LGBTQ hotel, pool bar prepare for St. Petersburg opening

ABOVE: The Wet Spot rendering. Photo/logos via David Fischer.

ST. PETERSBURG | The Grand Central District will soon welcome an LGBTQ-focused hotel and pool bar to the eclectic neighborhood, the latter of which will begin opening for St Pete Pride.

The spaces are the latest concepts from David Fischer, owner of the interior design firm and retail shop ZaZoo’d, speakeasy The Saint and LGBTQ staple Cocktail. The Wet Spot Pool Bar & Day Club and Mari Jean Hotel, the entrepreneur’s new ventures, will share a building with the bars.

That building is the historic hotel itself, built in 1926 and purchased in 2018 by Michael Andoniades, owner of the Hollander Hotel and Avalon. The Saint will celebrate two years on site this September, while Cocktail marked one year in May. The Back Room by ZaZoo’d also opened last month, a retail experience with swim suits and more.

Each venture has shown Fischer there’s a hunger for LGBTQ businesses in the area.

“We have learned that there is a huge market for gay clientele within the St. Pete area, bigger than we even thought,” he explains. “Not only at Cocktail, but also at The Saint. We have a big gay following, not that we intended it to be an LGBTQ bar, but I think you get a certain amount of support because the owner is gay, and obviously not every gay person only goes to gay bars.

“From doing those businesses, we decided that since it was such a big market we would expand and talk to the building owner about doing the pool as well as the hotel upstairs,” Fischer continues. “He said ‘go for it. You can run and own those businesses, too.’”

Planning began not long after Cocktail’s grand opening, made possible in part by the community’s support of Fischer’s endeavors. He says he’s incredibly grateful.

“I think that people in town needed a more upscale place to go, celebrate and call their own,” Fischer says. “Each of my businesses has humor within it and I think that’s been a part of their success. We’re not shy about being a little cheeky or a little sexual. It’s clearly resonated here in St. Pete.”

More than that, he adds, “I think the people here were looking for places to shop, celebrate and be themselves. They feel comfortable in our businesses and that’s great.”

The Wet Spot is expected to open without its pool by the final weekend of St Pete Pride. Cocktail will host events as the celebration’s official afterparty June 24-26, culminating during this year’s Pride in Grand Central street festival. Entertainment includes “RuPaul’s Drag Race” finalist Rosé, who previews her St. Petersburg stop and more in the next issue of Watermark, publishing June 23.

“We were hoping to open the pool but there were some permitting issues, which took much longer than we anticipated,” Fischer says. “So it will be fenced off and will continue to be worked on, but we’ll open the back bar area and restrooms for Pride.”

Fischer anticipates the pool will open by mid-August, with a maximum depth of six feet. The Wet Spot will include multiple VIP cabanas, lounge chairs and more, complementing the 54-room Mari Jean Hotel. Its second floor will open before the third, with cosmetic renovations currently underway.

“We’re targeting to have the hotel open at the same time as the pool because we just didn’t think it was a good idea to open without it,” Fischer says. “It’s a big amenity for guests.”

Once open, hotel guests will be able to utilize the pool upon check in. They’ll also receive a complimentary cocktail and have access to each business on site, including a forthcoming restaurant. It will also provide food for customers at Cocktail and The Wet Spot.

Daily access rates will apply to those who aren’t staying at the hotel. Fischer estimates a $25 fee that will include a cocktail, towel and more. Monthly rates will also be available, allowing full access for 30 days with four guests.

He currently estimates that will be within a $125 range and include perks at the three-, six- and nine-month membership marks, like VIP cabana access or other free services. Details and prices aren’t yet finalized.

View renderings and current photos of the building, including The Wet Spot’s mural by Tampa Bay artist Melanie Posner below:

While St. Petersburg has a long history with LGBTQ-focused resorts, its most recent permanently closed in 2019. Fischer says now is the right time to bring one back to the area.

“We feel like there there’s a need again for that,” he explains. “The Flamingo and Suncoast Resorts did very well in their day and with this, we’ll apply what’s been successful with ZaZoo’d, Cocktail and The Saint. There’s going to be a kitschy side to it and it’s going to be more adult-oriented and upscale, but not unapproachably upscale.”

Most importantly, it will be a welcoming space for all.

“We’re just trying to provide a space a safe space for people who want to enjoy themselves in St. Pete, whether they be from out of town or for people locally,” Fischer says. “It’s going to be fun.”

Learn more about each of Fischer’s businesses by visiting

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