The Don CeSar Hotel: An Opulent Oasis of Specters and Stories

  • By: Timothy Rose
  • Date: 29 July 2023
  • Time to read: 5 min.


Situated along the pristine shores of St. Pete Beach, Florida, the majestic Don CeSar Hotel stands as a beacon of opulence and mystery. With its iconic pink façade and Gatsby-era glamour, “The Pink Palace,” as it’s affectionately called, serves not just as a luxury beach resort, but also a hotbed for supernatural phenomena and eerie encounters.

History of The Don CeSar Hotel

Built in 1928 by Thomas Rowe, the Don CeSar Hotel was named in honor of the protagonist in a Spanish opera, “Maritana,” which Rowe held dear. Rowe, an Irishman who made his mark as a property developer in Norfolk, Virginia, was said to have fallen in love with the lead singer, Lucinda, during a performance of “Maritana” in London. This opera and the star-crossed love story became the inspiration for the glamorous hotel.

The Don CeSar Hotel
Painting of Don Cesar Hotel

Despite the hotel’s struggle during the Great Depression and its stint as a military hospital and VA office during WWII, it was eventually restored to its former glory in the 1970s and now remains one of Florida’s most grandiose historic hotels.

Haunting Legends and Supernatural Phenomena

One of the most popular legends involves the hotel’s original owner, Thomas Rowe, and the love of his life, a Spanish opera singer named Lucinda. Thomas and Lucinda met in London while he was studying there. Their bond was instant and deep; however, Lucinda’s parents disapproved of their relationship and forced her to return to Spain. The two continued to exchange letters until Lucinda’s parents discovered their ongoing correspondence and put an end to it.

Thomas’ last letter from Lucinda simply said, “Time is infinite. I wait for you by our fountain…to share our timeless love, our destiny is time.”

Thomas Rowe
Thomas Rowe

Heartbroken but determined, Thomas returned to America and amassed a fortune. He built the Don CeSar Hotel as a tribute to Lucinda, fashioning its design after the royal palace where they used to meet, complete with a replica of “their” courtyard fountain.

Thomas Rowe passed away in 1940, but many hotel guests and staff claim he has never left. There have been sightings of a gentleman fitting Thomas’ description walking along the beach or the hotel’s corridors. Some accounts tell of him helping struggling swimmers to safety, only to disappear when they turn to thank him.

In addition, some guests have reported seeing a couple, believed to be Thomas and Lucinda, wandering the hotel grounds or standing by the fountain. Others have felt an unseen presence in their rooms, heard unexplainable whispers, or smelled a woman’s perfume out of the blue.

Today, these tales add a layer of intrigue to the allure of the Don CeSar, enticing visitors not just with its luxurious offerings, but also with the chance to possibly encounter the timeless love story of Thomas and Lucinda.

Popular Culture and Media Coverage

The Don CeSar’s unique blend of historic grandeur and supernatural allure has made it a popular subject in various media. From features in paranormal TV shows to mentions in literature and movies, the hotel’s ghostly tales are a captivating topic for both enthusiasts of the supernatural and lovers of architectural beauty.

Investigation and Research Efforts

The Don CeSar has been investigated by numerous paranormal enthusiasts and experts, attempting to validate the numerous claims of ghostly encounters. These investigations often result in unexplained phenomena, such as electromagnetic field spikes and temperature fluctuations, suggesting possible spiritual activity. However, skeptics often attribute these events to the building’s old wiring or the power of suggestion.

Visitor Experiences and Urban Legends

Don Cesar Hotel
Don Cesar Hotel – Credit Rob Holland

The Don CeSar isn’t merely a luxurious retreat—it’s a vortex of paranormal activities. Guests and staff have heard a woman’s laughter echoing in empty hallways at night, turning the silence into a spooky scene. Mysterious lights appear in photos, and shadows move in empty spaces, creating a curious and unexplained scene. The hotel’s elevators are not like ordinary ones. They stop on floors even when nobody has called them. They are like silent greeters in the twilight, with no explanation.

The most impressive part, though, are the ghostly sightings of Rowe and his lost Lucinda. They are forever dancing together in a ballroom of spirits. It’s as if their timeless love story continues to play out, carving an indelible mark in the ether. The Don CeSar is not only a luxury gateway, but also a portal to the supernatural. It gives thrilling shivers to those brave enough to enter.

Credit WFLA News Channel 8

Preservation and Tourism

Today, the Don CeSar continues to serve as a top-tier luxury hotel while embracing its spectral reputation. Ghost tours and themed events offer guests a deeper dive into the hotel’s haunting past, thus contributing to the tourism of St. Pete Beach and cementing its status as a landmark of cultural significance.


The Don CeSar Hotel stands as a beautiful juxtaposition of elegance and the uncanny, offering an intriguing blend of luxury and mystery. Its haunted reputation only serves to enhance its allure, inviting guests to step back into an era of opulence while possibly having a brush with the supernatural. Ultimately, the hotel showcases that even in the sun-soaked beauty of St. Pete Beach, there are shadows and stories that continue to enchant.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about The Don CeSar Hotel

Q1: Where is The Don CeSar Hotel located?
The Don CeSar Hotel is located in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

Q2: Can I stay at The Don CeSar Hotel?
Yes, The Don CeSar is a functioning luxury hotel that offers accommodations, dining, and a range of services and amenities.

Q3: What kind of paranormal activities have been reported at The Don CeSar Hotel?
Guests and staff have reported various supernatural phenomena, including apparitions, unexplained chills, flickering lights, and whispers in empty rooms.

Q4: Has The Don CeSar Hotel been featured on any TV shows?
Yes, The Don CeSar has been featured on various paranormal-themed TV shows due to its reputation for supernatural phenomena.

Q5: Who are the most frequently sighted ghosts at The Don CeSar Hotel?
The most frequently sighted ghosts are believed to be Thomas Rowe, the hotel’s founder, and Lucinda, a beautiful opera singer who inspired the hotel’s name.

Q6: Are there skeptics about the hauntings at The Don CeSar Hotel?
Yes, while many believe in the hauntings at The Don CeSar, skeptics argue that the supernatural phenomena reported could be explained by the hotel’s old wiring or the power of suggestion.

Q7: How is The Don CeSar Hotel preserved today?
The Don CeSar Hotel is currently functioning as a luxury resort. Its preservation is upheld through its active service in the hospitality industry, maintaining the hotel’s structural integrity and historic charm while catering to modern luxury standards.

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