Groovy, cool, neat-o and any other ‘60s saying you might surmise aptly describe the space that makes up Frenchy’s Oasis Motel. A classic motor lodge with a courtyard-style pool and back “yard” marina, Frenchy’s is located just a walk away from Clearwater Beach. Backing up to Tampa Bay, views of buildings, boats, birds and my favorite part of the Sunshine State, palm trees, make stays at this renovated ‘60s-inspired hideaway one of the best places to hang loose and chill out.
Recently, Budget Travel named Frenchy’s Oasis Motel in Clearwater one of the ‘Top 10 Secret Hotels of Florida’s Gulf Coast.” Several charming hotels and B&Bs from Panama City and Apalachicola to Fort Myers, St. Petersburg and Naples made the list. Small, homey and down-to-earth, the choices all came in at $155 or less, including high season. This was the only motivation we needed to try it out.
Now, we’ve been to the Tampa/Clearwater area many times and consider it a second home. We met Winter the dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium before she went all Hollywood, hung out with Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd and became the most famous dolphin in the world. The Lowry Park Zoo, the Courtney Campbell Causeway, John’s Pass near Madeira Beach, the pink palace that is the Don Cesar at St. Pete Beach, nearby Tarpon Springs and the soft, bleached white sand of Clearwater Beach (I could go on and on…trust me.) are scenes we hope to one day see on a regular basis. For now, we’ll settle for visiting as often as possible.
Upon arriving at Frenchy’s, simply follow the flip-flops to the office where managers Jim and Vickie will be more than happy to help with anything from suggesting restaurants and day-trip excursions to getting you quickly checked into your room. We actually arrived after closing time. That was completely our fault and we should have checked ahead of time (this is a small, family-run place, after all). However, we called the emergency number and Jim answered right away and got us all settled in. No prob-lemo.
The rooms at Frenchy’s are big and spacious with mini kitchens and a table. Maybe “efficiency” is the correct term. I don’t know. I just know I like it. With our room situated on the back of the building, we could open our sliding glass door and walk out onto the docks at the marina adjacent to the property. Each morning we were greeted by the best of Florida’s flora and fauna. Pelicans, egrets and other sea birds hang out hoping for a taste or two from the restaurant next door.
Frenchy’s makes the most of color throughout the property. The green of palms and plants pop against citrus shades of lemon, lime and melon. Baby blue and black are backdrops for retro clocks and vintage postcard art in the rooms. Clean-lined chairs and a table give a practical purpose to a retro space age pool-side lounge that offers a computer and borrowable DVD collection.
I tend to notice the little things and Frenchy’s takes the cake with their super soft Martex towels – orange for the pool and crisp white for rooms. Housekeeping service is an extra fee but towels will be replaced daily if needed. Just stick them in the laundry basket, set it outside your room and you will be rewarded with fresh towels. Who needs housekeeping when you’re at the beach?
Frenchy’s is within blocks of the soft sand at Clearwater Beach and I suggest grabbing the shades, leaving the ride and walking. Parking at the beach, especially for those super groovy Gulf Coast sunsets and Pier 60 events, can be tricky and expensive. Plus, it’s always nice to try to walk off some of those calories from lunch or dinner. Frenchy also owns a collection of restaurants in Clearwater, one of them right on the sand. The ones that I’ve been to are fab. That will have to be another posting.
By the way, in case you were wondering … “Frenchy” is the nickname of the French Canadian owner who took the snowbird route to Clearwater and decided to stay.
Frenchy’s took a classic motor lodge style establishment, decked it out in citrus tints, retro décor and swoopy-swervy lines and introduced it to the beach. And what a groovy hook-up it is. Surfer dudes and hippy chicks would have to agree.