• A new 200-room Marriott Autograph Collection hotel is being planned in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg. The 50-story mixed-used tower also calls for 325 condominiums, dining and retail space. At press time, details on other offerings — including meeting and event space — as well as a projected opening date have not yet been announced. Stay tuned.
• The new Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement is nearing a summer 2019 completion in St. Petersburg. The 137,000-square-foot facility will showcase businessman Rudy Ciccarello’s extensive collection of furniture, pottery, tile, metalwork, lighting, photography and other decorative arts from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The five-story museum also will house event spaces, a 100-seat auditorium and a 9,000-square foot-restaurant.
• TradeWinds Island Resorts is currently upgrading its two properties, the 211-room RumFish Beach Resort and 585-room sister property TradeWinds Island Grand, at a cost of $13 million. Both TradeWinds venues are being refreshed with new bedding, draperies, upholstery, sofa beds, carpeting and reappointed bathrooms. Even more is in store at the Guy Harvey Outpost, which is being further upgraded with new beachfront balconies, railings, exterior paint and new seating area club chairs. The Guy Harvey refurbishment will be completed by Feb. 2019; half of the rooms at the Island Grand have already been refreshed; the rest will be completed by late 2020. Read more here.
• The iconic St. Pete Pier, which backdrops the 34-acre St. Petersburg Pier District, is under construction. When completed in early 2019, it will anchor the third largest waterfront park system in North America and will further enhance St. Pete's vibrant downtown and treasured waterfront.
• Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the Tailless Dolphin, has begun an expansion that will allow the marine hospital to care for more injured sealife, including turtles and dolphins. In addition to its mission to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife as well as being a must-see family attraction, the aquarium is ideally suited and equipped for small meetings, group outings, team building and corporate events.
• Beginning Dec. 15, the Dali Museum will offer a first-of-its-kind special exhibition of René Magritte and Salvador Dali, two of the world's most celebrated surrealists. "Magritte & Dali" will showcase exemplary works from the late 1920s to the early 1940s, a period when the controversial artists' careers overlapped. Read more here.
• Underscored by a nine-gallery, eye-candy collection of more than 500 pieces of American Studio Glass, the Imagine Museum has recently opened in St. Petersburg. The three-story downtown property is the latest of a series of regional, privately funded facilities that are turning the St.Petersburg/Clearwater area into a must-see art experience. The new venue accommodates private events for up to 150 people. Read more about it here.
• St. Pete's NOVA 535 is a meticulously renovated historic 1920 building with 7,000 square feet of event space, convenient interstate access, multiple full-service bars, VIP areas plus a private 4,000-square-foot brick and bamboo courtyard.
• Stay, meet and play at 362-room Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. Located in the vibrant downtown district, guest perks include three restaurants, a spa, a health club, Ron Garl-designed golf and 60,500 square feet of total event space.
• Marriott International’s Autograph Collection flag now flies over Dunedin's Fenway Hotel. Neglected and shuttered for years, the historic property has undergone a $30 million salvage, restoration and reconstruction that in November will debut 83 luxe-level rooms, a new HEW Parlor and Chophouse, a rooftop bar that overlooks the St. Joseph Sound, and 11,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
• In St. Pete Beach, a renovation of the 13-acre Sirata Beach Resort
has been unveiled. The major makeover included upgrades to all 382
guest rooms and suites, the three signature restaurants, the 30,000
square feet of function space, the beachfront swimming complex and the
addition of a full-time activities staff.
• Major multi-phase renovations are continuing at Florida’s iconic Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete Beach. In February, this 277-room National Historic Landmark completed a major modernization of its meeting and event facilities, which includes 22,000 square feet of indoor function space; 16,000 square feet of outdoor space; two ballrooms spanning 5,671 and 4,002 square feet, respectively, and 13 meeting rooms. The first improvement phase saw the renovation of public areas in both the main resort and its sister property, the 70-room Beach House Suites by the Don CeSar.
• North Clearwater Beach's Hotel Cabana is sporting a lavish new look following a total refresh and renovation. Accented by 29 Key West-inspired guest rooms and suites, property perks include a heated pool, complimentary Kahwa-branded coffee and WiFi, a landscaped courtyard, a sun deck and easy access to nearby restaurants, bars and beaches.
• After an extensive renovation, the 34-room Avalon has reopened in downtown St. Petersburg with retro interiors, a restaurant and a 21 craft-beer bar.
• Paying homage to an era of easygoing coastal comfort, the Postcard Inn on the Beach has been restyled with individually decorated rooms and nostalgia-themed art that further define this 196-room casual St. Pete Beach property. Amenities include two restaurants, a beach bar, and multiple interior and exterior event spaces including a 2,280-square-foot ballroom.
• The Inn on the Beach has completed an all-encompassing redesign and renovation of its 14 guest rooms. The property is in laid-back Pass-a-Grille near the historic 8th Avenue shopping district.
• In downtown St. Pete, the new James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art has opened with a singular assortment of premium works from the personal collection of Tom and Mary James. Emeritus chairman of Raymond James Financial, Tom James has invested nearly $50 million into the 84,000-square-foot museum, which includes 30,000 square feet of gallery space, 9,300 square feet of meeting space and a 129-seat auditorium.
• Two years ago, USA Today ranked St. Pete/Clearwater as one of the five most underrated food cities of the East Coast. Helping lead that epicurean breakthrough are the home-cooked, handcrafted delicacies offered at The Mill; the new eatery has private event space for up to 60 guests.
• New restaurants are all the rage in St. Pete, with locally owned concepts popping up at a dizzying pace. Following are three to try:
The Brass Bowl Kitchen & Juicery: Eating healthy has never tasted so good. The Brass Bowl serves a chef-driven, fully organic menu featuring fresh gluten-free food bowls that burst with flavor.
German Knodle: Open from breakfast to late night, the Knodle offers everything from bratwurst to paninis, but don’t leave without sampling one of its succulent knodles (small German dumplings).
No Vacancy St. Pete: Once you check in, you might never want to check out of the retro Florida-themed No Vacancy. Its “everyday vacay” décor is a sweet complement to the dynamite tropical cocktails and island-style bites.