If your clients are taking a weekend getaway in St. Petersburg, the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club puts them in the heart of this charming beach town on Florida’s Gulf Coast. We experienced the hotel first-hand to see what the property and destination has to offer travelers.
The story goes that the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club started with a bet and a game of golf. In 1923, Aymer Vinoy Laughner, a businessman from Pennsylvania, hosted a party and placed a bet as to whether his prized pocket watch’s crystal would survive if golfer Walter Hagen hit golf balls off of it. The watch didn’t break, and the party guests suggested building a resort where the golf balls landed, and thus the Vinoy Park Hotel was born in 1925, just in time for the new year.
The hotel is filled with history and has gone through many transformations: It was a training center for military cooks and bakers during World War II and was a low-rent boarding house in the 1970s. After 18 years left unoccupied, the hotel underwent a 2-year, $93 million restoration in 1992 adding a second tower with guestrooms and amenities that make the resort a destination in itself: a tennis complex, a Ron Garl-designed 18-hole golf course; two heated pools; a fitness center; and a 74-slip marina.
To ease your clients into a resort mindset, recommend a Bahama Mama manicure and pedicure, a summer take on the signature duo. These treatments come with the drink, of course, and natural spa products that smell good enough to eat. Guests who want to stay active on vacation, meanwhile, can play a round of golf or tennis. We woke up early one Saturday morning for a tennis clinic on one of the clay courts; tennis clinics are also available in the evenings. Your clients can also sign up for a class at the fitness center, offering everything from yoga and Pilates to cycling and water aerobics. We tested out a Pilates class and loved the intimate class size and challenging routine.
While we could have lounged all day at the pool with a mojito in hand, we walked into town to explore the area and some of its art collections. Two collections really stand out: the Chihuly Collection and the Dali Museum. The Chihuly Collection is the first of the artist’s museums featuring a glass-blowing facility and auditorium, in addition to Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures. Meanwhile, the work inside the Dali Museum is just as fascinating as the building it’s housed in, with a free-form glass bubble jetting out of the sides of the building and a helical staircase inside leading up to the collection.
After a day exploring around town, or out on the water on anything from kayaks to a catamaran cruise, your clients can sample some of the chef’s dishes with a 6-course Chef’s Surprise Tasting at the hotel’s signature restaurant, Marchand’s Bar & Grill. The $80 tasting ($110 pp with wine pairing) features an inventive array of dishes with items such as roasted beets with deviled duck egg, country fried rabbit legs with celery biscuits and lamb tongue with black garlic roasted fingerling potatoes.
Recommend your clients get the full resort experience with the Spa Getaway package, available through Dec. 31. The package includes an upgraded luxury bay room; a 60-minute relaxation massage at the spa; 25 percent off a second treatment; 20 percent off all spa merchandise; and unlimited access to the resort’s health club and spa facilities. Rates start at $219 per night.
For more on the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club, visit marriott.com/hotels/travel/tpasr-renaissance-vinoy-resort-and-golf-club. For more on St. Petersburg, visit visitstpeteclearwater.com. Look for a full onsite review in a future issue of Recommend.