I have sampled many of the larger Gulf Coast hotel establishments over the years, and was consistently met with disappointment, including grungy rooms, soiled pools, high prices, lumpy beds, etc. So this time around, I decided to take TripAdvisor a little more seriously in planning for this “Guy’s Trip” with ‘The Kid’ (who ultimately celebrated his 14th birthday at the Gulf Tides Inn) and myself. St. Pete Beach is by far our favourite town on the Gulf Coast – older and more established without all the pomp and circumstance of places like Clearwater Beach.
TripAdvisor has told me over the last few years that the #1 hotel in St. Pete Beach was the Gulf Tides Inn. Unfortunately, until this year, I could not fathom how a small, 10 unit motel just off the Gulf Coast Boulevard, could secure such high ratings. But the truth was staring me in the face – the reviews were consistently positive, and the reviewers often went to great lengths to describe the Gulf Tides Inn in the most superlative of terms.
After a seven night stay at the Gulf Tides Inn, I can confidently state that Hotel Management/Hospitality programs in North America would do well to commission a case study of the Gulf Tides Inn, because this hotel is a crystal clear example of how a business should be run.
My first experience with the Gulf Tides Inn was an exchange of emails with Adele. The exchange was pleasant and she promptly responded to my enquiry about visiting from August 20th to August 28th, 2011 with the comment that since August was generally a slow season, I could benefit from a very reasonable rate – so reasonable, in fact, I could hardly believe what I was reading.
Based on that positive email exchange with Adele, the very reasonable price for a week’s accommodation, and the excellent TripAdvisor reviews, I decided to ‘take the leap’. In the end, the Gulf Tides Inn was the best leap I have ever made as far as hotels are concerned.
I’ll begin right from the start – pulling into the parking area alongside the Gulf Tides Inn, and of note in the St. Pete Beach area, the parking is free. That’s a very good start, considering that many larger and significantly more expensive hotels on the St. Pete Beach strip charge additional fees for parking (and for the dreaded “resort fees”, which do not exist at the Gulf Tides). Walking through the gate to the Gulf Tides office I was instantly struck by the size and cleanliness of the pool, which is larger and appeared far cleaner than the pools at any of the other Gulf Coast hotels I have previously visited – the impression was further enhanced when I considered how this large, beautiful pool served 10 units, with smaller pools serving other hotels with 100 + units.
Moreover, the courtyard was exceptionally clean, with enough tables, chairs, chez lounges and umbrellas to fully serve the Gulf Tides’ 10 units. The palm trees and flowers throughout the courtyard created a true Florida Gulf Coast aura. There was even a barbeque available for guests of the hotel.
As such, I was pretty much satisfied with my choice of hotels before even meeting the owner, Dave, and seeing our unit. On entering the office, I was greeted with a very cheery and “Hello”, along with a firm handshake from Dave. After a lifetime of pre-programmed, robotic hotel greetings, this genuine welcome was a first for me.
After a thorough discussion of the Gulf Tides Inn and local amenities (including shopping and “cheap and cheerful” local restaurants), we checked into our unit. With two brand new high-efficiency LG air conditioning units (one in the bedroom and the other in the living room), the unit was wonderfully cool and comfortable. It was also exceptionally clean, and by that I mean cleaner than any other hotel I have ever visited.
The two double beds in the bedroom were comfortable with ultra-clean sheets, pillow cases and comforters. The bedroom also had a television and a big chest of drawers which easily held our wardrobes for the week.
The bathroom, which Dave noted was about to be fully renovated after our stay, was spotless. There were plenty of fresh towels, including beach/pool towels, and there was never a lack of hot water.
There were many things at the Gulf Tides Inn in that were unexpected for such reasonable rates. One such example is the kitchen, which came fully stocked with pots, pans, dishes, and everything else you’d have in your own kitchen, even an ice cream scooper. There was a stove/oven, full sized fridge/freezer, a double sink, microwave, coffee maker, toaster and kettle. Even the washcloth and drying towel smelled fresh.
The living room was comfortable with a large, flat screen television (which we didn’t use much given the variety of things to do in the area) and a futon that pulled out into a queen sized bed. The entire unit was floored in tile, a good choice in hot and humid Florida, and the tile, like everything else, was spic and span.
I’ve yet to stay anywhere where I could literally walk out my door and jump into the pool. And the pool, which I have already noted, seemed very clean on our arrival, was regularly cleaned by Dave himself throughout the week. He also made use of some type of high-end robotic cleaner, which even climbed the walls of the pool. As such, there was never any grimy feeling at the bottom of the pool when standing in the shallow end. According to Dave, the pool was heated in the cooler seasons – in a Florida August, it was a nice, refreshing temperature and was always inviting, so much so that we often couldn’t resist jumping in several times a day.
Other positives of the Gulf Tides Inn, and undoubtedly I am forgetting many, include the short proximity to the beautiful beach and several restaurants within walking distance. As well, the Gulf Tides is equipped with FREE Wi-Fi and, in the spirit of doing things right the first time, Dave and Adele appear to have installed two Wi-Fi hotspot transmission locations, ensuring a strong and fast connection every time we connected to the Internet. I’ve already noted the barbeque, and lest there be any doubts, all its burners work. Moreover, there was a washer/dryer available, both of which worked, with an abundance of free laundry detergent (I really ought to have checked before I bought some). And there were free beach chairs and umbrellas for guests to use – these amenities usually come with accompanying “cabana charges” at other area hotels.
It is often the accommodation that can make or break a family’s vacation, and the Gulf Tides Inn formed the foundation of what turned out to be a great vacation experience for ‘The Kid’ and I. When surfing TripAdvisor in advance of booking with Gulf Tides, I frequently noticed that there were other hotel establishments in the St. Pete Beach/Treasure Island area with owners or managers that responded to negative reviews with limp apologies or, in some instances, scathing condemnations of the guests who had written the negative review and ‘dared’ to criticise the hotel. At Gulf Tides, perhaps the reason that Dave and Adele don’t have to apologize for negative TripAdvisor reviews, of which there are none, is because they regularly ask throughout your stay if everything is OK in terms of your accommodation. On several occasions, Dave asked us this question, and reminded us that if there was anything at all he could do for us during our stay, just to let him know. So when the hair dryer tripped a fuse, Dave fixed that in literally a few seconds.
In summary, the Gulf Tides provides top-notch, exceptional accommodation. As noted by the previous poster, the only negative is the fact that one’s stay at the Gulf Tides cannot last indefinitely, and departure is indeed a sorrowful and difficult experience. There is clearly a pride-of-ownership factor working in favour of the Gulf Tides Inn – Dave and Adele have left no stone unturned when it comes to providing guests with a positive vacation experience. Moreover, this is a quiet hotel where your fellow guests are polite, receptive to conversation, and as respectful of your peace and quiet as you are of theirs’.
I am fortunate in that I will no longer have to stress over accommodation along the Gulf Coast of Florida – I will be back here again and again; I simply cannot imagine staying anywhere else. So as the 100th reviewer of the Gulf Tides Inn, I give this hotel, and its owners, an unequivocal score 100%.
- Also Known As:
- Gulf Tides Hotel Saint Pete Beach
- Gulf Tides Hotel
- Gulf Tides Motel
- Gulf Tides Inn Saint Pete Beach, Florida
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Gulf Tides Inn. We are a family owned and operated inn located on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. We offer beautiful apartment suites and efficiencies for your comfort during your stay in Florida. Come and enjoy our wonderful amenities, our large heated pool, free wireless internet, BBQ grill, laundry facilities, free in room safes, hairdryers, complimentary toiletries welcome set and many, many more. ... more less