In the past, Tampa has played second-fiddle to more popular tourist destinations in Florida, but it is finally Tampa’s time to shine. A major revitalization wave is repositioning the city as a not-so-hidden gem, and word is spreading quickly. With a growing culinary scene, an impressive collection of museums, world-class shopping, and energetic nightlife, The Big Guava is quickly becoming a coveted destination for travelers.
And leading the charge of this cultural renaissance is The Tampa Edition.
Created by visionary hotelier Ian Schrager and Marriott International, The Tampa Edition is the city’s first true luxury hotel. The luxury boutique is located in the center of the bustling Water Street Tampa District, a $3.5-billion mixed-use urban development project aimed at transforming Tampa into an international gateway for travelers heading to Central and South Florida.
A lush jungle of tropical plants and greenery welcomes guests into The Tampa Edition lobby, where guests can admire the art deco–inspired design before checking-in. The 26-story property holds 172 guest rooms and suites, designed with the simple yet sophisticated style that The Edition is known for. The hotel also features a gorgeous rooftop terrace and pool club, a state-of-the-art wellness facility, and a whopping seven bars and restaurants around the property including Lilac, a fine-dining establishment helmed by acclaimed chef John Fraser.
In an exclusive interview with Travel + Leisure, Ian Schrager told us about the opening of The Tampa Edition and The Edition’s impact on the luxury travel industry in Florida. With subtle nods to the Sunshine State buried within the cocktail menu and surprise-and-delight treats delivered to your room daily, Schrager noted that the meticulous attention to detail at The Tampa Edition is what sets this property apart from other accommodations in the area.
“There are a million details we considered for Tampa Edition, and those little touches, that's what distinguishes what we do from what everybody else does,” Schrager explained. “While we may carry certain elements over from other properties, each project is bespoke.”
One signature element of The Edition experience is a buzzy nightlife scene, (After all, Schrager is a co-founder of Studio 54), and the entertainment at Tampa Edition is no exception. On the hotel's opening weekend, Lenny Kravitz brought down the house with a private performance for hotel guests, and last month, Nelly hosted an all out New Year’s Eve bash to help ring in 2023. From intimate gatherings at the cozy Punch Room bar to dancing the night away inside the glamorous Arts Club, The Tampa Edition offers the perfect spaces for guests to make connections with friends and strangers alike.
“People want to meet people! They want to have fun, and they want to have a little mayhem,” Schrager laughed. “We want to tailor the experience to Tampa, so we don't want to do the same thing that we would do in Miami or New York, but at the end of the day we are dealing with the same social conditions of people just wanting to connect with each other, and that is what we try to provide.”
The Tampa Edition is the 15th hotel in Edition’s growing portfolio, and as Schrager reflected on the Edition’s expansion (five hotel openings are set for 2023, including in Rome, Tokyo and Singapore), the boutique pioneer shared his insights on the current state of luxury travel and his vision for the future of hospitality.
Schrager is opposed to the idea that luxury is reserved for only the wealthiest members of society. He wants to see luxury become more accessible. “Everybody is comfortable putting everything in a box, but my mission is to take it out of the box,” he said. As the hotelier looks ahead, he wants Edition to continue to prove that luxury comes from how a property makes you feel, regardless of who you are or how much you make.
“Yes, it's luxury, but it's for everybody,” Schrager explained. “Maybe our goal is a little bit different than most hotels, but that’s what gives us the edge. When we see people in these spaces we’ve created, and they like it and are enjoying themselves, it’s just nirvana.”