The Fenway…the relatively new kid on the block is an old soul with many lives, and she’s living her best one right now on Edgewater Drive in Dunedin. While savoring smooth jazz at the Parlor Bar in the lobby or gazing at sunset over St. Joseph Sound and Clearwater Bay from the Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar with Caladesi and Honeymoon Islands on the horizon or savoring a delightful dining experience at The Fenway’s HEW Parlor & Chophouse, it’s a sentimental journey to travel back to the beginnings of The Fenway Hotel.
Caladesi Ballroom View at the Fenway Resort…Perfect for Special Occasions!
Through star-powered successes and struggles, this landmark property was once just a bank loan away from destruction, and history has ridden a rollercoaster ride of numerous incarnations. In 1925, the 110-room hotel housed Pinellas County’s first radio station, WGHB, a precursor to WFLA. In 1927, The Fenway Hotel became a Jazz Age landmark, attracting artists, politicians, artists, explorers and tycoons. During Prohibition, illegal alcoholic beverages were available to special clientele if they knocked three times and used a password for admittance to the Fenway Speakeasy. Artifacts of the drinking establishment and historic photos can be found near the lobby of today’s Fenway.
Derived from ‘Fen’, the Scottish-Gaelic word for marshland, Fenway has nothing to do with Boston’s famous Fenway Park, but baseball has ties here. New York minor league Buffalo Bisons headquartered at The Fenway in 1958; Red Sox and Yankee legend Babe Ruth was among the hotel’s most famous guests. Now, the Toronto Blue Jays train at nearby Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.
Even the addition of a $300,000 swimming pool in 1956 and opening to locals and winter residents weren’t enough to sustain expansion. Trinity College called the hotel home in 1961; Schiller International University held classes there from 1991 until 2005. A St. Petersburg lawyer’s plans for a high-end resort never materialized, and The Fenway was foreclosed in 2010. In 2013, a hotelier’s plan to raze the building fell through. The Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA purchased the property in 2014 for $2.8 million, and through an agreement with Mainsail Lodging & Development, the hotel became part of Marriott International’s Autograph Collection chain of 115 hotels. Renovations began in 2015 on the hotel Marriott calls “exactly like nothing else.”
The Tampa Bay Times calls it Dunedin’s “most historically valuable structure.” The Grand Lady was reborn and opened to the public in 2017. From early days of radio to the Golden Age of Jazz and beyond, the tradition continues with live local entertainment nightly. HEW Parlor & Chophouse is named for Fenway’s original architect, Herman Everett Wendell. A contemporary twist on a traditional chophouse, seating options include the chef’s dining bar and interaction with the chef-driven open kitchen.
Banquette-style bench seating adds a cozy vibe to the chic dining room overlooking the courtyard garden and pool. Private dining options are also available. Server Megan’s recommendations of crispy calamari and beef carpaccio starters were flavorful delicacies. Special catch of the day swordfish with kedgeree (flaked fish, rice, parsley, eggs, curry and cream), grilled bok choy with gribiche (classic French briny aioli-like sauce) was divine, as were my husband’s sea scallops in pea puree with braised pork and house-made spaetzle. Sides of Hasselback potatoes (crispy edges and creamy inside), and Brussels sprouts with shallots, lardons (sliced fatty bacon bits) and sherry vinegar were delectable.
Our tantalizing trio of desserts included the Fenway banana split-salted caramel, fudge brownie, candied walnuts and banana chips; goat cheese panna cotta dressed with blackberries, lemon and thyme, and mixed berry shortcake-lemon pepper pound cake with brown butter, basil and whipped buttermilk. The light hand of Chef Adam Hyatt lets the food speak for itself, and Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Anthony Sambrato says that style of cuisine “makes my job very easy.” The combination of a memorable meal, friendly, professional service is enhanced by ambiance ‘exactly like nothing else.’
“Here for a hundred years, The Fenway stands alone in the community,” Sambrato said proudly. “We want to make sure the food and beverage parts do the same.”
Locals get special treatment when they come to The Fenway. For a special event–or for an occasion you’d like make special–there are 10,000 combined square feet of indoor and outdoor space available, most with water views. This venue is suitable for everything from intimate receptions and meetings to a gala in the elegant Caladesi Ballroom, with natural light and outside terrace.
The boutique hotel features 83 guest rooms and suites. Guests enjoy comfort and connectivity: vintage-inspired décor and the latest electronic technology. Within walking distance to downtown Dunedin, the location also offers convenient access to local events, attractions and Tampa International and St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airports. Private jet access is also available.
Join yoga and croquet on the lawn, bike the Pinellas Trail, enjoy local breweries, explore Scottish heritage at the Celtic Shop and Military Tattoo Exhibit. Ride the Jolly Trolley to Clearwater Beach, Tarpon Springs and the beaches in between.
History continues to be made here, blending a rich past with the vibrant vibe of the charming community in which it lives. The soul of The Fenway remains, like jazz, growing and adapting through changing times. Come visit or, better yet, make this destination your next staycation! Find The Fenway at 453 Edgewater Drive, Dunedin, Florida 34698 and www.TheFenway.com. For hotel reservations and information call toll-free 1-844-569-9879 or locally 727-683-5999. Reach HEW Parlor & Chophouse at 727-683-5990 and Sales & Marketing at 813-243-2634. Content provided by Pat Brooks photos courtesy of the Fenway Resort.