Current Hotel is a Timeless Addition to Tampa's Rocky Point
By Andrew Nielsen General Manager, The Current Hotel, Autograph Collection | September 22, 2019
As a Napa Valley native, my hometown and childhood experiences heavily influenced my education and ultimately, my career. The area's world-renowned vineyards, culinary innovation and gourmet restaurants paved the way for a profession in hospitality. I found inspiration around every corner, making it easy for me to develop a passion for the industry and pursue it as a profession.
Growing up in wine country, it's no surprise that my family has a history in grape harvesting and wine production, and because of this, I acquired a pallet of my own, achieving the Advanced Sommelier certification through the Guild of the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Food and beverage, lodging, tourism, recreation – I have a passion for all segments of hospitality. Each specialty of the industry provides the opportunity to work with different people all over the country. In 2002, my career path led me to Florida, where I happily accepted a position to work for Loews Hotels at the historic Don Cesar Beach Resort on St. Pete Beach. Although in 2007 I was transferred to Loews Philadelphia Hotel, I knew I wanted to return to Tampa Bay area, a special place for hospitality, business and tourism. Thankfully, years later, I found myself back in the Sunshine State as general manager of the one-of-a-kind Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, Current, located on Rocky Point in Tampa.
Current, a new Autograph Collection Hotel by Marriott, Tampa, FL
When Stan Lifsey, part-owner of the hotel and president of Lifsey Real Estate & Holdings, and John Marks, vice president of operations for Pinnacle Hotel Management, first approached me about managing Current, their excitement for the project and all it would mean for Tampa and Rocky Point was palpable. Learning more about the history behind the hotel's ideation, I quickly caught onto their vision. It's no question as to why there was such emotion involved in the planning and execution of this property and the guest experience. The Marriott Autograph Collection promises a hotel exactly like nothing else. Stan and John truly embraced this concept, and Current delivers as an experience unlike any you've had before.
To start, the name "current" wasn't chosen out of thin air, nor was it the result of an hour-long team brainstorming session. It was for us, the only logical choice. The name embodies decades of rich history and community efforts, just like the tangible elements in the physical structure. Current embraces the fluidity of the ocean, its tide flowing in and out. It also takes on the more abstract meaning of what's going on in pop culture, art and society. Everything from the hotel's architecture to the seasonal menu items depicts the meaning of "current."
Current may be new construction, but its inspiration goes back generations. The hotel pays homage to the man who is considered Rocky Point's founding father – Julian H. Lifsey, Jr. A former lawyer, banker, land developer and world traveler, the former Lifsey's legacy is still very much alive in Tampa Bay, and especially on Rocky Point. He began his career in 1951 as a commercial real estate developer and within a few years gained public attention for his involvement in a then-extraordinary $1 million transaction for the 6,000-acre Boot Ranch, located north of Oldsmar.
A discerning businessman with a keen eye for property development, Lifsey shifted his attentions to Rocky Point Island, which at the time was mostly dusty, shell-covered roads and vacant waterfront land. As owner of this untapped gem, he was determined to redefine the island and breathe new life into the community. In search of restaurant concepts for Rocky Point, Lifsey traveled the world in a restored B-52 bomber plane with his friend and founder of Specialty Restaurant Corporation, David Tallichet. They returned from their excursion with visions that came to life. Two of those concepts still remain today, and are considered Rocky Point mainstays: Whiskey Joe's Bar & Grill, and The Rusty Pelican.
Lifsey was a lover of good food, innovative ideas, and timeless spaces. Lifsey Real Estate & Holdings and Pinnacle Hotel Management found it more than fitting to model Current and its onsite restaurant, aptly named Julian, after the man who set the stage for such a development decades before. It was this story that secured my personal love and dedication as not only the hotel's manager, but as an advocate of experiential hospitality, founded in rich culture and history.
Much like the life of Julian H. Lifsey, Current's surrounding environment greatly influenced the hotel's offerings, architecture and decor. A waterfront property, the hotel features designs inspired by Tampa Bay. Upon entering, guests are treated to a tall, dark brown ceiling, made to look like a rippling wave while the walls are a contrasting white marble. Further inside the lobby, visitors get a glimpse of the Bay, which they will also experience in their room as all of Current's 180 guest rooms offer water views and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The building presents a modern, contemporary design while at the same time exuding a safe, comfortable space for families, couples and singles alike. The contrasted white and black color tones pair well with the subtle hints of blue accents, and create an edgy yet soothing atmosphere, ideal for a corporate, executive, and leisure traveler. Showing up to work every day, I can personally attest that Current's interior never gets old. Upon arrival, you feel refreshed and ready to start the day. When walking out of the lobby doors, you feel content, reflecting on a hard day's work, or re-hydrated, having just enjoyed time filled with beach therapy, art, and mouth-watering dishes.
Current is ideally situated on the edge of Tampa's business district, approximately five minutes from the Tampa International Airport and ten minutes from Downtown Tampa. Its position allows for easy access to the area's idyllic, award-winning beaches, and the many businesses in the surrounding cities of Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg.
Its size makes for an intimate experience, where guests receive VIP treatment and excellent service. If you need more room to celebrate, we've got that covered with our 5,000 square feet of outdoor/indoor event space guarantees enough room for large parties, weddings, business meetings and local organizations to congregate. On the 9th floor, guests can take in the views while jogging on a treadmill in our 24-hour fitness center, equipped with the latest exercise machines. Back on the first floor, you will find an infinity-inspired pool, open only to guests, complete with a large patio and once again, a view of Tampa Bay. Just steps away, a private beach awaits the pleasure reader, while water sports and equipment sit ready for the adventurer.
With historical ties to the area, Current embraces the community. Since its inception, our team made it a priority to incorporate local businesses in the hotel's offerings. Oxford Exchange, Tampa's favorited shop and restaurant, manages and leads the hotel's retail space, suitably named Curated. Venturing further into the lobby, guests' senses are awakened to the smell of freshly ground coffee beans by local coffee roaster, Buddy Brew.
Just like an ocean current, nothing at this 4-star boutique hotel stays idle for too long. Current's handpicked art gallery rotates every six to eight months, featuring well-known local artists' like Theo Wujcik, Mark Aeling and Alberto Murillo. Julian, the hotel's main restaurant, delivers an ever-changing selection of internationally inspired small plates as well as trending cocktails, made with local liquors and craft beer. Leader and star of the culinary scene at Current, Executive Chef Andrew Basch will head the entire food production process - from handpicking seasonal ingredients from local farmers to deliberately pairing the flavors and then, finally styling the artfully plated dishes. In Julian, guests sit comfortably, with an unmistakable view of the bay and an internationally inspired meal, meeting the criteria of any experienced food critic.
Offering guests panoramic views of Tampa Bay, Rox, the hotel's rooftop bar, is, as of now, the area's tallest rooftop bar. To accompany its hand-crafted cocktails, extensive wine and beer menu and savory bites. The bar includes both a floor-to-ceiling glass atrium, ideal for watching a summer storm roll in, and an open-air seating area to enjoy Florida's moderate seasons. As Tampa's food and beverage scene continues to grow, this rooftop is the go-to spot for visitors and locals, and a true highlight of the hotel's design.
As mentioned, Current is a part of Marriott's Autograph Collection. The hotels in this collection exemplify what it means to be a boutique hotel, with each one providing a specific guest experience, referred to as a "Mark." Unknown by many, each Autograph hotel's mark is created by the hotel's team and is showcased only at that specific hotel. Marriott gives the hotel team creative license to customize the architecture and interior design, overall brand, and guest experience with the Mark, which all allows for creating that unforgettable, inimitable experience.
Current's Mark embraces all things Tampa, a city known for many things – a burgeoning food and beverage scene, Cuban sandwiches and cigars, and the arts – but perhaps most endearing is the consistent, unwavering warmth and hospitality of its local people.
References to Tampa's history, past and present, are experienced at different touch points throughout the property, from a warm welcome postcard given at check-in featuring historic photographs of Old Tampa, to modern art inspired by local artists showcased in our carefully curated gallery. Guests will even be able to take a little bit of our city home with them, as each day a different local artist will be onsite to craft a tangible piece of Tampa for them, making our mark on every person that walks through the door.
At Current, nothing was chosen by mistake. Every detail is intentional. The architecture, interior design, amenities, handpicked ingredients, specialty cocktails, art pieces, community vendors, staff members and decor elements were specifically curated for Current, and Current only.
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