Fisherman's Paradise, a palatial five-story floating resort, will open for the season March 30.
Anchored 15 miles due west of Clearwater since its construction in 2009, the former natural gas pipeline barge has been tricked out with every conceivable luxury: health spa, sports bar, 900-bottle wine cellar and restaurant, two-floor gym and helipad.
According to operating partner Christopher Longrie, the $25 million deep-sea anglers' dream has been deluged with media interest and gawkers since it was pulled into local waters by a tugboat.
"We are really trying to avoid any more press coverage," Longrie said. "The last round did not help as we were not ready for the onslaught of inquiries."
He went on to explain how it works: Open to members only, accommodations are ordinarily $250 per night, per person, double occupancy. For the month of April, though, rates will shift to $350 per person, for a weekend of three days and two nights.
Thurston Howell III might feel right at home, but membership is actually not an elaborate, or expensive, process.
"You have to fill out a form," says Longrie. "Last season membership was $25; this season it will be $100. And we're still working out whether meals and other amenities are all included. Last season it was all-inclusive, but we're still working out the details."
The 385-foot-long Fisherman's Paradise sleeps 36 people in double-occupancy rooms. Guests can charter one of eight powerboats or catamarans. And chef Gary McCarrick serves grouper, snapper and other Gulf of Mexico bounty in the dining room (although guests' catches cannot legally be served in the restaurant). At this time, the restaurant is not open to anyone just pulling up by boat for dinner.
Guests can dock their own boats in the barge's marina or arrive by shuttle or helicopter from St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport.
For information about the floating resort, visit fishermansparadise.com.
Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293.