Anyone who last visited Clearwater Beach in Florida two decades ago will probably feel like they’re in a different beach town these days. The new Wyndham Grand Clearwater is the latest high-rise rebuild.
This Tampa Bay area vacation spot has been in teardown mode the last few years, out with the old and in with the new. This fresh Wyndham property is, like the Opal Sands that opened before it, a slick and contemporary resort that looks nothing like the sleepy motel-happy Florida of old. There are walls of glass letting in the sunshine, contemporary sofas in bright colors, and stylish rooms that don’t have a hint of kitsch. When you belly up to the bar here, you’ll find local craft beer on tap and a good wine list.
The Wyndham Grand Clearwater is not directly on the beach like the older Sandpearl, which is not really a big deal since it’s a stone’s throw away across a two-lane street. A block away is Clearwater’s famous pier, where there are lots of snack stands and often some kind of entertainment in the adjoining park. There’s also a big playground for the kids. What is a bummer, however, is that there are no beach chair arrangements with vendors, so you have to pay up again if you want a chair in the sand.
Normally guests would say, “No big deal, I’ll just lounge by the pool,” but that’s not a given either. The pool is a decent size and there are 200 lounge chairs around it, but there’s an inherent math problem at work. The resort itself has 343 rooms, then there are another 105 suites in the second timeshare tower. So even if the resort is half full and we conservatively say two people per room, the pool deck is way over capacity.
It’s an enticing space though once you claim your spot, with a view of the beach and a sunset show many evenings. There’s a well-stocked bar beside the gates and some tables where you can sit down for lunch.
There’s only one restaurant open for all three meals here and Ocean Hai is primarily Asian fusion at night. The selections are well-done, from seafood to ramen to sushi, coming out of a sleek open kitchen. Main dishes are more international for breakfast—not included in the rates—and lunch. The only other dining option besides poolside lunch is a muffin selection at the coffee stand in the morning, but thankfully there are 20-odd restaurants within walking distance of this resort in Clearwater Beach.
Rooms at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach
Guest rooms here offer the best reason to pick this hotel. They’re attractive and comfortable and all but four on each floor have some kind of Gulf and beach view like this:
All have furnished balconies for enjoying that view. Rooms with two queen beds offer two white wicker armchairs with a round table, while king bed rooms also have a divan for lounging. Furnishings are a mix of contemporary and mid-century modern apart from the wicker and there are pops of color breaking up the whites and creams, with attractive wood laminate floors. Families will love one of the 24 rooms with bunk beds and these connect to a king room for spreading out.
Many of the queen bed rooms have combo bathtubs, while the king rooms are shower only. Baths are reasonably spacious and well-stocked with toiletries. Ladies like the built-in foot bar in the shower for shaving their legs and the small shelf to set your key or phone by the door is a nice touch. Robes and slippers are standard and rooms also have a fridge, safe, iron, coffee maker, and large TV. The WiFi works well, there are plenty of charging outlets, and the gooseneck reading lights mounted on the headboard make it easy to focus the light at night.
There’s a well-equipped gym on site here and it even has an ocean view for your cardio workout. A full spa on site offers a range of massages and beauty treatments.
Staffers were still figuring things out when I visited soon after opening, but it was surely a challenge to open during Florida’s high season in a region experiencing close to full employment. Workers are friendly and accommodating though and should keep improving with more training time.
Without promotions, rates start at around $250 double in low season, more like $350 in high, plus local taxes and a $25 resort fee per night on top of that. Overnight valet parking is another $25 per night. Book direct with Wyndham or check for specials at Expedia or Hotels.com.
Review and photos by award-winning travel writer Tim Leffel, who was hosted by the resort while reviewing it for another publication.