by Terry Ward
After the 2012 completion of a $20-million renovation, with particular attention put toward modernizing the guest rooms and suites, the TradeWinds Island Grand is a better choice than ever for families in search of an affordable and entertainment-packed vacation on St. Pete Beach. The hotel has so many amenities aimed specifically at families and children that there can be an almost theme park feel to the place (note to couples looking for romance in a secluded setting: head elsewhere). And as long as you don’t mind sharing your vacation with a ton of other people (with conferences and weddings constantly held here, the place is often packed to the rafters), you can be sure you won’t hear the words “Mom, I’m bored” once.
To start, the hotel has five rather small, but inviting pools (including one dedicated adult pool and two oceanfront pools) scattered throughout the property. And the beach — a powder-fine stretch of sand that’s warm and inviting for most of the year — is just a stone’s throw from any of the rooms and suites. On the beach, the Splash Island Water Park, belonging to the hotel and with access included in your resort fee, has enormous inflatable slides and trampolines set in the ocean. You can pedal paddleboats along a waterway that winds through the property, play mini-golf at a small, but perfectly fun course, watch a dive-in movie on an inflatable screen at one of the pools or just laze in a hammock in the shade of a palm tree.
And when it comes time to eat, you’ll hardly need to leave the property, thanks to five onsite restaurants that all cater to families. And since the rooms — scattered throughout several low-rise buildings fronting the beach and around the courtyards — are equipped with microwaves, dishware and mini-fridges (with stovetops in the larger suites), you can also plan to do some simple meal prep in your room. Another strong point at TradeWinds is the hotel’s staff, many of whom have been with the property for decades and really go out of their way to make sure you and the gang are having a good vacation. It’s easy to see why so many families come back year after year to this spot, even when there are flashier options in the area.
Our Editor Loves
- Oceanfront location on St. Pete Beach
- Suites with full kitchenettes for meals
- Kid's club and many themed family events
- Horse Back Riding
- Water Parks
- Water Sports
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Game Room
- Kids' Pool
- Kids' Theme Meals
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The rooms at TradeWinds are spread throughout five buildings, a few of which front the ocean and others that face the resort's waterway and tropical landscaping. When the hotel completed its renovations in 2012, much of that money was lavished on upgrading the rooms and suites, all of which have a settle-in-and-stay-a-while appeal, thanks to handy amenities such as flat-screen HDTV's, pillowtop beds, a wet bar area with a mini-fridge or full-sized refrigerator, coffee maker, toaster, dishware for meals in and a mini-bar with items for purchase.
Once you decide which room category you'd prefer, it's important to think about your location within the resort, as some areas offer far less privacy than others (the ground floor and first floor rooms overlooking the crowded beachfront pool, in particular, lack privacy). Room and suite dÃ©cor throughout has a British West Indies theme -- picture Tommy Bahama-style furnishings of dark wood, lots of golds, oranges and greens, and large-print floral patterns on bed throws and couch cushions. The overall effect is warm and traditional, with a definite beachy flair.
Standard hotel rooms have either two double beds or a king bed. For $5 per night, you can request a crib in these rooms and all others, and rollaways will cost you $15 per night. Standard rooms have just a window, but no balcony. The category of rooms called Tropical Hotel Rooms are a step up from the standard rooms, with better views that overlook lushly landscaped areas or perhaps the resort's waterway. Gulf Front Hotels Rooms are the next category up, with two queen beds or a queen and the option to have a balcony if you request it -- you may not have full-frontal views of the ocean here, but at least you'll be able to see some sliver of blur. For even better views, opt for the Gulf Front Parlor Room, with a large picture window overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and a separate sitting area with a dining room table that can seat four.
Moving on to the hotel's suite options, the Standard Suite can sleep six people with two double beds and a pullout double sleeper sofa in a separate living area. The One-Bedroom Suites give you even more space, with two queen beds in a room that can be closed off from the common area, and a pullout double sleeper in a living area, as well as the standard kitchenette and a private balcony. And Two-Bedroom Suites, which can sleep 10 people, have two bedrooms with their own private bathrooms, and either two rooms with two queens and two double beds or two queens in one room and a king bed in another. This suite has a kitchenette with a two-burner stove, in addition to the standard kitchenette amenities, a full-sized refrigerator and a living room with a pullout double sleeper sofa. The main thing to know is that even in the same room or suite category, not all of the options come with balconies. So if that's really an amenity you're looking to enjoy during your vacation, be sure to mention it when you're booking your room.
Also, there are limited options when it comes to connecting rooms. You can request to connect a One-Bedroom Suite to a room with two queen beds and a pullout sleeper sofa as another way to accommodate a party as large as 10 people (or even more, if you pay for the extra rollaway beds).
by Raymond N
The DELI is AWESOME Nicole and Zach are the reason Vanessa and I love the tradewinds so much. The food they make is great. Plus they have awesome personalities. Helpful and knowledgeable on how to get around and sites of interest.
My company conference was at Tradewinds resort and although I was dreading because, well it was a company conference, I really enjoyed Tradewinds. The ownership has gone to great lengths to create an upscale, beach club atmosphere. There are multiple pools, towel service, pool side bars and dinning, volleyball nets, fire pits and on site water sports rentals. The staff is superbly trained and have exceptional customer service skills. The rooms are clean and well appointed. The best part was the giant, beach-side blow up slide that I raced the treasurer down. The only criticism I have is that other than Rum Fish, the on-site dinning is mediocre. That is offset by the excellent location with many nearby dinning choices. I would book a vacation there in a heartbeat.
The resort's $35 per night, per room resort fee might seem hefty, but it gets you a lot of inclusions at TradeWinds, in addition to the expected newspaper delivery, Wi-Fi and self parking. The perks included in the resort fee are targeted particularly at children, and your kids will be sure to love them. To name a few: unlimited rides on the inflatable slides set up on the beach, beach volleyball, mini-golf, paddleboats to ride around the resort's waterway, tennis, access for everyone to the KONK Activities Center, and beach games like corn hole and bocce ball.
Apart from being a fun place to cruise on the free paddleboats, the resort's little waterway is home to several resident swans (you can buy swan and fish food from nearby vending machines). A cushioned two-person beach cabana is also included in your resort fee, which makes it very appealing to set yourselves up on the sand for a day of fun splashing in the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.
Of the hotel's five pools, the busy family pool fronting the ocean is the most popular. Kids have a ball getting their hair braided at a little Caribbean-themed stall and cooling off with snow cones from the nearby Adventure Center (where you can rent kayaks and standup paddleboards, and buy beach toys, masks and snorkels). Parents who've spent all day chaperoning their kids in the sun really appreciate the smaller, shaded pool, situated under a building that's open to air flow, but sheltered from the harsh midday sun. Additionally, there's a toddlers-only pool near the KONK Activities Center that's shaded with umbrellas to keep extra young skin out of the sun. And another family pool next to that is always far less crowded than the beachfront family pool.
Splash Island Water Park, which dominates the beach in front of the hotel and is accessible to all hotel guests, has a three-story water slide that sends riders flying 200 feet into a pool of water, as well as trampolines set in the ocean and huge inflatable rafts to lounge on (yes, all included with the resort fee).
The KONK Activities Center, open to all hotel guests from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., is a great place to escape the sun for a bit while enjoying free activities (you're required to stick around to watch your kids) like making arts and crafts or just relaxing in a bean bag and watching a movie in air-conditioned comfort. Different family activities are offered here daily for free, and include things like making seashell nightlights, creating beach candles or tie-dying a T-shirt. You can also arrange to enroll your children for a few hours or a full day in KONK Care, available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, and for kids between the ages of 4 and 11. RedBeard, the hotel's resident pirate, is regularly seen around the property, usually posing for photos. He can also be found performing open-air pirate shows on an island-themed stage several nights a week (shows are held on Saturdays year round, and on Wednesday nights during the busy spring and summer months).
At 1 p.m. every day, wrangle your own crew by the beachfront pool for the Poolside Invasion, when staff organize fun pool-based competitions and give out prizes to all participants. The hotel's concierge can also help you arrange excursions that depart from the beach right in front of the hotel, and include such outings as shelling, dolphin watching and snorkeling trips to nearby Egmont Key. And you can also arrange parasailing, waverunner rentals, fishing charters and banana boat rides that set out right from the beach.
If you somehow run out of things to do at the resort, you can always walk down the beach to the sister resort, the Guy Harvey Outpost, to enjoy free activities like beach walks to look for shells, and lessons on how to use a spin casting reel. Guests of TradeWinds are also free to use the pools and beachfront area (quieter than at TradeWinds) at this resort. There are certainly some worthy attractions in the St. Pete Beach area, most of which you can access by the Free Beach Ride (an electric cart service with seating for up to six people) for a hotel pick up and delivery anywhere in St. Pete Beach, Pass-!-Grille Beach, Treasure Island and other nearby beach areas. And for travel farther afield (to Clearwater and downtown St. Petersburg, for example), it's $2 per person, per ride to travel with the Suncoast Beach Trolley (there's a stop right near the hotel) around the area.
With five restaurants to choose from, which range from fast food to more fancy options, you've got enough dining choices at TradeWinds to make venturing elsewhere wholly unnecessary during your stay.
For a quick picnic on the beach (or delivery to your room), there's an onsite Pizza Hut Express near the adult pool, where you can order whole pies, six-slice portions and made-for-sharing appetizers, like breadsticks and chicken wings.
Beef O'Brady's, a family sports bar chain with many locations across Florida, is right next to Pizza Hut and is another good spot for breakfast or dinner with the gang. There's a small outdoor patio with a pool table and lots of indoor seating, and the kid's menu includes all the classics: grilled cheese, chicken tacos, cheese quesadillas, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, hamburgers and hot dogs for $7.50 a piece.
Near the family beachfront pool and open for lunch and dinner, The Flying Bridge is a fun place to eat with lots of patio seating and ocean views, along with an open-air indoor/outdoor area that's shaded from the sun. Kids' menus here (for the 10 and under set) all come with chips and include chicken fingers, hot dogs, grilled cheese and hamburgers or cheeseburgers for $6.95.
Things get fancier at the resort's white linen Italian restaurant, Palm Court Italian Grill, with limited seating in an upscale dining room, and outdoor seating in a courtyard off the lobby. It's open for lunch and dinner daily, as well as Sunday brunch, and families are more than welcome here. You can feed the kids for between $7 and $12, with items like penne Alfredo, chicken tenders and kids' flatbreads, along with healthy choices like grilled chicken breast with risotto and grilled salmon.
The spot for breakfast daily is Bermudas Steak and Seafood Restaurant, where a huge breakfast buffet is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and kids 10 and under can feast on things like pancakes, French toast, cereals, yogurt muffins, biscuits and more for $9.50 (it's $16.50 for adults). A la carte menu items are also available. And Bermudas is also open for dinner (5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily), with some great seafood and steak options. It's particularly worth planning an earlybird family meal here Sunday through Thursday nights, as there's a special kid's menu whereby two kids eat for free with each paying adult. On Fridays and Saturdays, the kid's menu at Bermudas costs $7.95 and includes the usual mac and cheese, burgers and grilled cheese, as well as popcorn shrimp.
There's a small general store and deli located right off the resort lobby where you can buy sandwiches for around $8 (tuna, chicken salad, ham and cheese and the like), muffins, bagels and apples, and stock up on minor grocery items like hummus and crackers. You'll also find essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses and replacement bathing suits if you've forgotten them at home. And if you really want to do a proper shop to stock up for groceries for your room or suite, there's a Publix supermarket just a mile from the hotel.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
The hotel has several coin laundry machines for guest use.
The $35 per day resort fee includes resort-wide wireless Internet, daily newspaper service, local phone calls, self-parking for one vehicle onsite, access to the beach water slides, paddleboats, mini-golf, tennis, volleyball and a cushioned beach cabana for use during your stay.
There's an ATM machine in the lobby, but you can also charge everything to your room account via your room key.
Pets are welcome for $30 per night and must have a shot record and crate.
There are ice machines available for guests, but no vending machines, and the mini-bars in the room are on a touch-and-you've-bought-it basis, so be warned.
A business center with faxing and printing capabilities, as well as computers for getting online, is available to guests.
Ask for AAA and teacher or government employee discounts. The best rates can be found on the hotel's Web site, rather than walk-in rates.
Babysitting services through local licensed sitters can be arranged to watch your kids 24 hours a day with advanced notice.
An onsite fitness center is open to guests 18 and older and has treadmills, bikes, elliptical machines and free weights.
Body Works Salon & Spa, onsite, offers massages and skin treatments.
There's no charge for children under the age of 18 sharing a room with their parents.
The Art of Smart Timing
St. Pete is a popular destination throughout the year. Just because school is back in session in September and October, and holiday season has yet to kick in, doesn't mean you should expect a lull at this time of year. It's actually a popular time, and brings steady business from the Tampa Bay area and other Florida residents taking advantage of staycations. Weekends get particularly crowded at TradeWinds, with many families visiting from in-state. Expect the largest crowds in March and April, when spring break is in full effect and the resort, beach and town are completely packed.
Surprisingly, the holiday season in late November and December tends to be the quieter time of year here. TradeWinds does a brisk conference business, and sometimes the hotel can feel overrun by large groups. If you're adverse to that, feel free to inquire when you're looking at dates whether or not a large group has booked in at the same time as your group.
The hotel is located about 30 minutes from Tampa International Airport, and it's about the same for the St. Pete/Clearwater airport. Expect to pay about $85 for a taxi from either airport. The return trip from the hotel to the airport is cheaper, at around $55. TradeWinds can also book transport for you. It's $65 (one-way) for a maximum of four passengers from Tampa's airport, and $60 for up to five people to and from the St. Pete/Clearwater airport.
All of the major car rental companies are available at both airports, and if you want to explore the greater area and visit places like Fort De Soto Park, you may want to consider renting a car during your stay. If you're visiting for a short stay, however, you'll surely find enough to do and plenty of restaurant options right on the resort property.
For Mom and Dad
Take advantage of the hotel's babysitting service to get off property and into more adult surrounds. Top on the special occasions date night list is a quiet dinner for two at the nearby Loews Don Cesar Resort's romantic Maritana restaurant, which gets consistent accolades for being among the top seafood restaurants in the country. Try cobia if it's on the menu, a delicious fish from local waters.
It's also a quick taxi ride from TradeWinds to downtown St. Pete, which has some excellent restaurants and a delightful pedestrian area lined with banyan trees for strolling. Good dinner options there include Cassis, with French bistro-style fare, or Ceviche, an atmospheric tapas bar that does an excellent sangria prepared tableside. A must for dessert is Paciugo, a cute little gelato cafÃ© with a nice outdoor patio, where you can sit for some people watching before heading back to the hotel.