One of the best beaches in the USA offers a diverse range of places to stay, from swanky to seedy. Sirata Beach Resort staked out its spot on the sand before many of its neighbors and the original owner was smart enough to buy as much oceanfront land as possible.This is a resort where you could get out of breath running from one end of their beachfront border to another.
Over time new sections went up, new bars opened, new restaurants and meeting rooms went from blueprint to reality. Now there are 342 rooms in five main categories, ranging from standard hotel rooms facing the sea to the more common family suites with a kitchen.
This is a beach resort in the traditional sense, where you go back to your room to shower and sleep, but spend the rest of your time doing what you don’t already do at home. So the rooms are generally roomy and adequately furnished, but not designed to wow you with their great design aesthetic. The most common layout is a family suite with two beds in the bedroom, a full bath, then another room that has a kitchen, dining table, and pull-out sofa. Most surround parking lots and stairs in a roadside motel style so you don’t have to go very far to fetch things from your car.
Other rooms are in a higher building facing the water, so those have a view and a small balcony, which the ones at the bottom have a large terrace.
The main focus is the beach, and it’s a glorious beach to be sure. It’s a long walk from the beach bar to the water and that’s a good thing. It means there’s a very wide stretch of sand that hasn’t been gulped up by global warming and erosion yet. You can still spill half your beer before you get to your lounge chair and then get your Fitbit steps in going between there, the ocean, and the bar again.
It’s not really “the bar” though because there are two of them here and they’re both major draws for guests and non-guests alike. They’re the kind of places that draw a crowd at lunch and then reach their peak at sunset. Rum Runners and Harry’s Beach Bar are at opposite ends of the resort. The former is laid-back and cool, with hammocks and picnic tables, while Harry’s can draw a rowdier crowd that’s there for a football game or bachelor party. Both serve a variety of food that’s better than it probably needs to be for the beachfront crowd, doing a good job of serving dressed-up staples like flatbreads, wraps, burgers, and salads.
There’s surprisingly little seafood by the beach—or much of that great Tampa Bay beer on tap—but things improve when you head into the air-conditioned quarters of Compass Grille. Hardwood floors and soft lighting complement more upscale menu items, including local grouper and popular seafood linguini. Drafts from local breweries like 3 Daughters and Big Storm join a sizable wine list. There’s a French Toast of the day or pancake of the day rotating with the breakfast choices. You can see all their menus online.
The swimming pools here aren’t especially large but there are three of them, surrounded by plastic and metal chairs with self-serve towel service machines activated by a room key. Some packages include beach lounge chair service, but otherwise you have to pay a daily rental fee to kick back on the white sand. Hammocks are strewn around the property and you can stroll for miles on St. Pete Beach. There’s also a good gym on site.
There is a convention building here, so occasionally Sirata Resort can get filled up by conferences. More often though the clientele is families and couples from around the USA and Europe, with a few Latin Americans in the mix too. It’s a lively resort most of the year and with such a wide beach area, it’s one of the best resorts on St. Pete Beach. For those who want to really crank it up during vacation and not think about what they’re spending, there’s an all-inclusive plan available.
Sirata Beach Resort rates can dip as low as $110 in the off season, but rates usually start at $150 plus local taxes and climb to several hundred in high season. Check online at the Sirata site or at Expedia and Priceline.