This month, a friend gifted me a long weekend so that I could go someplace and concentrate on writing. After much deliberation, I chose the Westin Tampa Bay, cashed in some Starpoints, and got on a plane.
There is a lot to recommend about this hotel, and only a few negatives (and those negatives are not all THAT negative). Overall, I would definitely stay here again. For a business traveler needing easy access to Tampa but still wanting a quasi-beachy location, I'm not sure there IS a better place. If your goal is a relaxing beach vacation, without needing a car to get to open water, this may not be the best place for you.
First, the good stuff:
1) This is one of the cleanest, most carefully maintained hotels I have ever stayed in. You know how there's always that weird piece of hair, or a smudgy spot, or a stain? None of those things happened at the Westin.
2) There are no bad views. I suppose that an argument could be made that facing Southeast, over Tampa Bay, is better, but I liked my room facing Northwest, which looked out over a small corner of the Bay full of fish, dolphins, birds, and possibly a manatee. Plus, I got sunsets. Every room is on the 7th floor or higher, and looks out at SOMETHING beautiful.
3) Most of the staff is very helpful. The valet parking guys were very pleasant and professional even though I encountered them in very busy periods, and the airport shuttle guys were delightful, friendly, and very knowledgable about the hotel and the area.
4) Aqua. I am going to go write a separate review of the hotel's restaurant, but overall, I was impressed. Lunch and dinner from both the bar/lounge menu and the regular dinner menu are excellent, while breakfast there is not great, but it's okay. It functions as breakfast.
5) There is an actual Starbucks in the lobby, with Starbucks-like hours, not a coffee bar with Starbucks branding.
6) The whole setting is lovely, and they do a great job maximizing the flow between inside and outside space. This includes a very small very private beach, which is strangely insulated from the causeway running along right next to it.
7) The bathroom was large, shiny, and clean, and the shower was maybe the best shower I have ever used anywhere.
8) It's very close to the airport and the highway, but there is surprisingly little noise/smell/chaos resulting from either, which means that it's just plain convenient.
And now the less good stuff:
1) the front desk staff were...aloof, let's say. They were not unprofessional, and some of them were very pleasant, but the overall feeling I got from them was of impatience. Staff at the doors, in the restaurant, in housekeeping, and in parking/shuttling were much better and friendlier.
2) Although the setting for the hotel is lovely, it's kind of on the wrong side of the causeway, which makes it VERY DIFFICULT to get to the open water from there.
3) There is a small beach, which is great, but during my stay I found that while the sand was quite nice, the water mostly comprises the back end of a series of channels in from the Bay, which means that a lot of gunk and trash floats in. The staff works hard to keep it clean, and it's certainly not horrible, but it's also not the same as going to the actual beach, by a long shot. Also, they offer JetSki rentals, which is fine, except that they are often displayed in a way that takes up most of the beach. In addition, sometimes the rental guy decides to tidy up the beach by hitching a chain web to the back of his ATV and roaring up and down the very small beach to grade/plane the sand. Although this results in prettier sand, it also results in SO MUCH NOISE and an unbelievable fuel stink. I did not like this part at all.
- Also Known As:
- Westin Tampa Bay Hotel Tampa
- Westin Tampa Bay Hotel
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the heart of Tampa Bay on Rocky Point Island, this airport hotel's waterfront location offers both incredible bay views and easy access to the area's attractions. ... more less
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