Hotels for Honeymoon Couples and Other LoversEver since the thatched-roof bungalows on Honeymoon Island were demolished, couples have no longer been permitted to sleep overnight on the island. However, you can stay till sundown and then head back to your hotel in Clearwater, St. Pete, or Tampa.
It's true that closer to Honeymoon Island there are many low-priced hotels and motels; cheap and tacky you-get-what-you-pay-for lodgings that appeal primarily to families with kids and seniors. But as a honeymoon couple, you owe it to yourself to stay some place nicer if your budget allows.
Heading south, it takes about 20 minutes to drive from Honeymoon Island to Clearwater and 45 minutes to reach St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach. These are the hotels I recommend to couples planning to visit Honeymoon Island:
St. Pete Hotels1) Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa
Known as "the Pink Lady" for its colorful exterior, the stately 10-story Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa has been a favorite with visiting VIPS since 1928, thanks to its beach access and vast Gulf of Mexico views.
This grande dame also has a tragic romantic past: The builder, Thomas Rowe, fell in love with an opera star. As he was married, her family would not permit her to continue to see him. She died soon afterwards and her bereft suitor poured his energy into building the Don CeSar (named after the main character in the opera in which his amour performed). Some hotel employees claim that the ghosts of the lovers still roam the property hand-in-hand, then vanish.
Located on the beach, the 277-room resort contains two pools and a spa. It is listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places. Animal lovers will be glad to know that it participates in the Loews Loves Pets program, welcoming well-behaved cats and dogs to this historic property.
Don CeSar Beach Resort and Spa
3400 Gulf Blvd.
St. Peters Beach, Florida 33706
2) Renaissance Vinoy Resort
Of the same vintage, the Renaissance Vinoy Resort was also built before the era of jet travel, when winter visits to Florida were consider the ne plus ultra of swank travel. Celebrities came from near and far, and the nude sunbathing solarium was a big attraction. Like the Pink Lady, the Renaissance Vinoy is also listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places and a member of the Historic Hotels of America.
The seven-story Mediterranean Revival-style Renaissance Vinoy features a private marina, 18-hole golf course, two swimming pools (one heated), spa, beauty salon/barber shop, and a twelve-court tennis complex. And for those who want to unwind after a day in the sun, the in-room TVs feature premium HBO and ESPN channels, among others.
Renaissance Vinoy Resort
501 5th Avenue NE
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
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3) Sandpearl Resort
The first new resort on Clearwater Beach in more than 25 years, Sandpearl Resort opened its doors in 2007. It appeals to an upscale clientele by offering 253 luxurious guest rooms and suites, a pool with private cabanas, a variety of restaurants, and a spa. The AAA agreed that it was worthy, awarding the resort its four-diamond award in 2009. The big draw, of course, is the location and the views. A 700-foot expanse of Gulf Coast beach and ten private acres separate it from the honky-tonk ambience of downtown Clearwater.
500 Mandalay Avenue
Clearwater Beach, FL 33767
4) Sheraton Sand Key Resort
One of the bigger hotels in the area, Sheraton Sand Key Resort is adjacent to Sand Key Park and Preserve where wildlife ranging from loggerhead turtles to dolphins flourish, and the Sheraton lays claim to 10 acres of beach.
A nine-story hotel with 390 guest rooms, it’s popular with families with kids, business travelers, and conventioneers. Set back from the water’s edge, it’s about a two-block walk across the sand to the Gulf. If you’re not traveling with kids, you may find the crowded pool and the thin walls a drawback.
Sheraton Sand Key Resort
1160 Gulf Boulevard
Clearwater Beach, Florida 33767
Off the Beach