Friday, January 18, 2013

Haunted Don CeSar Hotel

This beautiful resort was built in 1928 during the Great Gatsby era and quickly became a playground for the wealthy and famous. 

Thomas Rowe named his new hotel located in St. Pete Beach, Florida—Don CeSar after a heroic character, Don Cesar de Bazan, in one of his favorite operas—Maritana. 

Locals though quickly dubbed his hotel the "Pink Palace" because of its pink walls and its Mediterranean style castle design. 

Many famous people have visited this resort situated upon a white sandy beach along the Gulf of Mexico—among them: Franklin D. Roosevelt, Al Capone, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

More modern-day visitors to the hotel include Presidents' Jimmy Carter, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. Ann-Margret, Sophia Loren, and Tom Petty also have stayed at the Don.

This hotel is known for its fine dining, elegant rooms, spectacular views, swimming pools, and personal trainers but it is also known for its paranormal activity. 

Some feel the odd sensations they experience and the eerie noises they hear during their visit can be attributed to the fact that the resort in the 1940s, was converted to a VA hospital. It is said that some spirits of the dead from this time still linger at the hotel. 

But the most famous ghost at the hotel is its original owner, Thomas Rowe.

In the 1890s Rowe was a student in London. He attended an opera where a beautiful lady by the name of Lucinda sang one of the lead roles. It is said he immediately fell in in love with Lucinda and the two met regularly.  

Unfortunately for the young couple, Lucinda’s parents did not approve of the match due to the fact Thomas did not attend the same church. Lucinda’s parents quickly escorted their daughter back to Spain, and the two lovers never saw each other again.

Thomas tried to write to Lucinda but his letters were always returned unopened. It is said that Lucinda died of a broken heart. 

Thomas did receive one letter she wrote to him just before she died. Devastated, he read in her letter that she professed she still loved him, but she wondered why he had not written to her as he had promised. 

When he moved to America, vowing to never love another Thomas set out to build his resort. He had a fountain made that was an exact replica of one he and Lucinda had often met outside the Royal Opera House. He created this fountain as a symbol of their undying love.

Thomas Rowe died in 1940, but it is said he has never left the magnificent hotel he put so much of his love, time and dreams into. 

Employees and guests for years have reported seeing Rowe’s ghost at the Don CeSar. It is said he still likes to “oversee” the daily operations of the hotel.

Many guests have reported seeing a man approach and greet them as they entered the hotel to register and then this smiling man just vanishes before their eyes. 

Other guests and employees have seen his ghost walking along the beach still dressed in his signature white suit.  

Over the years, witnesses have described seeing him wearing a Panama hat and walking in the lobby or garden holding the hand of a beautiful raven-haired woman.

The Don CeSar was placed upon the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. It is known today as Loews Don CeSar. It is still a favorite retreat for the rich and famous.

Click this link for exempts of music from the opera in a powerpoint--also has a picture of a copy of the original fountain Rowe had built--which has since been removed.


Unknown said...

Stayed at the Don in 2008 for 4 nights. It is beautiful, has excellent service and incredible dining. I loved it!
That being said, certain areas of the hotel kind of gave me the willies.
Whenever I would walk to or from my room on the 3rd floor, I would always get the feeling that someone was behind me or watching me in the hallway. Sometimes I would look behind me only to discover I was completely alone. Also there was a huge, old, antique mirror next to the elevators on my floor that for some reason I didn't want to look into.
I did some exploring and sneaking around on my own. I was able to get into a ballroom, which was empty. It was lovely, but it had a very melancholy feeling to it. I swear I could hear faint music, but couldn't really make it out.
I was also able to access a couple of the rooftop observation decks even though they were marked off as being closed and no admittance allowed. There also I got the distinct feeling I was not alone.
I don't know, maybe it was guilt induced feelings, because I was someplace I really shouldn't have been, but I did feel things there.
Oh, also my roommate for my stay there said that she had gotten spooked while in the shower and thought someone had come into our room. She said she hopped out of the shower and stuck her head out of the bathroom door and no one was there. I did not tell her of my adventures or my strange feelings until after we got home.

Virginia Lamkin said...

Thanks for sharing. Your experiences confirm what others have felt at this hotel.