Don Cesar Beach Resort in Beautiful St. Pete Beach, Florida

Genie Davis September 13, 2011 No Comments

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Whether you’re looking for an idyllic and low key end to a long journey or a beautiful beach escape, we love Florida‘s gulf coast. St. Pete Beach has pretty much everything you could ask for in a laid back and relaxing spot, and the hotel we chose to enjoy it, the Don Cesar, was ideal in many ways.

The Don Cesar resort

We loved the Moorish architecture and relaxed elegance of the Don Cesar resort.

Our family made St. Pete the final stop on an east coast music tour for my daughter (www. nicolelexidavis.com) and family trip, but it is indeed a destination to be enjoyed all by itself. The white sand beaches, the perfect tiny shells you can find beach combing, the delightfully warm, virtually waveless gulf waters all make for a great family vacation. The town of St. Petersburg proper and its quaint historic district and tourist attractions is separated – via a toll road – from St. Pete beach, so in selecting family accommodations, you’ll want to decide if you want proximity to cafes and attractions or if you want to simply roll out of bed in the morning and hit the beach. We wanted the latter, and chose accordingly.

The Don Cesar Beach Resort is known as the pink palace, and it’s beautiful, classic art deco structure is similar to, and in fact built as a homage to, another pink beach front property, the Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki. The Don Cesar was instantly recognizable as we drove across the causeway over the inter-coastal waterway. A member of the National Register of Historic Hotels of America, this pink and white Moorish beauty drew oohs and ahs from my not easily impressed kids. Inside, beautiful chandeliers and luxurious carpeting provide an elegant, old-fashioned vibe. The hotel opened in 1928, and was once a Jazz age era favorite of luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and even Al Capone. It survived the great depression, once served as an army hospital and outpost of the Veterans Administration, was revitalized in 1985, and continues to upgrade – there was some minor lobby construction during our stay.

History and elegance aside, the hotel has a great family appeal, not just for its beach front setting, but because of the Loew’s Hotels kids programs ranging from small children accommodated by Camp Cesar to teen entertainment. While we didn’t take advantage of them, the hotel offers exercise classes, pool parties, crafts, and themed dinner parties for kids. The hotel also offered a family movie screening when we were there.

St. Pete Beach Florida

It was hard to leave the warm sea and return to chillier California waters. Shallow depths mean the kids can safely leave the shore line.

Our family just enjoyed the beach time, and for us the biggest perk the hotel offered: free loungers, umbrellas, and towel service to hotel guests. That was the deciding factor in my selection of the hotel for our stay. With our shade and our cushioned relaxation laid out for us, we were free to apply our sun-screen at leisure, build sand castles with the little ones, and bob effortlessly in the Gulf. The kids were thrilled by small silver fish and larger white and blue ones zooming around our legs in the shallows; at low tide it’s great to be able to take the kids far out and still only have the water reach an adult’s waist. Lunch time brought us lazily to the poolside bar, where there was live music in the afternoon, more shade, and excellent smoothies – we were quite fond of the chocolate-strawberry-banana.

Staying in August meant we watched storm clouds move in, move past us, or occasionally send us scurrying for cover and a view of the rainbows that followed the cloudburst. The pools and hot tub were ocean front but fairly crowded during our stay.  While we stuck with the sandy beach, the shallow pool depths means swim-trained kids could contentedly spend hours solo with hotel provided floaties. The pools were also open late, a nice touch in the warm Florida summer, and great for family star gazing. We also enjoyed taking a beach walk in the evening, admiring the coastal lights  just after sunset.

Don Cesar Resort Room

The room size is on the small side, but our family loved the hotel, and with easy beach access we didn't spend much time inside.

Rooms were on the small side; our partial ocean view was filled with two double beds, desk and a single comfortable arm chair. The hotel was nice enough to give us space for our provisions by rolling in a small refrigerator which saved us trying to squeeze personal food items into the mini bar. Another nice touch, unusual in an elegant hotel: guest laundry. We were able to return home with clean clothes, making packing a snap. With the gorgeous beach to laze on, and the pools open late, the room size didn’t cause any great concern, but larger families should opt for a suite or two connecting rooms.

While the elegance, history, and awesome gulf proximity were our reasons for selecting this hotel, the hotel staff was amazing, and more than offset the room size.

For us, nothing can beat rolling out of bed in the morning and onto the sand within a few minutes, and setting up camp for the day without setting up your own umbrella or paying additionally for that service. And the beach itself, which goes on for miles with its sugary soft white sand, is now one of our favorites. The sand is excellent for castle building, too! Best of all: watching the sunset while still floating in the gulf, waiting for the first raindrops of an evening storm to fall, beach grass waving in the wind, sun fading to its last gold and sinking slowly, as if it, just like my family, really didn’t want to leave.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: Reviews, Travel Excursions

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