If you’re looking for a family-friendly Florida resort with room to spread out and a kitchen in each room, Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach is the obvious choice and right in the center of the action.
The face of Clearwater Beach has changed a lot in the past decade, with small motels and aging resorts replaced by fancier and bigger hotels. The Hyatt Regency really kicked this off when it opened in 2009, though that turned out to not be the best timing: it was the height of the financial crisis in the USA and its plan for selling condos didn’t pan out so well. The investors did alright in the end though: they eventually sold it for $120 million a couple years ago to another hotel ownership firm.
The Hyatt here paved the way for others, however, showing this beach was heating up enough to support Opal Sands, Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach, and a new Residence Inn by Marriott a block from the water. The Hyatt Regency is in most respects the best choice for families though, thanks to that original condotel design that makes the rooms here so spacious.
This property also has the kind of kids’ club you find all over the Caribbean, with a play area, lots of scheduled activities, and even a separate menu with items geared more toward the young ones’ tastes.
The Shor American Seafood Grill is a delight for adults though, with the view you see at the top from the outdoor terrace and an elegant air-conditioned space inside. Serving all three meals, it really excels at dinner, when the chef can pull out the presentation chops for seafood dishes like lobster mac and cheese or line-caught swordfish with herb barley and roasted pearl onions like you see here. There are also steaks, pasta, and vegetarian options. We didn’t have room left for dessert, but they do a mini trio of desserts that allow you to taste different things without eating a whole calorie bomb.
Thankfully this main restaurant and its Skimmers Bar both serve a variety of craft beers from some of the 65 (and growing) breweries in the Tampa Bay region. There were zero at the pool bar on tap during my stay though, which looked like a Bud conglomerate conspiracy. They did have some available in cans, however, and you can order food by the pool by raising a lounge chair flag or ordering at one of the tables. You can get a wide variety of cocktails at reasonable prices, with an admirable degree of experimentation. Plus Shor has a great wine list to choose from, with an impressive 38 varieties by the glass.
On the same floor is a grab-and-go area serving good coffee, snacks, and portable items like salads for times you’re not looking for a sit-down meal. There’s also a grocery mart on the ground floor by the parking garage for stocking up the kitchen. Kudos to all the food and beverage outlets for using paper straws instead of the plastic ones so harmful to ocean life.
The pool area here is attractive and well-designed, though it suffers from the same problem as its Clearwater Beach competitors when occupancy is high: there are far more rooms than there are pool chairs. The swimming pool can get quite crowded in high season and while there’s a small children’s pool by the kids’ club, this main one is for all ages. The Hyatt doesn’t maintain its own beach chairs on the sand since there’s a street between the hotel strip and the beach, so renting a chair there will cost extra from an independent vendor. On the ground floor you can also rent bikes, little electric cars, or other ways to get around. There’s a free trolley covering the area too though and a reasonably fit person can cover this whole beach area on foot. Pier 60 is a five-minute stroll away.
This Hyatt has a well-equipped fitness center and a full spa with a long menu of massages (starting at $150), body wraps, facials, and manicures.
All rooms and suites here labeled as “premium” or above have a full kitchen and start at twice the size of a regular hotel room, at 900 square feet. Coming off a full multi-million-dollar renovation in 2017, they have massive 65-inch wall-mounted TVs, lots of charging stations, furnished balcony or terrace, and sleeper sofa. Most have two closets and double vanities in baths with robes, separate bathtubs, and quality toiletries. There are 31 king bed rooms that are more like a standard hotel room and don’t have a kitchen, but they do have a mini-fridge and microwave and otherwise share the same amenities.
The best digs are categorized at “Gulf Front.” These have a great view of Clearwater Beach and an extra large furnished terrace. The two-bedroom ones have a full living room and kitchen separate from the bedrooms.
Book the Hyatt Regency Clearwater beach direct at the official site or check prices at Expedia or Priceline. Rates dip below $200 in low season, but are more frequently starting at $250 to $300. Unfortunately, the resort fee scourge has struck Florida’s Pinellas County bigtime, so you’ll be socked an addition $31 a day for such special amenities as “pool access” “fitness center access,” and the WiFi now included in the rates in the majority of USA hotels now. So add $31 to any nightly rate you see online, plus $28 a day for parking if you drive. On the plus side, one or two kids can stay for free if sleeping on existing beds—including the fold-out sofa bed.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted one night at the property for purposes of review.