We’ve been taking a trip in the Way-Back Machine to learn more about the history of Alden Suites, as we celebrate our 50th Anniversary of ownership by the Renfrow family. Digging through files of old advertisements, postcards, and newsletters has uncovered so many fun photos and historical treasures. We’d like to share a trip back in time through Alden history for those who want to know a little more about how the Alden came to be the beautiful resort that she is today.
1954 – Alden Suites Beachfront Resort was born when the original owner/developer (name unknown) began constructing 40 cottage-style units on nearly three acres of Gulf front land along St. Pete Beach in unincorporated Pinellas County. Gulf Boulevard was a two-lane road with no sidewalks.
1955 – The original Alden Motel opens.
1962-1963 – The original developer/owner adds 27 units, now called the “Bermuda Building.”
1957 – St. Pete Beach officially becomes The City of St. Pete Beach.
1965 – Gilbert Fortune purchases the Alden. Gilbert also owned the Normandy Hotel and the Odyssey Hotel, just south of the Alden, which ultimately became the Tradewinds Resort. Fortune adds another 20 Gulf front units in early 1969, now called the “Lanai Building.”
1969 – Robert P. Renfrow, his wife, Gennifer, and Dr. Sydney Nathans purchase the 91-unit Alden Motel & Apartments from Fortune.
1973 – Renfrow buys out Nathans and brings in his brother in law, Robert Featherstone, as a new investor /owner. Renfrow then buys what was two acres of vacant land immediately adjacent and to the north of the Alden property, for a whopping $200,000. (Two acres of Gulf front land on St. Pete Beach now sells for $3 to $4 million per acre!) Renfrow hires a husband-wife management team to live on property and run the day-to-day business. Eventually, they buy into the ownership group.
1978-81 – Renfrow develops a new, six story, 42-unit all-suite building on the newly-purchased land, in phases: three stories in 1978 and the additional three stories in 1981.
1984-1985 – Renfrow demolishes almost all of the remaining cottage-style units, develops the six story, 45-unit “Nassau Building,” and adds a second swimming pool, two elevated tennis courts with parking below. The resulting unit count is now up to 144 units, with all but five being “suites,” spanning 4.84 acres of Gulf front land.
1995 – The Cabana Beach Bar is added, along with the Fountain Court Conference Room, two new hot tubs, and the BBQ grill deck.
2001 – Robert Renfrow passes away at just 72 years old after a battle with cancer. Prior to his death, he names his son, R. Gary Renfrow, age 42 years old at that time, as the new president of Alden Enterprises,Inc. Gary Renfrow had spent his entire adult life working in the hotel franchising and development industry, as well as with an international accounting firm that specialized in hotel market feasibility studies and hotel operational consulting.2003 – Gary Renfrow hires Anthony “Tony” Satterfield as the new General Manager. Satterfield is eventually promoted to Vice President of Operations and a Corporate Officer.
2012-2013 – A new 12-person hot tub is added, and the Snappers Oasis Food Trailer opens for business.
2015 – Gennifer Renfrow passes away. The new majority owners become Gary and his wife, Mary Ann, and his two sisters, Leigh Renfrow and Jennie Renfrow.
Alden Suites Beachfront Resort earns the coveted TripAdvisor® Award of Excellence.
2017 – TripAdvisor®’s Travelers’ Choice Awards recognition.
2018 – The ownership team completes a comprehensive gutting, renovation and conversion of the remaining original cottage units into seven all-new beautifully appointed beach bungalows.
2019 – The Alden Suites Beachfront Resort celebrates 50 years of ownership by the Renfrow family with a year-long #ALDENWOW50 celebration!
We’d love to hear more tales of the old days from our guests who’ve been coming for decades to spend vacations here at the Alden. Please leave your memories here in the comments. And don’t forget to post your photos on social media using the #ALDENWOW50 hashtag to win prizes all year long!