ICYMI, I love acronyms. So when I discovered a colloquial acronym during my recent visit to St. Petersburg, I had to incorporate it in my usage. “DTSP” is the acronym, and it stands for downtown St. Pete. And, apparently all the cool kids are using it.
Growing up on the east side of Florida, I’ve always equated the state’s west coast as something like the Wild West. I felt I was as far removed from my in-state neighbors as I was from Mars. So what better way to get to know that side than spend a long weekend at one of the west coast’s best cities, St. Petersburg?
I stayed in St. Petersburg at the historic Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club, known to locals simply as the Vinoy. The unpretentious luxury hotel is located in the exciting downtown St. Petersburg, and right on the calm Tampa Bay. Steeped in history yet brimming with modern touches, it’s not surprising to know the hotel is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
What also makes the hotel so special is its place in downtown St. Petersburg. The city has experienced a beautiful cultural revolution in the past couple of decades, with world-class museums and fine dining establishments launching in its downtown. The Vinoy is within walking distance of all of this. Find out why I fell in love with downtown St. Pete – er, “DTSP.”
Walk into the hotel’s doors and you immediately breathe a certain air of refined history. Originally built in 1925 by entrepreneur Aymer Vinoy Laughner, the Vinoy’s history is so deep that history tours are regularly conducted by in-house historian Elaine Normile, who astutely recaps tidbits like Laughner’s golf shot off a pocket watch. There are even lobby walls filled with near floor-to-ceiling historic facts of the hotel. “It is unusual that I enter the lobby and not see someone take in the information,” Normile says.
Someone in my party put it pretty aptly when describing the hotel’s 1992 restoration. He said the re-opening of the Vinoy was the cracking of the egg to the cultural movement in St. Pete. And I can see why. An easy walk away from the hotel is the phenomenal Dali Museum Collection, where 96 of the master’s work is held (and don’t forget to grab the free audio tour or tag along in a group tour), the remarkable Museum of Fine Art as well as the awe-inspiring Chihuly Collection. It’s an art lover’s paradise that awaits in St. Petersburg, all within a few square miles of each other.
For some, vacations don’t necessarily mean vacationing from your active lifestyle. I’m one of those people. So thank goodness the Vinoy breeds a healthy culture, from its cardio-filled fitness center to its relaxing Jacuzzi and sauna for post-workout recovery. I even got a little tennis action in on one of the 12 clay courts, and fine-tuned my forehand with the advice from the friendly director of tennis, Hans Gallauer. And the hotel didn’t forget about their golfing guests, with its par-71 course located just a short shuttle ride away. Too bad I didn’t take my putting skills with me.
One word: Chihuly. If the Vinoy appreciates anything, it’s fine art. And there’s no greater one at glass blowing than Dale Chihuly. You don’t have to go outside the hotel to the beautiful Chihuly Collection to see a great piece of art. One of his beautiful works is perched at the hotel’s grand ballroom’s ceiling, a massive white chandelier that mesmerizes all guests.
The benefit of the hotel having its own marina was not lost on me. Located literally steps away from the hotel’s doors, there are 74 slips in the marina, but I only had one on my mind: the one housing The Cat’s Meow, the 43-foot catamaran that we had chartered for the day to take us around the Tampa Bay.