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Check out new, multi-million dollar look of St. Pete's Vinoy resort

ST. PETERSBURG — History meets hip.

That's the theme of the $53-million-plus renovation of the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club, the Jazz Age resort whose reopening in 1992 after years of vacancy helped reenergize downtown St. Petersburg.

This morning, hotel staff conducted a media tour of the tower, where all 102 guest rooms have been gutted and redone with new wallpaper, bedding, furniture and dove-gray plank tile floor. The overall look is understated with pops of hot pink and purple and whimsical touches like a flamingo in a snow globe in the Presidential Suite. Works by local artists hang on the walls, including a painting-on-photo of a 1940s Weeki Wachee mermaid.

"With this renovation, there's always a nod to the (hotel's) historic landmark status but we wanted to be relevant to the modern traveler," said general manager Barbara Readey.

Not yet finished is what is could be the most talked about part of the renovation — the new Paul's Landing restaurant overlooking the yachts in the Vinoy marina. With 200 seats it will be the largest of the resort's dining spots and "will have the best view of any restaurant in the city," said Mark Helmann, the Vinoy's director of restaurant operations.

Paul's Landing is named after William Paul, a carpenter who planted citrus trees and built a smokehouse on the site in the 1800s while helping construct Navy barracks. Paying homage to that history, the menu will be "seafood and citrus-driven," Helmann said as he offered samples — orangewood-smoked fish spread and tuna salad with avocado and micro greens, washed down by grapefruit champagne mojitos.

Dining at Paul's Landing won't be particularly fancy — the food will come on non-breakable Melamine plates since Paul's will also serve the main pool area and the expanded outdoor event space. The restaurant, expected to open early next year, will feature a "rum bar" as well as speciality cocktails and wine and craft beer on tap.

RELATED COVERAGE: The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club to get new owner

The renovations began 18 months ago before the Vinoy's owner, Maryland-based FelCor Lodging Trust, was acquired by RLJ Lodging Trust, the publicly traded real estate investment trust owned by BET founder Robert Johnson. Marriott has continued to manage the resort, which already has completed an extensive makeover of the pool, ballroom and golf club on nearby Snell Isle.

Still to come are a new spa and fitness center and redecorating of guest rooms in the original part of the hotel. When finished, the Vinoy will have a total of 362 guest rooms — one more than before the renovations.

Contact Susan Taylor Martin at smartin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate

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