Visit the Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Petersburg
By Kara Franker
Situated on the sugary white sands of the Gulf of Mexico, the Loews Don CeSar Hotel was built in the Great Gatsby era of the 1920s.
Today the Mediterranean-style castle by the sea, also known as the Pink Palace, is a luxurious landmark on St. Pete Beach.
The resort was the dream of Thomas Rowe, who opened the hotel in 1928. Construction costs totaled $1.2 million, which may not sound like much today, but it certainly was a boatload of cash for the Roaring Twenties.
Listed among the Historic Hotels of North America and the National Register of Historic Places, the resort features 277 luxurious rooms, including 40 spacious suites.
The Don CeSar has been hosting families from around the world for decades. Notable guests throughout history have included American author F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, baseball great Lou Gehrig and mafia gangster Al Capone.
Ready to plan your own family vacation? Here are nine ways to have the most relaxing vacation you can imagine at the Pink Palace:
1. White Sand Beach
Toast to a little romance while you’re on vacation and kick back in one of the lounge chairs on the white sand beach.
2. Oceanfront Pools
Go for a swim in one of the sparkling oceanfront pools. Or book a spa treatment at Spa Oceana.
3. Views of the Gulf of Mexico
Enjoy the year-round perfect weather that Florida is famous for and soak up those spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico.
4. Don CeSar Penthouse
Book the recently renovated penthouse. Check out this timelapse-styled video for an overview of the makeover and a little history lesson, too:
5. Beachside Hammock
Grab a good book and lounge around in one of the beachside hammocks.
6. Old-Fashioned Ice Cream
Indulge your sweet tooth at Uncle Andy’s Ice Cream Parlor. This old-fashioned ice cream shop offers yummy banana splits and strawberry shakes that are homemade and deliciously authentic.
7. Maritana Grille
Dine at the award-winning Maritana Grille, which features an array of gourmet choices, including delicious local seafood dishes.
8. Gulf Coast Sunset
Watch one of Florida's beautiful Gulf Coast sunsets.
By Kara Franker
Planning a tropical island escape to The Florida Keys and need a place to stay?
Well, you're in luck because there are a number of brand-new Florida Keys hotels opening. And other properties are undergoing a series of upgrades and renovations. So you'll have lots of options to choose from.
Let's break down the hotels in Florida Keys by island...
Key Largo's elegant Playa Largo Resort and Spa, the newest hotel to join Marriott's Autograph Collection, is scheduled to open in the summer 2015. The 14-acre waterfront resort features 144 luxury rooms and a secluded white sand beach.
In Islamorada, four leading lodgings now make up The Islamorada Hotel Company, including:
- Postcard Inn Beach Resort at Holiday Isle
- La Siesta Resort
- Pelican Cove Resort & Marina
- The Islamorada Resort
The Islamorada Resort is relaunching as an upscale boutique Florida Keys hotel, Amara Cay Resort. Property renovations include more rooms, a new restaurant and updated outdoor amenities.
Also in Islamorada, after a yearlong multimillion-dollar renovation, the Islander Resort has joined the expanding collection of Guy Harvey Outpost Resorts.
Renovations include upgrades throughout both the main 114-unit oceanside property and the 25-unit bayside marina townhouse property.
Earlier this year construction began on the Faro Blanco Resort & Yacht Club, which incorporates the famed Faro Blanco lighthouse.
The property is scheduled to open at the end of 2014. With the original lighthouse as its "beacon" the new property features an upscale 125-room Hyatt Place hotel with two pools, a fitness center, meeting space and a waterfront restaurant and outdoor bar called Lighthouse Grill. Boaters can anticipate a 74-slip state-of-the art marina capable of handling vessels up to 100 feet long.
The Gates Hotel in Key West is scheduled to open in February 2015, and features include a Rum Row bar and small-plates café, a large swimming pool with cabanas and daybeds, and a distinctive atmosphere reminiscent of "old Key West."
The brand new 100-room boutique Florida Keys hotel will have whitewashed beams, custom cypress platform beds and photography from an exclusive local gallery.
The southernmost city's Historic Seaport, one of the most popular gathering places for visitors and residents alike, houses a lively diversity of restaurants, Key West shops and attractions.
The district's newest gem is The Marker Waterfront Resort, a two-acre luxury property debuting in late 2014. The 96-room resort combines a modern and timeless aesthetic with the free spirit and tropical nature of the Key West community.
On legendary Duval Street, the classic 160-unit Crowne Plaza Key West La Concha has recently undergone significant renovations. The hotel lobby has been upgraded with stylish parquet flooring and shades of ivory, white and mahogany adorn all interiors from the seating area to the bar lounge.
La Concha guests can sample enticing restaurant offerings at the new 430 Duval and a vast selection of fine wines from around the world at the Wine-O wine bar. Improvements are continuing with the transformation of the former rooftop bar into a spa and outdoor pool.
More to Come
Appealing as they are, these are only a handful of the Keys properties debuting enhancements or scheduled to open in the coming months. Others include:
- Marathon's new Courtyard by Marriott
- The renovated Tranquility Bay Beach House Resort
- Captain Pip's Marina & Hideaway
- Banana Bay Resort & Marina
Key West is set to see several other new properties debuting in 2015 including:
- Fairfield Inn & Suites
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Hampton Inn
Renovations to the recently purchased:
- Doubletree Grand Key Resort
- Spindrift Hotel
- Southwinds Motel
- Ocean Breeze Inn
- Olivia by Duval
- La Te Da Hotel
- Southern Cross Hotel -- the latter to become the Saint Hotel Key West
If you go...
For more info on the newest hotels in Florida Keys, visit Fla-Keys.com or call 1-800-352-5397.