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10 Old Florida hotels that drank from the Fountain of Youth

  • The rescued Don CeSar celebrates its glories past and present.

    Everything old is new again

    Florida, where Ponce de Leon legendarily sought the Fountain of Youth, has lived through a series of historic resort heydays starting in the Gilded Age and well into the Art Deco era. It has also survived the busts that often followed, sad declines that saw grande dame hotels slide into disuse and risk razing. Many are the tales, from Miami Beach to St. Petersburg and St. Augustine, of resort rescues driven by citizens and history-lovers. Thanks to them, reincarnations of the Belleview Inn in Belleair, Fenway Hotel in Dunedin and Lennox Hotel Miami Beach continue a tradition of restoring in-your-dreams resorts such as the Vinoy, Casa Marina and The Don CeSar before them.

    Photo courtesy of The Don CeSar

  • Belleview Inn, the sequel

    Belleview Inn, Belleair

    In the Clearwater community of Belleair, the Belleview Inn reopened in December 2018. Railroad giant Henry Plant built the original Hotel Belleview in 1897. It boasted having hosted every president from that day until it closed in 2009.

    Photo courtesy of Belleview Inn

  • The Belleview's original grand staircase in the lobby has been preserved.

    Belleview Inn, Belleair

    The Belleview restoration began in late 2016, when the original 38,000-square-foot building was lifted and repositioned –  making it the largest moved structure in the world. While modernizing the inn, developers preserved its original grand staircase in the lobby, plus fireplaces, heart pine floors, Tiffany stained glass and other historic elements throughout.

    Photo courtesy of Belleview Inn

  • The Fenway Hotel reopened in October 2018.

    Fenway Hotel, Dunedin

    Part of Marriott's Autograph Collection, the Fenway Hotel in Dunedin brings a 1927 jazz age legend back to life as a contemporary, 83-room boutique property that preserves its musical heritage. It reopened in October 2018.

    Photo courtesy of Fenway Hotel

  • Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar fills with locals and sunset-watchers on weekends.

    Fenway Hotel, Dunedin

    The Fenway Hotel hosted Pinellas County's first radio station on its roof starting in 1925. Today, the Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar overlooks bay views with live music and local craft beers on tap.

    Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

  • The Vinoy: The grande dame of Tampa Bay

    The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

    The classic tale of a rescue resort, the Vinoy ducked the wrecking ball. That's all thanks to a referendum vote by the citizens of St. Petersburg in 1989 to save the historic grande dame that had sunk steadily into a serious decline starting in the 1950s. 

    Photo courtesy of The Vinoy Renaissance Resort

  • The Vinoy hosted notables in an atmosphere of privilege.

    The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club

    Opened in 1923 on the shores of Tampa Bay as the 375-room Vinoy Park Hotel, it later served – as did several of Florida's grande dames – military duty as an Army Air Corps training facility. 

    Photo courtesy of The Vinoy Renaissance Resort

  • One of Miami Beach's Art Deco treasures, the Lennox Hotel preserves an acclaimed architectural era.

    Lennox Hotel Miami Beach

    The Lennox Hotel Miami Beach takes over a historic Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival-style structure that opened in 1936 as the Peter Miller Hotel. Its reincarnation debuts in summer 2019.

    Photo courtesy of Lennox Hotel Miami Beach

  • New life for an Art Deco gem at the Lennox Hotel

    Lennox Hotel Miami Beach

    Guests to the newly transformed Lennox Hotel enter from Collins Avenue into the inviting hotel bar and lounge area before making their way to the lobby. At the heart of the property’s four interconnected buildings, a Mediterranean-style courtyard features an intimate swimming pool and poolside bar.

    Photo courtesy of Lennox Hotel Miami Beach

  • The Casa Monica reopened to Gilded Age splendor in the late 1990s

    Casa Monica Resort & Spa, St. Augustine

    Originally the Casa Monica Hotel, it opened circa 1888 in St. Augustine, home to the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. Railroad tycoon Henry Flagler renamed it Hotel Cordova when he purchased it a few months later. After sitting empty 30 years and serving as a courthouse for another 30, it was restored to its Gilded Age glamour and original name in the late 1990s.

    Photo courtesy of Casa Monica Resort & Spa

  • Casa Marina was the belle of Jacksonville Beach in the 1920s.

    Casa Marina Hotel, Jacksonville Beach

    The Casa Marina first opened in 1925 on Jacksonville Beach, at the height of Florida's great land boom. A Spanish-Mediterranean beauty, she immediately became the toast of the coast. 

    Photo courtesy of Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant

  • The grand lady Casa Marina reigns over Jacksonville Beach.

    Casa Marina Hotel, Jacksonville Beach

    Following a series of repurposes, from WWII military housing to a tearoom, Casa Marina reopened in 1991 to its original status as a glamorous lady overlooking Jacksonville Beach. It houses 23 luxury rooms and suites and one of the East Coast's best rooftop views.

    Photo courtesy of Casa Marina Hotel & Restaurant

  • Like a fairy-tale castle, "The Don" still reigns over the sands of Pass-a-Grille Beach.

    The Don CeSar, St. Pete Beach

    Queen of St. Petersburg's beaches, The Don CeSar opened in 1928 to the delight of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the flapper generation. Post-WWII saw its decline until 1969, when a group of local investors saved "The Pink Palace." A sad love story and tales of ghosts haunt today's thoroughly modern reincarnation. 

    Photo courtesy of The Don CeSar

  • The Colony restored its mid-20th-century glamour with its 2016 reopening.

    The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach

    Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra and Lilly Pulitzer are counted among the guests who frequented The Colony from the late 1940s into the 1960s. After the gem of Palm Beach's Worth Avenue lost its shine, the son of a previous owner restored "The Pink Paradise" in 2016 to its vintage British Colonial style.

    Photo courtesy of The Colony, Palm Beach

  • The Blue Parrot Inn has been transformed to its former Victorian beauty.

    Chelsea House Hotel, Key West

    Key West is known for its historic homes-turned-inns. One collection of restored structures, known as Chelsea House, added number four in 2012, the rescued Blue Parrot Inn. Built in the late 1880s originally as a home, this latest addition contributes 11 rooms and a swimming pool to the complex. 

    Photo courtesy of Chelle Koster Walton

  • As in the 1920s, elegance greets guests in the Terrace Hotel lobby.

    Terrace Hotel, Lakeland

    Opened in 1924, the Lakeland Terrace Hotel was acclaimed as one of Florida's first year-round fine inns. Following its renovation and 1998 reopening, its high-ceiling lobby still makes an elegant first impression of the 88-unit lakeside property. 

    Photo courtesy of Terrace Hotel

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