Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, an Ascend Hotel Collection

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105 N Bayshore Dr, Safety Harbor, FL 34695
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Set on 22 acres of waterfront property overlooking Tampa Bay, Safety Harbor Resort is adjacent to City Marina and 12 miles from the white-sand beaches of the Gulf Coast. Golf courses and recreation are nearby. read more
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The Safety Harbor area itself is awesome - it's convenient to Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, and Clearwater. If you're there on the 3rd Friday of the month they throw a little street fair on the main drag that really gives it a much more "dressed down" feeling that the town typically has otherwise (it's a bit "pinkies up" here) The Spa is nice - the grounds are beautiful, and the staff is very nice. The rooms are certainly adequate, but not as upscale as the "spa" or "resort" moniquers would intimate. But then - you're in Florida, what are you sitting in a hotel room? The "feel" of the hotel is succumbing to the tough economy - there is clearly reduced staff from the last visit, and while we were there daily newspaper service ceased. The "room rate + daily resort fee" is somewhat ridiculous - NO hotel should charge a fee that sounds optional when it totally isn't. There was a time when you could pay extra to use the facilities IF YOU WANTED TO - but now you pay regardless of your desire. IMO - charge me a room rate and be done with it. What's next - a towel or sheet fee? Last time we were here at least one (if not all?) of the pools were springwater fed - this meant no chlorine! Now, all 3 pools have chlorinated water - and TONS of it at that (I only swam once in the outdoor pool and it was cloying - could not swim again) The (cheap) rooms are definitely showing their age. Tube TVs, ancient and ailing fixtures in the sinks and tub, worn carpets, etc. Some areas of the resort are looking quite trodden, and my guess is that they're on the verge of some major renovations - or they may face a declining client profile. Then there's the guests. Because this facility is now offering "bargains", it's attracting bargain clientele. There's no way to state that without sounding a little elitist, but that's the fact - there are more "NASCAR types" than there are "Wallstreet types" than the last time we visited - and it clearly shows in the overall experience. If you're looking for a quiet (and smoke free) "resort getaway" this may not be your best bet. I watched a neighbor smoking on his lanai throw a butt right onto his neighbors lanai. Nice. One of the biggest disappointments was the non-stop light rock soundtrack at the pool, and the fact that the pool was both smoking and drinking (with no apparent concern over the use of glass). Again, if you love Cancun because it's a party town, you'll love it here. If you don't care to hear non-stop music, with people in various stages of intoxication screaming conversation over said music, you will likely not be using the pool area. Anywhere that mixes kids, smoking, and drinking is "doing it wrong" in my book. But that's as bad as it gets - the spa and facilities remain awesome, and the town is simply charming. Great places to dine and take in local color can be found at The Athena (early risers will appreciate the 6 AM opening time) and The Paradise, and while The Whistle Stop grill is only outdoor seating and looks quite casual, the food simply must be tried. The carnitas tacos are SUPERB, and the black beans and rice were quite possibly some of the best I've ever had. The grouper sammich is also notable. If you need energy some afternoon stop in and grab a triple berry smoothie. There plenty of parking all over the place, but the resort does get full on weekends as they host numerous activities. On weekends the hotel itself has performers in the front courtyard, and those we saw were quite accomplished. Great way to wind down a busy Friday or Saturday. The town now boasts chain venues in a Starbucks and a Cold Stone Creamery - so if overpaying for mediocre coffee and ice cream are your thing you're totally covered. There is also a Crispers, which is run by Publix (home of the greatest deli sammich in the known universe - the Boar's Head Ultimate on multi-grain!) - it's dress-down dining but it's not bad at all.
Aug 24th, 2006