Pristine white beaches are the hallmark of St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida. The new Opal Sands Resort, opened in February, is looking to apply the area’s draw to meetings business. Thanks to strong airlift into nearby Tampa International Airport, a 20-mile drive from Clearwater Beach, the city gives meeting groups an easily accessible beach locale. Nancy Cimney, director of sales and marketing for the 230-room Opal Sands and sister property Sandpearl Resort, shares about the area’s renaissance and what this new property offers meeting planners.
Can you speak to the need for a new resort in Clearwater Beach?
The Clearwater Beach area over the last decade has undergone a renaissance. The area is totally different from what it was 15 years ago. I think people are just discovering what Clearwater Beach has to offer from a meetings perspective. [Meeting planners] may have never thought about Clearwater before, but it has now received several recognitions as best beach town [by USA Today] and best beach [by TripAdvisor], so it’s truly coming into its own.
Besides the beach, what else has contributed to the renaissance?
There’s been development of new hotels. Eight years ago, the 250-room Sandpearl Resort opened; then Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa two years later; then Opal Sands [this spring]. The city also developed Beach Walk, which changed the face of the beach and gives guests coming to Clearwater a nice promenade to walk along the beach. A lot of new restaurants and shops have opened because we have a lot more people coming here now.
How does Opal Sands Resort stand out from others in the area?
When you look at it, it’s iconic in its architecture because it’s a curved building. Every guest room has a view of the Gulf of Mexico, which is its strongest point of differential. As far as meeting space, we have 17,000 square feet, including nine breakout rooms with views of the Gulf. It’s an open, airy conference floor with all spaces on one level. All the rooms have natural light, including the ballroom, which doesn’t face the Gulf directly but has a wall of windows overlooking the city. All breakout rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, and all meeting rooms have individual patios.