St. Petersburg, Florida is an idyllic seaside community on the enormous fringe of Tampa Bay. The weather is so favorable for this area that it’s called the “Sunshine City” as it’s reported to average nearly 361 days of constant year-round sunshine. St. Petersburg has consistently been one of the top-ranked beach areas as it bustles with tourism no matter the season. However, at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort, no amount of sunshine outdoors can ward off the paranormal activity that is contained deep inside, to the point that even major league sportsmen do their best to avoid it.
Is the Vinoy Renaissance Resort Haunted?
The Vinoy Renaissance was started as a project by a Pennsylvania entrepreneur named Aymer Vinoy Laughner. Looking to capitalize on the picturesque seascape and ever-increasing tourism, Laughner poured in over three million dollars to have the 375-room Vinoy Renaissance open for business. Named after himself, the Vinoy was constructed in a charming Mediterranean villa-style fashion, that copied the most luxurious amenities from European hotels. At a time when seasonal hotels were still a thing, celebrities and athletes descended upon the hotel in winter months to take advantage of the still-warm Florida weather. Baseball players in particular took a liking to the Vinoy including all-time great Babe Ruth. However, once World War II broke out, the United States military used it as a makeshift training school taking full advantage of the tides that no doubt helped with the invasion at Normandy. After the war ended, the hotel was sold and resold as renovations naturally came along the way refining the hotel until it became listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
Baseball and Ghosts
Given the ideal weather, baseball teams take full advantage of spring training in the Tampa Bay area and naturally play games against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher Scott Williamson had a particularly difficult evening in his room. Lying in bed trying to sleep, he recalled an eerie-looking light emerging from the pool area until it faded and passed through his body. A spine-chilling cold hit him and he had difficulty breathing as he later recounted that it was as if someone were actually sitting on top of him. Turning over seemed to shift the invisible force off of him until he glanced across the room and noticed a man in 1930s period dress complete with a top hat and suit coat staring back at him.
On another occasion, a strength coach was in his room and turned to see the same suited man sitting at the desk in his very room. As the coach opened his mouth to speak, the man disappeared right in front of his very eyes. Many other players as well as hotel guests’ experiences at the Vinoy have all claimed to see this suited man with a hat in period clothing traipsing around the many floors of the hotel. The one paranormal takeaway from encounters with this entity is that whenever he is spoken to by someone, he disappears. However, if someone doesn’t speak or approach him, then his spirit has been known to linger in the vicinity for some time.
World Series Champion manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, Cito Gaston had a terrifying experience in an undisclosed room at the Vinoy. In bed sleeping after a game against the Devil Rays, Gaston was woken up in the middle of the night by the security chain on his room door. At first, the chain innocuously rattled, and Gaston thought nothing of it as possibly more than a heavy-footed guest walking past his door or perhaps a bellboy pushing a loaded trolley past. But then things passed into the realm of the paranormally unexplained when the security chain was unlocked by a pair of unseen hands and then re-lock itself over and over again for several minutes.
Due to the voluminous amounts of baseball games played in a season, lots of teams have had games to play in Tampa Bay over the years and the sheer amount of major league baseball players that have recounted paranormal experiences at the Vinoy is absolutely staggering. In fact, so many have been frightened that a large portion of them have spoken about their experiences to sportswriters over the years and have stayed anonymous. One mysterious pitcher from a National League team wanted to treat his family and let them stay at the luxurious Vinoy while he engaged in some spring training. The wife of the pitcher has reservations as stories of the paranormal even reached her and the other player’s wives, but he reassured her and she stayed with her kids. Off during spring training, the pitcher got a frantic call from his wife who cried that the water faucets inside the room would slowly turn themselves on to full blast and then suddenly snap off. Worse yet the lights in the room would flicker madly and the television would turn on and off without provocation. The woman and her children fled the hotel in fear.
Stay With The Ghosts at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort
Today the Vinoy Renaissance remains the premier luxury hotel in the St. Petersburg area. Recently the hotel was purchased by the elite hotel chain Marriott, which has made even more luxurious upgrades to the hotel. As for the ghost, whoever it may be that haunts the Vinoy is a total mystery, as no foul play or sinister deaths have revealed anything. With all the activity and witness accounts, the spirit comes across as benevolent as no malicious activity has occurred. In terms of origin, the spirit here will just have to remain a total supernatural mystery for now.