The Vinoy Park hotel was first built in 1925 by Aymer Vinoy Laughner, a Pennsylvania billionaire. It took ten months to complete construction for this 375-room seasonal hotel, which provided a warm escape for wealthy northern visitors from December to March; it opened just in time for New Year’s Eve, 1925. It was built during the “Boom era” of hotels in St. Petersburg which had many boarding houses but very few hotels especially at the size of the Vinoy. The hotel “Boom era” was a reaction to the tent city phenomenon of the early 1920’s that government workers desperately tried to counteract. These “tin-can” tourists set up tents along major highways when they vacationed to Florida. When it first opened, it’s nightly rate of $20 made it the most expensive in the state. The hotel was constructed in Mediterranean Revival architectural style, with seven stories and four canted wings. It’s most notable and eye catching feature is it’s pink exterior, making it an iconic addition to St. Petersburg history. It was designated a historic place in May 1986.
After 1929 while most of the country was suffering in the Great Depression, wealthy northerners continued to vacation at the Vinoy and enjoyed the warm weather and golf courses. It remained a prized getaway location for celebrities, U.S. presidents, such as Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, and authors. The hotel was finally struck with reality when World War II broke out. In 1942, the hotel was turned into a training school for the U.S. Army Air Force. The hotel reopened in 1944 after being purchased by wealthy Chicagoan Charles H. Alberding. The 1950’s brought the great highway expansion and northern visitors continued to enjoy the warm winter months in St. Petersburg. Even celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe visited the hotel at this time.
and after the war it was sold for $700,000 and continued to prosper until the late 1960’s when regular maintenance was neglected and the hotel began to fall into disrepair. It closed for good in 1974 and it’s contents of fine china and silver were sold at auction.
In May of 1990, the restoration of the Vinoy began after sitting vacant for 18 years. This two year project at the cost of $93 million, restored, expanded, and enhanced the hotel to its former glory. A tennis complex, 18-hole golf course, heated swimming pools, and a fitness center had all been added to the hotel as a modern amenity facelift. More celebrities continue to visit the hotel such as B.B. King, Raquel Welch and Harrison Ford.