The Don CeSar
The Don CeSar
Why we love it: A grande dame of the Gulf Coast with a glamorous history and luxurious amenities to match
- A spot on the National Register of Historic Places
- Family-friendly amenities like watersport rentals and a kids’ club
- A stunning spa with a rooftop terrace overlooking the beach
Known to many as the Pink Palace, The Don CeSar is a beachfront icon. Real estate scion Thomas Rowe built the hotel in 1928 as a tribute to his lost love, turning it into a popular destination for such acclaimed Gatsby era figures as Clarence Darrow and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Following his death in 1940, the U.S. Army purchased the hotel to be used as a hospital and convalescent center for airmen returning from World War II, but let it fall into disrepair after the war. Thanks to locals, The Don was saved from the wrecking ball in 1971, reopened as a full-service resort in 1973, and added to the National Register of Historic Places just a year later.
Today, the hotel continues to preside over the windswept dunes of St. Pete Beach, drawing guests with promises of ocean views and epic sunsets. The setting is so iconic, in fact, that movies like Once Upon a Time in America feature scenes with The Don in the background. The 241 contemporary rooms and 36 suites boast coastal charm, with crisp white linens and louvered windows accented by pops of turquoise and peacock blue. Two outdoor heated pools, a private beach, a game room, and complimentary bicycle rentals keep families entertained, while an 11,000-square-foot spa caters to couples seeking romance. When hunger strikes, guests have their pick of everything from a casual cafe, traditional beach bar, and nostalgia-inducing ice cream parlor, to a poolside grill and award-winning restaurant serving local produce and seafood.