By Vince Font
With year-round sunshine and blissful bay views, business travelers know that there are far worse places to be “stuck” than Tampa. Many moderate Tampa hotels are within 10 minutes of the airport, and close to dining and shopping at Westshore and International Plaza. So even if by day you’re toiling away with your co-workers or clients indoors, there’s always a body of water and a sunset waiting for you when the meetings break.
For starters, if you’re staying near Tampa you can book a room at the Sailport Waterfront Suites on Rocky Point Island for under $80 per night. This is an all-suite hotel that offers the kind of views and island atmosphere you might expect to find someplace on the Mayan Riviera. It’s even got a sandy beach and a fishing pier overlooking Tampa Bay, although if you blur your eyes and use your imagination it’s not difficult to imagine yourself halfway across the world at a far more exotic destination.
For the slightly more costly price of around $100 per night, you can upgrade your experience by booking a stay at the Westin Tampa Bay, a classy hotel with an indoor heated swimming pool and health club. The Westin is also located on Rocky Point Island about 4 miles from Tampa International and within driving distance of some of the best seafood places around. And you won’t have to go far to get the tasty catch of the day: the hotel’s waterfront restaurant offers local fish as well as daily imported seafood.
A little bit further inland and east of Rocky Point Island you’ll find the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, a hotel that delivers a gorgeous view of the bay from a different but no less scenic vantage point. It’s also not just a hotel for humans, but a refuge for egrets and herons, as well — its 35-acre footprint encompasses the hotel, a wildlife estuary and a nature trail. But it’s not all outdoor living here as a trip to the 14th floor and the hotel’s famous Armani Restaurant will show. A stay here will run you around $100 per night.
Who’d have thought that a business trip to Tampa, of all places, would have you taking in some truly breathtaking sights and putting you within walking distance of piers, marinas, and the beaches of the Courtney Campbell Causeway? Needless to say, a stay in any one of these Tampa hotels will probably ruin you for business trips elsewhere – or at least heighten your expectations the next time your boss sends you out of town. Do yourself a favor and don’t come home complaining about a lack of waterfront suites if that place happens to be Phoenix; it won’t bode well for your annual review.
Vince Font is a travel writer with a deep love of weird, wacky, and off-the-beaten-track vacation destinations — as long as staying in a luxury hotel is part of the deal.