The Don Cesar Hotel in St. Petersburg in 1940
St.Pete, The Don Cesar Hotel

The Don CeSar Hotel was completed in 1928 on St. Petersburg Beach, Florida founded by Thomas Rowe. His ‘Pink Lady’ was renowned for her pampering of the elite at the height of the Jazz Age. To think F. Scott Fitzgerald stayed here in the years after he wrote “The Great Gatsby,” is one heck of an endorsement! In fact, it still meets that criteria today with a whole lot of history in between.

historic beach hotels in Florida
The Don Cesar Hotel in St.Petersburg Beach Florida

During the Great Depression, the deemed “Pink Palace” stayed strong by a crafty deal made by none other than Rowe himself. He signed the New York Yankees major league baseball team to a three year partnership, housing the team for spring training. Even Lou Gehrig was on the property as a guest in these years.

Following Rowe’s sudden death and no will left behind, his widow sold The Don CeSar to the U.S. Army for $450,000. It was then converted into a military hospital in 1942 to support the wounded doing their part in the war effort. When World War II was coming to a close in June of 1945, The Don CeSar was ordered closed before becoming the Veterans Administration until 1967. 

“The Pink Palace” remained vacant from 1967 until 1972 and was set for demolition before being saved by local advocates. It was finally purchased by Holiday Inn franchise owners and re-opened in 1973. 

Tidbit: In 1985, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers staged an impromptu concert for nearly 45 minutes on the roof top in support of a documentary on the album “Southern Accents”. Tom is said to have loved the Don CeSar, check out the video here.

It has since been visited by every U.S. President since Gerald Ford (minus Ronald Reagan) and countless other celebrities and dignitaries. Additions of a full service beach club, additional pool, signature restaurant and spa brought The Don CeSar to how we see it today. 

We recently visited The Don CeSar for ourselves and it still pays tribute to its robust history and Jazz Age lifestyle. The Maritana Grille has some of the best seafood we’ve ever had (not embellishing). If you have the opportunity to taste Chef Emily Ferrari’s creations we would highly recommend the chilled crab rolls and the seared golden tilefish. There are also a variety of oysters to choose from flown in fresh daily from around the country. Don’t skip out on the signature cocktails and make sure to ask for Jeff the mixologist, he keeps it authentic. 

Chef Emily Ferrari
Maritana Grille, Don Cesar Hotel
Bourbon Berry Bramble

Bourbon Berry Bramble

The Pink Palace

The Pink Palace

The pool deck and beach have countless chairs, beach beds and appropriately pink towels for you to lose yourself in. In addition, all non-motorized water sports like kayaks and paddle-boards are complimentary for guests (so bring the whole family). For those of you with children, there is no end in sight for activities. The hotel even offers a kids camp to give mom and dad some much needed alone time. There is no shortage of staff to keep you full and tipsy while lounging by the pool or stunning white sanded Gulf coast.

Beach Vacations you should take in Florida
Don Cesar beaches
Hotels in St.Petersburg
Vacations in St. Petersburg
Beaches in St. Petersburg you need to visit
Best beaches in Florida to travel to

Planning a wedding or reception? We recommend looking into the Grand Ballroom where swing bands would keep the likes of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe dancing the night away decades ago. 

Multiple renovations from 1985 to 2001 have updated the hotel and it’s happening again in 2019. The Don CeSar Hotel will be re-modeling the lobby and Maritana Grille augmenting its roaring 20’s influence.

It’s hard to imagine making this place being even more beautiful than what it is already!

The Don Cesar Hotel in St. Petersburg
Where to stay when traveling to St. Petersburg

To book your stay at The Don CeSar, click here and let us know when you’re going, we wouldn’t mind tagging along.

Cheers, Gents!

HistoryGent LifeComment