Clearwater's Opal Sands hotel nears completion

- Clearwater Beach's newest upscale hotel opens Monday, which means more than 200 construction workers were hustling through last-minute tasks inside the Opal Sands the week before. 

However, the bright-white, curved shape of the structure has been catching visitors' eyes for months. 

"What we tried to do is take the lot, take the shape, and come up with a way so that every room had a waterfront view," Mark Walsh explained Monday. 

Engineers designed long hallways along a glass wall on the east side of the building, so every room faces west, toward the Gulf of Mexico. Views from the balconies change with the curve. 

On the north side of the curve, Gulf-plus-Pier 60. On the southern end of the curve, Gulf-plus-Sand Key. 

"The curve is interesting because when you're building it, it's much harder," Walsh admitted. "Things don't fit. Nothing is square and things aren't usually built on curves, so that's been a challenge." 

One example Walsh gave was the task of hiding carpet seams on long runs down a curved hallway.

The color palette throughout the 15-story hotel is made up of blues, greens and yellows. 

"The color of Tampa Bay's water when it's summertime, when it's wintertime, when it's cresting, when it's rough, and in the shallows," local artist Christopher Still explained. "So that ended up being close to 400 different shades of greens and blues." 

Still is the state of Florida's official "artist in residence" and was hired to oversee interior artistic details at the Opal Sands. He grew up and lives in the Bay area, and retained local artists to create sculptures and glass works. 

The hotel boasts 230 standard rooms and 39 suites, starting at about $400 a night and topping out at about $2,000, for the presidential suite, which has a full kitchen, two bedrooms, two and a half baths, and a nearly 1,000 square foot balcony with a hot tub. 

Throughout the hotel, floor and wall treatments feature patterns of swirls and curves and circles. Pointing to one carpeted area in the lobby, Still told a group of visitors, "you notice that's not a big old Hawaiian wave, that's not an Atlantic wave, that's a Tampa Bay wave and those are the colors of Tampa Bay." 

Everyone can take a look after the Opal Sands opens February 22.

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