Some people head to Tampa for business. Others come to enjoy arts and culture or sightseeing combined with the area's pretty coastline and other amenities. Still others head to the Tampa Bay area to be immersed in the sunshine, peacefulness, and opulence of some of the Sunshine State's finest resorts. Indeed, the Tampa Bay metro area is home to some of the loveliest resorts in the state, designed to pamper the picky tourist, keep the whole family busy, or provide a romantic getaway for a harried couple – depending on which you choose.
Most Tampa resorts, of course, capitalize on the area's best assets – particularly the sand and the water. They boast extensive white sand beaches, clear Gulf of Mexico water that's warm and inviting, and plenty of opportunity to enjoy the Gulf breezes and the area's abundant sunshine.
Many of the resorts also boast a number of other fine amenities, including five-star restaurants that'll please your palate, world-class spas offering pampering treatments for weary guests, deluxe pools and hot tubs, tennis and golf opportunities, special kid's programs to keep them busy all day, and much more.
Best of all, when you pull up to your resort, leave your car, and check into your room, chances are that you may never have to leave the resort grounds again until it's time to return home. Though the resorts are not all-inclusive as you would find in many Caribbean islands and other tropical resorts, many do offer everything you need under one roof, making it unnecessary to leave unless you wish to do some sightseeing or travel to other parts of the metro area.
Most vacationers choose resorts according to their likes and dislikes. Some are best for families while others are more suitable for just couples. Some offer golf or tennis packages for the active traveler while others are best designed for those who just want to "veg out" while on vacation. You make the choice!
There are enough Tampa resorts to fill everyone's needs. Here are a few of the most popular:
- Saddlebrook Resort – Dubbed by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the best, Saddlebrook Resort in the town of Wesley Chapel caters to the active traveler, with two Arnold Palmer Signature Courses on site as well 45 tennis courts. Guests can dine around the attractively landscaped pool and take advantage of a vast array of spa treatments. The lounge offers nightly music and dancing. Kids are welcome but you won't see too many of them at Saddlebrook.
- Safety Harbor Resort and Spa – Situated on the shores of Tampa Bay, this resort was first established in 1936, with visitors arriving to enjoy the healing waters of the hot springs there. The water from the springs is still used in the resort's Aveeda Spa, which remains Safety Harbor's main attraction. There's also a large pool and a tennis academy on site and the beaches aren't far away.
- Belleview Biltmore Resort – Offering Southern hospitality since 1896, the Belleview Biltmore in Clearwater Beach is on the National Register of Historic Places. Geared toward adults and well-behaved children, this resort offers golf, tennis, a beach club with full-service restaurant, a magnificent waterfall pool and poolside bar, a full spa, and even an ice cream parlor. Not as pricey as some of the other resorts and perfect if you enjoy old-world ambience.
- Sandpearl Resort – The newest on Clearwater Beach, this beautiful independently-owned luxury resort is perfect for the family who can afford to spend a little more on their vacation. Amenities include a lagoon-style pool with private cabanas, both fine dining and casual restaurants, a full service spa, and more than 700 feet of private beachfront. Camp Ridley caters to kids ages 5 through 10.
- Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club – Owned by Marriott but boasting membership in the Historic Hotels of America, St. Petersburg's Renaissance Vinoy offers elegance and grace on the Tampa Bay waterfront. Hotel guests enjoy a private marina, 18-hole golf course, and 12 tennis courts at this 1920s Mediterranean Revival-style hotel. Its pink exterior makes it easily recognizable and though its not on the beach, its opulent pool provides plenty of water recreation.
- Don CeSar Beach Resort – One of the finest properties in the Loew's family of hotels, this grand pink palace has been thrilling Florida visitors since 1928. A popular place for weddings, the Don CeSar sits on beautiful St. Pete Beach and offers guests the best of everything. Kids love the 7.5-miles of beaches and the activities at Camp Cesar. Adults can go kayaking, canoeing, ride a wave runner, chill out on the beach, or enjoy a pampering spa treatment. Children can also sign up for "etiquette classes" at the Don CeSar!
- Resort at Long Boat Key Club – A little further south near Sarasota, the Resort at Long Boat Key Club offers some of the finest lodging in the area. Surrounded by Sarasota's famous white sand, this property on secluded Long Boat Key offers a year-round kid's club, 2 golf courses, lots of tennis courts, 4 restaurants, and a new spa. Vacation rentals are available as well, with a minimum stay of 30 days.