Hotel Review: The Loews Don Cesar – St. Pete Beach, Florida

Before I dive into my Don Cesar hotel review I want to provide fair warning. I may be biased. I am in love with The Don. So much so that it is my hotel of choice when traveling to the Tampa, FL area. That being said, here is a recount of our experience, along with a few things I’m not so much in love with about The Don Cesar.

The Don Cesar Hotel Review

As you approach St. Pete beach from Tampa the Don Cesar will be one of the first hotels you see. It is a pink palace that is simply unmistakable. As you pull up to the front entrance it’s apparent that this isn’t your typical beach resort. Bellhops, doormen, and valets will greet you quickly and usher you into the lobby.

The lobby at The Don is simply opulent. It looks as if you were transported into a different time. If you’re arriving in the evening there is probably a pianist playing soft jazz adjacent to the buzzing lobby bar.

When we arrived we quickly checked in and were pleased that they were able to fulfill my request of a room on an upper floor. I booked a refundable room about 8 months before our trip and then signed up for Loews email list. I knew that at some point before our stay they would have a sale that I could re-book with. Given that their room rates don’t fluctuate much this was my best bet for a deal. I got a notification about a 20% off sale and re-booked a few weeks out at a much better price. The Loew’s hotel loyalty program is pretty worthless (I think you get a free cookie after 5 stays), so I booked through hotels.com to earn credit towards a future free night.

The Room

We booked a Luxury King room with partial ocean views. Having stayed in both, the difference between the Luxury King and the Deluxe King (their basic tier room) is the positioning in the building/view. Although the partial ocean view is nice, if you go down to the beach you get a full ocean view…

Our room was on the 6th floor which provided a much more expansive view as the building is tiered and the 6th and 7th floor rooms are able to see over the other wings of the hotel.

My Don Cesar hotel review wouldn’t be complete without a quick tour of our room. Take a peek for yourself:

Overall, the rooms at The Don Cesar are very nice. They are incredibly clean and well appointed. The beds are very soft and they weren’t stingy with the pillows. The bathroom was bright and clean, although a little on the small side.

I found the TV’s operation to be a little clumsy, but the wifi was fast. Personally, I could care less about having a great TV, but having a strong wifi signal is key. Even down by the pool I was able to stay connected and get some work done.

Drinks By The Pool At The Don Cesar

The pool bar has a good selection of snacks and drinks, and excellent service.

The Pool

Speaking of the pool, that is probably one of the highlights of The Don Cesar. It’s such a great pool that they can even sell pool passes to the locals, so I’m told. If you’re there on a weekend head down to the pool early to stake your claim, as it does get busy.

The hotel’s resort fee covers what they call “pool side pampering,” which includes towel service, sunscreen, water, and every now and then a light snack. When you arrive one of the “pool boys” (I’m sure they prefer to be called something else) will help you pick a spot, lay down a towel for you and roll up another for a pillow. Each chair has a little flag on it. Put it up and within a minute a server from the Beachcomber pool bar will be there to take your order! Doesn’t get much better.

The Food

I’ve stayed at The Don Cesar three times now and I haven’t had a bad meal.

The hotel has 4 main restaurants. Here is my take on each one:

The Beachcomber Grill

This is their poolside bar. The menu is short, but has goo variety. We enjoyed their burger, poached shrimp, and fruity beach cocktails. In the afternoons they often have someone playing acoustic guitar (lots of Jack Johnson and Zac Brown tunes, I can’t complain). This is a good spot for lunch or a quick bite to eat by the pool.

The Rowe Bar

Adjacent to the pool area, this is the newest addition to The Don Cesar’s culinary lineup. The space used to be a combo of a sports bar / game room area and event space. The renovations they made really classed it up, and the menu was fun.

The Rowe Bar’s menu was very much sea food focused. We had the tuna tataki (which was amazing!) and crab cake sliders as an afternoon snack. The also had some local craft beers and inventive cocktails. We ended up making the Rowe Bar the go-to spot for a night cap so we could sit outside next to the fire-pits and listen to the waves.

Sea Porch

The Sea Porch restaurant offers casual dinning with an extensive menu. They have both indoor and outdoor seating and were always able to accommodate us without a reservation. The Sea Porch was our go-to spot for breakfast / brunch. We really enjoyed the smoked salmon bagel and the smoothies.

The Maritana Grille

This is The Don’s formal dinning option. You can tell it’s formal because they put an “e” on the end of Grill. Honestly, in the three times I’ve stayed at The Don I’ve never eaten here. I’m sure it is great, but I’ve always been in a relaxed mood and looked for a more relaxed atmosphere during my stays.

Besides, if I wanted something more formal I would head into Tampa to dine at Bern’s Steakhouse. I always make a point to stop there when I’m in the Tampa area. It is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

The Beach

Alright, the beach shouldn’t really be a part of my Don Cesar hotel review. But let’s be honest, the beach is why you actually stay at the Don Cesar. The hotel itself is set off from the main strip a bit which helps isolate the beach some. Most of the adjacent properties are smaller houses, so that end of the beach remains uncrowded.

The Beach at The Loews Don Cesar

The beach out front of The Don is clean and is usually setup with beach chairs, umbrellas, or cabanas that you can rent from the hotel. The rental rates seemed standard for beaches in the states, but it would have been nice for the service to be included in the hotel’s resort fee. If you prefer to just throw down a towel and soak up some rays there will be ample space to do so. They are picky about taking towels from the pool area out to the beach, but I think you can grab a towel once you’re down on the beach.

St. Pete beach is a great beach for strolling as it is a few miles long. If you head to the north you start getting some more crowds from the other hotels on the strip. Heading south is fairly quiet.

The Bottom Line

If you couldn’t tell by my Don Cesar hotel review I have really enjoyed my stays there. I give the hotel high marks on cleanliness, service, location, and atmosphere. It’s a great spot for couples to relax or families to vacay. The food is excellent, the pool is entertaining, and the beach is simply beautiful.  That being said, be prepared to spend a little money while you are staying at The Don. From beach chairs to on-site parking, it’s not all covered by the resort “fee”.

If you’ve found this Don Cesar hotel review useful, or want to share an experience from your own stay, I’d love to hear about it. Make sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Summary
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Loews Don Cesar Hotel and Resort
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