This past weekend, we were staying near Tampa at the Saddlebrook Resort for our son’s golf tournament. While his dad and him were getting in a practice round, mom and the oldest decided to take a day trip to Clearwater Beach. We hadn’t come prepared for the beach with towels, beach bags, or chairs, but we had heard about a deal where hotels will allow you to purchase a day pass that gives you access to their pool, beach, and other amenities (depending on the hotel), for a small fee. There is a website, https://www.resortpass.com/, where you can pick your location or hotel and it will provide a list of nearby resorts and hotels that offer day passes. These passes can be a great way to spend a day on a staycation or day trip. With many of the hotels you can even get a day rental of a room which if you have young kids is a great place to take them to nap mid-day. They can also make for a great idea for a gift for someone since you can purchase gift cards on the site! Who doesn’t want a day away – even if close to home? Right now most of the hotels are in Florida, Texas, New York, California, Arizona, and Hawaii but they have partners in 30 states and 150 cities, and it looks like they are still looking for hotel partners.
Ok, back to our day trip…I had searched on resortpass.com and unfortunately, the only hotel with beach access in Clearwater Beach that was on their website was the Hyatt Regency at Clearwater Beach and they showed no availability for day passes online. We decided to grab an Uber to Clearwater anyway and see what we could manage when we got there. All of the beaches in Clearwater, save a few, are public, so we knew we could find somewhere to hang and have fun regardless. Worst case scenario, we have to buy a big beach towel and make the best of it. We have Explorist status at Hyatt, so we had the Uber driver drop us at the Hyatt Regency to see if I could get a day pass straight from the front desk. We hopped in the guest check in line for reward members and sure enough, we were able to get two day passes for $40/each.
The front desk guy was so nice and provided us with complimentary bottles of water, and a glass of champagne for mom. The lobby was beautiful and the hotel areas and amenities were just as nice. We love Hyatt hotels generally, but this one is definitely high on the list for décor, cleanliness and amenities. Our day pass gave us access to the rooftop pool, bar/restaurant, the beach and beach chairs (it was an extra 20 dollars for a chair with an umbrella), towels, changing rooms/bathrooms, and the spa. It was absolutely perfect for what we needed.
Our first goal was to explore the beach area. The sand here was unlike anything we had ever experienced. The sand was super soft (almost like that moon sand they have for kids to play with) but yet along the water it was hard and not difficult to walk on. There were shells aplenty everywhere we looked. Nothing huge, but beautiful shells all the same. We grabbed a bunch to take home for our collection. We got two chairs with an umbrella and hung around watching the waves crash, people walk by, and some boats sailing offshore. We took a short walk down the beach to Pier 60, a large, public fishing pier that also has a bait shop, food and drinks, a large playground and local entertainers playing music on the pier. There are public restrooms located there but we didn’t need to use them as we had facilities at the hotel.
One fun thing we found at Pier 60 was an inflatable playground where they had a huge slide and obstacle course inflatables for the kids as well as bungee trampolines. Our teenager is a still a little kid at heart, and of course, wanted to try out the bungee trampoline. It was so fun to watch him flipping around on those bungee cords. After 5 minutes of bouncing, he was out of breath and tired so we walked back to the chairs picking up more shells along the way. We spent some time digging in the sand and dipped our toes in the freezing Gulf of Mexico before heading up to the rooftop pool bar for lunch.
The Tropico Rooftop Cantina which is located on the 8th floor of the hotel has beautiful views of the beaches and the Gulf. They had amazing Cantina bowls which were essentially burritos without the wrap. They were super tasty along with our virgin and non-virgin daiquiris! With the wind blowing a cold front in (and the crazy fog), we were freezing and decided to skip the pool (even though it was heated).
We met a fellow Penn Stater while at the bar who was getting ready to play guitar poolside for the afternoon. He gave my son some tips on going there and wished him luck on getting in! We found everyone down here to be so nice and incredibly friendly. (Our Uber drivers here were some of the nicest we’ve had and very talkative. As a side travel note, we always make it a point to engage with our taxi or Uber/Lyft drivers. They frequently have amazing life stories to tell or can really give you some great pointers and insight into the area. The kids always say how much they enjoy these conversations.) With the weather still chilly, we Ubered back to Saddlebrook to enjoy a lazy afternoon at the resort before the golf tournament started the next day.
I would highly recommend checking out the resortpass.com website for some fun ideas and if you are ever in Clearwater, the Hyatt Regency at Clearwater Beach is 5 stars. The front desk person told us that even during spring break when the college crowd comes in, the Hyatt tends to remain mostly families and they have free activities for families around the resort each day.