Make us your home page
Instagram

New Westin Tampa Bay Airport hotel opens at Rocky Point

The new $65-million Westin Tampa Bay Airport, on Tampa’s Rocky Point,  boasts views of Old Tampa Bay.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

The new $65-million Westin Tampa Bay Airport, on Tampa’s Rocky Point, boasts views of Old Tampa Bay.

The hotel business is struggling, with corporate travel in retreat and vacationers gripping their wallets tightly.

Yet Dilip Kanji seemed downright serene on opening day for his $65-million Westin on Tampa's Rocky Point. He'd made smart moves, like building on the site of a Days Inn he owned since 1993. Kanji scrapped plans for a condo tower next door just before residential housing sales tanked.

"The (hotel's) cost is at a level where I'm confident we can make money," he said Thursday. "Like any businessman, I have sleepless nights. But it's a great location. And it's not a 500-room hotel."

The 255-room hotel is the latest of the brand's "compact" Westins for cities a notch down from New York or Chicago. Instead of two or three dining choices, the smaller properties offer a single brand-name restaurant. They have about half as many rooms, a third of the meeting space and no spa, though spa services are available in guest rooms.

The hotel offers mid-upscale amenities: 24-hour room service, concierge desk, a full-scale Starbucks, an executive level and lounge for the chain's elite-level customers. Regular room rates run from $179 to $279 per night, more for a suite and during special events.

Executives for the Westin brand picked the name Westin Tampa Bay Airport to attract business travelers. But the location on Rocky Point along the Courtney Campbell Parkway, once home to strip clubs and cheap food joints, now provides soaring views of Old Tampa Bay on three sides.

"I can virtually guarantee every room we have has a great view," Kanji said. "We're a calm location that gives you a Florida feel.''

Chief executive of Impact Properties, Kanji built his first hotel — a Best Western in Brandon — in 1985. He gained a reputation for following through in a place where many projects die on the drawing board.

After buying the Rocky Point Days Inn, he built a Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express nearby. The Westin makes eight hotels that Impact, owned primarily by Kanji and family members, owns and operates in Florida.

Impact held three job fairs since September. More than 1,000 applicants showed up at its offices for 80 jobs in the hotel and 80 at Aquaknox, a seafood restaurant that leases space in the Westin.

"Sometimes, the lobby was full of people waiting to fill out applications," Kanji said. "It's a telltale sign of the economy."

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 256-3384

Westin Tampa Bay Airport's special features

>> Aquaknox: Fine-dining restaurant specializing in fresh seafood from around the world. Dinner entrees range from $18 to $43. Other locations at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas and Atlanta's Buckhead district.

>> BluVu: Rooftop lounge with wraparound views of Old Tampa Bay. Indoor and outdoor seating. Scheduled to open in March.

>> Executive Floor: Restricted-key access to 15th floor for elite Starwood Preferred members. Lounge serves breakfast and afternoon light snacks and drinks.

New Westin Tampa Bay Airport hotel opens at Rocky Point 01/22/09 [Last modified: Friday, January 23, 2009 7:03am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  2. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]
  3. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  4. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month

    Markets

    Unemployment in Florida hit a 10-year low in June, clocking in at 4.1 percent, down from 4.3 percent in May. The state added 19,400 jobs over the month, and saw growth in most industries. But there's one glaring missing piece to the economic recovery puzzle: wage growth.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  5. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 14.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]