The Pink Palace of Florida
Coming up the long, brick drive towards this grand hotel, was pretty impressive.
I'm guessing, those high society guests came by boat and probably brought trunks of dressy clothes. Ahhh, the life!
The Not So Elite Guests Arrive
Don and I arrived, as the least elite guests of The Don Cesar. We had booked the cheapest room and we chose self-parking over valet. While Don took the car, I stepped down the stairs and headed to the desk on the right. As I got checked in, I spotted a tray holding some champagne flutes and some kind of pink beverage. But, suddenly the eager bellman was ready to show me to the room. Rats. We missed out on the welcome cocktail. Or, were we not elite enough?
Even though we didn't valet park, the valet staff and those who handled our baggage were by far the friendliest in the whole hotel. Our bellman proudly shared that he had been working the job for over 40 years. Another good humored fellow, happily posed for my camera at the top of the stairs.
Arches and Glass
Heading to the elevator I took in the hall decor. I loved the repeating arches and the modern glass light fixture.
This hallway with endless palms and glowing fixtures, made me feel like I was looking into a set of tricky dressing room mirrors... allowing me to see forever!
Blue and White Glass
When an historic hotel goes modern on me, I appreciate it when they at least fill the space with appealing decor. The hotel's refreshingly cool salt blue and sand colors. definitely appealed to me. I especially loved the wall and ceiling lights with their dangling blue and white glass!
The elevator took us to the 4th floor. All was quiet, clean and modern.
The Halls Long Ago
Our Beach-y Room
We ended up with 2 beds and a view of the parking lot. But no complaints. The room was fresh with its sea-green and white decor.
There are worse views. We were able to look over the parking lot and see the bridge over the bay. We could also see the palace-pink stucco and spy into another room, if we were so inclined. Best of all, we saved about 50 bucks by not needing an ocean view.
I liked the arched opening to the bath/dressing area.
The framed vintage photos gave us a few glimpses to the past. There showed guests on shuffleboard courts and others enjoying some lawn bowling entertainment. No Cornhole games, back then, but we saw some on the beach, later.
Before our bellman left, he showed us around the room. He seemed concerned that we had no robes. He said we should call the desk, so I did. The woman seemed terribly surprised. Were we sure? Had we checked the closet? She seemed a bit skeptical, but I assured her that the bellman had noticed... just in case she thought we (budget travelers that we are) were stashing some robes to take home.
She said 2 robes would be delivered. We left the room a while and returned to find a heap of white fabric dropped on the chair. We were perplexed and took a picture. A different woman at the desk, agreed that the delivery seemed odd... even a little passive aggressive. She promised to take care of it. Later, we found wrinkled robes hanging, properly in our closet. I found the whole robe thing creepy. It was easier to tolerate the thought of a hotel poltergeist, than a grumpy or drunk employee.
Enough About Robes!
Actually, Don and I didn't care a hoot about the robes. We cared about the sunshine and 80 degree temps that called to us from the beach and pool area!
On a weekday in January, there were plenty of chairs around the two pools.
We headed out to the beach, but we didn't get in the water like these fellows.
It was fun comparing the building in this old photo to the hotel today. Most of the towers and structures looked just the same. Today, there's an added tower on the back, hiding an open air stairwell.
Too bad Don didn't have a black tank suit, to match the age of the hotel. But we did feel pampered, like elite guests from long ago.
At check in, we were given passes for chair and umbrella setup. When we stepped on the sand, we were graciously ushered to find a good spot, where chairs and table were arranged and towels were laid out. We were offered an umbrella, but after 2 chilly weeks of traveling, we didn't want anything blocking our sun.
Don CeSar Umbrella
The beach staff checked back with us to see if we'd changed our minds about the umbrella. It was tempting, since it had Don's name on it. But we declined. The sun felt wonderful in the late afternoon!
We kept an eye on the time and headed back, before the sun got too low. We were on the Florida gulf, after 2 weeks on the Atlantic. We were excited for sunset on a clear evening!
Up in the Tower
Before heading to the room, we climbed up in the tower to check out the view. We could see the garden area below and the Spa in the building across.
We found another good spot that no one seemed to be using. The nice little terrace had a vacant seat, just made for watching the sunset.
We looked out past the pool and sand and saw the sun sinking lower. We rushed back to the room to change clothes.
A Visit with The Dolphin
Dressed and ready, we headed out towards the beach. I paused to admire the smiling dolphin with his painted designs... all aglow with evening light.
The Rowe Bar
The Rowe Bar was raised just enough to offer a good view of the water and lowering sun.
We sat back and enjoyed our cozy couch and toasted, with our sunset martinis. Just before the sun sunk into the gulf, we stood and snapped a photo or two.
Don's was better. I snapped a one-handed shot with my Nikon, because I was talking to our daughter on the phone. That makes me sound like the kind of tourist I hate. But, we answer when our grown kids call, wherever we are. They are busy and we travel a lot. Some of our best memories from trips, involve an answered call, in an odd place... learning fun or special news that ends up flavoring our trip. We have never traveled to get away from our kids!
The air got chillier and we took our drinks into the Lobby Bar. We chatted with a fabulous bartender and a somewhat interesting couple. We thought about the 2 lovely hotel restaurants, but ended up taking a guest's suggestion. We ordered the hotel's pizza for the room. This decision was as much about laziness, as saving money. It was a good plan. The pizza was good!
A Quick Peek
Before heading up to the room, I took a quick dash outside to view the hotel's grand entrance, lit up at night. I don't rate our Notable Nights, but I do take note of how hotels look after the sun goes down. This one would get an A+.
Besides the robe mystery, all was good! I felt like I was getting my cake and eating it too. A curious and grand historic hotel, along with a heavenly, pampering beach!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!