St Petersburg and Clearwater are located on the northern end of Florida’s Gulf coast, and are popular destinations for many reasons, not just as a relaxing haven after visiting the Disney World Orlando and Universal Studios theme parks, but for all kind of other activities and attractions available there.
St Petersburg (St Petes) is known for the accolade of Sunshine City, having had the most consecutive days of sunshine in the entire country – 768 sunny days! Much more than sunshine and perfect beaches however, St Petersburg is also home to cultural attractions like the Dali Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts and the Florida Orchestra. It’s also a nature lovers’ paradise, with nearby Fort de Soto as one of the star attractions, where you explore on foot, cycle, or kayak and paddle board through mangrove forests, which are teeming with fish, birds and at the right time of year, even manatees.
(Photo – Hotel Zamora)
This amazing combination of sports, nature, arts and culture and entertainment, all make St Petersburg an incredible vacation destination for everyone, and now the prime seafront area, St Pete’s Beach, has added another reason – the first new hotel in decades, Hotel Zamora!
Our upper floor suite was a lot to take in – an adjoining double suite (so two separate bedrooms!) with a spacious living room with a red, soft-leather sofa, a giant widescreen LED TV and a luxurious bathroom with stone surfaces and a glazed rainforest shower. The master bedroom was directly adjacent the living room, separated by a full height glass wall, with a thick privacy curtain when needed. The room was big enough to make the king size bed feel small, which had a view directly onto another 42 inch widescreen TV, and a view over the ocean to the side. So we could wake up in the morning, roll over and see the morning sun glistening off the waves. The adjoining room contained two king size beds and another full-size luxury bathroom, this time with balcony access, so whilst we didn’t use this room for anything, the management had cleverly demonstrated ingeniously simple flexibility of space. By the simple choice of placing these two rooms next to each other, two luxury rooms can be combines into a luxury apartment which can easily sleep a family of two adults and 4 children, morphing from open plan communal spaces, to privacy with the closing of one door or a curtain.
Hotel Zamora features an in-house restaurant with a European open air dining style, either indoors or on a large terrace overlooking the intra-coastal waterway. The menu offers a blend of international flavours and culinary traditions, including influences of Spain, Mexico and the Mediterranean. Guest and visitors can have breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night drinks.
For us though, the jewel in the crown of Hotel Zamora, was the 360 Rooftop Bar, with panoramic views from the Gulf of Mexico at the front to the Intracostal waterway at the rear, this simply spectacular rooftop space has become one of the most popular sunset drinking spots in town, with lush greenery all around, comfortable poolside style seating and a great cocktail menu.
All rooms and suites are furnished and equipped with walk-in showers (some with baths), HD flat-screen television with all the cable, wireless high-speed internet, iPod Alarm Clock Radio, hairdryer, in-Room safe, iron & ironing board, bottled water, coffee maker, plush bathrobes.
If you can drag yourself away from your room or suite, the rest of the hotel offers, a seven slip dock marina, Castile Restaurant & Lounge, an outdoor swimming pool and sun terrace, 24-hour fitness studio, meeting & banquet facilities, outdoor whirlpool spa, 360 Rooftop bar, private cabana rentals at the beach.
Fort De Soto Park in St Petersburg
A decommissioned historical fort located on five small keys, all home to a rich variety of flora, including mangroves, beach plants, wetland habitat, palm hammocks, hard woods and many native plants. All of this vegetation also provides a home to huge amount of birds – Snowy Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, White Ibis, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Great Blue Herons and of course, Pelicans. Loggerhead turtles are an annual visitor here, along with permanent residents like racoons and snakes. There are walking trails which run through the park, or take kayak to explore the mangrove forests and the open bay.
Luxury Hotel Review – Hotel Zamora – Fort de Soto (Photo – Pinellas County)
The Dali Museum in St Petersburg
The world’s largest single collection of Dali works, outside of Spain lives right here in St Petersburg. Enjoy this marvellous work of architecture from the outside, before roaming the halls of the master of surrealism on the inside. Admire the art at your own pace, or join the free guided tour, led by a Dali expert.
Segway tour with Segway St John’s Pass at Hubbard’s Marina, St Petersburg
Truly one of the best ways to explore a new place! These slightly bizarre, self-balancing machines area really fun way to explore, adding a whole new dimension to sightseeing.
Dinner at The Orginal Crabby Bills – Indian Rocks Beach, St Petersburg
A local legend and an absolute must-try while in St Petersburg or Clearwater. An iconic seaside diner which has been serving fresh, local seafood since 1983. We tried the oysters, stone crab claws, Alaskan king crab, gator tail, octopus, pan-fried shrimp, and their famous in-house key lime pie.
Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Park, Dunedin near Clearwater
Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island State Park are two completely natural island paradises, with nature trails, bird observation areas, fishing spots, snorkelling, kayaking and great shelling. Enjoy Honeymoon Island, but make sure to take the small ferry across to Caledesi for another level of tranquillity. Be aware though that we were there just before high season, so it was almost deserted, but it gets much busier come vacation time!
Catch a Sunset
Whether at St Pete’s Beach, or over at Honeymoon and Caledesi, the sunsets here are spectacular. We actually took the advice of the ferry captains, who suggested we park up on the causeway where the locals fish from, because the sun sinks down behind Honeymoon Island, then lights the sky with a hundred shades of orange and yellow.
Note: This trip wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of Visit St Pete/Clearwater for our itinerary in St Petersburg and Clearwater and to Visit Florida, the official tourism office of Florida in Tallahassee, and especially Ms. Summer Gilhousen, who arranged the whole trip and coordinated with all the local tourism boards, private companies for our sponsored hotel stays, tours and car rental (all opinions and text are all mine) Thank you!