The new owners of the Cordova Inn, the oldest hotel in St. Pete, are breathing new life into the property while embracing its old charm.
This month, New Hotel Collection founder and Chief Investment Officer Tommy Del Zoppo and his team opened a craft coffee and classic cocktail bar inside the 100-year-old hotel, located at 253 2nd Ave. N.
The bar, dubbed The Scott (it was the hotel’s original name, in 1921) includes a bar, and a room for a business center, and is decked out with more than 30 photos showcasing the city’s past, curated by the St. Petersburg Museum of History.
“To me, there’s no other place in St. Pete that has this vibe. I love the art deco style, and the hotel and The Scott called out for that — it was so easy for me to visualize,” said Del Zoppo, a longtime resident. “This is completely different than our other properties that were either on the beach or in Tennesee … You’re making a bet on St. Pete. I’ve been here long enough to see it grow exponentially, and I’m willing to take that bet.”
The Pinellas County-based New Hotel Collection group also owns Beachside Resort in Indian Shores and the Central Hotel in Sevierville, Tenn., along with a hotel inside Harbourside Resort in Indian Rocks Beach.
The group acquired the Neoclassical Revival architecture-style Cordova property in December, 2019 in a roughly $3 million deal. The purchase came during the Covid-19 pandemic — when the future of certain businesses, especially in the hospitality sector, was unclear.
“We didn’t blink once at it,” Del Zoppo said, describing how he fell in love with the architecture and the porcelain bathtubs and water fountain.
“When the things started to reopen, we felt St. Pete was going to rebound and we had our best revenue during that time,” he said, crediting the activity to staycationers, or people who wanted an escape in their own backyard, and also the fact the hotel only has 34 rooms.
“There’s no affordable hotel space near the Pier where people can stay. We wanted to develop this hotel to bring back the romance of the Roaring 20s and attract visitors who want a unique experience and would stay with us for one or two days,” Del Zoppo added, stating they want to deliver a five-star experience with a three-star price point.
“It reminds me a little bit of Tennessee, where we bought a hotel that had been an old bank. What was happening is vacationers were bypassing the city. The government then allocated several millions of dollars to bring that style back with cobblestone roads and family-owned businesses lining the streets,” he said, comparing to how the newly redesigned St. Pete Pier and other new assets are helping the city garner the most tourism potential.
While The Scott is now open, there is still work to be done. Del Zoppo said the company will be renovating the rooms in the hotel but will retain the historical charm and features. See the images here.