Florida’s only west coast luxury hotel
As if taken from the pages of The Great Gatsby, The Vinoy’s salmon-colored Mediterranean revival architecture serves as a welcoming sentinel to St. Pete. With more than 350 rooms, a plethora of cozy hangouts, pools, restaurants and intimate (and conference-style) meeting spaces – not to mention all the local walkable attractions – every visit uncovers a new waiting-to-be-discovered treasure.
Perched on the outer rim of Tampa Bay, visitors have walking access to the private 74-slip marina, 12 tennis courts as well as the Dali Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, not to mention two beautiful bay beaches.
I’ve stayed at The Vinoy twice for business and each visit I’ve carved out time to explore the hotel and surrounding neighborhood. To be honest, if a move to Florida were in my future, it would be here. From the sidewalk seating at homegrown restaurants like Bella Brava to local crafters, ice cream shops, taverns and art galleries, the neighborhood surrounding The Vinoy is as charming as it is unique.
A brief (sad) history of The Vinoy
It all began with a bet, a wager between Aymer Vinoy Laughner, a wealthy Pennsylvania businessman and famous golfer, Walter Hagen. Aymer allowed Walter to drive several golf balls off the face of his beloved pocket watch, betting the watch’s crystal would remain intact. It did. The balls landed on a residential waterfront property, later purchased by Aymer for $170,000.
On New Year’s Eve 1925, just 10 months after the wager, the stately hotel welcomed its first guests. A seasonal hotel (open December to March), the nightly rate was $20, the highest hotel rate of the area at that time. Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge and James Stewart are just a few of the celebrities who solidified the hotel’s status as the grand dame of Tampa Bay.
During World War II, the government appropriated the property and converted it to a training facility for military cooks. After the war, it was sold and reopened as a hotel but quickly became a relic of St. Petersburg golden past. In 1974, after years of abuse and neglect, The Vinoy closed its doors and the contents were auctioned off. It stayed vacant until it’s $93 million restoration in the early 90’s which added a regal guest tower, air conditioning to the entire facility and an 18-hole golf course designed by Ron Garl.
In 2005, The Vinoy earned AAA Four Diamond status – the grand dame of Tampa Bay restored to her throne.
5 things you don’t want to miss on your visit to The Vinoy
If a visit to Florida is on your horizon and you’re considering staying in St. Pete, save yourself the hassle of hotel hunting – just stay at The Vinoy. And be sure to make time to truly explore this old world hotel and surrounding neighborhood.
1. Dine in Fred’s Cellar
Travel back to an era when jazz raged and flappers danced behind locked doors. Inspired by the roaring 20s, Fred’s Cellar features shareable entrees and unique craft cocktails. Open Friday and Saturday only and you’ll need to call ahead for the password of the night – resort guests and members only…
2. Enjoy drinks at dusk on the veranda
Nothing says old world glamor more than gathering with friends on the veranda in a cluster of rocking chairs or cozying up to the bar to meet new friends. Whether you arrive at noon and while away the afternoon or find your perch at dusk after walking back from dinner, order up your gimlets from the bartender and practice your flapper-style laissez-fair flamboyance.
3. Explore Vinoy Park
With almost 12 acres that stretch across a picturesque shoreline – and into surrounding neighborhoods – you’ll have lots of space to walk, run or rollerblade. If you walk at dawn, you’ll likely run into my flamingo friends but if you’re more of afternoon stroller, watch the water closer for families of dolphins playing near the shore.
4. Discover the Museum of Fine Arts & The Dali Museum
Within the walls of the Fine Arts Museum, you’ll find diverse and unique collections that span 5,000 years of civilization. Highlights include masterpieces from Monet, O’Keeffe, De Koonig, Rauschenberg, Whistler, a sculpture garden, a Steuben glass gallery and one of Florida’s most respected photography collections.
A short walk will deliver you to the Dali Museum where you can soak in the brilliance of renowned Spanish artist, Salvador Dali. Enjoy an afternoon wandering through the awe-inspiring building and interactive gardens and then grab a bite of authentic Spanish cuisine at Cafe Gala.
5. Take a tour of St Pete’s
In the early 1900’s, St. Petersburg was considered the city of perfect weather, good health and unending leisure. A Viatour segway tour of St. Pete will peel back the curtain of time and share some quirky, interesting bits of colorful history:
- Discover how a Russian nobleman won the rights to name the new city
- Hear about Bill Carpenter and his pal Joe Honey who, in 1916, loaded a 6-foot alligator named “Trouble” into a car and took off on a 14,000 mile road trip
- Learn how Babe Ruth made St. Petersburg his own playground
Gone are the days when an engraved ashtray or a monogrammed towel served as a fond reminder of your stay at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. But a stay here now will be equally treasured. Trust us on this one.
If you go:
Book your stay at the Vinoy now through Booking.com