After what is now the Plaza Resort and Spa came to the end of their season in 1925, they did a strange thing for a Florida beach hotel: they stayed open. Back when it the original version opened in the 1800s, guests would take the train down from further north and stay a few months. In the hot summertime the places would close down and this was the first resort hotel on the East Coast of Florida to keep bringing guests in all year.
There are now probably 50 hotels up and down the shore here welcoming people who come by car, plane or Harley motorcycle and the long skirts and pants have given way to skimpy bikinis. The twin-wing jets that used to land out front on Daytona Beach (when it was Florida’s first “airport”) are gone, but the cars can still drive down the packed sand—but only at 10 mph—for miles. Not in front of the The Plaza though: to protect the kids playing at this family resort the beach traffic stops on each side.
This Daytona Beach resort is one of the best-equipped in the area, having a poolside bar with a view of the ocean next to a half-Olympic-length swimming pool. Another inside bar with an outdoor deck is transitioning to a speakeasy style lounge, a tribute to the fact this property was here to celebrate the end of prohibition in 1933. The restaurant is branded 1888—the year the original Clarendon Hotel on this spot opened (though much of the wooden structure was lost in a fire later).
There are extensive meeting and event spaces on site, with huge columns in the function areas and some of the spaces having an ocean view. The spa in the resort’s name refers to a full-fledged one of 15,000 square feet, with multiple single and double treatment rooms and a beauty salon. Dozens of treatments cover the usual massages, facials, and pedicures, but also spray-on tans and detox wraps. There’s also a boutique and convenience store on site with a wide range of necessities, snacks and drinks. Lots of restaurants, shops, and clubs are within walking distance, including legendary The Oyster Pub a block away.
The best of the 323 rooms here are those directly facing the ocean, but all are well-equipped and oversized. They contain equipped kitchenettes with a microwave, fridge, stove top, and coffee maker. All have 42-inch cable TVs, music alarms with docking, and comfortable beds with good linens and pillows. Electronic safes, balconies, and good toiletries are standard as well. Many of the rooms have sofas with fold-out beds for a child or two. Kudos to the resort for being honest with their room category names: you know what you’re getting if you book the “Limited View King,” for example.
The suites are all junior suites in one big room, but those with “hospitality” in the name have a large kitchen with full-sized fridge and more furniture including a dining set. They and the ones with “Jacuzzi” in the name have a whirlpool in the bath.
There are lots of nice surprises here, from the ice water enhanced by sliced citrus in the lobby to the morning newspaper ready when you open the room door. The engaged staff is friendly and some of the personnel have been in place for more than a decade.
Rates generally run $109 to $299 during high season and drop quite a bit in the off-season (autumn and late spring). There’s a resort fee of more than $20, but it’s a fair value since it includes two drinks in the bar, parking, and two large bottles of premium water in addition to Wi-Fi.
Review and photos by Tim Leffel, who was a guest at the property while working on a Daytona Beach travel story for another publication.