by Terry Ward
For a relaxing family stay right in vibrant downtown St. Petersburg (St. Pete, to the locals), there’s no place quite like this candy-hued hotel listed among the Historic Hotels of America. With its elegant pink faÃƒ§ade the same shade as a Gulf coast sunset, the Vinoy hosted its first guests back in the 1920s, and a Gatsby-era elegance still thrives at this beautiful property fronting the town’s pretty marina.
A stay here feels like giving the family a window into Florida’s glamorous past — Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and former President Calvin Coolidge (even Brad Pitt!) have all been to this boom era hotel. But from the gracious rooms to the pretty roof deck pool and spa, the comforts are all delightfully modern.
The 361-room hotel, which is spread between a historic building and newer tower, was renovated to the tune of $3.5 million in 2008. And the updated look tastefully blends the property’s Mediterranean Revival past with the present. In the lobby, original tiles from 1925 mix with Dale Chihuly’s modern glassworks for a stylish look that totally works.
The most important thing to know from the get go is that you might be in Florida, but you don’t come here for a beach stay – St. Pete Beach is a good 20-minute drive west of the hotel. But for exploring the great restaurants, museums (the world famous Dali Museum is here!) and pretty revitalized waterfront of downtown St. Pete, there is no finer spot to stay.
The hotel has a lovely outdoor pool that’s heated during the winter months. And the Vinoy runs a great summer kids’ camp during the summer, too. And there are several superb restaurants onsite, and you’re also just a few minutes walk from all manner of cafes, bistros — even a gelateria that the kids will go nuts for — in downtown St. Pete.
Whether you’re here for one of downtown St. Pete’s annual festivals, regular concerts or holiday celebrations, or just looking for a base for the beach and Busch Gardens that offers a lively urban environment, the Vinoy has your family covered.
Our Editor Loves
- Kids camp in summer
- Beautiful outdoor heated pool
- Bicycles for exploring town
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
The Vinoy's 361 rooms and suites are spread between two buildings - the older historic building and the newer tower building - that are connected by a walkway and the swimming pool deck. All of the rooms are equally updated, but tower buildings rooms all have balconies and views of either the tennis courts or the bay. Rooms in the historic building have either bay views or rather bland views of other buildings or the back of the hotel. You'll pay extra for rooms with bay views or balconies.
All of the rooms have in-room coffeemakers. but none of the rooms have mini-fridges (you can request one for $10 for the duration of your stay). There are a few microwaves available, too, for which there is no charge (request in advance if you need one). Flat-screen TVs, marble bathrooms and pillow-top beds with duvets are standard throughout and the dÃƒÂ©cor is classic.
The hotel can confirm connecting rooms when you book and rooms or suites with king beds can be connected to rooms or suites with two queen size beds for a maximum of seven guests. ADA-compliant rooms are available, we well. Rollaway beds and cribs are available free of charge.
Historic Main Building Guest Room
With room for a maximum of four people, these 330-square-foot rooms come with either a king bed or two queen beds, with room for one rollaway. There's a small sitting area with two chairs and a coffee table, as well as a desk. The bathrooms have shower-in-tub combinations with a separated toilet area. You can opt for a bay view room for an upcharge (or else the views are of other buildings or the odd tree). There are no balconies in any of the historic building rooms.
Tower Building Guest Room
Standard rooms in the tower are slightly larger than in the historic building, at 405 square feet. They have a maximum occupancy of four people, with your choice of a king bed or two queens and room for one rollaway. There are double vanities in the bathroom, which have a shower-in-tub combination and separated toilet. All of these room have balconies overlooking the bayfront or the tennis courts or ballroom.
Tower Building Patio Spa Room
All of these rooms are located on the ground floor of the tower building, with an outdoor patio sporting a private octagonal tub. These rooms have 405 square feet of space and a maximum occupancy of four people, with your choice of a king bed or two queen beds and room for a rollaway. The bathrooms have shower-in-tub combinations with double vanities and a separated toilet.
Tower Building Executive Room
You're upping the game here, with 475 square feet of space and a living room separated from the sleeping area with a privacy wall. These rooms are available with a king bed only, but also have a double sleeper sofa and room for a rollaway bed, for a maximum occupancy of four people. Bay views are wonderful from the spacious balcony, and there's a wet bar, too. The bathroom has double vanities and a shower-in-tub combination with a separated toilet.
Tower Building and Historic Building Chairman Suites
There's 805 square feet of space in these spacious suites in both the historic and tower buildings. The only difference between the two is that in the historic building you have a Juliette balcony, while the tower building suites have full size balconies. The sleeping room, and living room/dining area are separated, with your choice of a king or two queen beds in the main bedroom and a double Murphy bed in the living area. These suites can accommodate a maximum of six people.
The Vinoy Renaissance is a great hotel. From the entrance to the lobby to the rooms to the grand restaurant. The rooms are large with great bedding that is so comfortable to sleep on. Large bathroom and I was fortunate to have a nice view of the harbor. The lobby is nice with many styles of seating, a small bar wit two TV's, an live music on the weekend. The pool area is beautiful. Many deck chairs with large swimming area and a restaurant overlooking the pool area and harbor. Great staff in all areas.
We stayed in two adjoining rooms last weekend. The lobby is really beautiful with lots of fun seating options and even a bar. The location is great with lots of walking access to restaurants, shops and museums.
The desk was chronically understaffed and there were long lines for check-in and check-out. Ironically there appeared to be a large staff at the front door to greet people and make small talk, but they were never deployed to help do what actually needed to be done. Likewise on check out there was a manager buzzing around and apologizing for the wait, but not jumping in to help move things along.
The rooms were adequate but very dated and worn and our shower was poor. (Pictures attached). The shower was a tub shower that only worked as a shower, not a tub but still had an awkward step up and over into the tub. The drain was horribly clogged which made for an unappealing shower. (I did not have time to call it in so hopefully it was corrected when I reported it at check out.) We also struggled to get the rooms cool enough. And we (three different people, three different devices) could not get the WIFI to work no matter what we did. The hotel even connected me to an outside company that they use for tech support to no avail. Needless to say it took up way to much of my time and my data plan.
The pool was crowded and stark (not a plant to be seen but maybe that was hurricane prep). The pool bar was enjoyable.
We enjoyed the breakfast buffet at Marchand's. The food was good and the staff there could not have been more friendly and accommodating.
So a good visit in great location, but not a "luxury" experience.
Pools and Dive-In Movies
There is one large pool (maximum depth is 5 feet) onsite at the hotel. Located on the second floor pool deck between the two main buildings, it has sweeping views over the marina and downtown St. Pete. The pool is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., with no lifeguards on duty at any time. While there isn't a dedicated kids' pool, there are shallow areas here, with waterfall features that kids will enjoy. Additionally, there are two hot tubs on the pool deck.
From April through November, weather permitting, the hotel's pool is the backdrop for family-friendly movies viewed alfresco. Movies are shown on a 14-foot inflatable screen and start around dusk.
An additional pool at the Vinoy's golf course (1.5 miles away) can be reached via a complimentary shuttle from the hotel.
There are six Har-Tru tennis courts on property at the Vinoy, all of which are lit for night play. The court fee is $20 plus tax for 1.5 hours of play. Group lessons with pros, including for children, are available for $75 to $95 per hour. Open clinics are also available several times throughout the week for $25 for 1.5 hours. It's $5 to rent racquets and balls.
A complimentary shuttle takes you 1.5 miles away to the Vinoy's golf course, where lessons and rentals are available for adults and children.
An entertaining and very affordable kids' camp is offered at the Vinoy every June and July and is open to kids between the ages of 4 and 10 (they are divided into age groups: 4 to 6 and 7 to 10). Themes vary per week and might include a sport theme one week, a marine theme the next and medieval, mad science or camping adventures another. Camps are held from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with field trip outings scheduled for Fridays. Prices range from $200 to $250 for the whole week, or $50 per day. If you require after care outside of those times for your kids, it's available at a rate of $5 per half-hour.
Bikes can be rented from the fitness area for $15 for the first hour and $5 for each additional hour, or $30 for a full day (from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.). Two kids' bikes are available, too, for the same price. Helmets are included with the rental price.
The hotel's friendly staff arrange entertainment for kids every Friday, Saturday and Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. out on the pool deck or in the kids' activity room. This usually includes things like arts and crafts, water balloon fights, races, relays and the like.
Marchand's Bar & Grill
Popular with outside diners, too, this is the hotel's main restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For breakfast (6:30 to 11:30 a.m. daily), it's an a la carte affair with the usual eggs benedict, waffles, and breakfast sandwiches, plus things like silver dollar pancakes, cheesy eggs and chocolate chip French toast on the kids' menu. Sunday brunch is very popular and decadent, with lots of seafood, an omelet station, carving stations and kids' treats like Vanilla malt waffles and pancakes, served 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Lunch is served here from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, with burgers, wraps, salads and soups on the menu. And dinner, from 5 to 10, goes upscale with seafood, steaks and pastas. The very popular sushi bar is open from 5 to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday.
Items on the kids' menu are the same for lunch and dinner and include burgers, hot dogs and pasta with marinara sauce and grilled chicken and broccoli.
There's indoor and outdoor seating at this more casual of the hotel's sit-down restaurants, located by the pool and open for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. The menu has things like wings, chicken wraps, Cuban sandwiches, burgers, fish tacos and grouper sandwiches. The kids' menu here is the same as at Marchand's.
The Veranda Cafe
Open throughout the day from 6 to 9 a.m., this is the Vinoy's onsite coffee shop, near the lobby, where you can pop in for espresso drinks, bagels, pastries and grab-and-go salads, wraps and sandwiches.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Internet costs $12.95 per day. Alternatively, you can connect free of charge in the lobby. If you are a Marriott Rewards member or traveling as part of a large group, the hotel waives the fee.
The hotel has a well equipped gym that's open 24 hours with your key card and fully stocked with cardio machines and weight training equipment. At least one class is offered every day, too, free to guests -- perhaps Zumba, pilates, yoga or spin.
The Art of Smart Timing
The December holiday season, Thanksgiving week and spring break (March and April) are the busiest times here, when the pool will be at its most packed and room prices peaking. Outside of those times, the best months to score deals are May, September and October. Weather in this part of Florida is lovely year-round, but be aware that winter (January and February) can see a few cold fronts during which you'll definitely want to break out a jacket and covered shoes.
Most guests fly into Tampa's International Airport, located about 30 minutes from the Vinoy. Alternatively (and with fewer flights), the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport is 25 minutes away. Taxis from either will run you about $50 one way. The hotel does not arrange transport.
It's a good idea to rent a car during your stay if you plan to make many trips to the area's beautiful beaches, Busch Gardens or downtown Tampa. If you just plan to stick around the immediate area, you hardly need a car. All the highlights of downtown St. Pete are within a 5 to 15-minute stroll from the hotel, and there is also a complimentary trolley service in town to whisk you around.
Parking is available in an onsite, covered lot for a daily rate of $14 per day for self parking or $20 per day for valet.
For Mom and Dad
Make time to slip away to the Vinoy Salon & Day Spa, onsite at the hotel, for a couples' massage, body scrub or facial. Then arrange a sitter and head out together for a fun night on the town.
Start with cocktails on the stylish rooftop of The Birchwood Hotel overlooking the waterfront and just a two-minute stroll from the Vinoy. Then either hit Italian restaurant Bella Brava or head back to the hotel for some of the best sushi in town at Marchand's Bar & Grill. Wind down the evening with a nightcap at Fred's Cellar -- a 1920s-style speakeasy-inspired lounge open to Vinoy guests only and accessed with a password (the concierge will gladly provide you with that).