Looking for a place to stay near Tampa airport? New hotels open up in Westshore Area

Between late 2016 and early 2018, several new hotel projects are slated for completion throughout the Westshore Area of Tampa, including facilities built or managed by Marriott, Hampton Inn and Kimpton. 

Many of these new properties are being billed as boutique hotels, meaning they offer unique amenities and provide more personalized service.  

What’s driving this recent surge in new hotel activity in Westshore? 

“Westshore’s proximity to the airport and the abundance of restaurants, shopping and event venues like Raymond James Stadium and Steinbrenner Field make it a very popular location with visitors,’’ says Ann Kulig, executive director of the Westshore Alliance. “Occupancy has consistently been at or above the market average for several years, so there is demand for new properties.”

Janet Zink, spokesperson for Tampa International Airport, agrees, having witnessed growth driven by robust occupancy rates. 

"The increase in hotels in Westshore really speaks to the growth of tourism in our community as well as economic development, such as business travel and corporations coming to the area, and the more than 100 percent growth in international travel at the airport over the last six years,” she says. “Hotels are part of that growth.”

Visit Tampa Bay Spokesperson Cristina Duschek says hotel growth in the Westshore area is up because that’s “where most of the growth is” with new office buildings, residential and other live-work-play elements. “Westshore has the most hotel rooms of any area in Tampa and is, of course, a major business area in Tampa Bay,” she remarks. “ADR [Average Daily Rate] and RevPAR [Revenue Per Available Room, which measures both room rates and occupancy] are up substantially, so it’s no surprise that smart hotel owners are building.” 

Breaking down the numbers for Hillsborough County, Duschek says that the average daily rate is now $114.32, representing a 7.3 percent increase over last year, and RevPAR is $85.80, a 9 percent year-over-year increase. In all, occupancy is now at 75.1 percent, or a 1.6 percent improvement over last year. 

“We have had a transformative year in Tampa Bay, the third record year in a row, in part thanks to the Westshore area, and as a result to the successful marketing campaigns we have launched this year abroad and domestically,” says Duschek, speaking of the initiatives launched by Visit Tampa Bay. Our “Florida’s Most” out-of-state marketing campaign brought in 164,000 extra room nights and $70 million in new spending. 

It’s that type of growth in hotel spending that has spurred developers to focus their building efforts in places like Westshore, where tourist traffic is among the highest in the Tampa Bay area due to the airport, shopping meccas like WestShore Plaza and International Plaza, and entertainment venues such as Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and USF Bulls football team and host of the annual OutBack Bowl, plus the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. 

What types of hotels are coming into the Westshore area to accommodate this growth? What are the hotel amenities like? 

Here are the answers to these questions and more.

Hampton Inn & Suites at Avion Park 
5329 Avion Park Drive
178 Rooms

As December 2016 rounds the bend on the calendar, so, too, do finishing touches wrap up on the Hampton Inn & Suites at Avion Park. The new hotel is located directly south of Tampa International Airport in a commercial development with buildings featuring architectural elements inspired by the aerodynamic appearance of aircraft wings. 

“It will be a standard Hampton Inn & Suites with some boutique-style amenities, such as our local artwork, which has all been commissioned by Tampa Bay artists,” says Lauren Bowles, director of communications for developer McKibbon Hospitality. “Our Hampton Inn & Suites will be unique in that we will be the first in the area to offer Digital Keys with your HHonors app,” she adds. “In addition, we will have 2,500 square feet of meeting space.” 

The property will also feature 50 suites. “More than most Hamptons offer,” Bowles says. 

Kimpton Tampa Hotel
Corner of O’ Brien & Laurel Streets 
150 Rooms 

Just a stone’s throw south of the new Hampton Inn & Suites at Avion Park is another significant hotel on the rise: Kimpton Tampa Hotel. The new hotel is under development by the Guinta Group, a Tampa-based firm that purchased the 8-acre property at the corner of O’Brien Street and Laurel Street and plans a mixed-used plaza there. The Kimpton Tampa Hotel is being billed by Kimpton as a “luxury lifestyle boutique hotel” that also incorporates a restaurant from Michelin-starred Tuscan chef Silvia Baracchi. 

The five-story Kimpton Tampa Hotel, which is slated to open in early 2018, becomes the San Francisco brand’s seventh hotel in Florida and will feature 150 rooms and suites, and offer an Italian-style piazza with a town square setting. The new hotel is aimed at business travelers and will boast 4,000 square feet of meeting space. Also included are a lobby bar, pool and fitness center, spaces for live performances, and one of the few rooftop bars in the Tampa Bay Area. 

“We are thrilled at the opportunity to bring this caliber of heartfelt hospitality and dining to Tampa, especially since it allows us to continue growing along Florida’s Gulf Coast,” says Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants CEO Mike DeFrino. “The combination of stunning architecture, a Michelin-starred chef, a fantastic rooftop, and Kimpton’s authentic, unscripted guest service make this a special project for us.” 

Autograph Collection by Marriott 
2500 Rocky Point Drive
180 Rooms

The vertically dense Rocky Point area of Westshore is about to welcome another high-rise neighbor. Autograph Collection by Marriott is on the rise near the Rusty Pelican restaurant on the southern tip of Rocky Point. The hotel will offer 180 rooms when it opens in early 2018 on the site of the former Crawdaddy’s waterfront restaurant. 

“This Autograph Hotel is a boutique hotel with 180 rooms,” says Stan Lifsey, Principal of developer Lifsey Real Estate Holdings, which is managing the construction of the property along with Pinnacle Hotel Management of West Palm Beach. “With a boutique property, you have the latitude of running it as if it [had] five rooms.” He adds, “it will have a unique blend of the latest in interior design and architecture.” 

Stan Lifsey has deep connections to the project -- far deeper than some may guess.

He is the grandson of late Tampa attorney and land developer Julian Lifsey, who got involved in commercial real estate in 1951 and orchestrated several negotiations with the Rocky Point land the Lifsey family has owned for decades, including deals with Rusty Pelican, Crawdaddy’s, Whiskey Joe’s, and Castaways restaurants. 

Nearby dining options are just one of the many appeals to building the Autograph Collection by Marriott hotel on Rocky Point. So, too, is the convenience of Tampa International Airport less than two miles to the east, quick access to the Gulf Coast beaches less than 30 minutes to the west, and stunning waterfront vistas all around. 

“We wanted to do a unique development in Tampa,” says Lifsey. “Each Autograph property is branded to the local area and property,” he explains. For example, the hotel will feature several amenities specifically capitalizing on the executive-friendly climes of Rocky Point, including a high-end lobby, in-lobby bar, rooftop bar, and a pool overlooking Tampa Bay. “It will also feature modern architecture with lots of glass and ‘forward-thinking’ design,” says Lifsey. 

Bullish on Tampa

This Marriott property is one of three that are either under construction or recently renovated in the Westshore area. These include AC by Marriott at MetWest, a hotel underway in Westshore that is geared toward Millennial travelers, and The Westshore Grand, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, a property by Marriott International brand Tribute Portfolio, which thoroughly remodeled the former InterContinental Tampa at 4860 West Kennedy Boulevard. 

Lifsey says the new Autograph Collection by Marriott on Rocky Point is “another great addition” both to the Marriott line and the Westshore area as a whole. “We’re bullish on Tampa and are excited about the growth here. Jeff Vinik [the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team owner who is redeveloping more than 40 acres in Tampa’s Channel District] is bringing Tampa into a different league -- it’s not a sleepy town anymore,” he adds. “There’s a lot of smart development going on here.” 

As for the new hotel he’s helping bring to Rocky Point, Lifsey sums it up this way: “I’m carrying on my grandfather’s legacy.” Along the way, Lifsey and the other developers who are building new hotels around Tampa International Airport are reshaping Westshore and helping ensure its vitality well into the future. 

Read more articles by Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez.

Joshua McMorrow-Hernandez is a freelance writer who was born and raised in Tampa. He earned his BA in English from the University of South Florida and spent more than three years as a full-time copywriter for a local internet marketing firm before striking out on his own to write for various blogs and periodicals, including TheFunTimesGuide, CoinValue and COINage magazine. He has also authored local history books, including Images of America: Tampa's Carrollwood and Images of Modern America: Tampa Bay Landmarks and Destinations, which are two titles produced by Arcadia Publishing.
Signup for Email Alerts