CLEARWATER — The winding barista bar is taking shape in the lobby of the Wyndham Grand Resort on Clearwater Beach. Scaffolding is everywhere. Windows are installed. And furniture is on the way for 448 guest rooms and owner suites.
More than a decade after the property was bought and almost two years after breaking ground, the 750,000 square-foot resort on South Gulfview Boulevard and Coronado Drive, just north of the Hyatt Regency Clearwater, will be the largest development ever on Clearwater Beach, said Eric Miller, a representative for the owner, Tampa Philanthropist Kiran Patel.
The $175 million project will open to the public Jan. 22 with guest rooms ranging from $250 to $500.
The resort's main amenity is the 10,632-square-foot ballroom and 22,000 square feet of meeting space, which Miller said is the largest on Clearwater Beach and is catching the eye of business travelers who would otherwise travel to Tampa for its convention space.
"We're really trying to bring the corporate aspect to Clearwater Beach. Now we have true opportunity to give them the space they need to hold corporate events and the families can relax on the beach during the event," he said during a hard hat tour of the site Monday.
Split by two 15-story towers, the northern structure will be used for the 343-room hotel and convention space with a fitness center, spa, coffee bar and an Asian Fusion restaurant called Ocean Hai. Separated by an open-air breezeway, the southern tower will have a pool bar and grill, rec room and 105 timeshare suites, which will have between two and four bedrooms.
"The key to this resort from a location standpoint is it's as good as it gets on Clearwater Beach. We're steps away from Pier 60, we have Gulf views, you can walk to any bar or restaurant," said Miguel Diaz, director of sales and marketing for the resort.
It will be one of 37 Wyndham Grands in the world.
But the resort is just the latest in a string of high end luxury resorts to open on the beach.
The 15-story, $50 million Opal Sands Resort opened in February, stocked with 17,000 square feet of meeting space and an architecture build that gives all 230 guest rooms a view of the Gulf.
The trend toward the high end, led by the opening of the Opal Sands' sister hotel, the Sandpearl Resort, in 2007 and Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort in 2010 has brought a new clientele of visitors to the beach, beyond the mom-and-pop regulars.
But those posh accommodations are also being balanced by a series of new midrange choices: A Hampton Inn opened on S Gulview Boulevard on Sept. 30. Other projects include a Guesthouse hotel in the parking lot of the Holiday Inn on S Gulfview, a Spring Hill Suites and Fairfield Inn.
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The rush was fed in part by a zoning change created in 2008 as a way for the city to lure more midsize hotels to the beach. The change offered an extra 1,385 rooms developers could draw from to pack more rooms per acre on their lots than regulations previously allowed.
Contact Alli Knothe at email@example.com. Follow @KnotheA.