The Tampa Bay area is enjoying a hotel boom. In the last few years, several upper-end hotels have opened, adding almost 5,000 rooms to one of the country’s most popular destinations.
The bay area’s hotel market “is performing significantly better than virtually any other in America right now,” said Lou Plasencia, CEO of the hotel brokerage and consulting firm The Plasencia Group. “This area has improved in almost every sector — corporate travel, business travel, leisure travel. We really are the envy of virtually every market in the nation.”
Galaxy, a 92-room boutique hotel, is due to open soon in downtown St. Petersburg, and the luxury Pendry hotel and residences is under construction on the river in downtown Tampa. Two St. Petersburg Beach hotels — the Sirata and the TradeWinds — have major expansion plans. And two of the most venerable hotels — the Don CeSar on the beach and the Vinoy in St. Petersburg — have recently undergone substantial renovations.
Despite concerns about the economy, Plasencia predicts that investors will continue to put Tampa Bay “at the top of their target list” for more new hotels, likely in Ybor City, Water Street and near Tampa’s Armature Works. And he thinks it’s inevitable that within the next five years one or two luxury brands like Ritz-Carlton will enter the market.
In the meantime, here are three new hotels where your visiting friends or family can stay in style. Or why not try a staycation at one of them yourself.
JW Marriott, Clearwater Beach
Situated at the southern end of Clearwater Beach, where it curls a bit to the east, the JW Marriott has the best of both worlds — sunrise and sunset views. The hotel is far enough away from the most crowded areas that you can enjoy the secluded beach without the din of crowds and traffic. Amenities include a pool, spa with retail boutique, a JW Kids Club with activities for children and three restaurants: Latitude 26, with indoor and outdoor seating and a Mediterranean-inspired menu; The Deep End, a rooftop eatery featuring cuisine with “the flavors of Peruvian ingredients shaped by traditional Japanese techniques”; and the Escape Beach Bar & Grille. There’s also a lobby bar, a market with takeaway items and Savor By JW for in-room dining. Several shops and restaurants are nearby, and bike rentals are available.
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Where: 691 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. marriott.com.
Rooms: 198, including 36 privately owned suites that have one to three bedrooms and can be booked by guests.
Rates: Starting from around $430 a night.
AC Hotel by Marriott, St. Petersburg
This Marriott hotel, on the lower eight floors of the 36-story Ascent apartment tower, is in an ideal location for checking out downtown St. Petersburg’s many attractions. Within a five-minute walk are the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Beach Drive restaurants and shops, waterfront parks and the Sundial complex with boutiques, restaurants and an AMC movie theater. The AC has a pool, a fitness center, a lobby lounge with small plates and handcrafted cocktails and a rooftop restaurant/bar called Cane & Barrel that “captures the colorful energy of Havana nights, with an emphasis on all things rum.” It also has a fine view of city lights.
Where: 110 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. marriott.com.
Rooms: 172, including 12 suites.
Rates: Starting at around $225.
The Tampa Edition, Tampa
Travel + Leisure magazine recently named Edition as one of the world’s top 100 new hotels. “You’ll know you’re in Florida the minute you step into the lobby’s verdant forest of palm trees,” the magazine raved. “And you’ll know you’re at the white-hot Tampa Edition because, as a guest, you just breezed past a line of locals hoping to get in at one of the hotel’s seven dining spots, now among the city’s most coveted bookings.” One of those spots is Lilac, which recently became one of just three Tampa Bay restaurants to be awarded a Michelin star. Edition, in the heart of Tampa’s new Water Street area, has a pool with cabanas, a gym and spa, spacious rooms “smartly designed for luggage storage,” the magazine said, and is across the street from two other acclaimed restaurants: The Pearl and Boulon Brasserie and Bakery. It is close to Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Sparkman Wharf, a waterfront venue with shops and restaurants.
Where: 500 Channelside Drive, Tampa. editionhotels.com.
Rooms: 172, including 30 suites and a penthouse.
Rates: Starting at around $500.