May 15– May 15–BRADENTON — Take a stroll along the Riverwalk and the impressive eight-story building can be seen from about a mile away, its rooftop terrace towering over the Manatee River.
Walk west past the beach volleyball courts, the outdoor living rooms, the fishing pier and, just as you reach the splash pad and playground, the sign on the building comes into focus: SpringHill Suites.
The same sign, illuminated at night along with LED lights glowing from the rooftop, will be seen as drivers traverse either the DeSoto or Green Bridge on their way across the Manatee River to The Friendly City.
"We're changing the skyline of downtown Bradenton," says David Cocco, taking in the views from the eighth-floor rooftop that overlooks Pier 22 and Twin Dolphin Marina. There are stunning vistas of where the Manatee River meets Tampa Bay and, in the distance, the unmistakable Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
The most highly anticipated downtown Bradenton opening since Riverwalk debuted in 2012, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott will welcome its first guests at 3 p.m. Friday.
Cocco's company North Star Lodging Management, based in Pittsburgh, with its partner NDC Construction in Bradenton, developed and constructed the 131-room, custom, high-rise hotel with the rooftop swimming pool, bar and lounge area.
Visiting from his native Pennsylvania, Cocco originally thought the space, formerly occupied by the Manatee Players Riverfront Theater, didn't provide enough room, but then he recalled the adjacent parking lot. City leaders cooperated, and soon hotel guests will enjoy complimentary parking in the first floor of the new parking garage in the heart of downtown Bradenton. Locals will then be able to enjoy the rooftop bar and first-floor restaurant that Sarasota-based Oak & Stone hopes to have completed later this summer.
"I've been involved in developing and managing many hotel projects over the years, but none have been as exciting as this hotel," Cocco says.
The suites, each with a refrigerator and microwave, start at $149 a night. There are also two 700-square foot executive suites and plenty of balcony rooms as well as docking options for boaters at Twin Dolphin Marina. In addition to the rooftop pool and bar, amenities include a fitness facility, complimentary Wi-Fi, a free hot breakfast, and fully equipped business center.
The main attraction, though, is the location.
SpringHill Suites is right by Bradenton Riverwalk, with a mural reminding guests of its presence painted near the hotel entrance, and the newly renamed Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, which plans to open the Mosaic Backyard Universe for children in its North Education Center this summer.
Then there are all the nearby downtown Bradenton restaurants as well the Manatee Performing Arts Center, the Village of the Arts and LECOM Park, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates spring training games. There's Anna Maria Island, too, with all its beautiful beaches and charming restaurants, about eight miles away.
To give guests the best Bradenton experience, SpringHill Suites has put a premium on hiring people who know and love the area.
"Our employees are all locals, most born and raised here, and they're proud to be a part of this hotel," says General Manager Lindsay Barnnhart, who is also a downtown Bradenton resident. "We all are excited and know what this means for Manatee County."
SpringHill Suites Bradenton Downtown/Riverfront is at 102 12th St. W. Bradenton. For more information, call 941-226-2200 or visit marriott.com.