Vinoy verdict: exceptionally elegant
Times Photo --
The refurbished Stouffer Vinoy Resort.
By BETTY JEAN MILLER,
©St. Petersburg Times, published August 4, 1992
Editor's note: Betty Jean Miller, who was
born and raised in St. Petersburg, attended many a party at the
Vinoy Hotel from the late 1940s until its closing. She toured
the new Stouffer Vinoy Resort for the first time when it opened.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Wow.
Maybe that says it best.
The new Stouffer Vinoy is even better than the elegant old Vinoy, whose loss has been
mourned since it closed in 1975. It is dazzling, light, lively
and done with an authenticity you rarely see in this faux show
The Stouffer Vinoy Resort opened its doors to the public for
tours on Monday. Laurie Clawson, here from a Georgia Stouffer
resort for the opening, was staffing the reservations desk for
the continual tours. "I couldn't put the phone down this
morning," she said, taking a brief break. "It would
just ring and ring and ring. We're having tours every half-hour
this week from 10 (a.m.) to 4 (p.m.) and every hour next week.
We're booked through Friday." At the day's end, 413 had
called, so a decision was made to book tours on weekends as well.
Staffers try to keep the tours down to 15 people per group, "But
there are so many walk-ins," said John Andruzzi, whose job
with Florida Power and Light in Bradenton ended just in time
for the Stouffer Vinoy job fair at the Bayfront Center. He was
hired to conduct tours.
Kristen Kolnicki of Palm Harbor, who also had been hired through
the job fair, was doing a big business in the pro shop. She was
selling white robes and chaise-size bath towels with the handsome
Vinoy emblem. Each sells for $50.
In the Marchand Dining Room, the hotel's main dining room,
St. Petersburg residents were everywhere, checking it out to
see that their hotel had been done right.
Betsy Pheil, whose family owned the Pheil Hotel in downtown
St. Petersburg and who has been to many a dance and party at
the Vinoy, was dazzled. She was even more impressed when her
complimentary birthday dessert arrived with "Happy Birthday"
drizzled on it in chocolate.
Eric Peterson, antiques collector and appraiser, had highest
praise for the restoration work.
Genie Redd, a local caterer, said the food was "fabulous."
"Exceptional," he said, "and it takes a lot to
impress me. And what elegant presentation."
The hotel has been renovated beyond its once proud heritage.
The magnificently restored ceiling beams are intact. The old
"Augusta Block" bricks pave the front walk and several
of the many interior patios and gardens on the grounds. But the
elegant ballroom has a carpeted floor that will necessitate portable
The old mezzanine, where New Year's Eve Dragon Club cocktail
parties used to take place, is just as it was, circling and overlooking
the main lobby, only beautifully carpeted and with newly painted
railings. It is now called the promenade. The upstairs porch,
which opens off the promenade, is now roofed and furnished with
The foyer, where debutantes used to gather for their pre-ball
reception, is more open, lighter. Somehow, with the lighter colors,
everything looks larger.
And from every angle, the magnificent waterfront is there,
complete with four yachts moored
at the new docking facilities.
For more updated photos of The Vinoy click here -->
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