A May 2004 trip
to Tampa by Laura Rabbit
Quote: With a desire to escape Chicago for a warmer climate, cheap airline tickets sent me to Tampa, Florida, for a surprisingly enjoyable long weekend.
I've stayed at many resort hotels in various parts of the world, and I would not call this Hyatt a luxury resort. However, it is a well-maintained and wonderfully decorated high-end hotel.
The room decor is something like Tommy Bahama-meets-Jimmy Buffet, with unique printed bedspreads and drapes with palm-tree designs. I am always thrilled to stay in a room that is not decked out in the traditional motel polyester, muted '70s decor. Of course, I stayed in the basic guestroom, but the hotel offers assorted suites and casitas (villas separated from the main hotel building) that are well-reviewed.
The pool is smallish but was not overrun by families or children. Being located near the airport likely keeps this hotel from drawing a theme-park crowd. A water cooler, towels, and plenty of lounge chairs are available poolside. A hot tub invites those who secretly wish to be boiled alive.
The staff was extremely pleasant, polite, and helpful. A free airport shuttle is also an added bonus.
The only potential downside to staying at the Grand Hyatt is that the location is not central to anything other than the airport. A 3/4-mile walk down a scary stretch of highway, however, will reward you with a couple bars and restaurants. Otherwise, you definitely need a car to take you around the area.
I did not dine in any of the hotel restaurants, as they are rather expensive. However, afer speaking with some guests out at the pool, I did try to make reservations for the hotel's Sunday brunch. Guests raved that it was the best buffet they had ever had (from omelettes to seafood). Reservations were booked, and thus, I went elsewhere.
I enjoyed the quiet of the Hyatt and definitely would stay there again.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 14, 2005
Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
2900 BAYPORT DRIVE
Tampa, Florida 33607
This unique Spanish-style building has been around since 1905. Although it has expanded, the large, dark-wood bar has been the same for nearly 100 years. Each room in this restaurant is different and has its own beautiful characteristics. The main dining room has a small stage where flamenco dancers take over two times per night, every day of the week (except Sundays). There is an additional charge to see a show (seatings are at approximately 6pm and 9pm), but the fee is nominal and well worth it.
The other rooms can be reached off the main dining area through tall, narrow wooden doorways. These areas can accommodate large groups and many more tables of diners, which is essential for this always-packed restaurant.
The menu is primarily Spanish/Cuban, with most entrees ranging in price from $20 to $35. Sangria is also a popular item that the pleasant waitstaff prepare tableside.
The pace is slow-moving as your orders are taken, and food is brought only moments before the dancing begins. Then, 30 minutes of performance await you as you dine, and the group of gorgeous dancers clap and stomp their way to a phenomenal finale.
This location in Ybor City is at the end of a long strip of bars, clubs, and restaurants. If the dinner and show have left you revved up and ready to hit the town, opportunities await you just outside the doors.
Reservations are a must if you are hoping to see the show. You can read more info at: http://columbiarestaurant.com/ybor.asp.
This is a unique experience that I guarantee you will enjoy and tell others about.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 11, 2005
2117 E 7th Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33605
Restaurant | "Todai"
I look forward to hitting up other Todai locations in the future.
Sundays and holidays, 5-9pm
2223 N West Shore Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33607
The Green Iguana Bar has several locations in Tampa, two of which we visited on our trip. They serve your normal mixed drinks and beer with little attitude in a casual environment. Slightly nicer, the Bahama Breeze is another restaurant/bar that has a lovely outdoor seating area with live music many nights. Located in close proximity to each other (Green Iguana Bar & Grill (813) 288-90767627, W Courtney Campbell Cswy, Tampa) you can have a relaxed evening meal and late-night drinks without walking far. The hotels in this area (near the airport) looked inviting, and I would not be afraid to stay at one in the future.
Tampa also offers typical surburban shopping malls to fulfill all your purchasing desires. I particularly enjoyed hunting discounts at Burdine's in Westshore Plaza (http://westshoreplaza.com/), a department store that does not exist in Chicago.
It is easy to "take it easy" in Tampa.