Hotel Indigo is “Rays Worthy”.
At least once a year I try and get out to one of the “live” Rays Radio Network broadcasts before the beginning of the Spring Grapefruit League games. And with only a handful of day before the Rays take on the Baltimore Orioles in the ” new” Spring Training home, Ed Smith Stadium. The Rays Radio hosts Andy Freed and Dave Willis were going to do their Monday “Hot Stove” show from 7-8 pm in an old historic hotel situated just a mile from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The site of this weeks “Hot Stove” program was Hotel Indigo, which was known by locals as the Heritage Hotel until Tampa-based Baystar Hotel group bought the Hotel back in June, 2008 and pumped $ 3 million in restorations and modern improvements to the classic Florida colonial-style hotel. I thought it was really wild that they decided to use a hotel that is steeped in local history, and also carries a Spring Training vibe to it even today. As you walk into this quaint hotel you get the air of the 1920′s immediately as you see the style of that day in its old world charm architecture and details in the wood fixtures.
And with its ornate open-air bar just to your left as you walk in, it invites you to sit, relax and enjoy just as if you were transported back in time listening to radio hosts from yesteryear. And there is a distinctive feeling here that this hotel has seen more than it’s share of baseball lore as it was here during the heydays of the New York Yankees playing their Spring Training games in Waterfront Park in St. Petersburg after the team moved their Spring Training site from New Orleans to corral in Babe Ruth and keep him out of the Bourbon Street establishments.
And the hotel has been transformed into a modern business travelers dream with all 71 rooms going through massive reconfigurations and revitalizations that brought wall-to-wall murals, and rustic area rugs over the great hardwood floors of every room. And this not your usual “cookie-cutter” Florida vacation destination resting place, but a stylish boutique hotel that gives you more of a feel of a personal exclamation point to your stay in St. Petersburg, Florida. And it would be a great destination for any visitor’s coming in for the Rays games, either during the week, or the weekend. Rooms range from $ 139-199 a night and will have all the same accommodating extras as other area hotels, but will provide you with an added flair of Southern atmosphere mixed with modern elements.
I took a short tour of the rooms and it is a fantastic hotel just by it’s architectural charm, but the renovations also brought out some of the over painted details and carvings in the wood, plus the simplicity of hotel life in the 1920′s. With the added charm of a great dark wooden bar and the green-tones to the lobby walls, it brought a old Florida sense to the hotel. And that is rare in the days of basic beige box hotel rooms and doubles and twins beds. Both rooms I saw had their own sense of sophistication and modernism without losing the boutique hotel ambiance. And mix with the small of hot dogs being cooked, and popcorn being made for the Rays Radio guests, it felt like a baseball hotel.
I mean as I walked in, Rays Radio Network pre-game/post-game Host Rich Herrera was sitting in a cozy chair in the corner reading “Willie May: The Life, The Legend” by James S. Hirsch, so it instantly had a baseball feel to the night. And even if tonight’s broadcast was only a one hour segment, it was a time for most of the Rays fans in attendance to talk about the upcoming season, the past weekend events at Rays Fan fest, and just remark about this great hotel. And tonight the bar staff was decked out in Rays jerseys ready to offer you food, refreshment, or in my case, an extremely cold Blue Moon with orange slice.
I have to say the Rays Radio show went by so quickly that night, but I had a chance to chat with both the management staff and one of the waitresses from the on-site restaurant, and they were extremely helpful and charming. More often than not, I would be writing today about the Rays Radio show, but this hotel simply blew me away. I had been in it between the Heritage Hotel days and their reincarnation as Hotel Indigo, and I was simply amazed at the upgrades and the elegance restored to this boutique hotel within walking distance of the shuttle to Tropicana Field.
The hotel management took great care in restoring that old Florida charm with its seating area on the front porch, to the garden terraces laced with Florida vegetation, this hotel screams circa 1920′s elegance. I am one of those travelers when I go out of town to attend Rays game, I try and stay in authentic old style hotels that ooze charm and are accented by old architectural designs. This hotel to me is up there with the Hotel Monaco and Hotel Deca in Seattle, and also my favorite circular room in the Wyndham at Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio.
And that is something I strive for when I go out of town for away series games. I want to feel something different than staying in a Motel 6 or Holiday Inn Express ( even though my fastball picked up 6 mph after a stay there). Along with the baseball game’s experience, I like to take in the charm of the city I am visiting by staying in a boutique hotel setting. And sure I might miss out on the free breakfast, or even the complimentary extra towels, but these types of hotels also show you some extras that are missed by the value chains. Small things like beverages and a snack upon check-in (Cleveland), or even transportation to the stadium by their staff, and not in some corporate 18-person van (Seattle).
The Hotel Indigo is just another one of the Florida hotels that gets it. Sure you could hit the value nightly rate at the Hilton Hotel across from now vacant Progress Energy Field, but you miss out on the little things and the subtle essence points this hotel spoke to me about on Monday night. Most hotel staff are courteous to their guests, but I saw it bumped up a notch at Hotel Indigo. These people seemed to love their jobs and it showed in their voice with the affection shown, and the historic references given about this often missed hotel. If I did not live locally, I could see myself staying at the Hotel Indigo for Rays games. And how can you not love a hotel that is within walking distance to great food options and a variety of entertainment choice, but in the end, how can you go wrong with a place that give you six pillows on your bed….Ahhh, luxuries in a romantic setting with baseball ties…..I am in heaven.