I admit to some trepidation after reading many reviews stating that the Don was showing a bit of wear. We arrived early one morning and from the beginning to the end of our stay (five nights, everything was wonderful. There are a few things that I wasn't wild about, quibbles mostly, but I cannot or would not consider staying elsewhere while visiting this beautiful stretch of beach.
So, the best part of the stay was a gracious and accommodating staff. From the moment we pulled up, we were greeted with smiles and good cheer. The door staff was most helpful, check-in was a breeze (an early morning flight saw us in our room at 10:00 a.m.), and the beach staff was always ready to set us up with chairs, towels, and umbrellas. And, no small feat, the cushions were very comfortable, allowing you to relax the whole day away.
(Sidenote: You all know that beach attendants should be tipped, right? We saw group after group - some of up to ten people - keep the guys running without shelling out a dime. And coolers - who brings coolers to nice resorts? This isn't a frat party.)
Housekeeping was punctual and helpful. The Maritana Restaurant was a fine night out, with absolutely beautifully prepared food, perfectly cooked, in a recently renovated space that makes for a great night. The resort fee allows for "free" WiFi. The location can't be beat either - right on Gulf Blvd, so you're close to the Bayway leading into St. Pete proper, a fun (longish) walk to Pass-a-Grill, and it's an easy drive north to the various beaches with public access. We drove many places, but took the Sun Trolley once ($2 per trip), and if you keep an eye on the Web site you can catch one without waiting for one in the hot sun. Without a doubt, it is perfectly placed in town.
The decor is really pleasing, and I thought well-maintained and clean throughout. The pools were, on our visit, crowded with families with generally well-behaved kids, though it must be said that squealing girls can be heard from miles away and parents could be a bit more sensitive about this. The older pool is actually 7' deep, something rarely seen these days. The tables around the pools offfer a fine lunch, with good service even in the heat. Even the parking attendants were friendly and helpful, despite sitting in that tiny cubicle in 95+ degree heat. Whew!
My quibbles are small, but bear mentioning: bed linen is changed only every three days (that schedule can be changed with a call to housekeeping) which, frankly, seems like a false economy, but I respected it. Service in the Maritana was a contradiction, effusively informative in its welcome and about the menu, but the waiter was nowhere to be seen when we still had not received our bread or appetizers an hour after our arrival. His excuse rang hallow. The musician at lunch might be enjoyed more if he was not hooked up to an amp; it was simply too loud. Also, I'd enquire about groups when making reservations. I know they're a hotel's bread and butter, but you do start feeling a bit squeezed out and marginalized. The staff remained helpful, but were overwhelmed at times. Also, the bar staff was uneven - one night friendly and professional, but another night saw a dry martini being made at a 2:1 ratio (yuck) and using the shot glass time and again without rinsing (I thought I tasted something weird in my drink).
By all means, consider the Don when heading to the area and you will surely enjoy yourself. It is fun, fabulous, and friendly. We're heading back as soon as we can.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.