When we think of Florida, we often imagine the beautiful beaches, orange groves, and popular family attractions like Disney World and Universal Studios. However, there is a different side to the Sunshine State that is often overlooked. It’s where some of the country’s most haunted hotels are located, and one such place is the Loews Don Cesar Hotel in St. Pete Beach. This hotel has a haunting history that still lingers in its halls, adding a tragic and romantic element to its ambiance.
The Pink Castle
In the 1920s, Thomas Rowe, a wealthy businessman, fell in love with a Spanish opera singer named Lucinda. Sadly, their love was forbidden by Lucinda’s parents, who forced her to marry someone else and sent her back to Spain. Rowe never forgot his love and decided to build a hotel in her honor. He named it after Don Cesar, a character from one of their favorite operas. The Loews Don Cesar Hotel was designed in a Mediterranean style and had a unique pink color and a central tower. Over time, it became a popular destination for celebrities, politicians, and socialites, who were drawn to its lavish amenities and lively jazz parties.
The Ghosts of Thomas and Lucinda
After Thomas Rowe’s death in 1940, he left his hotel to his employees. However, his spirit continued to reside within the hotel, along with Lucinda, who allegedly died of a broken heart. Numerous guests and staff members have claimed to have witnessed the two walking around the property, adorned in white and holding hands. On certain occasions, they are accompanied by a raven-haired woman, believed to be Lucinda’s ghost. Although they are said to be amicable and harmless, they are also fiercely protective of their hotel. They have been known to switch on lights, displace objects, and play music in the rooms. Additionally, they enjoy welcoming guests and staff, often appearing as a reflection in the mirror or a voice in the ear.
The VA Hospital
During World War II, the hotel underwent a transformation into a VA hospital for wounded soldiers, which marked a dark period in its history. The hotel’s luxurious rooms were repurposed as wards, operating rooms, and morgues, where many soldiers lost their lives. Even after the war, the spirits of some soldiers remained in the hotel. Reports of moans, screams, and footsteps in the hallways, particularly on the fifth floor, where the most severely injured patients were treated, have been made by guests and staff. Witnesses have also claimed to see apparitions of soldiers and nurses dressed in their uniforms, carrying out their duties. While some of these ghosts are friendly, others are known to be restless and angry.
The Haunted Hotel Today
In the 1970s, the hotel was restored to its former glory and is now a part of the Loews Hotels chain, attracting tourists who savor its stunning views, exquisite dining options, and relaxing spa services. Nonetheless, it is also a magnet for those with a penchant for the paranormal, who flock here to delve into its eerie past and meet its spectral inhabitants. The hotel arranges ghostly tours, which offer guests an opportunity to learn more about the hotel’s history and its supernatural occurrences. Additionally, the hotel hosts events and weddings, where some visitors have claimed to have spotted Thomas and Lucinda, joining in on the festivities.
The Loews Don Cesar Hotel boasts a unique blend of romance and paranormal activity, making it one of the most haunted and enchanting hotels in Florida. The hotel’s haunting past is a tribute to the love shared between Thomas and Lucinda, who built the hotel together and still linger in its halls. Additionally, the hotel bears witness to the tragedy and agony of war, as it served as a place where soldiers met their untimely end. The hotel’s story is a fascinating intersection of history and mystery, making it an ideal destination for guests eager to experience both the hotel’s beauty and its chilling legacy.
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