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New hotel being built in Dunedin, Florida, especially for Toronto Blue Jays baseball team

Oct. 13, 2021
7 min read
New hotel being built in Dunedin, Florida, especially for Toronto Blue Jays baseball team
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You can call this Southern hospitality, major league baseball style. The Toronto Blue Jays are building a hotel specifically for its players to call home during their annual spring training visits to Dunedin, Florida.

The hotel is to be built on a stretch of property near the water in Dunedin, which is located on Florida's Gulf coast — and happened to be one of the stops on Zach Honig's tour of the area earlier this year.

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The proposed development is a three-story, 51-room boutique property that is being called the J Hotel. It's a fitting name, given that the hotel is meant to be a dormitory exclusively for Blue Jays players during spring training. The city commission had a meeting about the hotel Oct. 7 with the developer and landowners, according to the St. Pete Catalyst.

(Image courtesy of the city of Dunedin)

The hotel is part of a long-term agreement between the city and the Toronto organization signed in 2017 that committed the Blue Jays to remain in Dunedin and continue playing their games at TD Ballpark for 25 more years. It also included a $120 million, 115,000-square-foot Player Development Center that opened in town earlier this year.

Related: Florida tourism on the rebound

The hotel is considered the final piece codifying the MLB team's commitment to its preseason home, while providing the players a comfortable and private place to live as they work out and get ready for the upcoming season. Only a few of the rooms at the hotel will reportedly be made available to non-players outside of the spring training season.

“[The developers] have a blank canvas, so this will be the best dormitory/hotel in all of professional baseball,” Charlie Wilson, general manager of minor league operations for the Blue Jays, stated during a previous meeting about the hotel.

A view of fans in the stands at TD Ballpark during a game between the Atlanta Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays on May 2 in Dunedin, Florida. (Photo by Matt May/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Dunedin is one of several gems along the Gulf coast, an area known for its beaches, boating and baseball. Baseball fans from all over flock to Florida's "West Coast" each spring to watch their favorite major league baseball teams get ready for the upcoming season. The Grapefruit League, as it's called, is a cherished tradition for baseball diehards. Spring training is also hugely important to the host communities because it means a huge bump in tourism spending.

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Read more: United Airlines adds 3 more point-to-point routes from the Midwest

How to get there

If you want to plan a trip around spring training, getting to Dunedin is fairly easy, since it's close to Tampa. You can fly into Tampa International Airport (TPA) and then make the short drive to Dunedin from there. It's about 25 miles, so it should take close to 40 minutes, as long as traffic isn't too bad.

Related: 13 of the best beaches in Florida

There are several options for Toronto-based fans to follow their team down south in March. There are a number of nonstop flights out of Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Tampa via WestJet (a partner of Delta Air Lines) and Air Canada. WestJet flights are as low as $295 round-trip at the moment.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Many of the cheapest return flights do include a stop, but between the two Canadian airlines (plus the legacy U.S. airlines), you should have plenty of flexibility to chose the price and schedule that suits you best.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

Some snowbirds who come down for spring training may also want to make a visit to Disney World or Universal Orlando. If that's the case, you can break up the trip by traveling first to Orlando International Airport (MCO) or Orlando Sanford International (SFB) and spend a few days at a theme park before making the 107-mile drive west on Interstate 4 to Dunedin.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Maps)

As with Tampa, there are quite a few flight options from Toronto to Orlando. The cheapest flight we found right now for a March trip, when spring training takes place, is on the ultra-budget Canadian carrier Swoop. It's just $195 round-trip for a nonstop flight to Orlando Sanford Airport.

Flights involving Orlando International tend to cost at least $77 more per itinerary — though the location of MCO is much more convenient than than of SFB.

(Screenshot courtesy of Google Flights)

You could also choose to fly first to Tampa and then drive from there to Orlando. It just depends on how you plan your itinerary. Obviously, keep an eye out for sale or deal alerts involving Tampa and/or Orlando because depending on your destination city, you could find a good price.

Related: Florida travel on the rebound as hotels sell out and airlines add flights

Where to stay

Once you get there, you'll need a place to stay. There are approximately 6,600 hotel rooms and other guest properties in the Dunedin area, according to Hotels.com. There are a number of points hotels in the area, too.

(Photo courtesy of Fenway Hotel)

The Fenway Hotel, an Autograph Collection property that dates back to the Jazz Age, starts at $293 per night or 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a six-night stay. Like many spring training towns, hotels that are really close to the ballpark tend to get booked up quickly, and can get expensive due to the time-tested "supply and demand" theory. One way to avoid this is to book a hotel a few minutes away.

You could also look for a vacation rental, as TPG Senior Editor Nick Ewen did on a May 2020 visit to Dunedin. The two-bedroom house he booked on Airbnb was walking distance from both downtown and the ballpark — though that particular rental has a 21-day minimum in March 2022.

Related: These are the best times to visit Florida

There are a number of points hotels in Clearwater Beach, which is just a 20-minute drive from Dunedin. The AC Hotel Clearwater Beach is a new hotel in the area and you can book rooms in March for $387 or 40,000 points per night. Bonvoy members get one night free for every five they book using points, so keep that in mind while planning your trip.

(Image courtesy of AC Hotels)

Keep in mind that visiting a destination like Dunedin during spring training is peak-season travel. A room at the Residence Inn in Clearwater is going to cost you around $246 per night. The Fairfield Inn & Suites will run about $245 per night at the moment, and will likely rise as you get closer to spring.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees