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St. Petersburg's Vinoy to get even more luxurious

ST. PETERSBURG — The Vinoy, the grand hotel whose rebirth more than two decades ago sparked a resurgence in the city's downtown, is about to get even grander.

Its owners are promising a redevelopment to rival the one that preceded the 1992 reopening of the long shuttered and neglected facility.

"It's a whole new level of luxury," said Barbara Readey, general manager of the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club.

"It's going to have a very relaxed, elegant feeling."

So far, no price tag has been attached to this new splendor.

"It's premature to know the total, but it's significant, and we're thrilled," said Readey of the phased project set to begin in May and take about two and a half years.

Helping to drive the enhancements is a desire to cater to millennials and younger families.

"I think the demographic of St. Petersburg is changing, as well as the demographic of the Vinoy Club," Readey said. "The timing is really perfect. I think that St. Petersburg as a destination is really blossoming."

The Vinoy Club, at 600 Snell Isle Blvd. NE, will be the first area to get the upgrades. Work will include a new clubhouse grill with covered outdoor dining, a redesigned and larger swimming pool with cabana lounges and fire pits and a new splash pad and kids "fun zone."

There also are plans for a new poolside food and beverage service and new locker rooms. A multi-year plan involves improvements to bunkers, drainage, headwalls, irrigation and general aesthetics on the golf course and practice facility.

The idea for the splash pad was customer-driven, Readey said.

"We do a survey of members every year, and our members tend to be younger and more active families. This is something they asked for," she said. "Our younger active families, they enjoy our kids night out program. And we are noticing a lot more children at our golf and tennis program."

Club memberships, which include privileges at the hotel, can start with a one-time initiation fee of $3,750, with monthly dues of $235, and go up to a initiation fee of $20,000, with monthly dues of $490.

At the Vinoy itself, guests and club members can expect new Har-Tru green clay tennis courts, a new tennis pro shop with an outdoor lounge, an expanded fitness center and an enhanced spa with updated treatment rooms and lounge areas. Alfresco's restaurant will be replaced with a new dining concept that will have improved marina and park views. Additional covered parking also is being promised. No date has been set for this phase of the project.

The Vinoy, a treasured St. Petersburg landmark at 501 Fifth Ave. NE, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It opened in 1925 and was leased to U.S. Army Air Forces and U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. It reopened to the public in 1944 and closed in 1974. The hotel sat neglected and hollow-eyed until it was discovered and renovated by New York developer Fred Guest. The facility reopened to much fanfare in 1992.

It is now owned by FelCor Lodging Trust, a real estate investment trust, and managed by Marriott. Now, the resort is embarking on a new era.

"We are always looking to focus on the needs of the customer of today and the next generation traveler, so we want to have products and services that are relevant to the millennials while being true to our historic nature," Readey said.

"So, we integrate historic with hip."

Contact Waveney Ann Moore at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes

St. Petersburg's Vinoy to get even more luxurious 03/17/16 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2016 5:40pm]
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