Make us your home page
Instagram

Travelodge gets makeover; reopens as Postcard Inn on the Beach

St. Petersburg carpenter Robert Johnson cuts a piece of baseboard while working on one of the rooms at the Postcard Inn on the Beach, formally known as the Travelodge, on Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

St. Petersburg carpenter Robert Johnson cuts a piece of baseboard while working on one of the rooms at the Postcard Inn on the Beach, formally known as the Travelodge, on Gulf Boulevard in St. Pete Beach.

ST. PETE BEACH — The old Travelodge on Gulf Boulevard was a mess. Both as a place to spend the night and as an investment.

Customers complained in TripAdvisor reviews about moldy carpets, balky air conditioners and threadbare bedcovers. One thing they did like about the beachfront motel: room rates as low as $49.

Starwood Capital Group, an investment fund that bought the property for $37 million in 2005, wanted to tear down the Travelodge. But its plans to build a fancy new hotel were thwarted by an antidevelopment movement in the city.

A few months ago, the owners changed gears and decided to give the motel a long-overdue makeover. On Oct. 22, the property officially reopens under a new brand: Postcard Inn on the Beach.

"We want to have an alternative to the cookie-cutter three-star hotel," says Stephen Hanson, president of B.R. Guests Restaurants, the hotel operator. "It will be laid-back, easygoing, relaxing fun."

Return visitors won't recognize the place. Designers replaced an '80s Florida resort style with urban chic. Workers raised the lobby's low ceiling and hung two industrial-size fans. A barn-style raised door slides open to the Wildwood BBQ & Burger restaurant.

Room decor is beach-themed or just quirky. Vintage surfboards lean in corners, with family vacation photos hanging nearby. One room's wall — painted half sky blue, half burnt orange — is inscribed with quotations from Janis Joplin, Jay Z and Lord Byron.

The Swigwam, a landmark dive watering hole, will be renamed the PBI Beach Bar but remain mostly intact. Some of the 1,000 autographed dollar bills pried off walls will hang in a box frame in the lobby.

The four-month, $5 million-plus renovation was almost entirely cosmetic. Workers didn't knock down walls. Guest room toilets and fixtures were replaced "when they needed it," said Steven Rodriguez, director of marketing and sales.

Hanson suggested the makeover to Starwood Capital. The fund is run by Barry Sternlicht, his 50-50 partner in B.R. Guest. Sternlicht founded lodging giant Starwood Hotels, owner of the Westin, Sheraton and W Hotels brands.

The local Travelodge was floundering in debt, Hanson said. A better product will generate higher room rates, from $99 off-season to as much as $240 in the spring peak.

"It's been 100 percent underwater," he said. "I think I can get it a little above water."

The political mood about development in St. Pete Beach reversed last year. Voters approved changes to the city's comprehensive plan and development regulations that allow for larger hotel projects.

Starwood officials haven't talked to the city about dusting off plans for a new hotel, said Karl Holley, community development director for St. Pete Beach.

But the renovation "in my opinion doesn't preclude further development of the site in the next five to 10 years," he said.

Hanson hadn't heard anything from Starwood Capital about further development on the site.

Steve Huettel can be reached at huettel@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3384.

Travelodge gets makeover; reopens as Postcard Inn on the Beach 10/08/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 8, 2009 9:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband

    Business

    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  2. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}
  3. Buddy Brew Coffee to open downtown Tampa location

    Business

    TAMPA — Buddy Brew Coffee plans to open a new location in downtown Tampa at Park Tower in early 2018. The specialty coffee craft roaster, which was founded in 2010, has five other locations throughout Tampa including the Oxford Exchange, Sarasota, Hyde Park Village and Terminal F inside the Tampa International …

    A cappuccino is displayed at Buddy Brew in Tampa in January 2017. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  4. Where to pig out for National Bacon Lovers Day

    Food & Dining

    That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect …

    A creme-filled doughnut topped with maple frosting and bacon at Dough on MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
  5. The Penny Hoarder tops 79 fastest growing Tampa Bay companies on Inc. 5000

    Business

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Penny Hoarder on Wednesday further cemented its reputation as one of the country's fastest growing companies. The personal finance web site business ranks 25th nationwide and tops in the Tampa Bay market for growth on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing businesses.

    One of the fastest growing startups in the country is St. Petersburg's The Penny Hoarder, a financial advice web site aimed at helping readers save money. Playing a game in the office is (right to left) founder and CEO Kyle Taylor, vice president of business operations Vishal Mahtani and executive editor Alexis Grant. [Courtesy of The Penny Hoarder]