from Chicago, IL
Submitted on 18-07-2016
I travel often (sadly, mostly for work) and stay at a wide array of hotels. Most reviews have to be written quickly lest I start to forget particulars of the properties. But, I will never forget the few days spent with my wife and two teen daughters at the Thunderbird Beach Resort (referred to henceforth in this review as TBR), part of a weeklong Florida vacay. Many reviewers here (and people I met at TBR) will tell you of the TBR being part of a long tradition for them. It may just be a new one...
I travel often (sadly, mostly for work) and stay at a wide array of hotels. Most reviews have to be written quickly lest I start to forget particulars of the properties. But, I will never forget the few days spent with my wife and two teen daughters at the Thunderbird Beach Resort (referred to henceforth in this review as TBR), part of a weeklong Florida vacay. Many reviewers here (and people I met at TBR) will tell you of the TBR being part of a long tradition for them. It may just be a new one for us. As I always do, I will break this review down to what I saw as the GREAT, GOOD, BAD, and UGLY. Then, I will offer some bottom line type comments. Ready? Let's do this.
* Classic Beach 'Feel": staying at TBR offered a first-hand experience of a classic 50's or 60's beach vacation. It was like stepping back in time to a different era, an opportunity that is becoming more & more rare. The beach itself in this stretch never seems close to being too crowded.
* Backdrop / Setting: We had a room on the second floor that overlooked the pool that was, fortunately, close to the gulf side (# 238, I don't know how I remember that). Whether making the few minute stroll to the beach or just kicking back on the provided chairs on the balcony outside our room drink in-hand enjoying the provided music acts (that seem to play mostly 60's-70's music), everything about TBR suggests relaxation. The grounds offer the perfect place to witness a spectacular sunset and to forget about life outside. I spent one entire day without wearing shoes or a shirt.
* Happy & Friendly: The employees we encountered at every turn were friendly and seemed to genuinely enjoy their work.
* Crowd: The TBR crowd was family-oriented and a nice mix of older persons and young families. While most seemed to have drink in-hand, I did not witness any drunken, boorish behavior.
* Room: Okay, our TBR room was standard motel fare and our little kitchenette actually had me laughing when I first saw it but . . . the room seemed updated enough and the little kitchenette actually served our needs quiet nicely. We made multiple meals in it (there is a Publix nearby) and saved $ on eating out. TBR seems to strike a nice balance between keeping with its vintage origins and being modern enough.
BAD (Room for Improvement)
* Personal Space / Setting: I mentioned the lovely setting but . . . unless you reserve an upgraded gulf view room, you will not be feeling abundant personal space at TBR. To hotel kind of 'U's around the pool and surrounding deck. For reasons I cannot fathom, the pool and limited surrounding space at TBR is the main attraction for most guests. Strange, considering the excellent beach a short stroll away. The pool, while nice, is nothing special (I do like the TBR logo on the bottom) and guests seem to come out in the early a.m. to claim tables and lounges that they will occupy until dusk. Again, the crowd was friendly and family-oriented but, in such a tight environment, it is not hard to imagine how an even small group of drunk jack-wagons could make for a bad experience. Given the set-up, you are at the mercy of your fellow guests more than I like to be. But, we had zero problems.
* Parking: again, this is space as a potential issue. We always had a place to park when we left and returned but it always seemed like there was only one or two spaces open at any given time. TBR does issue guest parking passes and do seem to monitor this but it is not hard to imagine coming back here from a dinner out and having problems parking. The lot itself can be tricky to navigate though and one must be careful driving through the tight lot with other cars, pedestrians, etc.
* Nothing ugly to report
* The TBR made for a perfect setting for our family and was an experience we will not forget. Admittedly, I have not stayed at any of the other properties along this stretch, and there are many.
* I did not address the walk to the beach. Many complain here about it but it only took me 2+ minutes, not a big deal. Do NOT attempt to make this walk absent shoes of some kind. In stretches away from the water, the sand is very coarse
* I hope to return to the TBR again. This old bird soared.