What a difference five decades can make. Fifty years after Robert and Gennifer Renfrow purchased a small motel on St. Pete Beach, the Alden Suites Beachfront Resort has evolved into a fully renovated, large-scale family resort featuring two pools, a hot tub, two tennis courts, a Cabana Beach Bar, two new all-suite towers and 6 newly modernized, upscale cottages. Under the ownership and impeccable stewardship of the Renfrow family, the independent, historic resort has delivered memorable travel experiences for 50 years, and the party is still underway!
The highlight of the celebration was the Alden Family Reunion, where longtime guests gathered from all over the world to celebrate the big anniversary.
On the Friday night before our #ALDENWOW50 Celebration at the Alden, we gathered with family and longtime guests at the Cabana Bar to kick off the weekend with a Suncoast Watersports Cruise and fun Karaoke Night. Chris and Dave held court at the Cabana Bar in their unique 50th Anniversary shirts, serving special commemorative cocktails.
The big celebration took place on November 9, a glorious fall evening in St. Pete Beach. Our beachfront lawn and volleyball court were transformed into a hippie wonderland, with colorful lights, flowers, and tie-dye everywhere. As guests arrived, Chris and Dave from the Cabana Bar welcomed them with cocktails, and guests took photos with Sky the VW Bus.
Island Flavors and Tings created the Ultimate Grazing Table, amazing guests with an incredible bounty of fresh fruits, homemade dips, charcuterie, cheese, and vegetables. They also had a smoker cooking up pulled pork, chicken, and ribs. Ward’s Seafood served up fresh crab, salmon, and shrimp out of fishing boats filled with ice. For dessert, guests enjoyed tie-dye cake pops and delicious cupcakes.
Gary Renfrow, President of Alden Suites Beachfront Resort, opened the celebration with a moving speech: “This celebration for the anniversary of Alden’s ownership by the Renfrow and Featherstone families was the brainchild of my wife Mary Ann, and she made it all happen along with our ad agency the AdGals. We’ve been celebrating all year long, and we are grateful to everyone who joined us in this commemoration.”
Mary Ann Renfrow thanked the guests and elected officials who joined us for the momentous event: “We’re so honored to have so many of our longtime guests who have entrusted us with all of the times of their lives spent here at the Alden. It really does mean something to our family to be such an important part of your life for many generations. I just met a baby who’s just a few weeks older than my new grandson, and his middle name is Alden. I can’t tell you the tears that brings to my eyes, so we’re very, very honored.”
“We could not have been successful in the past 50 years without having elected officials who understood the needs of small businesses like ours and the needs of our environment that contributes to our business to provide you with such a beautiful relaxing treasure of a place. We are joined by elected officials who have been longtime advocates for tourism, which is the number one industry in the state of Florida.”
Elected officials who joined in the festivities included:
- Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch
- Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice
- Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long
- Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard
- Mayor of St. Pete Beach Alan Johnson
- St. Pete Beach Commissioner Terri Finnerty
- St. Pete Beach Commissioner Ward Frizlowski
We were also joined by Jen Carlisle of Visit Florida and Robin Miller of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. Mary Ann Renfrow said, “Every day they have been at the forefront of advocacy, working continuously to provide all of the guests that come to Pinellas County and St. Pete Beach with superior experiences. They help us as businesses recognize what we need to do to make this destination better and keep us relevant and keep guests wanting to return.”
Tony Satterfield, Vice President and General Manager of Alden Suites, noted: “There are literally thousands of beachfront hotels, all over the state of Florida. So, what makes the Alden different? It starts with ownership and my staff. Every day, my department sets very high standards, and then my employees carry it out. And I think at the end of the day, that’s what makes the Alden special. It starts at the top, and it starts with the Renfrows giving our staff everything necessary to succeed.”
Next, the Renfrows had a big surprise as Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice took to the stage. He declared November 9, 2019, Alden Suites Day in Pinellas County. Commissioner Justice declared: “We absolutely love the Renfrow family, and we appreciate how they represent Pinellas County to our visitors. We appreciate how involved they are in the community. We appreciate that they’re good corporate citizens; they give back every single day. And we’re so proud to declare today. November 9, Alden Suites Day.”
After the speeches ended on this high note, it was time to PARTY! Messenger took to the stage and guests got their groove on, dancing to hits from the hippie era. It was a party for the ages that no one will ever forget. We’ve posted a few hundred pictures from the party on our Facebook page, feel free to check them out and see if we captured anyone you know!
We are so grateful to the many St. Pete Beach businesses who partnered with us to make our 50th Anniversary celebration a resounding success.
- DJ Les Weiss – karaoke
- Bob Schlesinger of Tropical Focus – photography
- Suncoast Water Sports – Sunset Cruise Friday night
- Sand Dune Beach Services – Beach Cabanas
- Tradewinds Island Resort – additional parking for guests
- Cheers Events – decor
- Carter’s Florist and Events – centerpieces and decor
- Island Flavors & Tings – Caterer
- Ward’s Seafood – Caterer
- Mike Boni – Lighting
- Pretty Sweet – Dessert (Stephanie Frank’s company)
- Stephanie Frank, “Sky”
- Chris Donovan – VW Bug
- Messenger – Band
- Safeway Parking – Valet
- Dunkin Donuts, St. Pete Beach – Saturday morning sweets
- ArtPool Gallery- outfitting guests