By Kara Franker
If you've visited downtown St. Petersburg, then you're well acquainted with the historic, pink Mediterranean revival-style building that overlooks the waterfront on Tampa Bay.
Built in 1925, the Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, Autograph Collection, is a beauty. Like a topper on a birthday cake, the Vinoy Tower stands tall and is visible from all around the city.
The storied history of the resort began in 1923 with a little wager between friends over whether famed golfer Walter Hagen could drive a golf ball off of the face of a crystal watch owned by wealthy businessman Aymer Vinoy Laughner.
Did the watch survive? Indeed it did, without so much as a scrape. To commemorate the feat, the businessman purchased the land where the golf ball landed for $170,000 and set out to build a premier resort, the first of its kind on Florida's west coast.
Throughout the years, the hotel has attracted a long list of celebrity clientele. Everyone from Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, to George Clooney and Brad Pitt have stayed in this glamorous hotel. Today it's the resort-of-choice for many of the major league baseball teams when they come to town to play the Tampa Bay Rays.
You'll definitely want to take advantage of all the amenities, including the fitness facilities, tennis courts and the 18-hole golf course. The resort’s private golf club is located on Snell Island, just a few minutes from the resort, on a 14-acre site on Tampa Bay. The sparkling pool fronts the bay, where you can sit and enjoy what so many of us love the most about Florida -- the warm temperatures year round.
You'll find several delicious dining options on the property. Spoil yourself with local seafood and international dishes with sweeping views of the marina as a backdrop at Paul's Landing; savor creative cocktails and shareable plates infused with Mediterranean flavor at the Veranda, the resort's expansive waterfront indoor/outdoor eatery; or drop by Lottie's, a French patisserie-style restaurant that sweetens mornings with house-made pastries and crafted coffee drinks. An extensive, intriguing wine list makes Lottie the ideal evening gathering spot as well.
Down the street, you'll find a number of cozy cafes and seaside restaurants in charming downtown St. Petersburg. Must-see Florida attractions in the neighborhood include the St. Pete Saturday Morning Market, Dali Museum and the Chihuly Collection presented by Morean Art Center. In fact, a Chihuly chandelier named “Isla de la Lunas” is comprised of 750 separate pieces of hand-blown glass and hangs in the grand ballroom at the Vinoy.
The Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been an integral part of St. Petersburg's growing cultural scene. Whether you're looking for a vacation destination for the whole family or a romantic getaway, the hotel has something for everyone.
When you go....
The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, Autograph Collection, is located at 501 5th Avenue NE in St. Petersburg, Fla. To book your stay call (727) 894-1000 or visit the resort's website.