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
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
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.
Hotel is in great shape. We booked a city view suite and was upgraded for my 40th birthday and received gulf view. One bedroom suite is large and clean. Staff is wonderful especially Kenny at Valet service and bill on the beach. Everything is close in waking distance which is a huge plus. Paid $25 for parking per night which is the going average rate at most resorts. I am against the whole resort fee, however with they said most hotels charge that now. Hot tubs need work as when we were there one was freezing and other one was just warm, and jets barely worked. Pool is very beautiful and well maintained. We paid for beach umbrella and thought the rate was fair as most hotels charge for all day rentals. I do appreciate the fact that the staff keeps on eye for non resort guests trying to use chairs etc. The beach staff is very organized and also keeping guests happy. Everyone was helpful and accommodating, from the front desk, bellman, valet etc. The property is on a beautiful stretch of white sands, just beautiful. We will definitely be returning. Sandpearl is a must stay if you are looking for luxury in beautiful Clearwater Florida.
This hotel is lovely, it has an amazing view of the beach, and I understand why room prices are a premium.
The problem though, is that the price you book is not the price you pay overall, as there are hidden extras which could amount to an extra $100 a day!
You have to pay $25 day for a umbrella at the beach
You have to pay $25 a day for valet if you have a car
You have to pay a $30 service charge for every day of your stay!
So in total for a weeks holiday, that's $560 that we weren't expecting. Ouch.
Unfortunately we were not told any of this at the time if booking and it has dampened our whole experience of the hotel, so just wanted to warn others. But I will put this more into context:
I do accept that we had a parking charge for bringing a car, but seeing as it was just parked for the week, I think a discount could be offered to those staying longer than a couple of days.
The pool gets busy very quickly and the beds are crammed together so we opted for the private beach. One of the reasons we booked the hotel. The beds are free, but if you want an umbrella there is a daily charge and most of the best have the umbrellas so at busy periods you have no choice.
But the worst is the large resort fee. I've seen a lot of people complain on here about it and the manager always replies with a big standard reply, so my review is likely to fall on deaf ears, but hopefully a warning to fellow travellers.
When you arrive you are given a lamented slip explaining the resort fees (clearly because people must have complained) - here goes:-
1) in room bottled water (yes but as a hotel that says how closely they are working with people to help the environment, perhaps they should avoid plastic bottles)
2) wireless internet. Er, hello, what hotel doesn't off that for FREE, even budget motels offer it for free
3) in room coffee. Great if you drink it, we don't
4) towels at beach and pool. Yep, if you can find space at the pool.
5) beach chairs. Yep, but not those with umbrellas
6) fitness centre. Not interested when I'm on holiday.
7) bike rental. Not interested.
8) daily newspaper- never saw one!
9) shoe shine - not sure my flip flops needed a shoe shine.
10) turn down service - only offered twice, both at times we were trying to get ready so not appropriate.
11) business centre - really? Who in 2019 needs a business centre when on holiday?
12) local calls. Why? Not needed.
It unfortunately leaves a bad taste in your mouth to pay for loads of things irrelevant to you. I would much prefer this hotel just increase room rates and not have the separate charge. I'd have still booked the room, but not got a shock when I arrived.
It's such a shame, as this is a nice hotel, but you just feel like they are bleeding you dry for all your cash.
The beach Grill was nice and a huge shout out to Rachel for service!
We didn't eat in the restaurant, as felt we were already giving the hotel enough money. Great steak place a couple of places down called Blinkers that I highly recommend.
Staff at pool all friendly, but other staff members did not live up to the 5* service I would expect from this hotel.
Other little niggles include, nowhere to hang towels in the bathroom, noisy air conditioning and a loud fridge, but at least these noises covered the sound of the noises coming from the very very thin walls. Again, not what you'd expect from a hotel of this standard.
In all, disappointing in a lot of areas. It is an amazing beach though.
Would I come back? No. Would I recommend to others? No. Will I tell my travel agent about our issues. Yes, I most definitely will.
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.