Amid its place along Florida’s West Coast, the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach has been changing up its scope of wellness and dining through its onsite offerings.
Opened in 2017, this Wyndham Hotels & Resorts property near its namesake stretch of sand is marking its fifth year by introducing plant-based meal servings and new health and fitness offerings.
“The property has continued to grow and receive more leisure business; that’s been a really great trend to see,” said Taylor Eckard, the hotel’s marketing manager. “And we also are continually trying to elevate the guest experience at the property.”
Families are among its guests. According to Eckard, the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach enables them to experience The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is less than a mile away from the hotel, in a unique way. In 2017, the Wyndham property and the aquarium partnered in creating six aquatic themed rooms whose decor is inspired by the aquarium’s celebrity resident, Winter the Dolphin, and other marine life.
Now doubled in number, the 12 rooms are geared toward families with 12 percent from their bookings going to benefit the aquarium. Amid a total of 343 guestrooms, these “Winter & Friends Room Bunks” contain a bunk bed, a king bed and other room amenities. Images of aquatic animals decorate the surroundings.
“And we encourage those guests to go visit the aquarium and learn more about that important organization that’s right next door to us,” said Eckard.
Along with supporting the aquarium, Eckard noted that the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach has implemented eco-friendly measures such as refillable water pitchers in place of plastic bottles at meetings. Guests are encouraged to use coffee mugs as well.
With dining, plant-based menu options are available throughout the hotel’s F&B offerings, such as at Dock’s Pool Bar & Grille and eSKPades, a grab-and-go lobby spot. Their main restaurant, Ocean Hai, has a vegetarian menu alongside its breakfast, lunch and dinner servings.
Ocean Hai’s vegetarian menu starts with appetizers ranging from edamame dumplings, to crispy tofu, to crispy Brussels sprouts. It then lists a Thai coconut soup and an Asian green salad. Entrees include a crispy tofu lo mein, a plant-based burger and stir fry vegetables.
Ocean Hai is under the helm of Head Chef Nana Darkwah, a Ghanaian-born chef who started his career at a restaurant in Pennsylvania.
In 2012, Darkwah moved to Florida after accepting a cook position at Caretta on the Gulf at the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach. At this resort, through his work at the restaurant’s sushi bar, Darkwah introduced new flavors and concepts.
Darkwah has been working at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach for about five years now. At Ocean Hai, Darkwah draws upon his experiences with helping his grandmother in the kitchen to adjust the restaurant’s Asian dining concept. He is now introducing a fusion cuisine of African and Asian flavors to the restaurant’s menus.
“When he came to us, he quickly showed us his passion for involving the guest in the [dining] experience and really delivering something special to the guest,” said Eckard.
In addition to Ocean Hai, the hotel’s Dock’s Pool Bar & Grille prepares small plates, salads, sandwiches and flatbreads amid its poolside setting. eSKPades serves coffee and other beverages from morning into mid-afternoon and then switches to cocktails in the evening.
The addition of Recess beverages, a line of sparkling waters infused with hemp and adaptogens, coincides with other wellness-related initiatives at the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach. The hotel has entered into a partnership with 1Team Fitness, which will offer private retreats and group fitness activities to guests; there’s also a new Wellness Experience Package.