A photo of a gleaming white hotel lobby with black fixtures and accents.

In St. Pete, our beloved Vinoy Resort was sold, renovated, and just named a member of the Marriott’s prestigious luxury Autograph Collection. An icon for nearly 100 years, the Vinoy has survived a lengthy renovation, while locals played the waiting game with faith that her refreshed look would still reflect the resort’s rich history.

The hotel has always endured the highs and lows of life with a certain charm, managing to entertain guests from movie stars and dignitaries to presidential candidates and demanding brides. Celeb sightings are legendary: the Princess of Spain, Jimmy Stewart, Babe Ruth, the du Ponts, the Guggenheims, and more have walked her halls. Now, the first phase of the Vinoy’s latest facelift is finally over, and she continues to watch over booming downtown with glowing reviews and the sophisticated vibe we know and love.

Exterior photo of a large pink hotel with green accents and palm trees at dusk.
The updated valet circle at the Vinoy. Courtesy of the Vinoy Resort.

With or without construction zone barriers, our love affair with our sweet pink neighbor (just 100 steps from my condo door) continues. Through the long months of renovations, I’ve still enjoyed meeting my friends and neighbors, clients, and out-of-town relatives at Paul’s Landing for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I would go in the back entrance and wind through the maze of the hotel’s “back of house” construction obstacle course and up at the casual restaurant overlooking the pool and the marina. I call it my very own Old Northeast secret getaway. Try it at sunset for happy hour – there’s nothing like dining al fresco year-round.

Recently, I met with Nikki Gaskin-Capehart at the Vinoy. She’s the former Director of Urban Affairs for the city of St. Pete, and now the founder and Senior Coach of The Network of Gifted Consultants Team. We sat together, looking around at the renovations and celebrated the first-year anniversary of her own boutique consulting firm. A proud mom, she was also celebrating the upcoming college graduation of her daughter Giovana Capehart from the University of North Florida after a photoshoot at the James Museum.

A photo of three women sitting on a white sofa on a long outdoor patio.
The author, center, with Giovanna Capehart, left, and Nikki Gaskin-Capehart at the Vinoy Veranda.

“We have been enjoying the Vinoy for years,” she said. “I love the new furniture and décor. It’s much more vibrant, and the more contemporary look is so inviting. I look forward to going to events in the newly renovated ballroom.”

Also renovated is the Vinoy Spa for hair, nails, massage, and facials. I’ve been missing treatments there for over a year now, but as of April 8, it’s open. The new spa offers treatments inspired by the healing properties of the ocean and a holistic approach to skin and wellbeing. The space is updated with a sleek feel and very inviting.

Sold and Refreshed 

When the Vinoy was sold a few years back, we held our breath. Would the new owners be committed to excellence? Tampa Bay Bucs owner Bryan Glazer paid $188.5 million for the historic resort and is thrilled to show off his changes. “I have enjoyed every minute of this renovation,” he told me one afternoon, sitting on the veranda with a big grin on his face. He explained the joy and excitement of being able to personally create a new look and how inspired he is to offer a new culinary option. The award-winning formal Marchand’s dining room we loved is gone, but the owner is looking forward to creating another fine dining restaurant in that beautiful space off the grand lobby. Since this will be the final renovation of his current project, the specific cuisine and chef have not been decided yet and Glazer is in no rush. We can only expect perfection.

A photo of a woman in sunglasses and a hat posing with a man in a blue shirt on a pink outdoor covered patio.
Author Cindy Cockburn with Vinoy owner Bryan Glazer.

New General Manager Vanessa Williams has overseen operations at the Vinoy for months now, working with the hotel team and getting it ready to become part of the Autograph Collection. The GM comes with impressive credentials. She used to run the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills and has an extensive international hotel management background. Said Williams, “Being able to play my part alongside so many others in breathing new life into the iconic Vinoy is my magnum opus.”  

Open for Business

For months, guests arriving by car had been directed to park behind the hotel, but valet parking is open once again. The reimagined arrival court highlights the dramatically detailed original portal and incorporates original 1920s brick.

Guests are now free to step up to the hotel’s sweeping, historic porch, a gathering spot for locals and visitors alike with views of the heart of downtown. The Veranda dining hours on the porch are still being adjusted, and the bar is currently open from 2 p.m. to 12 a.m. You will still find construction, as the hotel works on a soon-to-be completed raised, outdoor patio, but guests can enjoy the Veranda menu of food and drinks outside. Be prepared for sticker shock: a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne is $34.

The Vinoy’s historic rocking chairs – a tradition since 1925 – have also been kicked up a notch, with the new wooden chairs featuring thick, comfy cushions. 

A photo of a long covered pink patio with a row of white cushioned rocking chairs.
The Vinoy’s iconic rocking chairs, updated. Courtesy of the Vinoy Resort.

Lobby & Ballrooms

The Vinoy lobby is now home to the French patisserie, Lottie, offering house-made pastries and sweets, including signature pistachio cakes, macarons, gelato, and over 20 flavors of truffles. The menu offers classic French lunch fare, from seared tuna niçoise salad to quiche Lorraine and a jambon fromage sandwich on a croissant with brie, prosciutto, and fig jam. 

Foodie writer Tom Scherberger was recently impressed: “The Vinoy’s patisserie is a major upgrade, they clearly have a world-class pastry chef. It looks like some of the best pastries in town.”

The lobby also offers shopping at Sunni Spencer, branded as “a personal lifestyle boutique,” which also has a location in Tampa’s Hyde Park.

The Grand Ballroom restoration is also complete, and the focal point continues to be the glass chandelier, Luna, designed by Dale Chihuly. The Palm Court Ballroom and entrance hall debut a neutral color palette and chic Art Deco chandeliers. In keeping with the hotel’s position as an icon of the city, the Vinoy’s 22 meeting rooms are named after St. Pete’s parks.

A photo of a glass display case and white counter gleaming inside an upscale hotel lobby.
The new French patisserie, Lottie. Courtesy of the Vinoy Resort.

Guest Rooms

The Rockwell Group’s design refreshed the Vinoy’s rooms and suites, many of which offer balconies and water views. My cousins from Clifton, New Jersey checked in for a visit in March and loved what they found. 

“With a tip of one’s hat to luxury hotels of days gone by, the Vinoy’s renovated, ample-sized room and large ‘let the Florida sunshine in’ windows immediately let the guest know this isn’t your run-of-the-mill hotel room,” my cousin Karen said. “I wish my pocketbook would allow me to stay at the Vinoy each time I visit St. Petersburg.” 

The décor is influenced by Florida’s coastal topography and feature the hotel’s signature polished palette. Custom art by painter Alicia LaChance adorns the walls, while the floors transition from wood to custom, blue-patterned carpeting, presenting the look of sand meeting the sea. Many rooms have marble walk-in showers. Karen’s not wrong about the cost, though. While room and suite rates vary daily and can be as low as $400, they can run upwards of $2000 a night, plus tax, depending on the season.

A photo of a clover-shaped swimming pool with a cabana and pink hotel in the background at sunset.
The Vinoy’s refreshed pool area. Courtesy of the Vinoy Resort.

More to Come

Among other changes in the next phases, Parasol, opening this summer, will be a Latin-inspired, full-service outdoor restaurant. The Vinoy promises an island-like atmosphere featuring fresh seafood and craft cocktails, with a marble, wrap-around bar, and living green wall. 

Overall, the updates to our iconic Vinoy are fresh and exciting while still retaining the historic detail and character it’s known for as a member of the U.S. National Register of Historic Hotels of America. I am proud to report all is well and better than ever.