Hotels in Tampa & St Pete

by Debbie Selinsky
The Tampa Bay area offers beaches, museums and sporting events.

The Tampa Bay area offers beaches, museums and sporting events.

tampa image by jedphoto from Fotolia.com

Although Miami and Orlando get most of the press, the Tampa Bay area in western Florida, with its white sandy beaches, myriad hotels, museums and professional sports teams, appears to be gaining ground. The City of Tampa boasts such attractions as Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium and downtown Ybor City, the Latin district with its flamenco dancing and cigar making traditions. Smaller neighbor St. Petersburg, or St. Pete, is where Major League Baseball spring training was born and home of the Florida Holocaust Museum.

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The Westin Tampa Bay

The 16-story, 255-room Westin Tampa Bay hotel is located on the waterfront on Rocky Point Island in the heart of the bay. The hotel's amenities include beaches, a boardwalk, courtyard, heated indoor pool, fitness center, in-room spa treatments, mini-bar, flat-screen TV, free hi-speed Internet access and a business center. The Starwood Hotels property boasts a sophisticated but warm waterfront seafood restaurant, Aquaknox, with a walk-in wine cellar and open kitchen configuration. Guests can grab coffee and snacks at hotel's Starbucks. A variety of restaurants, lounges and shops are within walking distance of the Westin. Visitors also have easy access to a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game, to family-friendly Busch Gardens and to nearby Chase Golf Course.

InterContinental Tampa

Located in the Westshore business district about five miles from downtown, the AAA Four-Diamond InterContinental Tampa provides a wide range of amenities for business travelers. These include complimentary Wi-Fi and newspapers, work desks with ergonomically correct chairs, room safes large enough for laptops, in-room coffee makers and alarm clocks with iPod docking stations. The hotel, which has fully equipped conference facilities and staff speaking a total of 13 languages, contains a Shula's Steak House, a restaurant that celebrates the Miami Dolphins' 1972 winning season; Caffe, where guests can eat a casual meal; and the No Name Lounge, which boasts five large plasma-screen TVs. The InterContinental Tampa is in a good location for guests who want to attend a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game or watch some practice at the New York Yankees' spring training camp. The hotel regularly offers special packages. For example, the Tampa History, Culture & Cuisine package includes two adult tickets to the Tampa Bay History Center and to the Ybor City Museum, a $20 gift certificate to the Columbia Restaurant or Columbia Cafe and two tickets for the Tampa Historical Trolley.

Don CeSar Beach Resort

Smaller and quieter St. Pete is located 18 miles from Tampa, but its beaches offer the same white sand and impressive views of the Gulf of Mexico. St. Pete Beach's only AAA Four-Diamond hotel is the luxurious Don CeSar Beach Resort, which was also voted one of AAA's 2010 Top 10 Most Romantic Hotels in America. In addition to its seven mile-long beach and easy access to fishing and watersports, the 277-room Loews resort offers two beachside pools, a 24-hour fitness center, garden-level shops, over-sized desks with ergonomic chairs, concierge service and an 11,000-square-foot oceanfront spa. The Maritana Grille, which also has a Four-Diamond rating, offers fresh seafood with a Florida-Caribbean twist and a world-class wine list. For more casual fare, guests can dine at the bistro-style Sea Porch Cafe or the poolside bar and grill.

Grand Plaza Florida Beach Hotel & Resort

The Grand Plaza hotel and resort on St. Pete Beach is a very tall structure topped with the 12th-floor Spinners Rooftop Revolving Bistro, where guests dine on steak, seafood and pasta and get a slow but stellar view of the Gulf of Mexico. The tropical themed rooms, suites and penthouses have private balconies, fridges, microwaves, cable TV, DVD/MP3/CD players and Wi-Fi. A casual restaurant and two lounges are also on-site. Guests can relax on the beach or swim in the hotel's heated pool. Nearby St. Petersburg attractions include Florida International Museum, a Smithsonian-affilated facility with permanent collections focused on the Cuban missile crisis and the Kennedys, the Salvador Dali Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts, featuring works by famed artists such as Cezanne, Renoir and O'Keeffe.

About the Author

Debbie Selinsky is an award-winning writer based in North Carolina. Selinsky is the former senior editor of "Success Magazine" and deputy director of the Duke University News Service. She has written about travel for many years and specializes in cruise travel, having sailed on more than 100 cruises. Selinsky attended North Greenville University, Oregon Institute of Technology and the Poynter Institute for Journalistic Excellence.

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