Florida is known for its sunny beaches, orange groves, and family attractions like Disney World and Universal Studios. However, there is also a darker side to the Sunshine State, where some of the most haunted hotels in the country can be found. One of these is the Loews Don Cesar Hotel in St. Pete Beach, which has a tragic and romantic history that still lingers in its halls.
The Pink Castle
The Loews Don Cesar Hotel was built in the 1920s by Thomas Rowe, a wealthy businessman who fell in love with a Spanish opera singer named Lucinda. Their romance was forbidden by her parents, who sent her back to Spain and forced her to marry someone else. Thomas never forgot his love and built the hotel as a tribute to her, naming it after Don Cesar, a character from one of their favorite operas. The hotel was designed in a Mediterranean style, with a distinctive pink color and a central tower. It became a popular destination for celebrities, politicians, and socialites, who enjoyed its luxurious amenities and jazz parties.
The Ghosts of Thomas and Lucinda
Thomas Rowe died in 1940, leaving the hotel to his employees. However, his spirit never left the place, and neither did Lucinda’s, who reportedly died of a broken heart. Guests and staff have reported seeing them walking the grounds, dressed in white and holding hands. Sometimes, they are accompanied by a raven-haired woman, who is believed to be Lucinda’s ghost. They are said to be friendly and harmless, but also very protective of their hotel. They have been known to turn on lights, move objects, and play music in the rooms. They also like to greet guests and staff, sometimes appearing as a reflection in the mirror or a voice in the ear.
The VA Hospital
The hotel’s history took a darker turn during World War II, when it was converted into a VA hospital for wounded soldiers. The hotel’s elegant rooms were turned into wards, operating rooms, and morgues. Many soldiers died in the hotel, and some of their spirits remained there as well. Guests and staff have reported hearing moans, screams, and footsteps in the hallways, especially on the fifth floor, where the most severely injured patients were treated. Some have also seen apparitions of soldiers and nurses, dressed in their uniforms and carrying out their duties. Some of these ghosts are friendly, while others are angry and restless.
The Haunted Hotel Today
The hotel was restored to its original glory in the 1970s, and is now part of the Loews Hotels chain. It is still a popular destination for tourists, who enjoy its beautiful views, fine dining, and spa services. However, it is also a hotspot for paranormal enthusiasts, who come to experience its haunted history and encounter its ghostly residents. The hotel offers ghost tours, where guests can learn more about the hotel’s past and its supernatural activity. The hotel also hosts events and weddings, where some guests have reported seeing Thomas and Lucinda joining the celebration.
The Loews Don Cesar Hotel is one of the most haunted hotels in Florida, and also one of the most romantic. It is a testament to the enduring love of Thomas and Lucinda, who still haunt the hotel they built together. It is also a witness to the horrors of war, and the suffering of the soldiers who died there. It is a place where history and mystery meet, and where guests can experience both the beauty and the terror of the hotel’s story.