Dunedin’s newest attraction, the renovated boutique Fenway Hotel, is slated to open its doors to the public this fall.
By Joan O’Neill
Walking distance from the Toronto Blue Jays spring training stadium in Dunedin, Florida, stands the construction shrouded shell of the old Fenway Hotel, originally constructed in 1927. The property has had a tumultuous history from its early days as hip jazz hotel, once housing Pinellas County’s first radio station, and a number of academic institutions before falling into a state of dilapidation. After many withdrawn buyers and plans throughout the 2000’s, finally the reconstruction of the Fenway Hotel is well underway.
Purchased by the Taoist Tai Chai Society in 2014 with the intent of using it as a new headquarter, after community feedback it was decided to partner with Mainsail to bring the building back to it’s roots. The new Fenway Hotel will reopen as a boutique hotel under Marriott International’s Autograph Collection of uniquely independent lodgings. The 1920’s influenced hotel will have 83 rooms and suites, a resort style pool, rooftop bar, ballroom, musical stage, and chophouse restaurant.
Following in the successful steps of Mainsail’s Epicurean Hotel in Tampa, Fenway will focus on their presence as a community destination beyond drawing out-of-area tourism. To do this, the Fenway is putting a large emphasis on their dining location, HEW Parlor and Chophouse. Jointly designed with Chef Chad Johnson of the Epicurean and Haven restaurants, HEW intends to capture a modern ambiance in combination with the typical classic chophouse. HEW will showcase an open kitchen with a kitchen bar that will allow guests to interact with chefs and kitchen staff unlike any other dining experience that Dunedin has to offer.
Every room and facility at the Fenway will embrace the hotel’s original jazz influence. Beyond good food and spirits, musical traits will heavily influence the hotel’s atmosphere. At the Fenway hosted media day hardhat tour, it was mentioned that the hotel is considering implementing retro-styled turntables like the one in the current model into every guest room. Accompanying this, the lobby would offer a vinyl library for guests, but the hotel is also considering some sort of user-friendly modern music streaming for its rooms as well. Downstairs there will be a very large stage to offer live music six to seven days a week, most likely consisting of jazz bands and more contemporary artists.
Hi-Fi, Fenway’s hotel rooftop bar, will be the first of its kind in it’s waterfront corner of Dunedin. This will be the ideal date spot with its breathtaking view of St. Joseph’s Sound and live music sailing high above the ground. The downstairs bar will have a larger focus on mixology and more, also catering to the resort styled pool with outside on-deck dining in the pool garden. The front of the property will feature a 10,800 square foot lawn perfect for games of croquet and badminton throughout the seasons.
In the words of Joe Collier, the president of Mainsail Lodging and development, the new Fenway Hotel is striving to be a “fun place to be for the neighborhood.” While it still has a few months to go (it’s aiming for an October grand opening), Fenway will be more than a hotel for out-of-towners, but a hot spot for locals and cross-county wanderers. Marriott regulars will be able to use their reward points at this location, although the name Marriott will scantly be found on the premises.
Stay for the day and check out Dunedin’s original breweries or take a bike ride on the beautiful Pinellas Trail. The Fenway Hotel will make a tremendous return to Dunedin’s flourishing destination scene.