February 14-20, 2020, St. Petersburg at the Vinoy for Golf and a Winter Break

Karen and I “needed” our winter break and longed for some golf and warm weather (not that this winter was bad at all), so we booked a trip to St. Petersburg (Florida, not Russia, this time). We stayed at the fabulous Vinoy, a Marriott property, and played golf on their course. We were blessed with perfect weather and the trip was perfect for our needs.

The Vinoy Park Hotel (AKA the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club or simply “The Vinoy”) was built in 1925 and is designed in the Mediterranean style. It’s a four diamond hotel. It is located on the bayfront in an area known as the Vinoy Yacht Basin, and is very near the downtown section of St. Petersburg. It is right next to the famous St. Petersburg Pier, now undergoing its third-ever rebuild. Alongside the Vinoy is a beautiful park which Karen and I walked several times. On the park one finds the Museum of Fine Arts, the Salvidore Dalí Museum, and other intersting venues.

Below: The Vinoy, from the park across the street, alongside the large marina; and a view of the marina:
The Vinoy The Marina

We were upgraded to a beautiful room, as Marriott always does to its Lifetime Titanium Elite members. They also sent us up a bottle of champagne, which we enjoyed on our balcony overlooking the yachts gliding along the bayside. Life is good.

Below: Me on the balcony of our room overlooking the bay; and a gift from the Vinoy:
Chuck on Balcony of the Vinoy Room Gift

The first evening we opted to walk along the park and seek pot luck of restaurant availability. There was a food truck affair in the park featuring french fries, but while we walked through the very large venue, we kept going and stopped for a drink at The Annex, an informal place right on the Marina. We meandered a bit more and landed at Fresco’s Waterfront Bistro for dinner. We had Grouper (how can you go to Florida and not enjoy Grouper?), and Seafood Pasta, along with Calimari and a a couple of glasses of Chardonnay, followed by Chocolate Madness Cake. Too much!

The next morning was golf at The Vinoy Club. We had used ShipSticks to have our clubs sent from RiverCrest (our home club) to The Vinoy Club, where they had arrived, were unpacked and waiting for us on a cart. Perfect. Karen and I both played the white tees (generally senior men’s tees) and she beat me, but not by a lot. We enjoyed the course very much. Not real challenging, but fun.

Below: The marina we passed as we walked in the park; and a view from (I think) the 16th hole tee box:
Marina Tee Shot View

That evening we had a real treat for dinner. We walked a block up to Beach Drive and then a couple of blocks past many really interesting upscale restaurants, and stopped at Park Shore Grill. Karen had made reservations in advance, but we were early and wanted a table al fresco, so we went to the bar for a drink until our table was ready. We sauntered up to the bar, where there was only one chair available, and the gentleman next to it saw us and got the man next to him to move down one seat to free up two for us. It turns out he lived upstairs at the Park Shore Grill (a high-rise building). He ate there about three times each week, and he suggested that we order what he was eating: Lobster Pasta. After a brief chat over drinks, we left this charming guy and we were seated in a perfect table, with a view of the park across the street. We were seated in “Georgetown”, a name our waitperson (George) gave to his service area. Karen, of course, ordered the Lobster Pasta, while I ordered another seafood entré. And wouldn’t you know, I envied her dish the whole meal. The evening was wonderful, of course, and we enjoyed every minute.

Below: Karen’s Lobster Pasta; and a view of al fresco dining at Park Shore Grill:
Lobster Pasta al fresco dining

The next day was made for walking the beach, so we headed for St. Pete Beach. As we drove there, we drove down Pinellas Parkway, we were reminded of the many years Karen and her family spent part of the winter at Isla del Sol on the Parkway. In later years (the early part of our relationship) Karen and I would spend a week or so there. We drove further, across the bridge, and there was the famous Don Cesar, the legendary “Pink Palace” on St. Pete Beach.

We found a good parking spot and we walked the beach a little bit. I then plunked down to enjoy the sun while Karen walked toward “The Don”. Beautiful sun, beautiful beach, beautiful day.

Below: The Don Cesar as we approached St. Pete Beach; and beach as Karen walked it:
The Don Cesar St. Pete Beach

We stopped for a drink at the famous The Hurricane, as sat on the roof deck. I had a rum punch and Karen a beer as we looked over the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. It was very relaxed time and brought back memories.

Below: View from atop The Hurricane:
View from The Hurricane

Below: Karen at The Hurricane; and me at The Hurricane:
Karen Chuck

We went back to The Vinoy and went down to the pool to swim (or wander in the water in my case), read and relax some more. Yeah, it’s a tough life. In the evening we sauntered down to Paul’s, a Vinoy restaurant above the pool and overlooking the waterway. We had drinks and a very nice dinner with a terrific view of the sunset and boats floating by. We then went back to the room, enjoyed some TV and went to sleep. I mention the TV because we can enjoy our Comcast subscription from anywhere, as long as we either have an Internet connection (which is everywhere) or we have downloaded material from the DVR to our device(s). It is a very useful and powerful capability, and very hand when traveling. For example, we could watch Philly local teams when abroad.

Below: The pool at The Vinoy; and Paul’s for dinner:
Pool Paul's

We spent the next day playing golf at The Vinoy Club and at the pool. Karen took some tennis lessons. Did I mention that we had breakfast nearly every morning at Marchand’s Bar & Grill in The Vinoy. I generally had the excellent buffet and Karen opted for either that or the menu. Needless to say, we were not suffering from hunger. That evening, we went to the 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House on Beach Drive. Just one block from our hotel front door, it is the first of the many restaurants along Beach Drive. We sat just inside and I opted for something other than seafood for the first time in our trip. I had a delicious steak and we both enjoyed another top notch meal.

Below: 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House; and a view of Beach Drive:
Beach Seafood & Tap House Beach Drive

Another day at the pool and walking around St. Pete. This was a day for relaxing, but that didn’t stop Karen from going to the gym, tennis lesson, etc. And time at the pool. We went casual for dinner, exploring driving around St. Pete. We discovered the Casual Clam and I had something I lusted after for some time: fried clams. They were good, too.

Our final full day in St. Petersburg was upon us. After another very satisfying breakfast, we played a round at The Vinoy Club. A lot of fun and another good round. We lounged some more at the pool, and for dinner we revisited the Park Shore Grill. I had to have some of that Lobster Pasta, which I did. Karen reversed me and had a seafood salad, which she loved.

So in the morning we got ready and took our noon American flight home, picked up our car at the parking service and then home it was. This was a great winter break.

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