TAMPA — The Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina has changed its name to the Tampa Marriott Water Street and is unveiling a new look, new activity on its sidewalks and new restaurants as part of a $50 million makeover.
"The idea (behind the new name) is we have a collection of hotels we're selling, and Water Street's the location," said Ron McAnaugh, general manager of the 727-room Marriott Water Street.
Going up across the street is a 519-room JW Marriott. And a 173-room Marriott Edition boutique hotel is scheduled to open in early 2021 as part of a 26-story tower planned at the northwest corner of Channelside Drive and Water Street, across the street from Amalie Arena. All three hotels are being done by Strategic Property Partners, the development company formed by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, through his Cascade Investment capital fund to create the $3 billion Water Street Tampa development district.
Along with the new name and an already-complete renovation of its rooms, the Marriott Water Street is rolling out new offerings in its public spaces. A first-floor Starbucks coffee shop opened in December in what used to be old administrative and sales offices. The Garrison Tavern, a re-imagining of what used to be the Champions Sports Bar, opened last week.
As of Wednesday morning, the lobby will have a new look, with new furniture and new centerpiece lighting. In July, the hotel will open a 200-seat, as-yet-to-be-named patio restaurant overlooking the hotels' marina and the Tampa Riverwalk. The seating will come with a roof with louvers that can be closed for shade or to keep out rain.
The room renovations, along with work to the hotel's fitness center and meeting spaces, were complete last spring.
"Now is the stuff people are going to see and go, "Wow. Now I see it,' " McAnaugh said. Among those changes will be a bigger, more active presence on the street. Both the Starbucks and the Garrison Tavern will have patio seating, and the sidewalks will be 16 feet wide, the new standard for Water Street Tampa, with decorative pavers, new lighting and new trees.
The early reception for the Garrison Tavern, which opened last week without advertising, has been encouraging. On its third night, a Friday, it saw 1,100 diners, on a par with what Champions used to do. The 220-seat tavern has two TopGolf Swing Suites, the first in Florida, that can be rented to groups of up to eight patrons who want to play virtual golf on 80 different PGA courses, or other virtual sports from baseball to dodge ball. There's also a new menu, with locally sourced beef that's butchered in-house for the burgers, along with pumpkin seed hummus, adobo grilled mahi tacos, pork carnitas poutin and house-smoked cheddar and jalapeno sausage, plus a range of local craft beers.
Outside, the tavern's patio has 40 seats overlooking Old Water Street, which is expected to give the restaurant an outward-facing presence that Champions lacked.
"That was kind of our Achilles' heel," McAnaugh said. "We were by the arena, but people would walk by and not even know the bar was in here. It didn't invite you in."
Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times