1. Business

Tampa Bay area has about a dozen AAA four diamond hotels, but no five diamonds

Guests at the Don CeSar relax on St. Pete Beach last August. The Don Cesar is one of about a dozen bay area hotels to receive a prized four-star rating from AAA. SCOTT KEELER | Times (2017)
Published Jan. 31, 2018

About a dozen Tampa Bay area hotels Wednesday got four-diamond ratings from AAA. But the bay area has no hotels with the auto club's highest rating of five diamonds.


What AAA says they are: Refined and stylish, with upscale physical attributes, extensive amenities and high degrees of hospitality, service and attention to detail.

How many: 145 in Florida. About 6.1 percent of all 27,000-plus hotels rated by AAA.

Where they are around Tampa Bay:

Tampa (The Epicurean, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Le Méridien, Renaissance Tampa International Plaza, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa and Westin Tampa Bay)

Clearwater Beach (Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort & Spa, Opal Sands Resort and Sandpearl Resort)

Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach

Ritz-Carlton and Westin in Sarasota

The Resort At Longboat Key Club


What AAA says they offer: Ultimate luxury, sophistication and comfort. Extraordinary physical attributes. Meticulous personalized service. Extensive amenities. Impeccable standards of excellence.

How many: 10 in Florida (third most in the U.S.), including the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World, The Breakers in Palm Beach and Ritz-Carlton in Naples. Just 0.4 percent of AAA-rated hotels. None in the Tampa Bay area.

Hope for the future? Two hotels-in-the-making have been mentioned as potential five-star candidates: One is a 150-room boutique hotel planned at Water Street Tampa, the big Jeff Vinik-Cascade Investment project. The other is the JW Marriott planned on Clearwater Beach.


Tampa Bay is enjoying a hotel boom. Could a five-star be coming?

The Loews Don CeSar on St. Pete Beach sold for $202.6 million

Having JW Marriott run Water Street Tampa's new 519-room hotel expected to help Tampa pursue more upscale conventions

JW Marriott Clearwater Beach project still on target despite some bumps

Long awaited $100 million project would bring JW Marriott luxury hotel to Clearwater Beach


  1. The main exhibit center at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa once stirred the imagination with dinosaurs and stars. Now, it's empty, but on the verge of rebirth as a movie studio.
    The County Commission has set aside $2 million for the project as the Film Commission studies the demand for it.
  2. Snack-focused delivery app GoPuff launched in Tampa in February. It serves the area surrounding the University of South Florida. GoPuff
    Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or Funyuns? GoPuff says it has the data for which snack Floridians love the most.
  3. "House Hunters," shot at a home in the Bayshore Beautiful area.  (Times | 2007) Tampa Tribune
    Whang, 57, was also a comedian and actress.
  4. The city is accepting applications for its Commercial Revitalization Program. The city has allocated $175,000 for the program this year.
  5. The Walmart supercenter at 990 Missouri Ave. faced fines in December for these storage containers in the parking lot. City officials are debating whether to make a short-term arrangement with the city two’s Largo stores this year so they can store their holiday inventory. City of Largo
    In the end, city commissioners say yes, with some reservations.
  6. More construction is on the way to St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport, thanks to $19.75 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants to rehabilitate the airport’s runway. (Times file photo)
    The work is expected to be complete by spring 2021.
  7. Job applicants seek information about temporary positions available with the 2020 Census, during a job fair in Miami on Wednesday designed for people fifty years or older. LYNNE SLADKY  |  AP
    The state added 22,500 jobs in August.
  8. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  9. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.
  10. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.