Florida's Palatial Retreat

Florida's Palatial Retreat
Imagine spending your honeymoon tucked into a palatial retreat hugging the sun-kissed shores of Florida. Sipping leisurely on a tangy tropical drink, you cast your worries to the salty air, seagulls circling lazily overhead as they dip into the gentle waves of the tranquil bay.

Behind you, the pink reflection of a seemingly Mediterranean castle rises majestically from the sugary shores of the pristine coastline.

You have stumbled into the opulent world of the Don CeSar Beach Hotel, known locally as the "Pink Palace," since it was constructed on St. Petersburg Beach in 1928. Blending romantic legend with European grandeur, the "Don" boasts Old World charm peppered with the modern amenities worthy of any royal homestead.

It once reigned as the hot spot for high society from F. Scott Fitzgerald, Clarence Darrow, Lou Gehrig and Al Capone, and has played host to generations of privileged guests from around the world, delivering Great Gatsby-style pampering.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places - the only such historic site along the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida Keys to the tip of Texas - this St. Pete Beach resort boasts 277 seaside rooms and suites. Enhanced by breathtaking views of the Gulf, and Boca Ciega Bay, if offers pastel furnishings, Carrara marble accents and possibly the most comfortable beds you’ve ever slept in - anywhere.

Surrounded by a tropical paradise of palms and oleander, you can plunge into two Gulf-front pools with underwater sound systems or shape up with aqua aerobics while you are serenaded by a steel-drum band.

Complimentary beach clinics teach surf skimming on wave runners and catamarans, and paddle cats, kayaks and aqua bikes glide you across the gentle waves.

For a seagull’s view, try parasailing or explore the Gulf in depth on a scuba day trip. Landlubbers can stick to the sand with volleyball, beach hockey, shell searching or romantic moonlit strolls.

Dining options abound with choices such as the signature restaurant, the Maritana Grille - recipient of the coveted AAA Four Diamond rating - which dishes up delectable "Floribbean" cuisine; the Sea Porch Café promising casual fare overlooking the beach or lush garden, the Beachcomber Grill with light bites or Uncle Andy’s Ice Cream Parlor, reminiscent of a 1950s parlor.

Pampered service continues at the luxurious Spa Oceana with signature treatments ranging from rejuvenating scrubs, massages and wraps - given indoors or al fresco on the beach.

A stroll through the Shoppes at the Don uncovers wonderful “shop ops” at the gourmet food store, the logo shop and various intimate boutiques offering gift ideas, men’s and women’s sportswear, Don memorabilia and more.

Day trips to nearby attractions include: Busch Gardens, Cypress Gardens, the Salvador Dali Museum, Sea World, Silver Springs, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center and Disney-MGM Studios.

The Don is truly an all inclusive honeymoon haven.

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