A pair of beachside retreats takes comfort and culture to a new level on Clearwater Beach
With its powder fine white sands and turquoise waters, Clearwater Beach has long been known as one of Florida’s finest stretches of coastline. But not one of the most sophisticated. Resorts along this two-mile barrier island have long trended towards comfortable and family-friendly. But the scene is evolving, thanks in part to a pair of sister properties that blend art and architectural elegance into the town’s oceanfront vibe.
Modern beach casual meets Old Florida hospitality in this four- diamond resort. The narrative begins in the lobby, which is dubbed “The Living Room.” Here, clusters of comfortable seating are flanked by sculptures of sea turtles and egrets, and walls are hung with artwork and vintage images depicting the history of Clearwater Beach. Throughout the hotel, paintings, mosaics, and artwork by Floridian artists continue the theme, and include some signature works by noted narrative mural artist Christopher Still. The design scheme in both public areas and rooms employs a combination of warm and neutral tones complemented with wood accents and beach-inspired patterns.
Rooms have either bayside views of downtown across Mandalay Bay, or expansive vistas of the Gulf of Mexico beyond the white glistening sands of Clearwater Beach. Once settled in, guests can relax around a climate controlled, zero-entry pool, which is styled as a tropical lagoon. The Tate Island Grill is nearby. In addition to chaises and towel service, there are cabanas available for rent, set up with fans, couches, refrigerators and more. Beachside are chaises set under yellow and white umbrellas, and seaside cabanas set front and center on the 700 feet of white sand beach.
Opal Sands Resort
Sitting at the southwestern end of Clearwater Beach, the Opal Sands takes full advantage of available water views. Every guest room and suite in this contemporary chic property delivers unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. To complement the scenery, the Duncan Miller Ullmann design team tapped a coastal- inspired palette based on natural colors and touches of blue and turquoise. An art tour of the property is a must, as local artist Christopher Stills was commissioned to create and curate works that celebrate the natural beauty of Clearwater Beach. Also represented is sculptor Mark Aeling, who created a series of works in metal and glass that mimic the serene landscapes of the coast.
Well-appointed rooms include large balconies to take in the water views, and interiors where subdued warm tones complement unique and original works of art. Resort amenities include a zero entry pool and hot tub, an on-site spa and a fitness center with ocean views. Casual beachfront dining can be at the Sandbar cafe, while the signature Sea-Guini restaurant features regional Italian- themed creations sourced from local farmers and fishermen. A highlight of any stay is the sunset hour, which can be enjoyed from private balconies, or at the waterfront tiki bar.