It's a winding maze of wooden walkways, shady grottoes, cascading waterfalls and green-carpeted fairways. Heck, there's even a pirate ship. For a quarter-century, families visiting Clearwater Beach and seeking a break from the sand and sun have been stopping by to play 18 holes at a miniature golf course called Captain Bligh's Landing.
Now Captain Bligh and his pet parrot will have to walk the plank. The course's owners have plans to replace it with a nine-story, 159-room hotel, possibly a Marriott.
It makes economic sense for the owners. The tourist attraction at 630 S Gulfview Blvd. is just across the street from the well-known Shephard's Beach Resort and a number of other beachfront resort properties that are being developed or expanded.
"The maintenance costs go up as it gets older," said Taso Anastasopoulos. Recently, roots from one of the course's lush palm trees burst a water pipe, requiring costly repairs. From the course at the south end of Clearwater Beach, one can look across S Gulfview Boulevard at Shephard's, which recently doubled in size. There's also the future site of the Clearwater Beach Guesthouse, a 10-story tower to be built on a Holiday Inn's parking lot; the future site of a 171-room Hampton Inn & Suites; the Wyndham Garden hotel, which is to replaced by a newer, bigger 14-story hotel; and a long-vacant lot where there are plans for a condo-hotel project called Marquesas.
Clearwater's City Council has approved the concept of a 159-room hotel on the nearly 2-acre Captain Bligh site, with a rooftop pool, a 243-space parking garage and 18,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The specific plans must still be approved by the city's development board, so there's no specific timeline yet for construction.