champagne on the house. She only brought one mimosa b/c she thought I had champagne but I said I'll take a mimosa too...she never returned.
So only one of us benefitted from that long wait. We thought that was weird and it really wasn't bustling that day either. For the most part, I think she was trying to impress the large table than anyone else. By the time we left, the lounge was pretty much empty save for 3 couples so I was confused how the kitchen could be behind.
Back to the meal - it was decent, nothing outstanding. We got the shrimp and I forgot what else but as this foodie can tell you, if you can't really remember, it wasn't memorable. What I did notice was that the grits my order came with was already CRUSTED. Hmm, kitchen being behind didn't strike me as the issue as much as the chit chatting waitress and me catching her behind the bar just 'hanging out' really. This seemed more like, oops I forgot to bring out the plates.
Oh my fiance just informed me I got the scallops, that's right, those were actually good, sweet and juicy. But the grits and the salad - that did it.
When the main course, which I had mentioned - took a long time to arrive - finally got to us, it again seemed like it was because she didn't bother to check on the order and bring it to the table as she was 'occupied' elsewhere. The food seemed cold, like it had been waiting the whole time. That upset me because we were really hungry and aside from the half offered drink, nothing else was offered during the wait.
I'm going to say that the presentation could use some work, but considering the lag between plating and delivering, the cinnamon whip cream french toast looked soggy. It tasted good enough but I can tell you that the wait had plenty to do with the sorry condition it was in when it arrived.
We also got the steak and crab cakes, the wait -again- ruined a decent perhaps meal to make it just 'blah'. The crab cakes were mostly filler of bread crumbs and less crab in it and the steak which was supposed to be medium rare was DRY over well and cold!! I noted this as the failure of bringing it out when it was done and so it had time to cook from med-rare to over well while it was sitting there and of course, turn cold right after! VERY disappointing.
The presentation was identical for both the steak and crab cakes, the two plates were identical, nothing original which I thought was not very creative.
Over all the view is nice, if you are planning to stay there, it looks like the rooms would be nice as well for yourself and guests. There are things to do there which is nice for entertainment purposes but probably not as much as South Seas could probably provide but to be fair it was a very nice, well maintained complex.
I was just sorry about the service and food...if the service had been better, (as in food on time, more attentive staff) I get the feeling the food would've been better since it wouldn't have gotten cold/soggy/overdone while waiting to be delivered but don't expect anything mind blowing either. I'm going to say it's an area thing b/c being big foodies we hit as many food locations and many of them fell along the same lines save for one place - Doc's, the Mucky Duck was decent too but I think for the most part, everything else food was was just OK.
Hope this helps
I'm still hunting too and would love to hear from others who've reviewed/experienced any places in FL, CA or NY!