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Hyatt Aqualea Resort's coral palette a bright spot on Clearwater Beach

The bright coral shades of the Hyatt Aqualea Resort, under construction on Clearwater Beach, make it stand out.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

The bright coral shades of the Hyatt Aqualea Resort, under construction on Clearwater Beach, make it stand out.

CLEARWATER — Early architectural renderings of Clearwater Beach's newest hotel gave it a soft, mellow, ivory-and-pink color scheme. But now that it's getting its first paint job, the Hyatt Aqualea Resort is showing its true colors.

It's bright. It's bold. It's three different shades of a sort of shocking pink-peach-orange color. It's definitely a departure from the muted tones of recent beach arrivals like the Sandpearl Resort and Mandalay Beach Club.

The hotel's developer calls the color "coral."

On the beach, where the 250-suite resort is currently under construction, passers-by are giving the color scheme mixed reviews.

"Wow, is that something! Like a radioactive tangerine. But I could learn to like it," said beachgoer Annie Devereaux of Pennsylvania.

"It's a little garish, but it's kind of cool, kind of art deco," said Kevin Burkett of Largo. "To me it says 'Florida,' you know?"

"It's a little much," said Joanie Maynard of Clearwater. "At least it's beachy. Isn't the Don CeSar pink?"

And that's the point, the Aqualea's developer says.

Both of Pinellas County's current iconic waterfront hotels, the Don CeSar Beach Resort and the Renaissance Vinoy Resort, happen to be a striking pink color.

"I think it says a lot about the location and about the profile of this hotel. We want to see the Aqualea established as an icon of Clearwater Beach," said Neil Rauenhorst, president of NJR Development.

"When people come over the bridge, we want them to see the Aqualea. When they're on the beach, they'll see this beautiful structure in the sun. When they leave, we want them to have that image in their mind — that they were in a beautiful place."

Its pink precursor, the Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach, is widely known as the Pink Palace, the Pink Lady, the Pink Castle or just "the big pink wedding cake." It's so recognizable, boaters use it as a navigational aid. Built in the 1920s, its original color came from pink lime mixed into its stucco.

The Vinoy in downtown St. Petersburg, another 1920s-era landmark, is also known for its salmon-toned exterior.

As for the Aqualea, it opens in December. Despite the current economy, Rauenhorst sees a bright future: "It's astounding to me how crowded the beach is every time I see it."

The resort will include 250 condo-hotel units, 18 larger residential condos, a 750-space parking garage, a spa, fitness center, club, pool and restaurant.

And exterior walls painted three shades of coral.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

Hyatt Aqualea Resort's coral palette a bright spot on Clearwater Beach 03/12/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 8:08pm]
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