What do you get when you combine a modern hotel aesthetic with unique local history that includes a pirate, lost treasure, and sea turtles? The new Cambria Hotel, located a block from the beach and marina at Madeira Beach, FL.

Inspired by History

When it comes to a new project, I always consider the hotel’s site, context, and history. Designers look to the past in countless ways to create spaces that are meaningful reflections of a location’s time and place while keeping the design free from the dictated historical style.

As with any hotel brand, Cambria has design standards JAI is required to follow. These reflect signature elements that make the Cambria brand easily identifiable to its guests. Within those standards, there is room to creatively modify and adapt certain aspects of the design to fit the individual hotel’s specific location. For us, that’s where the fun begins.

Pirates, Treasures, and Sea Turtles

Our historical research into Madeira Beach led us on a treasure hunt. We were introduced to the legend of John LeVeque, a pirate who is credited as the first western settler of the area. Upon arriving to the Madeira Beach area, LeVeque buried his treasure on the beach, retired from his pirating ways and became a turtle farmer.

Upon returning from a trip to New Orleans where he sold many of his turtles, LeVeque found the island split in two by a huge storm – right where he had buried his treasure.

Since that day, the inlet has been known as John’s Pass in honor of LeVeque’s discovery and maiden passage through the waterway. He never found his treasure, but he did settle there. His isolated island has become a quaint fishing community.

A Legendary Design Experience

Based on John LeVeque’s legend, we wanted Cambria’s guests to go on their own treasure hunt within the hotel. Throughout the design, turtles, gold coins, jewels, compasses, and maps are hidden throughout in artwork and even in the tiles of the pool.

The hotel has a parking garage on the first two levels, which places the main lobby on the third floor. We created a small “jump lobby” on the first floor with a “below sea level” theme. It features a 41’ wide sea turtle mural, rugs and furnishings with the colors of sea glass, and oversized pendants that replicate sea urchins.

Guests take the elevator up to the third floor and arrive “on land” with tropical palms, florals, and greenery. The decorative lobby columns contain etched palms and the carpets and artwork subtly tell a story that the average guests may never specifically pinpoint. Each guest corridor has a combination of river rock and palms in the carpet design.

Ready, Set, Relax.

Madeira Beach uses the slogan “Ready. Set. Relax.” We tied that theme into our selections for guest accommodations. 

While we used the standard casegoods in the guestrooms, we customized the sizes of some pieces for the best flow and comfortable layout. The carpets, rugs, and seating were all customized to reflect the relaxation of Gulf breezes, the tranquility of white sand beaches, and the beauty of evening sunsets. We also incorporated sea turtles into the headboard murals in the guestrooms.

Sofa sleepers are not typical for the Cambria brand because their hotels are often located in urban areas and frequented by millennials and professionals. However, because the Madeira Beach Cambria is more of a resort destination with many families, we made sure the rooms were designed to comfortably accommodate children and families.

Relaxation isn’t complete without the fun and leisure of pools, restaurants, and bars. At the Madeira Beach Cambria, the bars and dining areas are designed to accommodate the location, and they feature a top local chef.  Guests can start their day with a sit-down or grab-and-go breakfast. The restaurant’s open, contemporary layout includes patio seating with beautiful views.

The cherry on top of this hotel design is the rooftop pool and bar. Watch the sunset over the ocean with panoramic views of water from the rooftop in one of the locally made rocking chairs. The infinity pool has two man-made beaches and 8” water zones, making it great for small children to safely play while adults sunbathe.

While the dining and bars are open to the public, only hotel guests can enjoy the pool and cabanas.

Overcoming Challenges

Every design project tests our problem-solving abilities. The biggest challenge with this property was the structural design of the building. The support columns required us to create 65 different room types instead of our typical 8-12 room types. With that many specifications, it required extreme attention to detail, efficiency, and organization, especially when quantifying items for procurement. For example, instead of specifying two or three vanity sizes, we had to design 14 of them.

Thankfully, JAI quickly gained the trust and confidence of the Cambria brand, the local developer and contractor, LEMA Construction. We worked well together, and building our relationship with the developer was one of the biggest highlights of the project.

Originally he thought he wanted this property to be a Cambria prototype, which is well-suited for urban locations. As we built our relationship, it was clear he wanted this property to be more tropical and have a local flair.  We both agreed, this location deserved that. He trusted JAI’s expertise throughout the process and our collaboration on the project was a big part of its success.  

Welcome to the Neighborhood, Cambria

One of the best parts of the Cambria Hotel on Madeira Beach is that it is located right in our backyard. Having the hotel close to home was helpful during the last few months as finishes and furnishings were being installed.

Though the hotel had a bit of a delayed opening due to setbacks with COVID-19, many Floridians were ready to book their staycations as soon as Cambria announced their opening. Now, out-of-state travelers are also ready to soak up the Florida sunshine and savor the beauty of the Gulf Coast views at the Cambria Hotel St Petersburg-Madeira Beach Marina.

Design that Makes a Difference

If you are designing a hotel or your hotel is ready for a renovation, it is important to work with an interior design firm that understands how exceptional design affects your guests’ experience and your bottom line. It’s possible to receive a quality, thoughtful design that stays within your brand standards and also keeps your budget in line. 

Now having the JAI team located in multiple states, we have even more flexibility when building and renovating hotels around the country. Contact JAI today for an initial design consultation, and let’s work together to make your project a huge success. Learn more about how JAI is committed to Design that Makes a Difference.