The Don CeSar

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Guests and staff alike attest that The Don CeSar is among the most haunted destinations in Florida. Many of the alleged hauntings involve the hotel’s first owner, Thomas Rowe. Legend states that when Rowe arrived from Florida to create his hotel, he had done so with a broken heart. The young man had apparently been prevented from marrying the love of his life—a Spanish opera star named Lucinda whom he had met in England. Rowe had specifically encountered the raven-haired beauty while she performed in an opera called “Maritana.” Overwhelmed by her beauty and talent, Thomas Rowe pursued Lucinda and the two quickly fell in love. It was not to last, as Lucinda’s parents intervened and demanded that she end the nascent relationship. Thomas Rowe attempted to reinvigorate their feelings for one another by sending love letters back across the Atlantic. Sadly, the only response he ever received was a note addressed to “My beloved Don Cesar,” which was accompanied by a newspaper clipping reporting her death.

Crestfallen, the young hotelier supposedly built The Don CeSar, in part, for his long-lost lover. While Rowe eventually went on to become incredibly successful within his industry, he always bore the stinging pain of her forced rejection. Thomas Rowe eventually passed away at the hotel in 1940 with these emotions unresolved. Many at The Don CeSar say they have seen the spirit of Rowe wander the grounds in a never-ending quest to find Lucinda in the afterlife. But Thomas Rowe may have succeeded in the end, as some report seeing his spirit reunited with the opera singer at the fountain inside the hotel’s lobby.

There also seems to be spirits looking to help out the current staff at the Don CeSar. A banquet employee reported that he was working one evening alone in the kitchen. He stepped outside to take a quick break and when he returned to the mound of dirty dishes, he found every dish cleaned and dried and neatly stacked in the middle of the room with no one around to have put them there. Housekeepers also have reported their housekeeping cart almost magically restocked during a long day of cleaning rooms, or an elevator door held open for them when they were rushing to catch it before closing.

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