Make us your home page
Instagram

Vinoy Resort has a hip new look more conducive to supping and socializing

ST. PETERSBURG

Not since it reopened in 1992 has the Renaissance Vinoy Resort undergone such a metamorphosis. For almost two decades the lobby had one row of sofas and chairs with seating for about 25, a cramped bar with four stools, and a long, stately check-in desk. Now it has five sitting areas akin to posh living rooms with seating for about 50 people among the glam furniture, starburst lighting and contemporary art. The rugs are colored with waves and swirls of bold turquoise and brown. The check-in area has been moved to the west end of the lobby and consists of three sleek stone tables with huge vintage black-and-white photos of the hotel in ornate gold frames.

There is now a much larger interior bar, and another one has been added to the porch. White curtains blow in the breeze on that historic front veranda, where floral fabrics have been replaced with crisp whites.

Like the Loews Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach, which also boasts a newly renovated lobby, the Vinoy is keeping up with the tastes of younger guests who prefer a hipper, bold style over a stately or Old Florida look. The 86-year-old hotel is part of the Renaissance Hotels chain. The company is redoing its lobbies across the country and around the world to create lounges and libraries.

"I think all brands, Renaissance and Loews, are looking at the future. If you have a historic hotel you are still staying relevant to the customers just coming up through the ranks," said Russ Bond, Vinoy general manager.

"Up until now the tendency was to check in, go to your room, hunker down and order room service and work on your laptop," he said. "Now it's the younger generation that wants to be out and be part of things going on. It's a lot more about socialization."

Advances in technology also eliminate the need for bulky computers, printers and storage files at a check-in desk. So by moving the former lobby desk and office space to the other side of the lobby, it freed up room for the luxurious sitting areas dripping with silk, velvet, leather and gold.

"I think there may be a certain demographic that says, wow, this is not what it used to be and I'm not happy with the changes you made," Bond said. But most guests and locals are raving about the new lobby look and configuration. Pinellas residents from all over are meeting at the Vinoy lobby for a drink before or after hitting restaurants or shopping on Beach Drive, he said.

"The bar situation and the functionality of the lobby never was right," he added. The new coffee shop and cafe with prepared foods is also a big hit. The offerings include every form of coffee as well as mango chicken salad, hummus, wedges of cheese, turkey wraps and yogurt.

The cafe will expand soon since Ami Jewelers has just moved out. Bond declined to reveal how much was spent on the renovation, which was overseen by the Leo A Daly design firm in Dallas.

The next project will be a renovation of the spa and surrounding area that will increase the size from 3,000 to 8,000 square feet without calling for new construction. This may start in late 2012 or 2013.

As the bills roll in for all the updating, developments in St. Petersburg's art world are boosting business.

"Our occupancy is way up over 2010. Some of that is the economy, some because it's post-oil spill, and there has got to be a cultural and arts factor as well," Bond said. "We love the fact that the Dalí is succeeding, Chihuly is succeeding and the Museum of Fine Arts is as well."

Katherine Snow Smith can be reached at kssmith@tampabay.com.

Vinoy Resort has a hip new look more conducive to supping and socializing 12/17/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 17, 2011 11:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Why are so few Tampa Bay houses for sale? They're being rented

    Real Estate

    Oreste Mesa Jr. owns a modest 40-year-old house in West Tampa just off MacDill Avenue. It's an area where many homeowners are hearing the siren song of builders and cashing out while the market is strong.

    Attorney David Eaton poses in front of his rental home at 899 72nd Ave. North. in St. Petersburg. He's among a growing number of property owners who see more value in renting out unused homes than selling them. 
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Wanted: New businesses on Safety Harbor's Main Street

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — A green grocery store, a hardware store, restaurants, boutiques and multi-use buildings are all wanted downtown, according to discussion at a community redevelopment workshop held last week. And to bring them to the Main Street district, city commissioners, led by Mayor Joe Ayoub, gave City Manager …

    Whistle Stop Bar & Grill is one of the main stops on Main Street in Safety Harbor. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  3. Q&A: A business leader and historian jointly delve into Tampa's waterfront

    Business

    TAMPA — As a native of Tampa, Arthur Savage has always had a passion for his hometown's history. And as a third-generation owner and operator of A.R. Savage & Son, a Tampa-based shipping agency, his affinity for his hometown also extends to its local waterways.

    Arthur Savage (left) and Rodney Kite-Powell, co-authors of "Tampa Bay's Waterfront: Its History and Development," stand for a portrait with the bust of James McKay Sr. in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. McKay, who passed away in 1876, was a prominent businessman, among other things, in the Tampa area. He was Arthur Savage's great great grandfather. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Tampa's connected-vehicle program looking for volunteers

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Drivers on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway can save on their monthly toll bill by volunteering to test new technology that will warn them about potential crashes and traffic jams.

    A rendering shows how new technology available through the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority will warn driver's about crashes, traffic jams, speed decreases and more. THEA is seeking 1,600 volunteers to install the devices, which will display alerts in their review mirrors, as part of an 18-month connected-vehicle pilot.
  5. What Florida's top Republicans are saying about Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

    U.S. President Donald Trump makes a statement on the violence this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia at the White House on August 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in Charlottesville when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields Jr. barreled into a crowd of counter-protesters following violence at the 'Unite the Right' rally. Two Virginia state police troopers were also killed when their helicopter crashed while covering events on the ground. [Getty Images]