The Don CeSar
What We Love
- Cushy beach loungers on the powder-white sand and two pools
- Spanish Colonial-style architecture makes this hotel a landmark (the pink color is hard to miss)
- Fun activities for kids at Camp CeSar
- Massages in the three-story spa, which also has a rooftop garden
What To Know
- Multiple grand ballrooms make this a popular place for weddings and conferences
- Guestrooms and bathrooms are cozy by modern standards
- You can happily stay within the confines of the hotel, but otherwise you’ll need a car to explore
- Rooms on lower floors have views of the parking lot
- Free WiFi
- Handicap Accessible
- Kids Club
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Driving over the Pinellas Bayway bridge, the spires of the Don CeSar Hotel rise in the distance like some fantastical sand castle. A paragon of roaring 20s elegance, the palatial property’s many tiers and icing-like architectural flourishes have earned it the affectionate nickname “the Pink Palace.” The service too is reminiscent of more genteel times. But the place isn’t stuffy. A relaxed, beachy vibe reigns in the colonnaded lobby, where guests walk past the baby grand piano in flip-flops and bathing suit coverups.
Bed & Bath
At 250 square feet, the guestrooms may not be as big as in more modern hotels, but the decor is charming, with an airy beach-toned palette of blue and sandy hues and cozy touches like upholstered headboards, super soft throws and high thread count linens. Plantation-style shutters and ceiling fans remind you that this is the South, and gulf views set the mood.
Just beyond the lobby is some of the world’s softest, whitest sand and the tranquil, always warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Beach attendants will set you up with a shaded lounge chair, from which you can watch dolphins finning in and out of the shallows. Or roll out your towel on a chaise next to one of the two pools. Thoughtful touches include free sunscreen, chilled fruit-infused water and an underwater sound system. Head to the poolside bar for a Bloody Mary, or check out the three-story spa. Catch the sunset on the beach, before heading to Maritana Grille for New American fare prepared from local seafood and organic produce. Think Gulf snapper with red quinoa, summer squash and compressed tomato vinaigrette or black grouper with potato confit, chorizo and kale in a lobster-saffron emulsion.
In the Area
Take in surrealist canvases at the Salvador Dalí museum; you can buy melting clock cookies in the café. Try the grouper at the Wharf restaurant, a real local hangout with an overwater dining deck and boat slips out back. Take a lesson and learn stand-up paddleboarding; the Water Monkey Shop will teach you the basics and even deliver your board to the beach. Take a sunset excursion on a 50-foot ketch; you can spot dolphins and tropical birds in the evening glow.
How to Get There
The Don is our go to beach spot. It has a relaxing vibe and good drinks, and the staff are always great. Chris down at the beach rentals went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed for a great afternoon. Can’t wait to come back again soon!
Only spent one night but this iconic resort didn’t disappoint. It first opened in 1928. It is having renovations and much has been updated so far. Our room was smaller but nicely appointed. The property is on the water and you can enjoy beautiful sunsets. There’s a large bar, multiple restaurants, pool, spa and several shops. There are also meeting rooms. Staff were friendly. Enjoyed a nice dinner-you can bring your own wine and pay corkage. There is an extensive breakfast buffet or you can order from the menu. You can valet or self park.
Always nice to return to the Don. They are constantly upgrading the property - which is good and bad. The Maritana Grill and the Lobby bar/sitting area were totally closed for renovation. While I am sure it will be beautiful, we were never informed of the closed spaces BEFORE we arrived, or when we booked. No compensation for the lack of facilities or inconvenience - a missed opportunity. The staff were all great, as always