Alden Suites & Renfrow Family Donate $25,000 to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Tampa Bay Watch

Here at Alden Suites, we treasure Tampa Bay and do all we can to protect it. For many years now both the Alden Suites and the family that owns the resort, the Renfrows, have donated to support Tampa Bay Watch’s vital efforts to protect and restore the Tampa Bay estuary. 2018 marks the 25th anniversary of Tampa Bay Watch, and we are thrilled to announce our donation of $25,000 to this essential effort.

Alden Suites is making a donation of $15,000 and Gary and Mary Ann Renfrow are personally donating $10,000 to jump-start Tampa Bay Watch’s $25,000 for 25 years campaign. The funds will be used for shoreline restoration efforts and for education, teaching Tampa Bay kids about the local ecosystem and how they can help preserve it.We encourage our friends and colleagues to join in and support this nonprofit as they keep our gorgeous beaches beautiful!

Peter A. Clark, President of Tampa Bay Watch, Inc., notes that due to community support and involvement in Tampa Bay Watch, “water quality is best in the bay since the 1950s, seagrass has recovered 20,000 new acres since the 1980s, and fish and wildlife are returning to the bay as a result of these improvements.” This is all done through true grassroots efforts. Local businesses donate oyster shells that Tampa Bay Watch volunteers use them to build oyster shell bars and oyster domes to promote oyster growth along man-made and altered shorelines of Tampa Bay. These oyster reef enhancements attract live oysters, who filter the water of Tampa Bay naturally.

Tampa Bay Watch also provides education to school children in the Tampa Bay area, allowing them to experience the ecosystem for themselves. Clark’s vision for Tampa Bay Watch in the coming years emphasizes bringing young people into the fold: “While involving the community in bay protection activities 25+ years ago was the seed of our institution, addressing the critical need for the next generation to experience and understand the value of a healthy bay is essential. Join us as we begin the next chapter of our organization — as always it will be the community that truly makes the difference.”

 

Mary Ann Renfrow shares: “Gary and I consider ourselves so fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend most of our lives right here on Tampa Bay and the Gulf Beaches. This is where we have raised our beautiful daughter, Stephanie. This is where we have built a successful business on the Gulf, the Alden Suites. This is a place where we have lived our lives, boating, swimming and walking the shores … a place we call home. We recognize that we are so privileged to have this in part because of the dedication of Tampa Bay Watch​, its staff and volunteers, who have worked diligently to restore, preserve and protect Tampa Bay, as well as continue to educate those young people so that they will become stewards of Tampa Bay for generations to come. This is the legacy of Tampa Bay Watch. Gary and I consider supporting Tampa Bay Watch as a part of our legacy. In sincere appreciation and to honor 25 years of serving the Bay, we are proud to extend our gift of $25,000 to Tampa Bay Watch from our own family, and our business family, the Alden Suites.”

What’s Coming Up in St. Pete Beach: Hot Tickets for April 2018

April is such a perfect time to visit St. Pete Beach- with nice mild weather and lots of fun things to do! Here at the Alden Suites Beachfront Resort, we love to help our guests find their favorite ways to get out there and enjoy the Tampa Bay area. Here are some of our top picks coming up in April:

April 1

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox

Tampa Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 6-4 in their first game of the season! Get tickets for their hoped-for revenge in St. Petersburg for the epic showdown.

April 6-8

Tampa Bay Blues Festival

The Tampa Bay Blues Festival is 3 glorious days of blues music events in the beautiful tropical setting of Vinoy Park. See amazing performances by Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Beth Hart, Delbert McClinton & many more! Don’t forget about the After Shows, with FREE Admission, hosted by two of St. Petersburg’s best live music clubs: The Ale and the Witch & Ringside Café 10:30 p.m. – 2 am

April 7-9

Brocante Market

Brocante is a monthly, vendor-run, Vintage Market with a fresh and fun change of pace from you ordinary antique shopping. With 15,000 feet of hand selected vintage items and an exciting experience of finding that perfect item to compliment your home.

April 13-22

Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival

1000 tons of Clearwater Beach’s famous sugar sand, brought to life through amazing sand sculptures! 21,000 square feet walk-through display featuring live entertainment, street performers, sand sculpting classes, master sand sculpting competition, and more!

April 13-15

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Philadelphia Phillies

Tampa plays the Phillies in a 3 day series. See the historical revenge of the Rays Rematch the Phillies from the World Series in 2008!

April 16-18

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Texas Rangers

Continuing the home stand at Tropicana Field, the Rays play the Rangers.

April 20-22

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins

Furthering their home stand in St. Petersburg, the Tampa Rays play the Minnesota Twins!

April 21 – 22

The 43rd Annual Mainsail Art Festival

Enjoy the 43rd Annual Mainsail Art Festival, voted one of the best fine art and design shows in the nation! Spend the day enjoying over 250 fine art and craft exhibitors, live music entertainment, Kids Create art activities, and Culinary Arts food court with FREE admission!

April 26-28

Sunscreen Film Festival

Screenings of extraordinary films, educational workshops, panels with Hollywood actors, and great parties await you at the Sunscreen Film Festival 2018! Voted one of the “Coolest Film Fests” by MovieMaker magazine you’ll enjoy a star quality and memorable experience during your vacation.

If you’re coming to the Alden this month, there’s plenty to see and do. We don’t blame you if you never want to leave the comfort of your Alden Beach Cabana, but if you do, let us know how you like our April picks!

 

 

Big News at the Beach Cabanas: Drinks on the Beach!!

If you’ve visited the Alden before, you know all about our signature beach cabanas. These bright yellow hideaways provide shade from the sun, and each come equipped with two comfy lounge chairs and a table. They are included for free in our Florida Resident Special package, and can also be rented for $25 a day from the beachside Suncoast Watersports hut. And now, cabana life is getting better than ever!

We are thrilled to announce that we’re extending our Cabana Bar beverage service to the beach! Cabana guests can now order their favorite beer, wine, sodas, and mixed drinks right from the comfort of their lounge chairs. Our bartenders will bring you a fresh, icy beverage to enjoy while you relax and enjoy the sunshine and our white sandy shore.

 

After many years of planning and negotiations with the City of St. Pete Beach, we were able to make this wonderful addition to our cabana service. We customized a beverage cart with special wheels for beach driving, and stocked it with all your Cabana Bar favorites. Cabana-side service is now available Fridays-Sundays from noon-5pm, and we may expand this service in the future. Snap a pic and post it with the #aldenwow hashtag to let us know how you like our latest enhancement to life Alden-style!

Day-Tripping: Family Attractions Less Than an Hour Away From St. Pete Beach

Getting your family to want to go on vacation is easy, but everyone agreeing on where to go is a whole other story! Don’t worry, Alden Suites Beach Resort is central to some of the most exciting attractions Florida has to offer, less than an hour away! We want you and your family to have as many memorable adventures as possible while spending your vacation with us. You can even book thru our Grab n’ Go Store, located right next to the lobby. We have WOW DEALS, specials and packages just waiting for you!

Busch Gardens

Take your family on the ultimate adventure to Busch Gardens, located less than an hour away from Alden Suites. Busch Gardens is one of the largest zoo’s in North America, with more than 12,000 animals and has over 15 thrill rides. You and your family can experience up close animal encounters, world class roller coasters and award winning live entertainment.  Between rides and shows you can view animal habitats, bird gardens and even be a zookeeper-for-a-day making your trip fun and educational!

Adventure Island

Right across from Busch Gardens is Adventure Island, keeping all the thrill and helping you cool down! 40 acres of tropical, high-speed, water drenched fun in a tranquil Key West setting! Attractions the whole family can enjoy from the children’s water playground, to the amazing giant wave pool, to the epic Colossal Curl water slide! You can spend a relaxing day floating down the Rambling Bayou or get your adrenaline rush from over 10 different slides! Adventure Island even offers All-Day Dining deals to make it even easier to please everyone in your group and keep the fun going all day!

The Dali Museum

Looking for an innovative and educational way to have fun with your kids on vacation? The Dali Museum offers crafting, stories and even treasure hunts to keep your little ones entertained while learning. The kids will also enjoy the Avant-Garden tour where they can learn how Dali was inspired by nature while exploring new themes each week! The tour is followed by art activities held in their classroom so you can enjoy all 96 oil paintings, drawings, fine prints, photographs and videos by the famed artist. Remember to wear comfortable clothing while you enjoy 20,000 square feet of state-of-the-art gallery spaces and remember, the kids might get a little messy creating their own masterpieces!

Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise

Family fun awaits you at Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise! Set sail on a 2-hour journey along the intercoastal waterway and Gulf of Mexico while enjoying stories, games, dancing, treasure hunts and dolphin sightings with friendly pirates on their ship. Your pirate adventure includes complimentary lemonade, soft drinks beer and wine. The upper deck is reserved for 18 and up so you can let your kids enjoy a swashbuckling adventure while getting a well-deserved “mom/dad” break!

Lowry Park Zoo

Lowry Park Zoo is recognized by the State of Florida as the center for Florida wildlife and biodiversity. Their emphasis on rescue, rehabilitation and conservation to care for the animals will give everyone in your family a personalized experience to connect with wildlife in an educational and exciting way. Less than an hour away from Alden Suites, Lowry Park Zoo is one of the most beautiful and tropical zoos in the world and is home to over 1300 animals. Spend the day feeding giraffes, interacting with rhinoceros up-close, observing manatees year-round, splashing around in the Wallaroo water play area, and learning about several endangered species Lowry Park Zoo cares for.

So tell us, did we miss anything? So many families return to the Alden for vacations year after year, some have been coming here for 25 years running! So we bet you’ve found some treasures for family fun. Let us know your favorite Alden family day trips in the comments!

See more attractions and experiences here!

It’s Happy Hour All Day Long!

Now you can enjoy happy hour pricing all day long when you purchase an Alden Suites Happy Hour glass from our beachfront Cabana Bar. Talk about tasty treats!

This 14-ounce beauty comes in a variety of beachy colors, fully stocked to you with your choice of domestic draft beer, house wine or mixed well drinks — for only $6!

So whether you’re staying a few days, a week, or visit us every year, you’ll be smiling all the way to the bank (and the beach!) when you pick up one of our Happy Hour glasses! Be sure to enjoy responsibly as you enjoy our pristine beach, sunshine and spectacularly famous Alden Suites hospitality!

Alden Suites Unveils NEW Beach Bungalows

On March 7, 2018, Alden Suites Beach Resort opened our doors to dozens of Tampa Bay’s leading politicians, hospitality leaders, business owners, and media for a very special celebration. We were thrilled to unveil our seven newly renovated Beach Bungalows. Our friends at Snapper’s Sea Grill and Empire Oyster brought some amazing food to delight our guests, and bartenders Chris and Dave set up the bar in the courtyard as we welcomed friends and colleagues check out what we like to call our “Fungalows!”

The beach bungalows are small cottages surrounding a courtyard right behind our main lobby, and when the hotel was originally built, dozens of them lined a pathway that led all the way to the beach. Over the years, as the Alden expanded and new buildings were added, the cottages were demolished, until only 9 remained. Theses 9 little homes were not included in the multi-million dollar renovation of the Alden Suites over the past few years, and to say they were past their prime would be an understatement!

The Renfrow family, owners of the Alden Suites, decided it was time to make a change. In the last twelve months they supervised a renovation that took the bungalows down to the bare concrete walls, eliminating two of them to make the others more spacious. They also completely redesigned the landscaping in the courtyard, giving it a modern tropical flair.

An expert interior design team led by Lisa Iacovino of Design by Design transformed the interiors into the ultimate in contemporary, beachy comfort. Granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and soothing aqua toned cabinetry turned the kitchens into modern masterpieces.

The bathrooms were outfitted with sleek tile and mirrors,  soothing double shower heads, and elegant vanities. Wood-look ceramic tile flooring flows between all of the spaces.

Our designers kept the bedrooms elegant, with our signature Alden comfy beds and fine linens, and French colonial furnishings.

New tropical furnishings and beach-inspired light fixtures make the living rooms and dining areas truly welcoming.

We had a wonderful time showing our guests around each of the Bungalows, and the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce team helped us christen the new spaces with a ribbon cutting. Such a fun night of celebration!

Want to check out the Alden Suites beach bungalows for yourself? These very special vacation spots aren’t bookable online. But you can reserve your place in the sun by calling our Reservations department at 800.237.2530. We hope to share our “Fungalows” with you some time very soon!

Get out there on the water in St. Pete Beach!

The shore in St. Pete Beach, with sugar-white sands and gentle clear waves, brings bliss to our Alden Suites guests every day. But if you only stay on land, you’re missing much of the fun that Florida’s Gulf Coast has to offer. We love to get out on the water, and there are so many cool ways to take a boating excursion here in the St. Pete Beach area.

Luckily, here at the Alden, you just have to step out of your suite to begin your adventure on the water. Suncoast Watersports has a kiosk on our beach, where you can sign up to go paddle boarding, parasailing, and jet-skiing. They even have a Two Island Snorkel and Explore Dolphin tour. This 3.5 hour tour stops at two amazingly unique islands where you can either snorkel or explore. The first island is beautiful Egmont Key Preserve where you can explore the ruins of Fort Dade which was built into the sand dunes during the Spanish American war. Gopher tortoises and other wildlife are the only inhabitants left but at one time the fort housed 200 US soldiers and 300 Seminole Indian prisoners.

Prior to being a fort the island was a strategic ambush point for pirates looking to surprise ships with precious cargo entering Tampa Bay to trade goods with the local population. The second island stop is at “Sand Dollar Island” located just off the coast of famous Fort Desoto and Shell Key preserve. Sand Dollar Island has an abundance of sand dollars and other great shells including horse conchs, shark eye shells and tulip shells to name just a few. You will come back with a bag full of awesome shells you can’t find on any of our vacation beaches.

Dr. Beach, Florida International University professor Dr. Stephen Leatherman, rates Caladesi Island as one of the top five beaches in the entire United States.

For little ones with a love for all things pirate, the Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise in Clearwater Beach can’t be beat. Take a short drive up the coast to the Clearwater Beach Marina, and you can’t miss the red pirate ship. The Captain Memo crew goes all out to give families the full pirate experience, with eye patches, pirate hats and fun seafaring music. The boat sails out into the Gulf, and at one point they pretend the ship is under attack. All the kids get a toy cannon water gun and they fight off the bad pirates and save the day. It’s a classic Florida experience that your kids will always remember.

Who doesn’t love dolphins? Luckily here on the Gulf Coast we have plenty of opportunities to experience the joy of watching dolphins frolic in the surf. Any boat ride you take is likely to encounter some dolphins in the Gulf, and sometimes they’ll even jump and play in your boat’s wake. But for the best dolphin encounter, we recommend a trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This dolphin rescue center is home to Winter the Dolphin, star of her own movie series. When you visit, you can see Winter up close and tour the expansive aquarium. They also offer a sea safari boat tour which takes you out into the gulf to see dolphins in the wild.

If you want to wander the Gulf more freely, why not captain your own ship? Day-long and half-day boat rentals are available just across the street in the Publix plaza at Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Center. You can even rent some fishing gear and try your luck at catching your own dinner! We hope you’ll get a chance to get out on the water while you’re here vacationing at the Alden Suites, it’s a wonderful way to see St. Pete Beach at its finest!

Five Sweet Spots for Breakfast In St. Pete Beach

If you’re anything like us, the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning is: COFFEE! And the next thing is, where can I get some breakfast?

Well, here at Alden Suites we have the coffee part covered, with delicious free coffee every morning in the lobby. And you can always fix some breakfast in the fully-equipped kitchen in your suite. But you’re on vacation, and sometimes it’s just nice to go out for a leisurely breakfast to start your day.

Lucky for you (and us!), Alden Suites is right in the middle of a sweet spot, with several delicious breakfast options within easy walking distance of the resort. So slip into those flip flops and follow your nose to the most delicious breakfasts in St. Pete Beach. We dare you to try all five!

Many locals say their favorite spot for breakfast is the Toasted Monkey just two doors up to the north. A hopping hotspot at night, with a fun tiki bar, in the mornings the Monkey has a more chill vibe. Wood tables and bright tropical decor will keep you all relaxed as the chef whips up the best chicken and waffles you’ll ever have. The Monkey makes their chicken fingers with Cap’n Crunch cereal in the breading, so they have a nice sweet flavor that complements the soft, malty Belgian waffle. And many of our guests say that the Monkey’s biscuits and gravy are even better than the ones Grandma makes!

Looking for a real Italian experience along with your bacon and eggs? Walk a few blocks north and you’ll arrive at a slice of heaven for lovers of all things Italy: La Casa del Pane. A family of Italian immigrants runs this cafe, market and bakery, and people line up every day for their freshly baked breads, custard filled croissants, authentic Italian cookies, and the Naples-born flaky pastry called sfogliatelle. Be sure to try the divine cappuccino, and we don’t blame you if you come back for lunch- their focaccias are truly sublime.

Want to get really decadent to start your vacation? Just a hop skip and jump north of the Alden is Larry’s Ice Cream and Gelato, where they proudly make the only fresh mini donuts on St. Pete Beach and serve them up with a myriad of toppings. Hot fresh cinnamon toast, maple walnut, and toasted coconut donuts for breakfast? Sign us up!

And speaking of pastries, you haven’t LIVED until you’ve taken a morning stroll to Cafe Soleil. The owners moved from France a few years ago, bringing the authentic art of French pastries to St. Pete Beach. Each morning at 8 am, people line up at their doors for piping hot fresh, flaky pastries like chocolate filled croissants, lemon pastries, and cherry cheese danishes. It’s an easy stroll south from the Alden, in the Publix shopping center. They serve delicious coffee too, and they have a waterfront patio out back where you can enjoy your pastries while watching the sun rise over Boca Ciega Bay.

For a classic beach diner experience, head north a bit to Skidder’s Restaurant. Owned by a Greek family, they serve Greek specialities like gyros and spanakopita at lunch and dinner. But breakfast is classic American fare- stacks of fluffy pancakes, crisp bacon and yummy eggs, French toast and waffles. Skidder’s is great for families since they have a lot of space and can put tables together to seat a large party. And the broad menu selection means everyone will get to taste their favorite breakfast treats.

Next time you’re at the Alden, we hope you’ll try some of our favorites for your morning meal. Here on St. Pete Beach, we’re blessed with so many wonderful dining choices. Please do let us know if we missed out on a place you love- we’re always eager to find new places to start the day delectably!

Alden Suites Donates, Supports Animal Welfare in Tampa Bay

We love animals here at the Alden! This year, Alden Suites Beachfront Resort continues two significant initiatives that support animal welfare in the Tampa Bay area through monetary and in-kind donations. The first initiative is an annual donation of $1,500 to Tampa Bay Watch, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of the Tampa Bay estuary, including efforts such as oyster bar creation, coastal cleanup and wildlife restoration. Since 2010, Alden Suites has donated more than $15,000 to Tampa Bay Watch.

In addition, Alden Suites quarterly donates used linens, towels and blankets to SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Tampa Bay, which cares for more than 7,500 animals a year and provides veterinary, behavior and adoption services to Pinellas County families. The organization is enthusiastic about receiving these items, which help care for and provide comfort for a variety of homeless animals in its care, thereby increasing SPCA Tampa Bay’s ability to expand its services without additional costs.

Alden Suites clearly has a love affair with animals, and in fact is a pet friendly resort (welcoming four-legged guests up to 40 pounds in select rooms). “We feel it’s clearly part of our mission at Alden Suites to give back to our community,” says Gary Renfrow, President of Alden Suites. “Our goal with our support of animal welfare is to show our appreciation and affection for both wildlife and the many animals that might share our hearts and homes, but for various reasons have been abandoned or abused. It’s just a good thing to do, and we’re pleased to do it and lead by example.”

St. Petersburg’s Little Italy

Did you know that the St. Petersburg area has a substantial population of Italian immigrants? Drawn to the sunny weather, gorgeous beaches, and friendly, relaxed lifestyle, many Italian families have moved to our town over the years. And they brought some of the best of Italian culture and food along with them! We’d like to share some St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach Italian treasures that will help you live La Dolce Vita here at Alden Suites.

The most famous Italian food destination in the St. Pete area is Mazzaro’s Italian Market. It’s about a 20 minute drive from St. Pete Beach, and you’ll want to time your visit well since Mazzaro’s gets VERY busy on weekends. The market is a festival of everything Italian, with freshly made breads, hand-sliced prosciutto, gelato, handmade cheeses, fresh pasta, and all the spices and sauces you need to make an Italian feast. It’s a perfect place to stock your refrigerator for a week of delicious meals in your suite at the Alden. While you’re there, grab a sandwich to eat on the outside patio, and check out the cool shop next door full of Italian imports.

Downtown St. Pete has an upscale Italian restaurant that many Alden guests enjoy for a romantic night out. It’s called BellaBrava, and they offer some unique, modern twists on Italian food. All of their pastas are homemade, which makes even something as simple as cacio e pepe, fresh spaghetti with cheese and pepper, truly delicious. Foodies rave about their squid ink pasta, calamari and inventive appetizers. It’s a cool place to hang out too, with live music in the bar most evenings.

Closer to home, just a few blocks north of Alden Suites, we have our own Italian Market called La Casa del Pane. They have a small market with Italian candies, sauces, and pastas, but the real star is the fresh-baked bread. Pick up a fresh baguette, ciabatta, or a soft focaccia to make a delicious meal. La Casa del Pane is also a great place to grab a delicious fresh-made sandwich for a picnic on the beach. Who knew you could eat so well while enjoying a blissful beach day?

And speaking of Italian, we have some Italian restaurants here in town that you won’t want to miss. Just a couple of blocks south of the Alden, you’ll find Buona Pizza, the perfect place to pop in for a slice at lunchtime. This waterfront gem offers way more than pizza, with seafood and pasta specials that change every day, and their garlic knots are to die for! Verducci’s Pizzeria and Trattoria is another romantic spot for a classic Italian meal. Famed for their gnocchi and osso bucco, the chefs at Verducci’s have been delighting visitors to St. Pete Beach since 1976!

You never have to worry about depriving your tastebuds of Italian deliciousness when you’re staying at the Alden. Arrividerci for now, and let us know how you enjoy our Italian foodie favorites!