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Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

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M

Name:Outrigger Inn
Type:hotel
Street:6800 Sunshine Skyway Lane South
City:St. Petersburg
State:FL
Zip:
country:USA
Phone:
Status:defunct

Description:
A Hawaiian / Polynesian themed hotel / motel with restaurant and nightly Polynesian shows.

M

I went though all the google timeline papers to try and put together a history of this place. I know this place is already mentioned in the Trader Vic's thread that was built there afterwards, but I figured I would start it's own thread since some of the timeline is wrong in the other one.

The Outrigger's original address was 6800 34th Street South, which was later turned into Sunshine Skyway Lane.

The Outrigger Inn had a fairly short life span. I couldn't find an exact date, but it looks like it opened in 1961. It was built out of the combination of the Doctors Motel, built in 1957, and the Skyway Motel, built in 1954. It was bought by Sheraton in January 1966 for $1.2 million and was briefly known as the Sheraton Outrigger before it became the Sheraton Bel Air Resort in 1971. In 1987, the property became the Days Inn Marina Beach Resort, and then turned into a Holiday Inn Sun Spree resort in 1998, which it still is today.

Here is a great article / review from the Feb. 20, 1963 issue of the St. Petersburg Times describing the Inn:


The Outrigger Inn is all aglow these weeks with top entertainment for the tourist season. Based on a South Sea Island motif and as plush as can be, The Outrigger Inn is like a visit to another world. It offers a breathtaking view of the skyway bridge which also acts as a guide to visitors who are new on the Suncoast. the Outrigger Inn is located just north of the toll gate on US 19 (34th St.)

The atmosphere in the Outrigger Inn is such that you expect to see Marlon Brando pop around the corner and do a scene from "mutiny on the Bounty," or perhaps the "Hawaiian Eye" might even show up from TV.

The food consists of tantalizing Polynesian dishes as well as American food if desired. You'll find all the favorites such as Hawaiian luau's, roast duck Mandarin, sub gum chicken chow mein and many more.

The drinks are on the exotic flavor and just as daring. The "Outrigger Swizzle," "Headhunter," and "Pineapple Royal" are all to be approached with caution.

Even the entertainment has an island flavor. Susie Kawana, Leiana )from the Hilo Hatti Show), Karl Kalani and his Outrigger Boys play all the island tunes. Bob Lovell and Eleanor Carline begin the music festivities at 7:30 pm and then alternate with Karl's group throughout the evening. The music is a delight and perfectly compliments the Polynesian food and cocktails.

Go in a group and have a night to remember at the Outrigger Inn. Reservations are suggested.

P.S. - All the St. Louis Cardinals are staying there, so you may catch a glimpse of your favorite baseball player,


and here is more about their shows from a Apr. 26, 1963 Evening Independent article:


The show at the Outrigger Inn continues to be the most colorful anywhere. the happy Hawaiians in the cast are inspired perhaps because of the Hawaiian wedding ceremony of last Sunday. the bride and groom will live forever in great happiness if the love and affection shown them last Sunday is any criterion. The Outrigger Riders play the most danceable music, plus backing the show with an able beat. "The King and I" and "South Pacific" are presented in miniature form. The drinks are exotic, the food is exciting and the Outrigger Inn itself is so lovely.


The wedding from above took place on April 22, 1963, where Chief Nakoa K Willis married Judith Marica McCann. Nakoa was from Hilo, Hawaii and did the fire knife dance in the Outrigger Inn shows, and Judith was a hostess there.

and again from the same paper on July 19, 1963


At the Outrigger Inn there are two dazzling floor shows nightly. (The big 'round the world buffet on sundays draws the show folks and seems to inspire impromptu entertainment) During the week though, the "Outrigger Riders" present their island music with Leiana, featured dancer, in the show. The hula has never been presented more gracefully by anyone than Leiana. She is truly poetry in motion. The exciting knife dance is also one of the most daring bits of entertainment presented in any floor show. The authentic South Sea Island decor is relaxing and different. Spend an evening with the delightful Hawaiian entertainers at the Outrigger Inn - the happy people from the south Pacific.


Another cool bit of history is that on March 4th, 1965 Chrysler presented one of their Turbine cars to a Gulfport family and that presentation took place at the Outrigger Inn.

Here are some ads for the Outrigger Inn:

And here is a postcard from another post.

And now, the demise:

When Sheraton bought the hotel in 1966, they still kept some of the Polynesian flare. There are references to their "Outrigger Restaurant", island food and the "Shell Bar", but it looks like they got rid of the Polynesian show, replacing it with just standard lounge acts. It looks like Sheraton then did a major renovation in 1971 when it became the Sheraton Bel Air, so that probably destroyed the remaining elements of the Outrigger Inn. This renovation included replacing the Outrigger Restaurant with a Trader Vic's, which opened in January 1972.

And here is a 1968 ad for the hotel showing its layout then.

That's about all, for now. Not too bad for not having to leave the computer...

Great research and great post

DC

Indeed! Exemplary armchair archeology!
A place that has been flying under the radar pretty much. I think I saw that great "Jet" sign somewhere, on a matchbook or so, but who was to know that was not just an average motel with a cool sign! Amazing.

M

Here's another vintage postcard from eBay: :down:

M

And another amazing article describing it, from the Evening Independent, Dec. 7 1961:

Exotic Club Opens Doors on Saturday

An elaborate fountain with intricate waterfalls and flaming torches at the entrance to the newly remodeled Outrigger Inn is typical of the tropical isles decor throughout the spacious grounds and colorful interior.

The Outrigger, which combines the former Doctors Motel and skyway Motel at the approach of the Skyway Bridge will open Saturday, boasting 150 rooms and complete convention and catering facilities designed to accommodate as many as 500 people.

Under the policy direction of Jim Walter and the executive coordination of Henry J. Hayne, general manager of the properties, the Outrigger offers exotic beauty and comprehensive service facilities to the motoring public and area residents.

The gracious Polynesian and international dining room overlooking Tampa Bay and highlighted by a complete bar decorated in tropical splendor will feature food creations from around the world. The new catering manager is Maurice Helou. His assistant is john Hargrave.

In addition to the spacious dining room, there are complete convention and banquet facilities consisting of a main ballroom and banquet hall, surrounded by three meeting rooms and exhibition area.

Fine murals throughout the establishment, executed by Phillip Brinkman, internationally famous muralist, depict tropical life at tis best. A corner leading to the dining room displays South Sea items available for purchase.

The main dining area with its raised stage will provide Polynesian entertainment by Nani Maka, French Tahitian dancer, and the South Seas Islanders. Jules Landy and Art Baumgartner will supply intimate violin and piano music for the cocktail lounge.

The enclosed patio, with its myriad of colored lights, boasts a huge, kidney shaped swimming pool and descends to a beach with 800 feet of white sand. Complete marina and docking facilities are included also.

With completion of the renovation program the Outrigger opens its hospitable doors as a splendid addition to the Suncoast's attractions.

And now, the best part....

M

Regarding the muralist in the above article, there's a website run by a relative dedicated to him:

http://www.philbrinkman.com/

He's famous for his WWII bomber nose art, and I bet they don't even know about these murals.

M

A Feb 7, 1963 Evening Independent article states the Outrigger Inn has a new Hawaiian entertainer now, Leiana Ikamohihana. She comes here from San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel and appearances at Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. I assume they mean the Tonga Room.

Great work you've done here! Check out and see if you can come up with anything on The Inferno Room which was a bar that was started by one of Trader Frank's bartenders.

When I started doing Tiki Gardens research for The Tiki Gardens Memorial Website, all I could come up with was a few articles on The Byar's Obituaries. Which did provide bits and pieces of info, but I would have killed for those articles you found!

Great to see all of these other places we didn't know about.

TG
http://exotic-tiki-gardens.com

M

I'll have to see if I can find anything on the Inferno Room. I still have dozens of articles on Tiki Gardens to go through.

On 2009-04-28 12:31, TikiGardener wrote:
Great work you've done here!

Indeed! With the help of Humu's link, Mo-Eye has single-handedly given Florida's Gulf coast an equal status to its Atlantic shores, which until now had the lead in Polynesian pop prevalence. While Tiki Gardens, the Hawaiian Village in Tampa and the Tahitian Resort in Tarpon Springs seemed like isolated islets until now, they now all circle around the hub of St. Petersburg, with its Outrigger Inn, Black Pearl, Bali Hai, Headhunter lounge and more!

What's also so intriguing is how short-lived (exactly only during the peak-Tiki period) most of these establishments were...

Now if we just could get good photos of all!

Matchbook from the Outrigger Inn with the classic logo.

Heliport?

DC

Picked up a menu from the Outrigger Inn

It has a very nicely illustrated tropical drink page.

A few close ups, you get the glass for $2.50 - just like the old days at the thrift stores!

A few illustrations from the menu.

The salutation on the back cover.

Always nice to read one of Mo-Eye's research pieces.

DC

Here is another addition to this great Mo Eye research thread. I picked up this old news photo from the Outrigger in St. Petersburg' taken on New Years Eve in 1966.

Love the scene with the handsome couple decked out for the night and the Tiki watching the New Years toast.

DC

That is a fantastic pic, absolutely classic.

Just got this nice brochure from the Outrigger Inn in St. Petersburg.

The cover has a lovely night shot of the ships wheel sign and the thatched A-frame port-cochere entrance.

The inside of the brochure has some great photos.

The dinning room which included both the Tiki Room and the South Seas Room.

The Shell Lounge and Bar with an amazing giant clam shell canopy. You can see a color shot of the Brinkman mural in the back of the bar.

And that Tiki I posted a photo of previously.

The pool area...

but wait, what is that cocktail waitress serving??

Tiki drinks in Tiki Mugs!! Anybody recognize the mug up front? Crypto?

There was also an Aztec Room for banquets, maybe that is the place that turned into the Inferno Room?

The back of the brochure with a beach scene shot from the water.

Love that description, makes you want to go - now!

DC

H

I just love how everyone is so dressed up in the Shell Bar. Thank you Dusty, great pictures,

OGR

Awesome brochure DC....love the night shot outside. Thanks for posting it. This press photo is on the Bay right now. The Tiki is on the left of column. OGR

P

I am currently talking to the people at the Magnusson (which is on the site of the old Outrigger) about doing a tiki by the pool area...

I like bringing tikis back to places that once had them. :)

P

and here's a pic of one of the old outriggers from the old days that somehow has remained in one of the pavillions... :)

T

Really nice thread, everyone!

Here’s an Outrigger Inn ad from the April 27, 1962 Official St. Petersburg Weekly Guide

Earlier in this thread, Mo-Eye posted a newspaper clipping of Nani Maka in a Captain’s Chair, cited as appearing in a preview performance for news representatives at the Outrigger Inn. Nani Maka and Prince Faalia (Barney Lee) subsequently performed together there on a club date in April of 1962, while both were on vacation from their regular jobs as performers at the Yankee Clipper Polynesian Room in Fort Lauderdale. That same photo of Nani was on the front page of the St. Petersburg weekly entertainment guide…

Here is the accompanying write-up…

From Nani’s personal memorabilia is this boating photo of her and Faalia while they were in the St. Petersburg area doing this club date…

-Tom

P

are there any additional pictures anyone has that shows some of the actual tikis that were there?

just wondeering...

P

ok, well the mgr actually called me back, and he's presenting the idea of doing a tiki there to the owners... so hopefully that flies..

I like it when I am able to bring tikis back to places that once had them... :)

Surf Soul Tiki,

Now that you are infamous for your guerrilla Tiki carving, maybe you can get a Tiki back to the Outrigger Inn.

Found an article from the grand opening of the Outrigger Inn in 1962 with a nice rendering.

The act playing was none other than Nani Maka and Tani.

DC

Great rendering. The A-frame and tail-finned car combo is unbeatable - thanks for all the ad(d)s, DC.

Thanks Bigbro,

Here is another news-wire photo of Nani Maka performing at the Outrigger in at the opening. this one is dated December 1961.

Now where have I seen that South Seas Islander band before?

DC

Great thread, this....it made me aware that the great artist Philip Service Brinkman's family live not 13 miles from my own hometown, and that he died in Gainesville, also right down the road. Neato.

Rob

Amazing! Was searching to see if the old Outrigger Inn was still around and came across this site. Brought tears to my eyes--so personally attached to referred events/images. I was practicing medicine in Clearwater and met Leiana in Fall '63. We were married in St. Pete and had our reception at the Outrigger, hosted by Mr. & Mrs. Hayne, 15 Jun 64. I have those and many more of the advertisements that were published, including some from the old Tiki Gardens. 'Leiana,' real name Regina Alohanohea Lover, was a bridesmaid for 'Prince' Nakoa and Judy and I have photos of that. We had a remarkable life for 46 years until she passed 2 May 2010, here in Las Vegas. Her professional career ended after our marriage and she became the indispensable and wonderful mother of our five kids, travelling with me and providing for them over the years of my practice, 20 yrs of Air Force life and finally retirement in 1993. We all miss her dearly and treasure every reference that people make to her past.

Nice color photo of the neon Outrigger Inn sign advertising the New Years Eve gala. Wonder it it was from the same year my New Years Eve press photo was taken?

DC

It doesn’t get a whole lot more mid century than that!

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