by Christine Koubek
The morning sunlight glistens almost silver in patches across the pool’s surface. A little girl in a pink-and-brown polka-dot bikini tiptoes around the shallow end. Two boys perform cannonball jumps as a mom sits beneath a palm tree in the whirlpool and holds up eight or nine fingers to score the jumps. Several parents relax and read on cushy poolside loungers, and a family tosses a football just beyond on the beach. Indoors a mother and son play checkers in the seaside chic lobby over coffee and hot cocoa. This is precisely the low-key, low-tech, blissful kind of relaxation families find at Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach on Florida’s Gulf Coast. When Sandpearl Resort opened in 2007 it was the first new beachfront resort in Clearwater Beach in more than 25 years.
A few days here and it’s easy to see why. Even the Tommy Bahama-ish lobby is a place to slow down and enjoy, with its whimsical art, conch chandeliers, potted palms and oversized sofas that overlook the horizon fountain out the window. It’s one of those rare lobbies you want to curl up on a couch and hang out in, making a rainy day as luxuriously lazy as a day spent by the pool.
Families comparing Sandpearl to Hyatt Clearwater Resort, located about a half-mile south on the beach, should note that Sandpearl is located directly on the beach with a beachside pool whereas the Hyatt has a boulevard between the two and a pool on the eighth floor, however, Hyatt offers many more amenities for babies and toddlers and larger rooms with kitchens.
Our Editor Loves
- Beachside lagoon-style pool
- Enrichment programs
- Expansive white-sand beach
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Rooms & Rates
Sandpearl's 253 guestrooms and suites look like something out of the pages of Coastal Living magazine, with citrus-hued walls and fabrics, beautiful wainscoted walls, marble bathroom vanities and black-and-white photographs of ships and seascapes. These eco-friendly rooms have an in-room energy system that monitors room temperatures remotely. Occupied rooms are temperature controlled by guests and unoccupied rooms are adjusted to reduce energy waste.
All rooms and suites include a small refrigerator, 32-inch flat-screen TVs, in-room movie system, plush cotton robes, Wi-Fi, complimentary bottled water, coffee maker with coffee and tea selections, hairdryer, in-room safe, alarm clock with iPod dock, mini-bar, wood cribs (per request), Gilchrist & Soames bath products, and twice-daily maid service. Nice touch: Turndown service comes with chocolates and little cards with "Pearls of Wisdom" like: "You do not have to reach for the stars to be among them."
Sandpearl's guestrooms and suites vary by view. Bay View Rooms are the least expensive and the only category without balconies, offering views of Mandalay Bay and one king or two queen beds.
Gulf Front Spectacular rooms face the Gulf of Mexico and the pool, with private balconies and either one king size bed or two queens. Coastal View rooms differ only in that they face north from the property and overlook the Gulf Coast, Mandalay Bay and surrounding neighborhood, and Bay View with Balcony rooms face East with views of the bay but not the Gulf.
Gulf Front Junior Suites offer direct views of the gulf and a 500-square-foot open floor plan that features a separate roman style tub and shower in the bathroom, two 32-inch TVs, balcony, one king or two queen beds and a spacious sitting area with sofa sleeper and desk.
Sandpearl Resort's one and two-bedroom suites offer all of the standard guestroom amenities, plus separate beautifully decorated living rooms with full size sleeper sofas, private balconies, dining table, full kitchens, in-room washer and dryer and roman tubs with separate showers. One-bedroom suites offer 963 square feet of space including the terrace and two-bedroom suites offer 1,825 square feet including the terrace.
Book a Sandpearl Suite for a top-floor suite with sweeping Gulf of Mexico views. The one-bedroom includes one king size bed; two-bedroom includes one king and two queens. For views of the Gulf and Mandalay Bay, book a Caladesi Suite, and for views of Mandalay Bay and South (the busier area of Clearwater), book a Mandalay Bay Suite.
Note: Whether guestroom or suite, all third floor rooms have a slightly more spacious feel with 12- vs. 10-foot ceilings and large patios off the junior suites instead of standard size balconies. Standard rooms are 400 square feet.
My husband, son and I stayed at the resort for three nights, four days from March 18 to March 21, 2019 while we were in the area for a few college visits. We selected the resort at the recommendation of a friend, with everything being right on the property including pool, beach, spa, dining, etc. We had a wonderful visit, upon check in we were upgraded to a suite which made the stay very enjoyable for us and our teenage son. The hotel was beautifully appointed and the service was excellent. The beds were quite comfortable and dinner at Caretta's was outstanding. Service all around was exceptional, from the valet to front desk check-in, housekeeping and waitstaff. I was not aware of the other properties owned by the Sandpearl and hope to check out another in the very near future. I would also plan to return to the resort due to our excellent experience.
We love our stay here! Wonderful staff, wonderful location. Georgeous beach, the view from our suite was magnificent The rooms were well maintained, very clean. All staff were very attentive, courteous. We will be back!
Camp Ridley Kids is Sandpearl's children's activity program for kids ages 5 to 11. Camp Ridley staff lead fun activities based on Florida's animals and ecosystems, including nature-themed arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and sunset pictures with Camp Mascot Ridley the turtle.
Sessions are offered from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for a per session cost per child. There is discounted rate for each additional children, after the first child. Lunch is included for daytime sessions. Evening session includes board games, pizza, S'mores and a movie on the gulf lawn. Advance reservations required.
Families can also sign up for one-hour activities like a Color My Kite & Fly It, Color My Ridley T-Shirt, sand art, or a Make & Paint your own Sandal Frame, each for a small fee.
In addition, families can partake in bingo and scavenger hunts or play Ping-Pong or checkers and chess on a giant outdoor board.
Pool & Beach
While Sandpearl's pool has no fancy slides or sprays, this beachside beautifully landscaped pool has comfy lounge chairs, (each with their own sunshade) surrounding the pool, making it easy for parents to relax and watch kids from many vantage points. Pool depths range from zero-entry to 5 feet and the best part is kids can swim all day without burning eyes. Thanks to the ozone pool-sanitizing system the pool is sanitized with far less chemicals and no chlorine smell. Two hot tubs shaped like clamshells allow children who are accompanied by parents. The pool desk provides towels, fresh water and popular board games for use by the pool or in your room.
Five cabanas feature a TV, refrigerator and food and beverage packages. Complimentary resort beach chairs are on the upper part of the beach near the pool. Or you can also rent a cabana-like tent on the beach.
Thanks to partnerships with area organizations, families can head off property to see how rescued dolphins and sea turtles are cared for as part of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Behind-the-Scenes Tour. Take the two-hour Sea Life Safari Eco-Tour to learn about dolphins, birds and fish via a boat tour to Shell Island.
Spring travelers have an opportunity to see a Major League Baseball game at several area fields. Clearwater's Bright House Field, spring training home of the Philadelphia Phillies, has great views from most seats, a Tiki hut pavilion in left field and a kids play area and large team store. Check with the concierge for other nearby MLB teams.
A short walk from Sandpearl, Pier 60 offers many family-friendly activities, from inflatable slides and a massive playground to a nightly sunset festival with entertainment and street performers.
Located in the lobby, the Marketplace is the place for grab-and-go muffins, bagel with cream cheese, fruit, snacks, sandwiches, gelato and Starbucks coffee and espresso drinks throughout the day.
A family favorite for casual dining as much for the ambiance as for the food, the restaurant is named for Ernest Tate, the original homesteader who bough Clearwater Island in 1896 for $200 and then lost it in a card game. The grill is tucked dune-side near a lushly landscaped corner of the pool and offers high-toped tables for four where you can watch the sunset and listen to live music as kids romp around in the sand just over the deck's edge. The menu features fresh seafood, salads, sandwiches, kid-standard burgers and cocktails. The Adirondack chairs that surround the fire pit on the beach are a fun place to hang out after dinner.
The resort's specialty restaurant serves seasonally inspired foods, from breakfast (think Eggs Benedict and Malted Belgium Waffle), to lunch and a dinner menu with offerings like Thai shrimp bisque, butter-poached Maine lobster and prime New York strip. The Ceviche Sushi and Raw Bar offers a fresh selection of local seafood and sushi. Ask for a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows to watch the sunset during dinner, or dine on the restaurant's large balcony overlooking the pool.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Assorted beach and pool toys are available for purchase at the pool desk. Each evening a guest is invited to ring in the sunset with the Sunset Bell near Tate's.
The Artists in Residence program features a prominent artist each month with special times where guests can participate and/or observe the featured craft. Artists working in watercolor, oil on canvas, sketching, jewelry and beadwork rotate through the program.
The Fitness Center (located inside the spa) has treadmills, cross trainers, recumbent bikes, weight machines and mats and balls for stretching, all with views of the landscaping outdoors. Yoga classes are offered beachside.
The Art of Smart Timing
February through April is typically the resort's busiest season. Best bet for value rates -- and a good seat at the pool -- are August, September, November and December. Note: Nabbing a pool chair during spring break week takes planning. If you want to spend the day at the pool, head there in the morning to read the paper, then place books and towels down on a few chairs if you need to dart back and forth to your room. Resort staff ensures everyone gets a seat by collecting items left on unoccupied pool chairs for more than an hour.
Tampa International Airport is 21 miles from the hotel and St. Petersburg/Clearwater International airport is 13 miles away. Taxi or independent shuttle services are available from the airports to the hotel.
Taxis cannot be hailed from the street in Clearwater; visitors must call a cab company. Travel throughout Clearwater Beach on The Jolley Trolley, a San Francisco-style trolley car.
For Mom and Dad
Sandpearl's Spa offers a variety of ocean-inspired services for guests age 16 and older, from facials and nail and hair services to massage services like Sandpearl's Signature Body Iridescence, which uses a crushed pearl paste, dry skin brushing and a warm silica balm massage to stimulate circulation and revitalize the body. People with range of motion issues and chronic aches might want to try the Sandpearl Floor (fully-clothed) Massage, which involves stretching and therapeutic pressure technique.