Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

MAR-APR 2018

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Any person, place or thing approaching the century mark has undoubtedly experienced its fair share of trials and triumphs. Such is the case for Florida's "Pink Palace," e Don CeSar hotel, which commands a covetable stretch of powdery sand on St. Pete Beach. Opened during the height of the Roaring 20s, developer Thomas Rowe spent $1.25-million (300% over his original budget) on the 220-room property. Designed by Indianapolis architect Henry Dupont, the striking exterior represents a combination of Mediterranean and Moorish styles borrowed from developments in Palm Beach, Coral Gables and Boca Raton. The fa├žade's pink pigmentation defines the structure from any other for miles around, and creates a dramatic feeling of arrival as the hotel comes into view at the crest of the causeway bridge; it also happens to be the perfect complement to frequent cotton candy-colored sunsets. e Don CeSar quickly became a playground for high society, attracting the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Al Capone. It weathered the Great Depression largely in part due to a three-year deal made with Yankees owner Jacob Rupert to house the team there during spring training. Following the unexpected death of Rowe, who didn't have a will, the property was left to his estranged wife. Not as passionate about the hotel as her late husband, she allowed it to gradually fall into a state of disrepair. e hotel was sold to the Army during World War II for $450,000 and converted into a military hospital, then an Air Force convalescent center, and finally a Veterans Administration Regional Office (which vacated the property in 1967). After sitting empty for two years, the dilapidated and graffiti- covered hotel was scheduled to be torn town, but outcry from local residents stopped the wrecking ball. A succession of new owners and a string of ongoing improvements and additions have allowed the property, a founding member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America to rise, like the proverbial phoenix, and reclaim its status as the crown jewel of Florida's Gulf Coast. It has been awarded Four Diamonds from AAA every year since 1980. Today, the independently owned resort hotel boasts 277 guest rooms (36 of which are suites), six restaurants and lounges, two heated pools, ample event space, a spa and fitness center, Camp CeSar Kids Camp, the Shoppes of e Don and access to beach rentals and water sports. ere's certainly enough going on that it would be easy to spend a long weekend entirely on property. 48 STR IKE UP THE SAND Opened during the Jazz Age, e Don CeSar hotel reigns as the crown jewel of Florida's Gulf Coast. Written by Caylee Matthews

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