Historic Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach
ST. PETE BEACH – Just over a year ago my family and I made our first visit ever to St. Pete Beach, Florida and stayed at the extraordinary and historic Don CeSar Resort (www.doncesar.com). It was a Loews property at the time. Soon after Host Hotels & Resorts purchased it and engaged Davidson Hotels & Resorts to manage the main locale and the Beach House Suites down the street.
The Don CeSar opened at the height of the Great Gatsby era in 1928. Known as Florida’s iconic “Pink Palace,” The Don CeSar is reminiscent of a Mediterranean-style castle set upon the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico in St. Pete Beach. A AAA Four Diamond property, National Historic Landmark and member of the Historic Hotels of America, The Don CeSar features 277 luxurious guest rooms including 36 suites, six restaurants and lounges, two deluxe heated pools, more than 38,000 sq. ft. of event space, the 11,000 sq. ft. Spa Oceana, fitness center, Camp CeSar Kids Camp, The Shoppes of The Don, and access to beach rentals and water sports.
We were very fortunate to be invited back for a lavish day on the beach and let me say for certain that the Don has not lost any of its charm!
Last year we were actually based at the Beach House Suites, taking the very short commute back and forth to the much larger Don CeSar. Guests at the former can take advantage of the full resort privileges at the Don CeSar, where room charging options are available at Spa Oceana, shops, and restaurants, including the award-winning, Four-Diamond, Maritana Grille and the Rowe Bar.
The poolside concierge provides everything from cucumber hydration to tropical smoothies.
For those who are physically disabled, the pools and whirlpools at both complexes have special lifts.
The Don CeSar Hotel partners with the award-winning Boucher Brothers Management to pamper guests during their day on the beautiful St. Pete Beach. Take a walk from the pool deck and have some fun on the Gulf of Mexico, seeing the beautiful pink castle from a different view while cruising on wave runners or exploring on ocean kayaks. We got to spend our day lounging in private daybeds and chilling out on a chaise for a luxurious take on fun in the sun. Jimmy from the Boucher Brothers team could not have been nicer in setting is up like kings. He in fact came back several times over our seven hour stay to adjust the umbrellas and make sure everything was okay.
Lunch and drinks were available right at our chairs via the Beachcomber. Here you can enjoy frozen drinks, mojitos, fresh seafood, salads, burgers and other traditional dishes such as the NY Strip Steak Salad, grilled pineapple, tomato, jicama, crispy tortilla and sweet onion vinaigrette, Gulf Fish Tacos with soft corn tortillas, lettuce, salsa, queso fresco, chipotle crema and jicama citrus slaw, and the Foot-Long Dog with pork carnitas, jalapenos, and bread & butter palm of hearts. It is open daily from 11 a.m. to Sundown. We started off with some drinks, an Iguana Smash, a Blueberry blast and a Pina Colada followed by our lunch selections of tortilla chips, fish tacos, a Beachcomber burger and chicken quesadilla. The orders turned around quite quickly and were delivered in large plastic containers, with serving plates and cutlery inside. I have never felt so comfortable dining on a beach chair before.
In terms of beach rentals, run by the Boucher brothers and its BouYah Watersports Division (www.bouYahWaterSports.com), there are full and half day rates for chaise lounges, sand chairs, umbrellas, cabanas and luxury queen and king beds.
We also took advantage of the Jet Ski rentals. It is $120 per hour or $60 for a half hour after lunch time. You will save some money if you book it in the morning. The staff will sit you down in the Jet Ski in the water, provide a series of guidelines and then allow you to start the motor and go on your merry way. This was a real “rush” for my family. The one hour went by very quickly.
BouYah also rents out banana boats, kayaks and paddle boards.
You can book your choice experience right at the hotel or call in advance and ask to be connected to someone from the Boucher Brothers team.
As for things to do at the hotel, don’t miss a trip to Uncle Andy’s Ice Cream Parlor for some homemade ice cream. Go shelling on the white powder beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. Take part in hourly games and activities for children of all ages, including sand-castle building, treasure hunts and obstacle courses. Check out the indigenous fish in the aquarium off lobby.
Kids from aged four to 12 can spend the day exploring the beaches and garden surroundings of the Don. Exciting and kid-friendly activities include beach crafts, seashell hunting, and castle contests, pool games and special Kids Night Out events. You must provide 24-hour advance reservations by calling 727-360-1881 x2233.
For teens the hotel offers a combination of entertaining, fun and educational activities to occupy your hard-to-please teens and tweens who receive music download cards, a list of nearby tourist attractions, activities and shopping geared to teens and access to a lending library of Gameboys, DVD players, board games, and more.