Pass-a-Grille is a hidden gem on the very southern tip of St Pete Beach. It attracts visitors and locals who appreciate a more laid back lifestyle versus the tourist towns and beaches around the region.
Maggie Caruso knows the area well. As a property owner and manager of three beautiful boutique hotels under the brand, St Pete Boutique Hotel Collection and the founder of Visit Pass-a-Grille, an online community resource for all things Pass-a-Grille, she not only welcomes visitors to the region, but also provides top-notch advice on where to go and what to do while visiting.
OUTCOAST sat down with Maggie to learn more about her one-of-a-kind hotel collection and to better understand her passion for supporting the community.
Where are you from and what brought you to the region?
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York by Cuban American parents. I enjoyed a busy life in NYC until I moved to Pass-a-Grille (PAG) in 1992 when I was in my early 20’s to join Joe Caruso (my current business partner) to help him run Sabal Palms Inn which was previously owned by his parents but operated as apartments. I fell in love with Pass-a-Grille the very first time I drove into the neighborhood. I felt the New York City sensory overload just melt away.
When did you officially open?
Sabal Palms Inn was fully operational in 1992, Coconut Inn was opened in 2011, and Havana Inn in 2014 thus creating the St Pete Beach Boutique Hotel Collection, our brand.
Tell us about each of your properties. What makes each unique from the another?
Sabal Palms Inn is rustic, family friendly and quiet. Coconut Inn has a bit more of a beachy modern flair, closer to the center of PAG. And Havana Inn has larger apartments decorated in classical beach style. Wood floors and comfy furniture.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your rentals?
Our staff 100%. The housekeepers’ hard work and attention to detail has earned us the Superior Small Lodging’s White Glove Award for all three properties year after year.
What is the most rewarding part about your job?
Interacting with guests is by far my favorite thing about my job. Seeing them arrive stressed out from their busy lives and travels and then seeing them slowly relax as they take in their laid back environment while our staff dotes on them.
What is your favorite thing about Pass A Grille?
I can’t pick just one. There is so much to love about PAG: PAG’s low key vibe; the way tourists adapt to local life very quickly; restaurants, ice cream shop, outdoor market and boutiques are all walking or biking distance; and then there is the sunset community that gathers at Paradise Grille to ring in the sunset every night.
You also run www.visitpassagrille.
com. Tell us about the site and what it has to offer visitors to the region.
The site offers all the info you need to learn about the area including our events throughout the year.
What are some of the key events throughout the year that visitors to the area should know about? Which of these is your favorite and why?
Once a quarter we have the 8th Ave Party Under the Lights which is everyone’s favorite block party with music and food. Another very popular event is the annual Beach Goes Pops. Every weekend there is an outdoor artists market on the pavillion next to Paradise Grille facing the water.
When you aren’t working, what are you doing for fun?
Hanging out with my teenagers Sophia and Joseph, spending quality time with my life partner Jodi and her son Ryder, doing yoga on the beach, enjoying our paradise, and discovering great local restaurants.
What would you like to say to LGBTQ visitors to your property?
We have been LGBTQ friendly since we began operating in 1992 and that continues today. Whether you are here for just a night or getting married on our beautiful beach and staying for a week we want you to know that you are safe, you are welcomed by all our staff and your business is appreciated.
To learn more about the SPB Boutique Hotel Collection, click here.
To learn more about Pass-a-Grille, click here.