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Hacienda Hotel reborn and it’s a beauty in New Port Richey

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Last updated on July 5th, 2024 at 11:04 am

The Hacienda Hotel, built in 1927, again reigns as the glamorous star of downtown New Port Richey, located 50 minutes north of Tampa.

It’s glorious that another rare Old Florida building has been saved and beautifully restored. Few buildings of its era look this good.

The main entrance to the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The main entrance to the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The pink stucco confection in Spanish Colonial architectural style reopened in September 2022 after decades of decay and closure. Ninety-five years earlier, it debuted with fanfare with a famous comedian of the day, Ed Wynn, as master of ceremony. Soon celebrities (many no longer household names) flocked here, including Thomas Meighan, Lupe Velez, Charlie Chaplin and Ann Harding.

New Port Richey was a popular site for their winter homes and some called it “Hollywood East.”

The lobby of the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey with its original chandeliers. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The lobby of the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey with its original chandeliers. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Through the first decades, the Hacienda thrived and was the place to have weddings, proms and special events in New Port Richey. But then several decades of decline followed, with the Hacienda becoming an adult congregate living facility and deteriorating into an eyesore.

Eventually, it looked like the Hacienda Hotel’s next special event was a date with the wrecking ball.

The view from the second floor public balcony at the Hacienda Hotel. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The view from the second floor public balcony at the Hacienda Hotel. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The Hacienda Hotel is reborn

Thank goodness, local people cared. They formed Friends of the Hacienda and Historic New Port Richey and the hotel was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996 during its period of decline.

Eventually a successful hotelier, Jim Gunderson, took on the multi-year renovation project working with some state grants in an agreement with the city, which owned the property since 2004. Gunderson was the ideal choice – a few years earlier he had purchased and refurbished another grand hotel that had fallen on hard times – the 1883 Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora. He now operates them both.

Historic postcard of Hacienda Hotel, New Port Richey.
Historic postcard of Hacienda Hotel, New Port Richey.

Gunderson believes in historic buildings and it shows.

The loving restoration of the Hacienda Hotel preserves so much of its original elegance. The chandeliers that grace the lobby are the originals from 1927. The lobby fireplace is a restored original. The hotel exterior is built around a graceful courtyard and at its center is the original 1927 fountain.

The Hacienda Hotel originally had 40 rooms and it still does. The rooms are pretty and comfortable but not lavish, and the same is true of the moderate prices. Most rooms are from $140 to $170, with a king suite ideal for families going for $190 to $250.

Cocktails in the courtyard of the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Cocktails in the courtyard of the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The charm of the Hacienda Hotel

The hotel’s lobby is large with a big archway dividing it from the restaurant and bar. The restaurant, Sasha’s on the Park, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The bar is a full-service operation creating hand-crafted cocktails at a bar counter made from wood reclaimed during the restoration. Our drinks were outstanding.

We took our cocktails outside to the beautiful courtyard, well-shaded in the afternoon, and sat at a table listening to gentle sounds of that exquisite 1927 fountain.

The second story balcony at the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The second story balcony at the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The hotel’s brochure suggests you also can take your ”beverage of choice” to the second-floor balcony and relax in a rocking chair. It would be a great place for morning coffee too. The balcony overlooks a leafy park and the best part of the view is gazing through the Hacienda Hotel pillars and over its courtyard.

The two-story hotel has an elevator but also a beautiful curving stairway with wrought-iron railing – just the stairs for a bride to descend.

The tower at the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The tower at the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Brides will be there, I’m sure. When we visited, a faux wedding was set up for a promotional photo shoot, with chairs for guests on the rear patio of the hotel and models dressed as bride and groom.

I have no question the Hacienda Hotel will again be THE place for your event in New Port Richey.

The bar at the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey is made of reclaimed wood from the original 1927 building. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The bar at the Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey is made of reclaimed wood from the original 1927 building. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Hacienda Hotel

official website and reservations
5621 Main St, New Port Richey, FL 34652
Reservations 888-845-5621

Is the Hacienda Hotel haunted? It seems to me that every historic hotel is said to have ghosts, and here’s a podcast about paranormal activities at the Hacienda.

What celebrities stayed at the Hacienda Hotel? You’ll find a list of some of the famous people of the time who stayed at the hotel in this interesting Tampa blog

Who was the architect of the Hacienda Hotel? Thomas Reed Martin, who also designed the iconic Columbia Restaurant in Tampa among many others.

The Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey looking romantic at night. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
The Hacienda Hotel in New Port Richey looking romantic at night. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Downtown New Port Richey: Again a draw, like the Hacienda

The Hacienda is built on Main Street, and the friendly gentleman at the desk confided: A few years ago, you wouldn’t have come to this area. When the hotel was a group home, it was not a place you wanted to hang around.

Downtown redevelopment, however, has transformed New Port Richey and the Hacienda Hotel is a key ingredient.

Orange Lake in downtown New Port Richey is a lovely place for a walk and to admire the flocks of birds. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Orange Lake in downtown New Port Richey is a lovely place for a walk and to admire the flocks of birds. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

The hotel is located on the river that brought people to New Port Riche – the Pithlachascotee River, which everyone shortens to the Cotee River. Connecting the hotel and the Cotee, there are paved walkways, which continue for a scenic block along the river and then arc through Sims Park.

Sims Park has an amphitheater and a water playground. In March every year, it is home to the Chasco Festival, a nine-day festival with parades (by land on opening weekend and by boat on closing weekend), concerts, a carnival plus all the sorts of foods, competitions and exhibits. New Port Richey has had a Chasco Festival for 101 years!

Sims Park extends west around circular Orange Lake, with attractive landscaping, walkways, flocks of birds, benches and gazebos. These days, the neighborhood around the Hacienda is an attractive place.

Downtown New Port Richey has preserved some historic buildings. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)
Downtown New Port Richey has preserved some historic buildings. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Main Street and intersecting Grand Avenue are home to several restored historic buildings. One of the oldest buildings is the Thomas Meighan Theatre, named for the silent-movie star who built a large winter home in New Port Richey. The first movie shows was Meighan’s “The New Klondike,” a story set during Florida’s 1920s land boom. The theater is still in use and it looks remarkably like its historic photos.

The downtown is now home to several good restaurants.

We had a great dinner at a sidewalk table at The Social, oblivious to the lively bar scene and rooftop bar for which the place is known. Our second dinner was outdoors across the street from the Hacienda at Backdraughts Pizza, a family owned spot with excellent wood-fire pizza and craft beer, adjacent to a draft brewery, Infusion Brewing Company.  If we’d stayed more nights, we would have tried some other highly rated spots all within walking distance of The Hacienda.

Things to do in New Port Richey area

Driving into New Port Richey, we drove north on US 19 through mile after mile suburban sprawl. Off the highway, however, we found natural beauty and the historic downtown.  

Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park is 15 minutes from downtown New Port Richey. It’s a good place for kayaking into the Gulf past the region’s historic stilt houses. East of town there is excellent hiking and a seven-mile smooth, paved bike trail through the forest at nearby Starke Wildnerness Park, which is covered in the Werner-Boyce article.

Stilt house New Port Richey near Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park.
Stilt house New Port Richey near Werner Boyce Salt Springs State Park. (Photo: Bonnie Gross)

Boating is popular in this area and there are a number of very popular waterfront restaurants and bars – so popular we had trouble getting parking at them on a Thursday night in season. Check TripAdvisor or Yelp for listings.

If you’re visiting the area, we recommend these spots in the region covered in Florida Rambler articles:

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  • James Shaw says:

    While informative and with some historically accurate narrative. The Author failed to note the Hotel was once owned by Johnny Cash and Des Little ( the story goes they won it in a poker game ) Johnny and June used to visit regularly to the area, as Mabel Carter owned a Bungalow at the mouth of the Cotee river. Growing up here in New Port Richey was a Joy, my first Movie experience was at the Megan Theater and the Movie ” The Blob ” I watch from the Balcony area, the soda shop at Roscoe’s Pharmacy, the old train station on Grand Blvd, swimming and boating in the Chasco, during the hot times of the year, etc . I’m glad to see that some of the old city charm is being brought back.

    • Bonnie Gross says:

      Thanks so much for your recollections. None of the material about the Hacienda Hotel I have read, however, includes Johnny Cash owning it. I have read he stayed there and that his wife’s family owned one of the stilt houses in the Gulf, so there’s no doubt he had an assocation with the hotel.

  • waxixe6397 says:

    What a stunning restoration! It’s so wonderful to see a building with such a rich history preserved so beautifully. I’m curious, do you know if the Friends of the Hacienda or Historic New Port Richey have any future plans for other historic buildings in the area?

    mr waxixe

    http://www.primarytinting.net

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