To celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and the end of a long pregnancy, Justin and I booked a two night stay at The Don CeSar, one of Florida’s most iconic hotels located on St. Pete Beach, just west of Tampa. The Don CeSar provided us with the perfect dose of laidback luxury for our adult-only weekend getaway. Here are my big takeaways from our time at the Pink Palace on the Gulf Coast.
The Don CeSar is historic.
The Don opened in 1928 as Florida’s Gulf Coast tourism industry began to boom. The hotel’s founder, Thomas Rowe, designed the opulent “Pink Palace” in memory of his lost love, an opera star from London. Many details around the hotel pay homage to Rowe and his tragic romance, which I found quite sweet and sincere.
Over the course of the last century, the hotel has served as a convalescent center for veterans of WWII, faced demolition during tough times, and undergone a series of renovations to improve upon Rowe’s dream. I really enjoyed the information panels around the hotel that illustrate The Don CeSar’s compelling history.
The Don CeSar is a class-act, but it’s not over the top.
Somehow, this historic hotel balances the finer things of life with a laidback air and no-fuss attitude that should be a part of a coastal vacation. Perhaps it’s the slightly dated feel mixed with the modern upgrades sprinkled throughout the property? Or maybe its the seamless movement between a sparkling lobby bar that echos the trombone tenor of the Gatsby Era and the sun-soaked pool patio where bachelorette parties gather and children splash around as their parents sip on frozen, fruity cocktails? As a result, The Don Cesar feels both grand and accessible.
Travel Tip: For those who wish to enjoy a little more space (families, I’m looking at you!), The Don CeSar has a sister-property just down the street – Beach House Suites. These newly renovated suites have kitchen space and ocean-view balconies, and guests have complete access to all of the amenities at the main hotel.
The Don CeSar is PINK!
The iconic color palette leaves an indelible mark on your memory. At first glance, the Pepto-Bismol pink may feel off-putting, but it’s uniqueness grows on you as you settle into its beachy charm. Personally, I loved that the pool towels were pink and white striped, too! How fun?
The Don CeSar has a superb staff, who keep guests comfortable and content.
We were very impressed with the staff, and we felt very cared for, especially with COVID-19 serving as the backdrop to our new reality. Everyone was professional and kind. From the friendly waitstaff to the easy-going shuttle driver of the free beach shuttle service, we were greeted warmly and with respect at every turn. I thought the guys running the beach operations were pretty terrific, too.
Travel Tip: Complimentary lounge chairs at the beach are available to guests. On weekends, come out early to snag a front row seat of the gorgeous Gulf waters.
The Don CeSar has some pretty good eats.
The Don CeSar has several on-site dining options for guests, ranging from fine dining at Maritana to poolside service from The Beachcomber Bar & Grill. On our full-free day at The Don, we ordered breakfast and a late-afternoon appetizer from The Rowe Bar, located adjacent to the pool deck which has lovely outdoor seating. We were very pleased with our food, and I have to say that you may see these dishes again on my forthcoming Best Eats of 2020 post!
Travel Tip: When we checked in, we mentioned we were celebrating our anniversary and enjoying a mini-babymoon to boot. The reception manager offered us complimentary drinks and an appetizer to enjoy during our stay. We definitely used them.
The Don CeSar is splurge-worthy, but it’s not perfect.
If you are like us and don’t often stay at high-end hotels, then perhaps you’d find that The Don CeSar offers just the right amount of glitz without a big fuss. However, if you are more accustomed to luxury lodgings, then I can understand if you’d be slightly disappointed in some of the elements that this hotel does not have.
For example, the Standard King Room was nice enough, but guests may feel a bit cramped. In fact, my only real complaint about our stay was that our bathroom was tiny and tough to share with another person. Being 37.5-weeks pregnant didn’t really help either…
Travel Tip: Consider upgrading to a Suite-level room for a truly splurge-worthy experience!
The Don Cesar is a beachside resort that you won’t forget!
Given that 2020 has been an absolutely dismal year for those of us in the travel industry, I am extremely grateful for this special weekend getaway. Our stay at The Don Cesar was relaxing and pleasant – just what these parents of a toddler and soon-to-be-newborn needed. I’ll be dreaming of that soft sunrise for years to come!
Disclaimer: This review is not sponsored by The Don CeSar – although I wish it were.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO SHARE…
Have you ever stayed at The Don CeSar? How do you feel about all of the pink? Have you stayed in a hotel since the COVID-19 pandemic struck our planet?
JoAnn Shea says
We just stayed there this past weekend for the Polo on the Beach event. We had food from all 3 restaurants. The beachside & the other more casual restaurant were okay. Good but nothing special. The servers were very friendly & accommodating. At the Maritana we were seated in a private room. Unless you were choosing a steak, the menu was weird. I was served shrimp complete with heads & antennaes. No mention of that on the menu. Our rooms were very nice & roomy. No complaints there. We were there primarily for the polo games on Saturday & Sunday. It was really cool to see all the action on the beach, right at the water’s edge. The beach was fenced off to the regulation size of a polo field.
Raymond Gordon Watkins says
I have been at Many resorts over the many years of my lifetime. Here is the summary:
1). Color nice
2).. Serving staff on beach, restaurant-Excellent
3). Food good
1). Very POOR CUSTOMER, everything that went wrong was blamed on construction or virus-NO ONE STEPPED UP TO THE PLATE
2). No room service because fee checked in on a Friday and out on a Monday supposedly the virus limited any room service, example: only time for Yoel refresh’s was Sunday -NO bedmake up or food service
3). Hidden taxes and hotel fees not represented at booking and check inn
4). Nothing mentioned about $24 a day parking fee, had Togo around construction park on street or other lots you get towed
5) Room view Lobby floor facing AC condenser, motor repair shop an no reduction in cost of booking, very nosey
6). Checkout staff wouldn’t address the bill charges and excused everything to construction and virus
7) sent email back answer from low level reader again Excuses Ask for upper level Manager-NO REPLY-POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
WILL NEVER-STAY HERE AGAIN AND REGRET I STAYED THIS, much better surrounding classic hotels than this one
Thanks for stopping by the blog. I’m sorry that your experience at The Don CeSar wasn’t comparable to mine. This post is a reflection of my enjoyment of my stay, which I did take with a grain of salt, given the restrictions and limitations that have come with traveling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I am in no way affiliated with the hotel, perhaps it would be beneficial share your grievances on review platforms, such as Yelp or TripAdvisor?
If you return to the St. Pete area, I have no doubt that there are lots of other great hotels and resorts. I hope that you can have a more pleasant travel experience next time!
Best wishes and safe travels to you,