From Legend to Icon: The Don CeSar – St. Pete Beach’s Pink Palace Dating Back to the 20s

First of all, not only will you really love this place but the beach is absolutely stunning. (Of course it’s hard for a beach not to be stunning, but this one is different).

The Don CeSar

The Don CeSar, also known as the “Pink Palace,” is a historic luxury hotel located on St. Pete Beach. It is an iconic landmark, and one of the most recognizable hotels in the state. It can easily be seen from most places within the Tampa Bay / Clearwater Beach area.


The Don CeSar has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the Roaring Twenties. It initially served as a playground for wealthy socialites during the Jazz Age. It has since undergone several renovations and restorations to maintain its grandeur and historic charm.

Built by Thomas Rowe, an entrepreneur and developer, this place first opened its doors on January 16, 1928. Rowe was inspired by the legend of Don CeSar, a character from the opera “Maritana,” and he envisioned the hotel as a majestic castle on the Gulf of Mexico.

The Jazz Age and Great Depression

During the 1920s and early 1930s, The Don CeSar became a popular destination for the wealthy and elite. It served as a glamorous playground and hosted extravagant parties, attracting notable guests such as F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of the Great Gatsby), Clarence Darrow, and Al Capone. It’s said some of Fitzgerald’s greatest works were inspired by this place.

However, with the onset of the Great Depression, the hotel struggled financially, and Thomas Rowe eventually lost ownership.

Military Use during World War II

In 1942, the U.S. government purchased The Don CeSar for $450,000 and converted it into a military hospital known as the “United States Army Air Forces Regional Hospital.” The facility provided care for wounded soldiers returning from the war. After the war ended, the hotel was returned to private ownership.

Decline and Restoration

Over the next few decades, The Don CeSar experienced a period of decline and faced potential demolition in the 1970s. However, it was saved from demolition and underwent extensive renovations to restore its original grandeur. It reopened in 1973 as a luxury hotel and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Recent Years and Renovations

It has undergone various renovations and updates to maintain its historic charm while incorporating modern amenities and facilities.

Today, The Don CeSar remains an iconic landmark in St. Pete Beach and is known for its distinctive pink architecture, upscale accommodations, and breathtaking Gulf Coast views. Its storied history adds to its allure, making it a cherished destination for travelers seeking a unique and luxurious experience on Florida’s west coast.

St. Pete Beach

This is a phenomenal beach with beautiful views. You will love this beach for its vast, panoramic views and scenic shoreline. With a shallow shoreline, it feels more like a giant sandbar.

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