Green and Sustainable Hotels in St. Pete/Clearwater

The Don CeSar Hotel with green bushes in the foreground

Among its sustainability efforts, the Don CeSar takes steps to protect sea turtles that nest on St. Pete Beach.

Bright blue skies, stunning beaches, swaying palm trees, pristine waterways – Mother Nature is the star of the show here in St. Pete/Clearwater. Visitors who want to help protect these gorgeous surroundings can stay in environmentally friendly hotels and join in their efforts to be good stewards of this beautiful area. 


 

What Makes a Hotel "Green" or Sustainable?

Sustainable features of green hotels can include energy-efficient lighting, water-conserving plumbing, recycling containers placed for guest use, and programs allowing guests to forego daily laundering of towels and linens – but most properties go much further.

Several programs rate how successful hotels are at reducing their footprint, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Green Lodging Program, the Tripadvisor GreenLeaders Program and U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). This article focuses mainly on hotels and resorts in St. Pete/Clearwater that are part of the Green Lodging Program. 
 

What is the Florida Green Lodging Program?

The Green Lodging Program lists hotels and resorts that have made a commitment to conserving and protecting the state’s natural resources. In short, the program helps visitors find hotels that make it a priority to be environmentally friendly. These hotels take action in five areas: 

  1. Waste reduction, reuse and recycling
  2. Water conservation
  3. Energy efficiency
  4. Indoor air quality
  5. Education of guests, employees and the public

The Green Lodging Program rates hotels’ sustainability practices by awarding them up to four “Palms.” Florida Green Lodging certifications must be renewed every three years, and properties must report data measuring water and energy conservation and waste reduction every year. In addition, hotels and resorts are also required to begin at least two new environmental practices each year. 
 

Florida Green Lodging Hotels in St. Pete/Clearwater

St. Pete/Clearwater is home to 13 Green Lodging-rated properties, listed below. Learn about their sustainability efforts, including a few of their especially cool “green” features.
 

Comfort Inn & Suites St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport

A four-story property, the Comfort Inn & Suites is conveniently located near St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) in Clearwater. It’s also just 20 minutes to downtown St. Pete and about 30 minutes to Clearwater Beach.

One area the hotel focuses on is sustainable landscaping. More than three-quarters of the plants on its grounds are native to the area, the property uses low-chemical gardening and it irrigates the plants with rainwater as well as condensation it collects from its HVAC system. 

Other green features:

  • Appliances in guestrooms and its kitchen, plus its pool heater, are all Energy Star-rated
  • All dishes and cutlery are reusable
  • At least 90 percent of the toiletries it provides to guests are produced within 100 miles of the property
  • Leftover shampoo, food, furniture and electronics are reused or donated 

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 1 Palm

Additional Green Certifications: Tripadvisor GreenLeaders Silver Level

 

The Don CeSar Hotel as seen from the beach

The Don CeSar has a range of sustainability efforts including reducing food waste and protecting the beach environment..

The Don CeSar

Reigning over St. Pete Beach since 1928, the Don CeSar is a landmark pink palace that has hosted celebrities including F. Scott Fitzgerald and enjoyed cameos in several movies and television shows over the years.

The star of its sustainability efforts is Winnow kitchen food-waste technology, which uses artificial intelligence, a scale and cameras to identify which items in the kitchen are being discarded. Based on this information, it determines menu items that don’t sell and also recommends changes in portion sizes, limiting overproduction and reducing waste.

Other green features:

  • Exterior lighting designed to protect sea turtle hatchlings from being misdirected away from the Gulf
  • Electric car-charging stations
  • Parking lot pavement that’s environmentally friendly
  • Sensors that turn off office lights when rooms are empty
  • A system that cleans and reuses water from laundry machines

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 3 Palms

Additional Green Certifications: Tripadvisor GreenLeaders Silver Level

 

DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay - North Redington Beach

Set right on the Gulf in North Redington Beach, the DoubleTree Beach Resort is centrally located between Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach. John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk and other beachfront attractions are just minutes away.

This property’s new owner will begin a green-focused refresh of the hotel in late 2023, with plans to use native vegetation and other environmentally friendly landscaping, sensors that turn off landscape watering during rain, and white roofs to help reduce heat absorption, which decreases the energy used for air-conditioning.

Other green features:

  • Recycled building materials are used
  • Construction waste is recycled 
  • Room master switches and occupancy-sensing thermostats reduce energy consumption 
  • Leftover items such as shampoo and items that can be reused such as linens and towels are donated to the St. Pete Free Clinic
  • Shuttle vans run on compressed natural gas

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 3 Palms

Additional Green Certifications: Tripadvisor GreenLeaders Silver Level

 

Hampton Inn & Suites St. Petersburg/Downtown

A short walk to the Salvador Dalí Museum and other world-class museums as well as the St. Pete Pier, waterfront parks and restaurants, the Hampton Inn & Suites is an ideal basecamp in downtown St. Pete.

Since 2009, this Hilton-owned property has used the company’s award-winning LightStay system to measure, report and improve its environmental impacts. Hilton was the first major hotel company to establish science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. It’s taking major steps toward reducing its environmental footprint through its Watts, Water and Waste program.

Other green features:

  • Has energy-efficient lighting and water-conserving plumbing fixtures
  • Recycling bins are placed in the main lobby and each floor's vending areas
  • Donates sheets and towels to Touched By An Angel Ministries

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 2 Palms

 

Holiday Inn St. Petersburg N./Clearwater

Just a hop, skip and a jump from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport in Clearwater, the Holiday Inn is a short drive to downtown St. Pete and about 30 minutes to downtown Clearwater.

Parent company IHG Hotels & Resorts has developed the IHG Green Engage system, which enables its hotels to measure and report their carbon footprint and utility consumption. The program also provides direction on ways hotels can use resources efficiently to reduce their environmental footprint.

Other green features:

  • Uses energy-efficient lighting in all interior areas
  • Employs Florida-friendly landscaping
  • Donates items that are still usable to Hope Children’s Home and Habitat for Humanity

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 2 Palms

Additional Green Certifications: Tripadvisor GreenLeaders Bronze

 

Hyatt Regency

Sustainability efforts at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach include Florida-friendly landscaping.

Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa

Watch a breathtaking sunset from the eighth-floor pool deck at the Hyatt Regency or stroll up the famously soft sands of Clearwater Beach to Pier 60, site of nightly sunset celebrations complete with buskers and live music. 

The Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach has received a Four Green Keys rating from Green Key Global, indicating that the property has implemented wide-ranging environmental management policies and practices. Hyatt, as a company, plans by 2030 to reduce emissions by 27.5 percent from a 2019 baseline and reduce food waste by 50 percent compared to 2019. The company also plans to improve the sources of products and services to avoid contributing to climate change, deforestation, waste, resource depletion, biodiversity reduction and harm to animals.

Other green features:

  • Recycling bins are placed in guest rooms and public areas
  • Low-flow faucets, shower heads and toilets reduce water consumption
  • Florida-friendly landscaping is used
  • HVAC, dishwashers and other appliances are Energy Star-rated
  • Gift cards are offered to associates who carpool or ride bikes to at least half of their shifts each month

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 2 Palms

Additional Green Certifications: Tripadvisor GreenLeaders Gold, Green Key Global’s Green Key Eco-Rating Program four-key rating

 

Golfer teeing off at Innisbrook

Home to four championship golf courses, Innisbrook prioritizes water conservation.

Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf and Spa Resort

Site of the Valspar Championship, held every spring on the famed Copperhead course, and home to three other golf courses, Innisbrook is spread across 900 acres in Palm Harbor, north of Clearwater. Other amenities include a spa, 11 clay tennis courts and six swimming pools.

With vast courses that need to be kept immaculate for golfers, Innisbrook prioritizes water conservation. The resort uses only county-supplied reclaimed water to irrigate all its golf courses and other landscaping. Irrigation and stormwater run-off is recirculated through the irrigation system. Native, drought-tolerant plants are used wherever possible, and the resort’s air-conditioning system has been converted to use reclaimed water. 

Other green features:

  • A system adjusts HVAC temperatures in meeting spaces when they aren’t being used
  • No aerosol products are used to clean rooms
  • All golf carts used by players are electric
  • Approximately eight tons of cardboard is recycled each month
  • Containers are reused more than 100 times before they’re recycled
  • Dining areas have recycling bins for plastic and aluminum
  • Produce is sourced from local farmers wherever possible

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 1 Palm

 

Legacy Vacation Resorts seen from the Intracoastal

Legacy Vacation Resorts in Indian Shores gets more than three-quarters of its energy from the sun.

Legacy Vacation Resorts - Indian Shores

Set on the Intracoastal Waterway in tranquil Indian Shores, the Legacy Vacation Resort has Gulf beach access across Gulf Boulevard. The property is especially noteworthy for getting 78 percent of its energy from on-site solar arrays. The resort offers a discount to guests who either produce clean energy with solar panels on the roof of their home or who drive a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Other green features:

  • Electric vehicle charging stations at all Legacy Vacation Resorts properties 
  • The company has achieved carbon neutrality by offsetting 100 percent of guest stays and activities
  • The property is committed to avoiding single-use plastics

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 2 Palms

 

People clean up trash on the beach

Working to protect the beach ecosystem, TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort holds periodic beach clean-ups

RumFish Beach Resort by TradeWinds & TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort

These adjacent resorts – the TradeWinds Island Grand Beach Resort and RumFish Beach Resort – form one huge waterfront playground on St. Pete Beach that’s perfect for families looking to stay and play on the beach. The standout feature is a massive floating water park with inflatable slides, floating trampolines and loungers. A 33,500-gallon aquarium brings 30-plus species of sea life into close view. Visitors can snorkel right in the aquarium or watch the fish while dining in the Rumfish Grill.

These hotels are pioneers in local efforts to preserve the beach ecosystem. TradeWinds was the first Florida resort to retrofit all beachfront light fixtures with eco-friendly lighting that avoids misdirecting sea turtle hatchlings as they head to the Gulf. Its erosion management and habitat conservation efforts include planting sea oats and other native plants.

Other green features:

  • Energy Star-rated appliances are used
  • Total water consumption has been lowered by more than 30 percent by improving the in-house industrial laundry facilities
  • Air-conditioning/heating in guestrooms automatically shuts off when balcony doors are open
  • An Eco Team encourages guests to participate in environmental initiatives such as beach clean-ups and a sea turtle nest protection program
  • A percentage of proceeds from the resorts’ floating waterpark is donated to Tampa Bay Watch

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 3 Palms

 

Sandpearl pool with palm trees and beach

The pool at the Sandpearl is geothermically heated, resulting in energy savings.

Person in turtle costume hugs two kids

The Sandpearl's sea turtle education program is popular with kids and adults.

Sandpearl Resort

The Sandpearl is a luxury resort set in the heart of Clearwater Beach. Relax in the zero-entry pool, indulge in first-class pampering at the spa or dine on your private balcony and be wowed by amazing Gulf sunsets.

In addition to its two Palm Florida Green Lodging designation, the Sandpearl is the only hotel in the region and one of very few in Florida that is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, an exacting standard for healthy, efficient, green buildings. 

Other green features:

  • Its geothermally heated pool and ozone-assisted pool filtration system save about 1.5 million kilowatts of energy a year and use about 10 percent less chlorine
  • A recycling steward goes through all waste to separate and prep recyclables
  • Windows are double-paned to keep out heat
  • Sensors switch rooms to energy-saving status when guests are out
  • Unused soap and shampoo is donated
  • Native landscaping is irrigated by a system that measures moisture in the soil
  • The chilled-water air-conditioning systems and low-emission construction materials make cooling efficient

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 2 Palms

Additional Green Certifications: U.S. Green Building Council LEED Silver, Tripadvisor GreenLeaders Platinum

 

Sheraton Sand Key with pool in foreground

The Sheraton Sand Key has drought-tolerant landscaping and charging stations for electric cars.

Sheraton Sand Key Resort

This Gulf-front resort is set on Sand Key, a quieter stretch of beach just across narrow Clearwater Pass from busy Clearwater Beach. Enjoy the nature trails and quiet sands of Sand Key Park, or head across the bridge to Pier 60 and plentiful activities, restaurants and shops.

The global Marriott company has set environment-related goals, including reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050. It has set a deadline of 2025 to reduce carbon intensity by 30 percent from a 2016 baseline; source a minimum of 30 percent of its overall electricity from renewable energy; and reduce waste-to-landfill by 45 percent and food waste by 50 percent from a 2016 baseline. 

Other green features:

  • Employs Florida-friendly landscaping
  • Has Energy Star-certified appliances
  • Furniture that can be reused is donated to the Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranch and to UPARC, which supports and empowers people with intellectual and developmental disabilities 
  • More than 5,500 electric-vehicle chargers have been installed at Marriott properties worldwide, including two charging stations at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort
  • All properties switched from small toiletry bottles to larger pump-topped bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body gel

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 2 Palms

 

Vinoy entrance with green bushes in the foreground

Landscaping at the Vinoy is irrigated with collected rainwater and water from condensation.

The Vinoy Resort & Golf Club

A classic hotel built in 1925 with a major renovation wrapped in 2023, the Vinoy is the grand dame of the St. Petersburg waterfront, overlooking Tampa Bay.

Information gathering and education are a focus of the sustainability efforts at the Vinoy. As part of its efforts to reduce energy consumption, the resort measures and records energy use each quarter, its staff is trained annually on the hotel's green practices, and guests are offered education on green practices.

Other green features:

  • Energy Star appliances are used in guestrooms
  • Sensors in guestrooms adjust temperatures when a room is empty
  • Gardens are irrigated with water from alternative sources, including rainwater and condensation
  • Mostly green-certified cleaning products are used 
  • Cooking oil is recycled 
  • Leftover materials, such as toiletries, food, furniture and electronics, are reused or donated

Florida Green Lodging Designation: 2 Palms

Additional Green Certifications: Tripadvisor GreenLeader, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Clean Marina Program

Exterior of Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club hotel in Clearwater Beach

Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club in Clearwater Beach helps support Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Winter the Dolphin's Beach Club

Set on the Gulf of Mexico in Clearwater Beach, Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club collects and passes along a $9.95-per-night conservation fee to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to support the aquarium’s rescue, rehabilitation and release efforts. 

The aquarium gained international fame as a result of two major motion pictures that featured the aquarium’s rehabilitation of a dolphin named Winter, which had lost much of its tail before being rescued. Winter died in 2021, but the aquarium continues its work of rehabilitating dolphins and other injured marine animals. 

Winter the Dolphin’s Beach Club, which takes many environmentally friendly steps in its operations, is certified ocean-friendly by Ocean Allies, a local nonprofit. 

Other green features:

  • Sea turtle-safe lighting 
  • Elimination of all single-use plastics
  • Window coating to reduce energy use and glare
  • Recycling receptacles in every guest room and on every floor of the hotel
  • The option of foregoing daily washing of towels and linens
  • JUST Water (sustainably sourced water in recyclable cans) provided to guests at check-in
  • Tayst biodegradable coffee pods provided in every room
  • Bicycles available to rent as sustainable transportation on Clearwater Beach
  • Reusable cups and straws sold in the gift shop