My bride and I attended a family wedding event this past weekend at the Grand Plaza. A block of rooms had been set aside for family and friends of the bride and groom. We had secured one of the hotel’s “…Bay & City view guest rooms offer[ing] fabulous views of Tampa Bay and the city of St. Pete Beach.”
The room was about the size of a cruise ship junior suite with a balcony. The room was comfortable up to a point. The AC unit had an annoying clacking sound whenever it started up and then again when it shut down. Those two clacks were not obvious during the day, but in the quiet of the night they were disturbing. We found that heavy drinking at wedding parties did mostly eliminate the noise.
Heavy drinking also assisted in sleeping in our well lit room. Our room looked out over the parking lot, Gulf Boulevard, and eventually the bay. Since the hotel wanted to ensure the property could be seen really well at night all the way to Tampa, Orlando, and points beyond, the entire front of the building was awash in lights. The in-room shutters on the other hand could not be closed tightly enough to fully block that light. This made sleeping (without copious amounts of alcohol) difficult but getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night
was a breeze.
We dined at all three of the property’s restaurants. The food choices were neither inspired nor inspiring and nowhere near to what is offered on cruise ships which is really saying something. There was nothing on any menu that said, “Florida.” There are far better dining choices up and down Gulf Boulevard that are lower in price, yet higher in quality and variety.
Now for a few observations for those planning a wedding at the Grand: The one we attended occurred around five in the afternoon on the beach. The bride, groom, and wedding party were situated so we were all facing head on into the blazing sun. Those without hats, really dark sunglasses, and probably SPF 5000 were more than slightly uncomfortable. The positioning of the party and the sun should be taken into consideration when planning this glorious event.
After the ceremony, we all were directed to the penthouse ballroom facility. This was a very bright (key word here) and airy room where hors d'oeuvres and cocktails were served before dinner. The dinner tables had fantastic views of the Gulf of Mexico looking through huge windows…that were totally devoid of any moveable curtains or shades.
If you had your back to the windows you only had to contend with the heat and the sweat running down your back and into your butt-crack. Heaven help the poor bastards on the other side of the table. That intense afternoon sun was blinding…even with sunglasses.
One other annoyance occurred during our attempt at check-in around two in the afternoon. You can check-in anytime you want, but you won’t be getting a room until four. I asked the desk clerk for our discount. “What discount?” she asked. I pointed out that we were paying for 24 hours of room usage, but we are only getting 8 hours. I thought a 2/3 price deduction would be in order. She did not.
Were it not for the wedding, I doubt that the Grand would ever be a choice for us. We have had better experiences just up the beach at the Tradewinds…not so much in the restaurants, but the accommodations were better.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Hotel is located directly on the beach and Gulf of Mexico. The Resort features a wide selection of luxurious guestrooms with furnished private balconies and all the best full service resort amenities for the leisure or business travelers. Featuring 4 Restaurants - Spinners Rooftop Revolving Bistro & Lounge, Level 11 Rooftop Lounge, Bongos Beach Bar & Grill, and the Palm Room Restaurant. 3 Lounges, Heated Swimming Pool. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Hotel Saint Pete Beach
- Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Hotel And Conference Center
- Grand Plaza Beachfront Hotel
- Grand Plaza Beachfront Resort Hotel & Conference Center St. Pete Beach, Florida