Recently my husband and I traveled to Tampa, Florida, where he attended a convention. Since I was a little more familiar with St. Petersburg we stayed at a resort hotel in St. Petersburg by the bay. One of the draws of the hotel was that it had an 18-hole championship golf course. From the online hotel description I had made an assumption that the golf course was adjacent to the hotel, so I was a little disappointed when I discovered upon arrival that the golf course was nowhere to be seen. After talking with a concierge, a slightly disheveled-looking young man in his 30s who looked as if suffering from a hangover (he may just have been trying to look fashionably wasted, I concede) we found that the golf course was about 1.4 miles away from the hotel which provided a shuttle van service. Since we arrived at the hotel after 7pm, we decided to have dinner at the hotel restaurant, after settling into our room. The structure of the hotel was slightly maze-like with crisscrossing staircases that connected the old original structure and slightly newer structure, and artificial waterfall connected to its outdoor swimming pool, revealing the fact that the hotel was built long ago when accessibility was not a big issue. In a way, as some guests commented in passing, it was not difficult to get lost in this hotel.
We enjoyed our dinner at the hotel restaurant after many hours flight. On the way out of the restaurant, I noticed that the foyer was decorated with old photos of the hotel (built in the early 1920s) and other mementos of the old glory, such as a waiter’s livery waist jacket. The photo of a large group of people somehow reminded me of a group photo shown toward the end of Kubrick’s horror film The Shining based on Stephen King’s fiction. Thus I said to my husband – partially as a sort of joke – that this hotel reminded me of the hotel in The Shining, though its pink exterior looked more like the Royal Hawaiian hotel in Waikiki. So it was rather uncanny to learn that this hotel is known as one of the haunted hotels in Wikipedia. Translucent gentlemen in formal attire and other apparitions were observed by several guests including a professional baseball player. Later, when I asked one of the café workers about the rumor of the hotel’s haunted status, she relayed the hotel guests’ stories of hearing running toilet water and openings of drapery in the middle of the night. According to her, these incidents happened in one particular room on the fifth floor in the old building. I found these stories rather interesting. Nevertheless, I think it is more likely that these “witnesses” were drunk (this observation was made based on the amazing number of drinking places along the drive frequented by tourists) when they happened to observe “strange” occurrences. Later when I did more internet search on this topic of haunted hotels I was surprised to discover that there are many such haunted hotels in the U.S. and in the world; in fact, we even had once stayed at another famous haunted hotel in Coral Gables though I noticed nothing. I wonder if the haunted status of hotels works as an advertisement or a disadvantage for many illustrious hotels in the U.S. Can they attract more curious guests this way? Or, perhaps some newer hotels are spreading the rumor to dissuade people from staying at these often gorgeous hotels?