The Opal Sands Resort (www.opalsands.com), opened in 2016, is a visually striking anomaly amid the mix of beachy low-rise family-oriented hotels and high-end corporate resorts lining the waterfront of Clearwater Beach. And here, being an anomaly is definitely a good thing, especially for visitors craving a “modern luxury” boutique hotel that captures the flash and glamour of South Beach.
The 15-story, 230-room building, as devised by firm Duncan Miller Ullman, is something that would fit perfectly into Miami’s Art Deco district landscape, from the building’s curving lines to panoramic wrap-around terraces, to airy interiors awash with aquamarine blues and seafoam greens. It feels exactly like the sumptuous South Beach apartment complex everybody dreams about living in or owning at one time or another.
The lobby is a sparkling atrium filled with contemporary canvases and sculpture, including a dramatic, Miro-esque hanging mobile by Florida artist Christopher Still that greets guests as they go up the escalator to the front desk. Private room options include opulent suites blending luxury and practicality, from panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico to a fully outfitted kitchen perfect for cozy breakfasts into a stylish living room with plush furnishings and generous marble bathrooms. Every floor also has its own pantry stocked with cookies, fresh fruit, and ice cold bottled water.
Out and About
Chances are you may not want to leave such swanky digs, and you’ll probably want to while away your free time at your rented cabana at the pool or adjoining beach. However, the Opal Sands is walking distance from Pier 60 (noted for its sunset viewing, art fairs, and live music at dusk), the Clearwater Marina (and therefore, fishing charters, ferries to Caladesi Island State Park, and dolphin spotting tours interspersed with local history and glances at impressive real estate owned by sports and Hollywood celebrities), and a seemingly endless stretch of surf shops with cool beach gear.
No matter how a group’s “r-and-r” time takes shape, the concierge has a knack for putting guests at ease with her easygoing personality and spot-on advice on what attractions, golf experiences, eco-tours, fishing tours, and other adventures will fit the group best. When meeting attendees enjoy free time apart from the group, she can arrange rentals of jet skis, paddle boards, and kayaks.
Diving into Meetings and Catching a Bite
Like the rest of the property, the 17,000 square feet of event space at the Opal Sands has a cool, soothing Mid Century ambiance can make even the most intense sales meeting breezier and more relaxing. The 7,650 square foot Opal Ballroom, nine breakout rooms, and sprawling outdoor event lawn all boast Gulf views, while the concierge can enhance a business itinerary with a sunset cruise or eco-tour.
The dreamy experience by the sea is kept rooted to earth with the property’s onsite audio/visual support and a team of meeting and event specialists committed to providing corporate clients with a refined gathering that takes full advantage of the property’s flowing aesthetic and Sea-Guini, the on-site farm and boat-to-fork restaurant offering everything from a multi-course extravaganza in a private room, to imaginative burgers and breakfast dishes, some crisp and refreshing local craft beers, to curated international wines and craft cocktails that could rival some of Miami’s buzzing lounges. Its outdoor terrace overlooking the Gulf is tailor-made for sunset networking interludes.
In addition to handcrafted pasta, elegantly prepared local fish, and architecturally impressive (and delicious) desserts, Sea-Guini introduced its Saturday “Make Your Own Pizza” at the counter flanking its imported Tuscan brick pizza oven. The chef guides participants in the correct procedures for making pizza dough, forming it correctly, and topping it to one’s tastes. The $15 fee also includes a drink, and a local brew made expressly for Opal Sands is recommended.
The beachfront Tiki Bar and Sandbar, meanwhile, offer a more sophisticated range of pool cocktails as well as flavorful light bites and sandwiches that are more ingredients-driven than what one usually finds at a typical hotel poolside café. This makes the poolside options surprisingly well suited for small happy hour gatherings or cool-off periods after a group eco-tour or fishing activity.