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Inn to bring comforts to campground

Published Sep. 3, 2005

For the past few years, Richard Whalen gazed at the barren acre on his property with an eye toward development. But what to put there?

He didn't want to expand his 17-acre campground _ Dunedin RV Resort _ behind the lot. What, he wondered, would be compatible?

"I'd been seeing a change in camping attitudes," Whalen said. "A lot of people want to go to campgrounds, but they don't want to buy an RV _ they'd rather rent a cabin."

It hit him. Why not a bed-and-breakfast offering the use of the campground clubhouse and recreational facilities?

After two years of working out the details, the idea came to fruition a week ago when construction began on the $1.1-million bed-and-breakfast to be named the Blue Moon Inn.

Located one-half mile north of Curlew Road in unincorporated Pinellas County, the inn will have an "old Florida" look about it, said architect Dan Massaro. His firm, Massaro and Associates of Dunedin, designed the one-story building.

The inn will be built on fill raised 5 to 6 feet above the ground. The exterior will feature landscaped terraces with steps and ramps and will be painted gray-blue with white trim and accents, Massaro said.

Four of the inn's nine suites will each have 675 square feet for a bedroom, sitting and dining area and plush bathroom with Jacuzzi, he said.

Each suite will have a patio and all the rooms will face east toward the resort's recreation center, which includes a large Y-shaped swimming pool, clubhouse, shuffleboard courts and other game areas. Cupolas will decorate the inn's silver metal roof.

Room rates will range between $130 and $150 a night during the season. Whalen said he will hire some additional employees for cooking and housekeeping duties.

R.J. Bunbury of Clearwater is the contractor, and Whalen said the inn is scheduled to be finished by mid December. He said he hopes to be open in time for the holidays.

The camp has 233 RV spaces and has been owned and operated by Whalen and his wife, Beverly, since 1981. Before that, Whalen was a co-partner in the business since it opened in 1973.

During the season, the camp is filled with trailers and motor homes from Canada, New England, the Northeast and Southeast, Michigan and Wisconsin, Whalen said. It's 20 percent occupied during the summer months with visitors and a few retired couples that stay year-round.