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History

From high society’s playground to starring on the silver screen to gulf coast icon, The Don CeSar boasts a long and storied history. Distinguished celebrities such as Clarence Darrow and F. Scott Fitzgerald once frolicked here. We’ve served in the Great War—and served guests just like you for decades. With sugar-fine beaches, blazing sunsets, a world-class spa, and two heated pools, it seems you really can have it all. More than a history lesson, the Don is a study in epic style.

1928

Thomas Rowe opens The Don CeSar on the Gulf in St. Pete Beach, Florida. The “Pink Palace” becomes the pampered playground for high society — including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Clarence Darrow.

1940

Thomas Rowe dies and his estranged wife, Mary, inherits the hotel.

1942

The U.S. Army purchased the hotel to be used as a sub-base hospital, then a convalescent center for airmen returning from their WWII tour.

1945

The hotel converts to the VA Regional Office and recreation center.

1971

A small group of citizens form a “Save the Don” committee and explore every possibility in establishing a reputable group of investors to refurbish The Don CeSar.

1972

William Bowman becomes the new owner and began the $3.5 million-restoration project.

1973

The Don CeSar reopens as a full-service resort.

1974

The Don CeSar is added to the National Register of Historic Places.

1982

Robert Di Niro, James Woods and Tuesday Weld star in 'Once Upon a Time in America' featuring scenes on the beach and the majestic Pink Palace in the background.

1985

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers film an MTV video special at The Don CeSar.

1989

The Don CeSar is a founding member of National Trust of Historic Hotels of America.

1993

TV drama 'Thunder In Paradise' featuring Hulk Hogan is filmed at the property.

1999

'Forever Mine' featuring Ray Liotta, Gretchen Mol and Ralph Fiennes is filmed at the property.

2008

The Don CeSar celebrates its 80th Anniversary on January 16th. In March of that same year, Spa Oceana opens to rave reviews.

2009

Function and event space renovations are completed.

2010

The Maritana Grille is renovated.

2011

The Lobby, Lobby Bar and Sea Porch Restaurant undergo renovations.

2012

Guestroom renovations are completed as part of the next phase of the “New” legendary Pink Palace.

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