This weekend I was invited to join a buddy for a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game. Rather than make the two hour drive back home after the game, I decided to make an evening of it and stay over night in Tampa. I was familiar with a few of the hotels in the downtown area, and after a bit of my usual research I landed on the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk as my home for the evening.
As the name suggests, the Sheraton is located along the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. I must admit, I've lived in Central Florida my entire life, and have been to Tampa countless times, but I had no idea there was a river that ran through the heart of the city. The Riverwalk area is in the midst of a revitalization project, which will eventually see it connected to the more tourist friendly Channelside district, but for now there is not much to get excited about in the area surrounding the Sheraton. It is, however, a convenient location for those coming to Tampa for business, or for events at the St. Pete Times Forum, which is located about a ten minute walk away. The hotel also has a complimentary shuttle service which will take you anywhere you need to go within a three mile radius.
|I was a little nervous when I got off the elevator...|
I arrived at the Sheraton around 4pm, and after a quick and easy check-in, found myself headed to my room only a few minutes later. As I exited the elevator I couldn't help but notice that the carpets in the hall had seen much better days, which caused me to worry a bit about what I would find once I arrived to my room. I'm glad that I reserved judgement, because I was pleasantly surprised with what I found inside...
I had been upgraded to a Junior Suite for the evening, which was an over-sized guest room at the very end of the hall. Some would also call this a "corner suite," and these happen to be my favorite type of hotel rooms, with windows that wrap around two walls instead of one. In contrast to the hallway, the carpets in the suite were in great condition, the furnishings were modern, the bath was bright and functional, and of course there was the all important Sweet Sleeper bed. The room was also on the waterfront side of the building, with a large balcony that overlooked the river. My only complaint with the room....No ESPN on the TV. Every other ESPN network was available, but not the original, which is an anomaly of nature that I'm still trying to wrap my head around.
|The Never Disappointing Sheraton Sweet Sleeper|
A quick word on this so-called river. When I checked-in the desk agent commented that my room overlooked the "mighty Hillsborough." Since I was still mostly unaware there was a river in Tampa, I didn't get the joke, but it came to me as soon as I stepped out onto the balcony.
|View of the "Mighty Hillsborough" from the Balcony|
After returning from the game - Lightning lost 4-2 - I found myself starved and incredibly thankful the room service kitchen was still open. The server who took my order must have sensed the distress my stomach was under, as the order arrived about fifteen minutes later, much faster than the half hour she had originally told me. The burger definitely hit the spot, and the server took far more initiative than most on room service duty, offering to get ice for a couple beers I had in the bucket from earlier.
Even after my 11pm cheeseburger, I still found myself hungry for breakfast. I decided to pop into the hotel's Ashley Street Grille for their breakfast buffet. Whenever I hear the words "breakfast buffet" thoughts of an omelette station, fresh waffles or french toast, and some sort of pastry for dessert, send a healthy dose of serotonin running through my body. Sadly, the buffet featured none of those offerings, and had I thought quicker on my feet I would have chosen to order off the a-la-carte menu instead. The food was still great, and the buffet was definitely worth the cost, even without my prized omelette and griddle stations.
|Buffet Breakfast at Ashley Street Grille|
Without a doubt, the best thing the Sheraton has going for it is it's service, with everyone I encountered during my stay being top notch. The desk agent at check-in was incredibly friendly and helpful with directions to the stadium, the valet were equally helpful when I needed something retrieved from my vehicle, and guest services were very apologetic when I called about the ESPN conundrum. I even had a housekeeper walk all the way down the hall to assist me with getting ice. Come to think of it, I'm left wondering what it was about me that gave the impression that ice would be a task with which I'd need assistance.
Overall, I had a great evening at the Sheraton Riverwalk Tampa, and I would certainly return again in the future. The location was convenient for getting to the arena, the staff were terrific, and the room was a comfortable place to hang out for an evening. Just steer clear of making the "river" a primary reason for choosing the Sheraton, and you'll be on the right track for a pleasant experience.
~Insert Dude-like Closing Here~
Special thanks to the Sheraton Riverwalk for hosting my visit to Tampa this weekend. Here's the obligatory disclosure statement if you're in to that sort of thing....