TAMPA — In an era where travelers are seeking out experience authentic to a region, boutique hotel Current has made a point to be on trend.
Its lobby is full of local art and its gift shop with stylish goodies. Current is Tampa Bay’s third member of the Autograph Collection, a designation Marriott only gives to hotels that create an experience unlike what a typical hotel offers. The Current’s draw isn’t just its 180 rooms. It is the boutique experience and waterfront views — but the proximity to the airport helps, too.
“This city is going to change more in the next decade than it has in my lifetime,” Mayor Jane Castor told the small crowd outside the hotel ahead of its ribbon-cutting ceremony. “This is the perfect example of what’s lifting the city.”
The Current opened at a time other developers are trying to finish projects ahead of Tampa’s Super Bowl in 2021 and older hotels are renovating to keep up with competition.
When Julian Lifsey began developing Rocky Point in the 1960s, he knew the island’s views of the bay made it an ideal spot for an upscale hotel. Current has been hosting guests for two months, but held its official opening party on Tuesday evening.
“As many of you know, my grandfather was quite the visionary,” Stan Lifsey, now the president at Lifsey Real Estate Holdings, told attendees. “But I don’t know that he could have imagined quite this caliber.”
The Current has a lobby bar and rooftop bar, the Rox, that are open to the public. The Julian restaurant, named for the Lifsey patriarch, offers a mix of shareable small plates and seasonal entrees. The lobby bar serves Buddy Brew coffees and a small gift shop has items curated by the Oxford exchange, giving guests a taste of Tampa.
In recent years, the Renaissance hotel at International Plaza, though not a boutique hotel, has made efforts to give off a more local feel. Its redone its lobby, room and menus and promotes locally roasted coffee and craft beers and cocktails.
The boutique, experience-driven, trend shows no signs of slowing down. Developers filed plans to turn the old Balbin Bros. Cigar Factory into a boutique hotel, making use of the historic structure. The Yuengling brewery near the University of South Florida in Tampa has also filed plans for a hotel and beer garden.
More traditional hotels such as the 10-story Hampton Inn and Home2Suites have already opened, while the 26-story J.W. Marriott is still under construction.
Local tourism experts have said that between 2019 and 2021, Hillsborough County could add up to 2,000 new hotel rooms.